The Liberation Of Desire
Sexuality is one of the least understood aspects of human life. All have this desire, but few people seem to find a healthy solution to sexual conflicts. There is so much suffering caused by blind sexuality. So many women are abandoned with children by men whose animal instincts soon pull them elsewhere after a little sensory gratification. The trail of trauma for the woman may continue as she must struggle to care for the child that have been abandoned. Or perhaps it was her unfulfilled or frustrated desires that caused the separtion to begin with. One thing is certain, and it is that there are fewer and fewer examples of harmonious co-existence in human sexual-emotional affairs. As a culture we have gone back into the stone age as regards to sexuality. Instead there is emerging a whole culture of permissiveness and even indulgence. In truth, this distortion of the sexual tendency leaves many with very little happiness remaining in marriage or interpersonal relationships. Conversely, I see very little hope in "free love" and open relationships as well. While some like the way it sounds in theory, I have always seen that somebody always ends up getting hurt. What we need is love. Sexuality doesn't necessarily have to ruin this but it usually does if one or both people lack insight into what emotive factors are really driving them deep within. And it is only by going deep within and seeing these needs that one can find fulfillment in sexuality and relationships. Very few people can altogether transcend these needs. These people are very rare and very interesting.
I had a very normal sexual orientation in my youth. Nothing was too extreme, neither repression or expression. I had everything I needed to live a happy family life by the time I was finishing the university: a good companion, a good education, and strong adademic interests that inspired future plans. However, I discovered meditation and yoga in my second to last year,and then got initiated into a very serious tantric practice. The next thing I knew I was single, just barely graduated the university due to lack of interest, and was on my way to India to find more truth.
Contrary to the popular misconceptions, this tantric meditation system had no sexual practices other than upholding responsible and moral behavior towards sexuality. It was a system of very advanced meditation practices. It was surprising to see how my sexuality began to diminish as I cultivated these practices. I was still a normal heterosexual; everything still worked, only the fire had died down a little. The fire was now kindling the desire for deeper spiritual experience. In those days yoga was still a weird Asian or hippy thing, and not the popular practice that it has become today. I knew nothing of contemporary yoga. Fortunately, I learned from some very sincere and serious practitioners from India whom I met at the university. I was beginning to understand what these older yogis had told me: that with meditation there is deep insight and this deep insight into the mind and emotions helps one understand not just sex but all mental and biological tendencies. Tantra Yoga was for me a "libidinal economy," a way of investing energy in other pursuits. If you put energy in place B, then it is no longer in place A, the original place. As a psychology student I was very well aware with the concepts of suppression and repression and the illnesses and neurosis that they cause. Transmutation was a different idea, however. I never studied this in school. Freud certainly didn't grasp this idea. Perhaps Jung and the humanists did, however. What impressed me most about Tantra Yoga wasn't elaborate, sophisticated theories, but the practical results of converting physical desire into mental desire. And sure enough, my intellectual capacity exploded the more I practiced yoga and meditation and put on the laungota, the yogis loincloth, the "Tarzan apparatus," or "organic chastity belt." My mind became so sharp, however I was no longer interested in intellectual pursuits. All that mattered was finding the source of what was summoning me to make all sorts of renunciations that I never thought possible. Maybe there was some difficulty in the beginning when I was still in the university surrounded by shapely co-eds. However, for the most part it was a very sweet renunciation with promises of something greater. I didn't scorn sexuality. That would be a direct path to a repressive hell. I just knew that there was something greater. The awakening of the kundalini is more bliss than a thousand physical orgasms at once. And the lover in this tryst is Infinite.
The only problem that I had with my new life-style is that I began to become very sensitive to the environment around me. I began to feel people very deeply. For example, instead of noticing that somebody was sad by the tone of their voice or facial expression, I began to feel their state of mind. I would see somebody from far away on campus and get an impression about their state of mind. What was especially difficult was when I had to share a room with another person. I always dreamed of their inner life. I shared my dreams with them and they were really grateful for the insight into their issues. I once dreamed that I was in a love affair with a girl from Vermont. We met together in a barn and.... When I awoke I was perturbed because I hadn't even thought of sex for several months. I asked myself "why Vermont? What do I have to do with Vermont? I remembered that my room-mate was from Vermont. I asked him if he had a lover there recently. He just snickered and said, "you caught me!" I was always very sociable. However this new energetic sensitivity began to isolate me a little. However, I had already decided that I wanted to be a monk and accepted this solitary yet blissful position in life.
