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SM As A Spiritual Path
By SlaveMaster



In the late ‘70s, I visited my first adult bookstore and discovered a leather magazine filled with men riding motorcycles, wearing leather and interacting with leather sex toys and restraints. I held that magazine up and, to my surprise (and that of everyone in the bookstore), yelled in shocked recognition, "Yes! Yes! Yes! I am one!"

Until that day I had been a dysfunctional heterosexual, but then, for the first time in my life, I knew who I was. And I faced a choice between being sexually functional, open and authentic with my new identity or continuing my former "ideal" life with its considerable assets, enviable career and powerful political connections. I walked the streets for hours with a heart frozen with fear until I decided to abandon the life I had so skillfully crafted for 20 years in exchange for a motorcycle to ride in cold, rainy weather and a cheap studio in "that" part of town.

I found a family in a burgeoning leather community and then immediately began to fear that I had become a dysfunctional homosexual. In the casual sexual atmosphere of the era, I discovered myself incapable of climax unless I felt both influence over and responsibility for my sexual partner. So I desperately began perfecting the power dynamic demanded by my SM sexuality. I initiated the clumsy process of learning how to find men who wanted to be tied up and whipped by way of a dating ritual that included meeting at least once for a sober lunch or dinner to find out what my dates' interests really were. We openly discussed bondage and restraints, how often and how long they had worn a leather hood, and how long, how often and with what results they had been bound and flogged or paddled. (Even with all of this preparation, I had experiences where men ran from the room as soon as I started to do something they told me they loved.)



With experience I developed technical and psychological expertise. I could use hoods, blindfolds, floggers, tight restraints, ropes, tit and cock-and-ball torture devices, dildos and electrical stimulation devices all without losing my partner's confidence or destroying their sexual excitement. I was consistently capable of facilitating entertaining, diverse and cathartic physical, emotional and even spiritual experiences.

I had figured out the magic combination to my sexuality.

Yet, though the sexual play was fantastic, there was still something missing. When I complained, it was heard as a prayer. The answer came through a series of seismic confrontations that literally tore my life apart,. They left me with a new calling, requiring consciousness of the moral implications of my every action, demanding full integration of my sexuality and spirituality, and insisting that I adopt the controversial spiritual name "SlaveMaster."

My sexual fetishes had seduced me into accepting a destiny of locating and empowering others to accept their destinies through a disciplined spiritual practice called "slavery" which employs the use of SM devices. The myth of SM is that the perfect pairing is a sadist, who likes to inflict pain, and a masochist, who enjoys pain. This is false. A true sadist only enjoys inflicting pain when there is no consent. Therefore, no sadist would ever waste time with someone who wanted the pain. Masochists are foremost characterized by their controlling natures. They control their relationships so that they gain what they seek from the "pain giver." No sadist would ever agree to the controlling conditions a masochist demands. Therefore, by their nature, sadists and masochists are mutually exclusive personalities. In contemporary leather/SM culture, SM is regarded as a mutually consensual exchange of power. Negotiation of limits and the communication of signals and "safe words" are established in advance so that egotistic control by the participants is maintained.

The purpose of my practice
is to produce spiritual evolution – permanent change, not simply an experience. Authentic spiritual growth never comes from experiences that the ego can predict or control. So to empower destiny, I create situations that go beyond the "safety" of SM and demand a surrender of the very egotistic controls that allow us to feel safe.

Experience has taught me
that to create the possibility of spiritual evolution, two conditions, which are inappropriate for traditional SM play, are necessary. First, there must be mutual agreement that neither the giver nor the receiver will manipulate the experience. Preparing for this requires a discernment process that uncovers any hidden agenda, expectation or malice. The intention must be to freely and willingly deliver and receive as a gift, whatever experience and information the spirit presents, no matter what that is. Spiritual evolution cannot occur without this. Second, and more important, informed moral consent is required. Moral consent isn't possible without adequate information. It requires abandoning egotistically identifiable expectations and objectives, and agreeing to the possibility of being permanently spiritually altered by the experience.

