When the mind is caught up with a duality, it has no option but to choose. Paradoxically, is that choice the one that will bring a terrible fight with the nonchosen one.
Pleasure and Pain are one example of such duality.
For centuries, the religious and moral teachings have been made to frown upon pleasure. Even the word “sinful” has been used to label it.
The “spiritual” teachings to deny the physical world and the senses, in the imaginary pursue of something “pure” in the “spirit” world; is utopia.
Life has many dimensions. Every dimension has a particular consciousness, a particular experience.
To deny the physical experience for the sake of pretending to attain a subtler state of being, is to deny Life.
When we deny Life in pursue of an ideal, we are not living harmoniously in the “now.”
The conditioned mind, understands what is “right” or “wrong.” That is the duality that our minds feel comfortable with.
Throw the word “harmony,” and the mind can only think of that as being the opposite of “imbalance.”
A dictionary definition does not bring the experience.
Harmony is the equilibrium of opposites.
Life works through opposites. Pain and pleasure are opposite experiences which are part of living Life in our dimension.
To deny them to attain the ideal of “freedom” is to become paradoxically, slave of such duality.
Humans throughout time; have chosen to embrace pain, sacrifice, martyrdom as the epitome of goodness, moral, sainthood, etc. In this “choice,” rejection of pleasure has brought an unbalanced Life.
Others have embraced pleasure as a reaction, as to desperately indulge in it to take their painful existence away from it; but as we deny one side of a duality, it will appear stronger in our lives.
Overcoming a duality is not a matter of rejection. It is a matter of balance, that is the ability to live Life in harmony with the internal and external elements, moment by moment. This balance needs to have the capacity to change and modify according to the circumstances, it is dynamic.
As we could see, it is not about defining ideals by embracing some and rejecting others.
As we dare to live outside of the conditioned mind, we will observe that balance as a gut feeling will take us back to the sensation of harmony. In that state, the word “overcoming” has no meaning. The “inner equalizer” will bring the stability to BE life itself. Equal to Life.
How do I get there?
You don’t. There is nothing to accomplish. Nothing to “work on.” When you ARE, you will not know it.
It is openness. There is no method to “achieve it.”
Be AWARE that only something that is closed, could be open.
Your potential to be open, is equal to your potential to be closed.
That is why, inner knowledge is about finding out how closed we are.
But we don’t want to see that. We want the fairy stories of “achieving” love and happiness, we “want” the utmost open state of BEING; when we ARE closing down… However, once the door is shut down, it could be open.
Perhaps most “spiritual gurus” out there will not take this topic into consideration. It is a taboo.
For most individuals, pleasure through the senses is confined through moral standards and preconceptions of what is “good” and proper and what is “bad,” sleazy.
Our senses and the pleasure that they can bring harmonize our existence in the physical plane. Sensuality, sexiness, eroticism, seductiveness, etc. All words relating to sensuality. “Sinful” is the connotation most have in their minds.
Because of ideals of morality and prudishness; the simple enjoyment of our senses is limited and even avoided.
Out of all the pleasures that man could enjoy, to eat is considered “good” by most cultures.
As other senses are included, restrictions will arise. Pleasure becomes a mental task limited by imaginary lines. Fulfilment is not experienced through these self-imposed limits which appear through our conditioning.
What is the result?
A human who is incapable to relax, to enjoy. Deep enjoyment is deep relaxation.
Our society has been conditioned to accept that to endure pain and suffering is a way to show “spiritual maturity.” Pleasure on the other hand, which is the other side of that duality; is dismissed or secretly embraced.
Sex is one of those pleasures which humans have looked for ways to control, deny or splurge on in the name of “spirituality.”
The acknowledgement of sensuality starts in little things: walking in grass barefooted, taking the time to smell the fragrances of flowers, swimming in the Ocean unencumbered of thoughts, taking sunshine and becoming aware of the Sun’s rays caressing your body, etc.
When pleasure takes effect, an automatic relaxation will be felt as our breathing slows down rhythmically: We have surrendered to that experience. The moment will cease to be when pleasure transforms into uncomfort, even pain. That is the natural course of this duality.
Nevertheless, for most; it is the mind and thoughts which will end the experience in a premature way; thus there will be unfulfillment.