By the time I graduated and arrived in India I was having very intense kundalini experiences. Nobody understood me except my mother and a few close friends. That soon changed when I arrived in India. I felt like I had arrived at a very special learining institution. One yogi administrated a university in the day and meditated all through the night. It was good to have a reference for work because I had only spiritual desires and didn't want to do anything else. He was a very advanced meditator and passed through spiritual passions that lasted several years in which he did very little work on the physical plane. Instead, he was absorbed in the bliss of samadhi. It is not that he was useless in these times. Quite the contrary, his elevated vibration inspired many, but also made his little monastic brothers a little jealous of his spiritual achievements.
This monk had told me his secrets of transmuting sexual desire on one of our first encounters. He said that he never repressed anything. I could see that this was true as he was very outspoken. He openly criticized the crusty theocracy around him and told me with a hearty laugh that the order would probably end up killing their own saints some day. He was bold and always expressed himself openly, especially when stubborn or dogmatic people needed a little kick in the rear.
He expressed his ideas about sexuality in a similar manner. If a women's breasts appeared in his mind during meditation, he just let it happen. He knew it was impermanent. He would struggle with the image in his mind, then let his mind enjoy the form. He still continued to do his meditation during these intrusive "fantasies." Slowly his state of formless bliss would return. He said that eventually he would feel compassion for this person and felt that if this desire manifested he could really harm another person emotionally because he was so god-intoxicated. He knew that these were momentary inclinations and that for him to take a lover would be a disastrous existential manuever. This inspired him to embrace her within a radiant white light and to tell her she was dear to the divine and that he would never harm her. He said that in the end he always saw his "lover" merging into the pure light of the eternal Atman, and returned to his peaceful meditations.
What he told me weren't some exact, specific techniques to make a desire disapper. Rather it is an attitude and way of life in general that works to transform the mind and body with their desires. Few people understand the deep reasons for spiritual discipline and what the yogi truly wants to achieve. This monk was a robust, intelligent, and even handsome person. He would have had no trouble impressing the ladies. He was a far cry from the creepy, repressed preist that negates himself through repression and thereby degenerates his libido into dark perversions. Perhaps he was closer to the "heroic" state of meditation in which there remain very few desires and one thereby begins to let go of all inhibitions. "All things come from god, how can anything harm me?" Althought this is the attitude of the "heroic" yogi, it is also the motto of the sensualist who loses his/herself in these very same tendencies. Very few people can really become detached from desire without butchering themselves up on the inside with repressions and distortions.
The following account will help give us perspective on what is actually successful transmutation of an instinct as compared to what is simply repression and distortion that only further exacerbates and excites an instinct.
I once heard a conversation in which a certain high-ranking member of the order, Karunananda, was speaking of how he was once an administrative boss of many monastics. He didn't know what to do about their sexual repression. He said the only solution was to find hookers for them. He had a regular brothel going on. This was while he was in Hong Kong. Later, I also heard of rumors that he also had one of these establishments for the big turbans at the ashram. When I heard this I could not mentally process the information. I had been so close to many saintly monks and had such great respect for the order that I simply couldn't register this new, dissonant information in my head. My ears heard it without a doubt, but my mind didn't know what to do with the new information. It was clearly the strongest case of cognitive dissonance that I ever experienced. I probably would have suppressed this information, distorted it, or have made up an excuse if it had not been for my friend who spoke to me about this shock a few minutes later. He was present for the conversation too and was a little more mature in the ways of the world than I. He didn't have any problem scoffing at this. I, on the other hand, was struggling to assimilate it all. Seeing all of those central monks coming to visit him every day gave me the greatest suspicions. "If he does this, then is everybody else doing it too? Are all of these high-ranking monks clients in his brothel? "Does this mean all of the order could all be a lie?" These were the voices inside of me that I didn't want to hear. A month later was the famous Purulia Arms Drop in which the order monks tried to pull off an international arms deal. It failed miserably and I, because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, found myself imprisoned, then put under house arrest while our case was scheduled for the Indian Supreme Court.
