%When through intense desire
I wander in samsara (confusion)
On the luminous light- path
Of discriminating wisdom%
From Tibetan Inspiration-Prayer for Deliverance
from the Dangerous Pathway of the Bardo
by Chongyam Trungpa
In many indigenous traditions, work on the spiritual path is rewarded by a handful of seeds. The information held in the DNA of those seeds means that they are adapted to the recipient’s present situation and can bear fruit appropriate to the needs and hardships of the moment. Although we are no longer totally dependent on our own gardens to survive, like the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, our dreams and visions often manifest as just such minute quantities of easily ridiculed and dismissed potential. For many, the disappointment of the grandiose vision being reduced to nearly nothing over rides their dedication to manifesting the possibilities they are being offered.
In searching for away to communicate the inevitability of the energetic let down of actually manifesting a vision, I turned to the seed of most transformational event of our times, the atomic bomb. Einstein’s equation addresses the challenge of returning matter into energy when it is written in the form we most often see:
We now know that the amount of energy released is indeed equal to the quantity of matter times the speed of light squared. Since our dreams are nothing but energy, when we rewrite Einstein’s equation to address what happens when dreams manifest it looks like this:
Or in plain English, order to manifest our visions the energy we put into them must be divided by the speed of light squared, which averages 34,596,000,000. Lest you be discouraged by the thought of investing tens of billions worth of your efforts in order to succeed, consider that the first and most wondrous accomplishment that all of us here on the planet have managed to achieve through the focused energy of desire is the initial and ongoing manifestation of our own physical body.
Happy synchronicities always please me. Not only does the Lascaux cave posture display a grand erection, the first Deadly Sin is Lust. Unlike animals whose sexuality is periodic, the human neo-cortex that allows us to speak and to dream requires a constant flow of the same neuro-hormones that drive our sexuality to function. Not only are mature human beings unusual in that we are in a constant state of sexual readiness, our ability to experience both visionary states and sexual ecstasy is driven by the those same neuro-hormones. Understanding that, and learning how to direct one’s own thoughts and instincts is the first step on the spiritual path, yet we live in a society that trivializes and demeans both visions and sexuality. While the image of Adam and Eve whose reaction to eating of the Tree of Knowledge is to cover themselves with fig leaves is widespread even among non-Christians in our times, Matthew Wood’s insight is not. He writes:
- • “It is remarkable to think
• that most religionists make sexual morality
• the centerpiece of their religion
• when it is so clearly marked in the first few pages of the Bible
• as the foremost symptom of spiritual delusion.”
I am especially appreciative of Matthew ‘s rare clarity of understanding as the idea of chastity has fallen so far from favor as to be incomprehensible and been replaced by the opposing ideas of sexual inhibition and/or licentiousness. Instead of striving for sexual continence, the ability to recognize, appreciate, and express our own and others sexuality appropriately and constructively, people, especially those on the spiritual path, tend to delude themselves into thinking that they can deny their own sexuality and/or then become obsessed with controlling how other people express theirs.
Wolfram ‘s Jeschute, the first Lady Parzival encounters on his journey, is extra-ordinary in that she sees him for what he is: a ‘pure fool’ driven from urges deep within and without conscious malice. Although Parzival eats her food uninvited, takes her jewelry, and forces kisses upon her without ever considering whether or not she might consent to his actions, she manages to send him on his way with remarkable kindness and clarity of vision. While Parzival himself is not censored for his breach of social conventions, the Lady Jeschute is harshly judged for her compassion and made to suffer for even appearing to flout the conventions that define marriage and adultery as though that were the threat to the very roots of social stability. The true threat and the hidden force that ultimately shatters the company of the Round Table and that has left the Fisher King suffering and impotent (click here) is the widespread refusal to truly see.
- • “We have the abilities to peer into the Divine mysteries
• that lie behind the stratum of outward creation,
• but the possibility brings about the potential of suffering,
• and therefore fear.
• If we hide from this opportunity
• behind the ‘fig leaves’ of appropriate behavior,
• we do injury to the dignity, scope, and potential of the human spirit. “
Mistaking social conventions for divine insight is bad enough, but deceiving ourselves as to the true nature of our own desires is soul-deadening. If instead we consider that when sexual energy is expressed:
• physically, it results in babies
• emotionally, it results in family and community
• mentally, it results in visions and dreams
It can make it easier to focus our intention and remain consistent to our dreams, our loved ones, and our children so that they may survive and thrive. When I take a group into the trance state using the Lascaux cave posture, my advice to them is to become acutely aware of and maintain conscious control of how and where they express their creative sexual energy for:
- • “In order to start any kind of project
• there must be single-mindedness of purpose.
• Extraneous ideas at the beginning
• inevitably manifest later as confusion.
• The same is true for spiritual life.
• The slate must be cleared
• when the journey is ready to begin.
• There must be basic purity of motive
• or insincerity will smother one’s efforts.
Being able to direct our sexual energy instead of being driven by it makes all the difference in the world in how we go about matching up our dreams and our mundane lives. One of the side effects of having an effective spay/neuter program for companion animals is that very few of us are exposed to the raw single-minded howling sexuality of a cat or dog in heat. It is a mistake to presume that as humans we are incapable of such compulsions. Our ability to rationalize distorting our biological drive to reproduce into all manner of peculiar beliefs and behaviors is what makes Lust such a Deadly Sin (click here). Our survival depends on our willingness not only to see truly, but to adapt our behavior accordingly.
- • Purity of motive
• and single-mindedness
• must be tempered, however,
• with receptivity to what will happen.
• If single-mindedness is maintained to the point of close-mindedness
• one will never get beyond the point where one started,
• because one will not be open enough to change.
• Two opposite qualities must be brought together:
• single and open-mindedness.
• It is this which will insure the success of the endeavor.
• The real basis for success therefore
• is not just purity by itself,
• but a reconciliation of opposites.
• True purity embraces an openness
• to that which is beyond itself.”
It is vital to follow our inmost desires, our spiritual callings, yet unfortunately, as humans, our lusts are easily misdirected. Once misdirected, they become impossible to satiate. Unacknowledged desires can never be fulfilled and so tend to manifest as spiritual delusions, as the fundamental distortions driving our ‘sinful’ behavior. If we are not clear about our quest and impeccable in our pursuit, our most basic drives become distorted, fueling misery and confusion all around us. Those whose lack of clarity is combined with an unwillingness to invest themselves in their own future open the doors to a spiraling exponential distortion of their basic life forces. Those who fear to risk acting on their deepest desires are inviting the Deadly Sins to feed upon the fuel of their denied desires.
If we take the star Atlas as our protagonist chasing spiritual light, then the Pleiadian star Pleione the Pursued, is the first guiding light on the path. Atlas’ single-minded journey following her through the heavens is a reminder to us to stay true to our own paths, no matter how it may look to others. Learning how to focus our intentions while remaining open to what comes to us is the first step to manifesting our visions. When we succeed in reconciling these apparently opposing tendencies in ourselves, something new begins. Something with the ability to create, renew, and change itself. However its form is rarely as we imagine it to be.
all quotes in italics are from Matthew Wood’s book ‘Seven Herbs, Seven Teachers’