This continuous state of unfulfillment craves for more pleasure to counter pain/sadness/anguish/anxiety therefore, addiction sets in.
An addicted individual will end up hurting himself. That is why our moral standards, our prudishness is there as protection, but the emotion of guilt is the outcome.
The culprit is not pleasure or sensuality. The issue is our constant thoughts who will not allow us to enjoy. Thus, “(I can get no) satisfaction…” 🙂
Therefore, many “new age” spirituality concerned with “freedom” of expressing ourselves and sending the message to the masses to “liberate themselves” through the experience of sensuality; are missing a very important point: When there is mind, there cannot be fulfillment. Without fulfillment, there is no joy. Thus, inner awareness of our mind, beliefs and traumas is the first step, without it there is exhausting debauchery.
Sensuality starts when the mind ends. That state of “spirituality” hasn’t been experienced by many.
AWARENESS is not something to practice. It is something to be aware of…
How to make sense of that sentence? We heard so much about being AWARE, but all we have are beliefs, interpretations, concepts, information of what that is thus, useless stuff for self-realization.
“Useless” is the right word. It has to be experiential to be able to understand, to know.
Here is an “exercise.” It is not something to “practice.” It is something to fully experience. If you cannot fully experience it, if you cannot let yourself go, then repeat it again.
Find a full size mirror, those that will allow you to observe most of your physical body.
If you are fully clothed, you will probably be alright. The conditioning is to look at the clothes to see if they are wrinkled, if they match, if they look good on you, etc.
Now, take your clothes off. Observe your body and your face fully while doing this “exercise.” Did you notice your tummy? The size of your sexual organs? The color of your skin? The wrinkles in your face?
Did you notice how you feel while observing those elements of your body?
AWARENESS resides in that.
Did you feel shame? Did you blush and feel embarrassed?
In that moment, that is who YOU are.
Isn’t it silly to get embarrassed by looking at your own body?
That is where the hang up resides. Look for the root of it.
Did you like your body?
That is sick! You are supposed to like someone else’s body but not your own. Perhaps you have some homosexual issues… huh?
That’s it! You found another trauma. Go to the root of it. A body is a body. There is beauty in the body. Appreciate it. Enjoy the moment.
Want to go on with the exercise?
OK. Caress your face while looking at the mirror. What do you feel? Caress your chest. What do you feel? Caress your sexual organs. What do you feel?
Masturbation is “bad”! I shouldn’t touch myself! Do you recognize that thought? What is the difference between touching your face and your sexual organs? Find the beliefs, the taboos. Observe how you feel. Be aware of it.
How could you enjoy pleasure with all of those hang ups, taboos and beliefs in morality and decency?
You cannot. Your mind will not allow you. It is not the ACTION what makes something “sinful.” It is what you feel while DOING it.
How do you “love yourself” if you cannot accept what you see and what you feel by touching your own precious body?
Do you take care of it? Now you are aware…
Want to go deeper? Now self-pleasure yourself in front of the mirror. Look at your face but even more important, observe what you feel. Observe the taboos, the moral standards, the traumas flowing…
Do you feel shame? How about guilt? Someone watching you?
Be AWARE of all of that to discover who you truly are.
Observe how all of that inside you is being covered by decent words, spiritual concepts, Godly morality, that stuff is defining you, coercing you to comply with the conditioning. Discover the root of it, liberate yourself!
There cannot be innocence while looking at your image in that mirror and caressing yourself, until that rust accumulated over many Life experiences, is cleaned up, cleared. For that stuff will be the “inheritance” you will give to others close to you.
Become AWARE of that.
In our society suffering, immolation, sacrifice, etc. have a “good” connotation. Typically, it is the “I” giving up itself for others.
Pleasure, sensuality, sexiness, etc. have a “bad” connotation. It is the “I” being ego centered, hedonistic, indulging himself rather than “helping others.”
Our morality is based on the dichotomy of those values.
Pleasure is mostly condemned and suffering exalted, considered “spiritual.”
Suffering, immolation, sacrifice are always of the “I.” It is the “I” suffering for others, to become better, to accomplish things. This could be easily labeled as Love but it is not. Giving yourself for others without the “I” in between, is indeed Love. The difference cannot be told by the media, the masses, the lawyers… Thus, behind an action there is always an intention, not known by the “others” and mostly rationalized by the “I” to fit an image of sainthood. In time, this becomes absolute hypocrisy.