Just after the arms drop K. kicked me out of the hostel where I was staying because I was under surveillance and didn't want the police anywhere near him. He was terrified.
Chidghananda became my closest guide as well as best friend. He accepted me into the hostel he managed the night K. had booted me out. There was also a big commotion going on that night. The locals were beating on drums and the monks thought they were war drums. All of the monks were in a panic to escape to the train station. They thought there would be another massacre by the communists who gave money, alcohol and weapons to the locals to attack the ashram. Chidghananda just told me to lock the door and meditate all night. If I die I will go happy, he said with a sweet smile. It was his way of saying all will be fine. I had just met him before this incident. He went to jail voluntarily with me so as to protect me from the forces that had me trapped in a situation in which I had no understanding. He was concerned that we would be tortured like the monks who were tortured by the police on several earlier occasions. This was the best experience of my life, spending long hours meditating with this great yogi, in jail and later under 6 months of house arrest while our case was passing through the Indian Supreme Court. Although his mind was deeply connected with the Supreme Consciousness through his spiritual practice, he was always the most simple yet highly rational person.
When I was in my early twenties I had dreams that I was a woman in my past life. It made me feel very pure. I wasn't sure if it was literal or a symbolic truth. I was a psychology student very familiar with Jung's ideas of the "anima," the feminine, unconscious part of the male psyche. The "animus" was termed the masculine part of the feminine psyche. Contemplating this idea never created any confusions nor distortions. On the contrary, I began to feel that transcending one's exclusive sexual identification was the key to transcending "maya," the great illusion. On the inside it is quite sane and healthy for a man to discover his unconscious feminine qualities as they make one more whole and complete. One remains a man, of course, and with the natural desires of a man. However, the impulsive qualities of masculinity begin to wane.
I asked Chidghananda about my dreams. I wanted to know if these were symbolic dreams or if perhaps I really was a woman in my past life. He said that I was indeed a woman. He said, "excuse me, but you were indeeed a lady," just in case some masculine part of me may be offended by this information. I wasn't in any way offended, he realized this and laughed as if to say "I just wanted to make sure.." He told me stories about this person and even how she died. I only had seen fragments of this life in a dream but he was filling in so many details that I had never seen. When he realized his knowledge exceeded my own, he stopped and said "okay, that is enough for now." He really helped me to understand something very deep. Once the sexual desires were all transmuted into meditation, my mind had tremendous energy. He began to teach me about spiritual healing and I recalled Tireseas, the blind sage with healing powers who was mysteriously both male and female. He told me to always sleep alone and to never share a room with other people nor let people touch my bed. Most of my work would be done while sleeping and my mind would be very sensitive to the vibrations of other people while I was undergoing this healing training. However, I began to lose the desire to sleep until I was only sleeping half an hour every night. I was not tired, and I meditated instead of slept.
Chidghananda once told me the most incredible story. Several years earlier Anandmurti once was speaking about microvita and explained that only Taraka Brahma (the Supreme Consciounes acting as Liberator) can cause a sex to change without an operation or drugs. It is possible to change sex with the application of microvita, he explained. At the same time K. began to beg the guru to not turn him into a woman. He sat their crying and saying that he felt a change in his organs and that he was becoming a "lady." "Baba, please don't make me a lady!," he cried. Was this spectacle a “jedi mind trick” of a humorous, loving guru giving a scolding his rascally, macho disciple, or the special powers of Taraka Brahma? Who really knows.
