Trying with desire

Posted: 20/03/2012 by zandtao in Insight
Tags: , ,

Desire again. My recent consideration of Sogyal Rinpoche and his alleged sexual proclivities made me think about tantric yoga. Now I know little about it as I have said. Here is a recollection of something I may have read somewhere. Contemplation of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Compassion, can help change sexual desire to compassion. Now I recently described enlightenment as a law of Nature, and then that desire and enlightenment are the same stuff. So any form of actuated desire is a detraction from enlightenment, enlightenment being a natural progression – a Path – if not interfered with and diverted by mind. That is a concern, desire detracting from enlightenment. [Warning:- I have discussed about enlightenment on the Buddhadasa page, I am now not happy discussing enlightenment. 20/9/13]

Now desire is no easy stuff to deal with. All around there are images that can create a response that becomes a desire, attachment to that desire can increase involvement with the desire, and therefore decrease involvement on the Natural Path to enlightenment. Like in all of us desire arises in me, much less now I am older but it is still there. So what do I do? Sit on it? No, that doesn’t work. Repressing the desire just means it squirms out somewhere else. In terms of sexual desire I remember reading that the Buddha suggested we meditate on what a human being is actually made of when we are attracted sexually, bugs, cells, bacteria etc. That never worked for me. Whilst I consider sexual desire natural, it is something I don’t want – I consider it a defilement (kilesa). But once attached to the defilement that’s it, whether a sex symbol is made of bacteria or not she is still a sex symbol. So that never worked.

So I give up with a kind of laissez faire attitude, I don’t want it but it’s going to happen so let it happen and don’t get strung up about it. But then it is detracting from enlightenment so that is not acceptable. But what if I can sublimate the desire? As enlightenment and desire are the same stuff, can I change it through meditation? Suppose a desire arises, can I convert it to love and compassion – good enough enlightenment stuff for me? Here I mentioned sexual desire and I also have too much appetite – I eat more than I need even though all I eat is good. What if I can change these desires when they arise? I suspect I am getting involved here with dependent origination but I have never really related to that as being more than theory.

So here is what I have come up with. If the mind is pure then enlightenment will happen when it is meant to. Love and compassion are good enlightenment stuff. If a desire comes up and I go with it then that is a distraction from enlightenment. Love and compassion are good stuff to work with chakras, breathing love and compassion in and out of the chakras. Natural sexual desire is found in the tan tien, the second chakra. I am guessing that natural hunger comes in the third chakra – solar plexus. But of course desire is primarily mental, we have sexual desire far more than we are actually capable of, we want to eat far more than we need – and eat the wrong foods because our taste buds are titilated (or addicted). That is the sixth chakra. So if desire arises I am going to try to convert it to love and compassion through these chakras – and the others as well.

  1. naivelysage says:

    “14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

    21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    Paul. Romans 7.

    Paul acknowledges that ‘sin’ or desire is part of our nature as humans. He speaks of the Law which ‘condemns us’ and of Christ as rescuing us from the spiritual consequences of our breaking the Law. Paul’s analysis is realistic and insightful although (if you continue reading Romans) it is couched in terms of a partisan Christianity. What Paul is saying is that as biological beings we are subject to the laws of cause and effect, we function deterministically; however as spiritual beings we have free will. There is a contradiction, a conflict, between deterministic imperatives and the will to freedom from determinism so that Spirit can abide in its own nature. In Buddhism the road to freedom is the Middle Way, in Christianity the way is through Grace.

    For some Christians the way of Grace is accepting the person of Jesus Christ for others (and myself though I do not call myself Christian or Buddhist) the way of Grace is through accepting the reality of forgiveness that Jesus taught and embodied. Jesus makes clear that forgiveness does not trump the Law but fulfils and completes it. If the Law is that you reap what you sow then sowing forgiveness must reap the same and Jesus is equally clear that we must give up condemnation of others.

    Meditation and Forgiveness are the key spiritual practices that we must return to again and again. Condemning ourselves or others is counter productive. We are what we are on the material level, this is not to say that we should not strive to be better but we carry different ‘karmic loads’ and comparisons are absurd. If my failings teach me humility and not to be harsh with others then they serve a valuable purpose.

    “A warrior takes his lot, whatever it may be, and accepts it in ultimate humbleness. He accepts in humbleness what he is, not as grounds for regret but as a living challenge.” – Carlos Castaneda

    Thanks for raising the subject as it is obviously an issue for me also .. I will post the above on my own blog.

  2. zandtao says:

    The problem with all religion is the dynamic between dogma and genuine understanding. When I look at the above I could see dogma rationalising with itself but who am I to judge from the outside? And I don’t judge.The real question is one’s own practice, and dealing with the issues concerned . Desire is an issue for everyone, and everyone must come to terms with their own practice however the dogma is phrased. For me the greatest insight in the world was the Four Noble Truths, but for everyone else but the Buddha. the words of the 4NT are dogma. The understanding is maybe different.

    And when you mix dogmas???

    • naivelysage says:

      I stay away from dogma which is one reason that I don’t identify with any one religion. The insights of religion can evoke insight in me and at that level there is no substantial difference between Buddhism and Christianity just complementary aspects. The Buddhist insight emphasises detachment and discipline as keys to the state beyond suffering and illusion, the Christian insight emphasises love and forgiveness as keys to the same state – Nirvana in Buddhism, the Kingdom of heaven in Christianity.

      Paul does not have the purity of vision that Jesus had but he has his own insights and tries to engage sincerely with the vision of Jesus in taking the message forward but he and his successors ‘gild the lilly’ and insight is buried beneath a mythopoetic superstructure. However if you look past this superstructure to the actual teaching of Jesus you understand that just as Buddha was showing the way to be a Buddha, how we might work out our own salvation, Jesus was showing the way to be a Bodhisattva or Christ working for the salvation of others.

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