When both intention and moral consent
are present, the devises of SM provide a powerful, efficient tool for focusing full attention on the present moment. Thoughts of what happened yesterday, what your father did to you 30 years ago or what might happen tomorrow at work fade from consciousness as the flogger or paddle insistently returns, like life, without allowing you any control over when, how or how hard.

When these devices are wielded with conscious spiritual intent and from a place of love, surrendering to their power simultaneously holds us in the present, fills us with love and teaches us how to embrace life on life's terms, without weakness. Perhaps most important, the experience can dissolve the fears and distractions which distort our perceptions and cloud our thinking, and give us the courage and clarity to take the necessary steps required to complete the psycho-spiritual process of integration.



Until this integration is accomplished, our choices are compromised by the conflicts and confusion inherent in a divided self and we are powerless to recognize or accept the invitation to destiny which gives life purpose. A spiritual practice involving the devices of SM, but which isn't SM, has the same purpose as all spiritual practices – to discover the truth which will give us moment-to-moment certainty about every action we take. Embrace every decision with moral confidence and life unfolds easily and naturally.

Honesty is one of the results of this practice. When bound and restrained the stimulation and power we feel finally free us to react in any way that is honest. When we are challenged by physical stimulation and being held where we can't hurt ourselves or anyone else, we can finally be completely animal in our reactions. And when combined with the intention of love and power, that honesty can lead to levels of self-discovery that are unmatched by any other means.

I am not advocating this practice for everyone. No one has all the truth. The challenge for each of us is to open ourselves up to experiences that allow for the ongoing discovery of truth. It is a lifelong task. Ultimately, no one can ever do anything profound or significant based on what someone else has told him. Only our personal experience of truth gives us the confidence to act powerfully and effectively in obedience to that truth. The real work is to find our own unique spirituality, experience our own answers and live by an unshakable internal moral certainty that isn't open to compromise or to external edict.

My job is to give those
who seek destiny the tools with which they can personally determine, assess and reject or accept as legitimate the truth they learn. I don't dispense the truth. I provide unnerving experiences and criteria through which people surrender to what is true for them. Only that truth which affects our own lives inspires us to live powerfully. The truth doesn't change, but the pieces of truth which liberate and motivate us do.

Ironically, more prejudice is directed at leather folk from within the gay and lesbian community than from the world at large. Our use of SM devices provokes bigotry and moral righteousness from those who don't practice SM. It is an insidious consequence of homophobia that the prejudice that has been inflicted on us teaches us, in turn, to be prejudiced against people and behavior that we don't understand.

Prejudice, rooted in fear and ignorance
, has led many in our community to conclude that anything involving an SM device must be evil and demeaning. They justify their prejudice by insisting that those of us who associate with such evil devices are a detriment to the squeaky-clean image they imagine is necessary for our acceptance by the rest of society.

Such prejudices can deny us the experiences that our soul requires to achieve integration. We forgo the life we have been created for because we fear what others might think. We're so busy apologizing for being gay and trying to gain acceptance from heterosexuals that we refuse to consider the possibility that our integrity and spiritual development might demand that we move even further away from the mainstream.

Our spirit doesn't care what anyone else thinks. It doesn't even care what we think, and it will never ask us what we want to do with our lives. Our spirit has its own agenda–our destiny. It is not dissuaded by our discomfort, our resistance or our embarrassment. It cares only about integrating every compartmentalized aspect of our lives into a unified, fully-functional whole capable of fulfilling our destinies.

Our differences give us the tools to impact the world in the singular way that our Creator intends. It is our differences, if we honor them, that make each of us uniquely qualified to achieve our destinies. When we claim our normal gay life or normal lesbian life or normal heterosexual life and insist that what we know to be true for us should apply to everyone else, including those who use frightening, black leather devices, we are making the same mistake the religious right makes in demanding, "What's true for me is true for everyone."

And if, in the resulting self-righteousness, we are avoiding a spiritual practice that our soul demands for our authenticity, we are cheating ourselves of the only life we can inherit–our own.

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