Chidghananda was too serious about such things to spread gossip. I think he was trying to tell us all something. It has a little something to do with the law of opposites, of Heraclitian enantiodromia drama. When one goes a little too far with any form of machismo, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, the opposite, repressed and distorted force finds a way to crack the surface of one’s near-psychotic, one-sided mind and forces a radical change. "Okay macho man, now try being a woman," is what the law of karma wants to teach them. This may explain all of the bizzare sexual distortions with the monks nowadays. The cover of so many of these leaders has been blown. When younger monks lose respect for their elders, they lose faith in their own capacities as well. It is much easier to fall when one loses one's confidence. Nature, or Prakrti, doesn't let it slide, however. This kind of abuse causes very strong reactions. Sexuality is a very delicate energy and to damage it or cause distortions or harm has very intense consequences. These monks later have to live duplicitous lives and perhaps develop perversions and extreme indulgences because of this repression and distortion that escapes with a wild madness. It is much saner to live a normal, family life. It is difficult to straighten out these libido knots once they are established. One may not finish working them out in one life-time. One is perhaps reborn with all kinds of psychological complexes and/or sexual identification problems. I believe Anandamurti showed K. this law of opposites to try to get him to change course. He knew that if he continued with his machismo, then he would harm others and himself.
So often one thinks that desires are fixed instincts that one can do very little to manage except let them express themselves freely. However, many brilliant spiritual geniuses have found ways to make the energy of desire serve their spiritual purposes. The same energy that can be discharging unconscious emotions in a blind impulse can be used to study how and why desires arise in the mind. This refined, highly charged and conscious mind is capable of penetrating very deep levels of being that not many people understand how to access. A celibate respects sexuality and understands that the production of healthy semen requires good health and a lot of physical and mental energy. A celibate also understands that repression is even more dangerous than excessive expression and creates even more disturbances in the mind than expression. Therefore, it is better for most yogis to have spiritual partners. He had friends who were celibate monastics but who later decided to marry and have a spiritual marriage. Actually, there is little difference between a chaste head of family and a celibate. One does not have to be completely celibate to be chaste. Sexual relations once a week have no negative effect on the mind or body. In fact, it is a healthy practice in which the male body naturally produces an excess of seminal fluid and sexual activities once a week that only neutralizes this accumulation and reduce the tensions created by such accumulation. Fasting also balances the creation of excessive seminal fluid. Sexual intercourse more once a week may begin to reduce spiritual vitality. However, there are some people whose spiritual lives are so full that they can begin to transcend sexuality by taking vows of absolute celibacy. By not repressing or expressing this energy, it is available for other uses. Simply by seeing clearly the emotional complexes and their reactions and compensations, one can become conscious of a desire and release the desire of a dark corner of the mind where it has been pushed and neglected. This is true of all desires, not just of sexual desire. All of them are gods of a certain type; sex, anger, fear, passion .... everyone of them wants something and have their place in existence as nature has given them such intensity. It is impossible to exist without some desire. Without desire, one leaves this world. While we are here, we just have to learn how to promote the desire for a more conscious level to know its true purpose. Like a focused laser, all mature desires are aligned in an exalted desire; a pure and unbreakable attraction towards the eternal blissful witness.
The Soul Gazers
Fortunately, as a youth I was taken in and given shelter by some of the purest monastics in Ananda Marga. My first mentor, Chidghananda, whom I have written about in many writings, was considered a great saint and healer. He was a classic “sin eater.” Even though he criticized the corruption he loved everybody and even became ill himself by trying to help and heal those monastics who were falling from the path all around him. In the end these criminals created all sorts of lies about him so as to not have a pure ideal of any monastic hovering over their corrupt conscience. All monastics needed to become dirty in their minds and so that they could have some justification for continuing to fall from their path.
I knew another great healer whom I became very close to. He became a monk while still a teenager. Even before he became a monk he was imprisoned in India by Indira Gandhi for his association with Ananda Marga. A direct representative from her offered his release if he only renounce his guru, Anandamurti, but he instead remained imprisoned under cruel treatment and conditions for a few years. He considered me his spiritual son and it was easy for me to see him as a father figure. I knew he could see right through me but I never felt uncomfortable around him. He was one of the most innocent people I have ever known. One day I asked him about what gives certain people the capacity to read the minds of others. He responded to me with the desire of trying to hide an ability that people would consider very special and so he referred not to his own ability to read minds but instead to the ability of certain monks who can read minds. He said that “yes, sometimes we can read people´s minds. However, with you Westerners it is very complex. We can read your minds and see your thoughts but we have no idea why you think the crazy things that you do.”
I was roaring with laughter at the irony. Here is a man sufficiently intelligent to peer into the soul of another with pure objectivity and compassion but because of the distorted nature of our unnatural and warped thought patterns, he could not understand it all! He was not an unsocial and isolated monk. He really loved to be around people. He watched the news and read magazines. He liked music and literature and even movies if they were not vulgar or violent. For me he was a barometer of spiritual maturity and social correctness. He had never been with a woman yet did not show any fear or repression around women. He was very respectful towards them and was a great friend to my mother.
Years later, after the Purulia Arms Drop and the FBI classification as a terrorist organization, the movement fell apart completely. They hardly even exist now and most of the time that you hear anything about them it is pure scandal and degeneration. People like my “father” suffered greatly as they carried the spiritual burden of leadership and responsibility. Like Chidghananda, my “father” also became physically ill. Most of the monastics were falling into sexual scandals and had no respect for their vows of monasticism. Instead of being congruent and honest they remained monks so as to continue to feed off of the prestige and respect of others, yet roamed around like titillated tom cats ready to mount anything that moved. I wrote the following essay a few years ago while reflecting on this situation.
My initial exposure to Ananda Marga monasticism was very pure regarding sexuality. There were not so many cases of perversion. Later, after great conflicts that effected the stability of the order, people started getting into scandals. There was no longer so much spiritual inspiration or existential security within the order and people started “falling” into their repressed and distorted instincts. Ananda Marga was a spiritual society based on the practice of tantra yoga.
In the beginning, before the fall, I could see how the monastic life-style really functioned in a healthy manner. There were some older monks that never seemed to have any sexual tendencies. There were others who struggled but as long as they had a healthy spiritual environment, then they could continue with their efforts in a healthy way, without dangerous repression. And then there were the ones that had very little success in this endeavour. The monastic institution would be better off inspiring them to have family lives instead of trying to force monasticism. Otherwise, their natural, albeit repressed tendencies always lead them into trouble. Naturally, their scandals were heterosexual when they were heterosexuals and homosexual when they were homosexuals. However, there were very few homosexuals in this order when I first entered, probably not higher than the mean. The community did not seem to be a refuge for gays, as some sceptics might argue. However, as time passed and the social solidarity of the monastic society eroded there began to be more sexual scandals, and significantly more homosexual scandals. The middle group of those making a sincere and effective struggle began to slide down into the third group of those that just need to do something else and leave an unhealthy, repressed life-style.
According to a recent article I read in The Guardian citing modern social scientific data, only 7 to 10% of the population have homosexual tendencies. Within this 7 to 10%, only a small percentage of people are completely homosexual (2 or 3% of the general population) while the remaining 5 to 8% only have homosexual tendencies to varying degrees.
If societies of humans have populations with more than 10% homosexuality, I believe we would be seeing an effect of increased homosexuality caused by social conditions instead of natural, innate tendencies. Perhaps some people are born homosexual, while in others homosexuality is socially conditioned. The distinctly high manifestations of homosexuality in one particular society would seem to suggest that certain psycho-social dynamics in that particular society somehow induce homosexual tendencies. Why is there more homosexuality in such a society that there isn’t in general society? What would be the personal and social- psychological conditions that cause such a high rate of homosexuality? The most obvious examples of “false homosexuality,” or homosexuality affecting heterosexuals, is in monastic orders and prisons, which sometimes are not so different. I had always heard such rumours about the clergy of the old Church, but I never knew any of these people or was familiar with Catholicism. Later, I became friends with some more progressive Liberation Theology priests who were more honest about the hypocrisy of the supposed celibates. There is no spiritual vitality left in the church and most priests are really poorly adjusted people that don’t understand their natural impulses. The Catholic church with their very gay “Opus Dei” have propagated this plague for nearly 2000 years.
When “celibate” priests begin to manifest a sexuality that they themselves consider taboo, then the probability for an inappropriate “scandal” is quite high. I saw that people that really were not gay were later getting involved in gay relationships, both monks and nuns. And because they were not supposed to be sexually active, their sexual activity is not natural and free, but often involved inappropriate, imposed and sometimes even perverse and criminal expressions. This is what I refer to as “Opus Gei,” a dark and dogmatic idea against sexuality that eventually paradoxically binds one deeper into sexuality in ways that are not natural to one’s being and that they really don’t seem happy with. Instead of being celibate, a heterosexual becomes gay; “Opus Gei.” This concept has nothing to do with homophobia, and hopefully people would not use such an argument as a diatribe against homosexuals, but rather against hypocritical priests. Perhaps this notion may help distinguish between more innate forms of homosexuality (people actually born with physical, androgynous bisexuality) and those manifestations of homosexuality that are simply caused by temporary confusion, weakness, psycho-social maladaptation, and social decay. Birds, fishes, and many species of mammals are known to develop homosexual relationships when they were unsuccessful with heterosexual procreation attempts. They tried to be heterosexual but homosexuality was the only option available for them and they settled with it. Is it any different for monks?
Sexual Tantra -excerpt from A Name To The Nameless
When speaking about the second, or svadhistana vortex, most people immediately think of sexuality. The six vrttis or vortexes of the svadhistana vortex are indifference, depression, compulsion, lack of confidence, paranoia, and resentment. These 6 tendencies have more to do with a lack of sound grounding in one's person rather than sexuality. The sexual drive is rooted in the sensory mind, in the first vortex. The problem is that due to a lack of awareness of one's emotional and physical needs, the sexual desire often gets confounded with these defense mechanisms.
It is quite natural and healthy that the sex instinct of the sensory mind finds higher expressions in higher centers. In a balanced second vortex the sex drive hasn't reached its full maturity but still is not a blind animal instinct. It has more to do with emotional security, which is the constant theme when discussing the svadhistana vortex. The problem is that this biological instinct gets tangled up in the distortions and insecurities of the svadhistana, self-conceptual mind. The ego begins to exploit this gratification for its unconscious necessities and there is always suffering and degeneration.
I have never taken the so-called “sexual tantra” seriously. Firstly, because the only people who I have ever known to practice such things were never really balanced. Sure, they spoke of awareness and love and transmutation and all of those nice things, but it was just all too obvious that they were just sex addicts propelled by unconscious emotions. They always left a trail of harm. It may be that there were once some more conscious practices that really didn't trap people into their compulsions, but if they were in fact truthful, then would have to be based on yama and niyama, the ethical base for the practice of yoga. Most sexual relations ultimately lead one to suffering. It is a transgression of ahimsa, or no-violence, to project one's selfish urges onto another. It is no wonder that in the 2 languages that I understand, the crude word for the sexual act can be synonymous with the words cheating, deceiving, or generally harming another.
The only functional sexual tantra that I have ever known is to first be responsible and never try to harm anyone while at the same time make the indefatigable effort to try and understand the propensities of the second vortex. The sexual distortions exploit these fundamental vrttis. The more suffering, separation, and insecurity that there is in the svadhistana level, the more likely that sexuality will try and compensate for these emotions. However, these necessities are valid and are so profound and fundamental to the personality that they really need to be understood. Perhaps the blind compulsions are due to an untimely withdrawal of a mother's breast that left one sucking in nothingness. Or perhaps sexuality has aligned itself with an inner, unconscious resentment and lack of confidence that tries to outwardly seduce and dominate through sexual dominance, games, or manipulation.
I have come to think that when there is no suffering, there is no desire, and where there is no desire, there is no suffering. This is true for all desires, not just sex. Few people can really understand this. Ramakrishna once said that mundane pleasure is like a dog chewing a sharp bone and doesn't realize the “satiation” of this desire comes from its own blood. It is fear and insecurity that keep us bound into the limitation of a separate self, and therefore bound to selfish desires. Sometimes, even very highly developed minds overlook these underlying reverberations in the shadows of the emotions. The pirates to our present state of bliss are often something unseen from our past. I have found that the study of the vrttis, especially those of the svadhistana, are paramount for finding the psychological balance that permits intuitive, spiritual development.