Paradoxically, pleasure is fulfilling in the experience of “no-I.” If there is an “I” wanting to experience pleasure, that pleasure will be unfulfilling for the “I” cannot reach satisfaction, the ego-mind will continually disturb the experience of pleasure.
Sex is a great example to illustrate the above.
Individuals condemning pleasure in the name of morality, have already a strong conditioning against sexuality. The “I” wants to be in “control” in an experience which is meant to abandon the control of the “I.” A person is unable to be fully present, in the “now” while thinking about being in “control.” We can learn a lot about ourselves from our sexuality.
When the “I” looks for pleasure, it cannot resist the sensations but yet the experience may be unfulfilling. Thus, it becomes addictive. The mind will keep a dream of pursuing full satisfaction which cannot exist.
Thus, the avoidance or regulation of sensual pleasure is preached by many religions and societies. The “rebels” of this sort of morality act in rejection of established moral values, but they are still influenced by the morality of guilt and sin, deep inside.
Their reactionary movement lacks awareness, for with awareness there is no need to be reactionary.
Suffering is used by religions and moral laws as expiation of “sin.” The morality of guilt and shame is created through the exaltation of suffering as a means to redeem the individual from “sin.”
Suffering and pleasure are 2 ends of the same experience. The experience of one side, brings necessarily the other. Therefore, moral values rejecting one side to promote the other are unrealistic, utopic.
Our conditioning is to reject one side of a duality. At this time, that teaching/belief is outdated and detrimental. Integration of all energies, is very important at this time. Here is where the balancing act resides, where harmony in the self means harmony with the world, the Totality.
Suffering and pleasure are part of living Life at this time.Embrace them. They are not meant to be a traumatic experience unless we make it that way; but only a particular and passing experience of the vast range of experiences in Life. It is the dolphin swimming in the ocean: Now you see it, a minute later you will not… yet the Ocean remains with Life. 🙂
“Since Life presents many perspectives which are labeled by humans according to their conditioning, what is the point of a spiritual path?”
To be ONE with Life. However, that cliche answer is not truly what it is.
“Then… what is, what is?” 🙂
We are already ONE, but we are not aware of it.
To “gain” that awareness, there have been 2 apparently contradictory paths. One is the path of Yoga (Union) the other, is the path of Tantra (Openness/Expansion.)
Observe that in Life, paradoxically openness and union are the same exact thing.
The question is: Who opens and who is in union?
Thus, the “I” is the main thing, the link between those 2 apparently contradictory paths. That is why all paths return to the “I.”
In Yoga, the “I” is the last thing for someone to become fully aware of. It is the path of resistance, struggle, suffering of the “I” to become something else, greater, improved, magnificent. I am not referring here about memorizing the definitions of Patanjali about yoga or the practice of pretty asanas like in the “yoga” studio near you.
Yoga is the will power to be someone else and the struggle to make it happen through controlling the mind.
In Tantra, the “I” is the first thing to become aware of, by going into the beliefs systems, taboos, hang ups, ideals, moralities… all of that which makes up the “I.” It is the path of pleasure, enjoyment, openness, by being “nothing,” that is being away from the mind. Thus, emphasis on unlearning, leveling the mind, regaining innocence of a child and not trying to be someone… such as “equal to God.” Taoism is closest to Tantra than any other path. However; to understand it we need to live it, experience it and put all books aside.
I can put this writing together about yoga and tantra into 2 pages long, because it is my Life experience. It does not come from a book. Although many salesman are putting together their own versions of yoga/tantra, know that in “reality” those labels only describe a Life experience and every salesman, only puts their own flavor in it. Their “creation” is ready to be sold with the “right” package. Happily, purchased by the masses who are looking to solve their problems by taking that “magic” pill. Let me share with you something that I have found true in my journey: Every book/writing which has been of any help in my journey, has always been free of charge, easy to download. No salesman involved.
Yoga and Tantra are 2 ends of the same continuity. When the “I” becomes someone equal to “God,” then to be in union with Life, that “someone” will need to go away. But that is at the end of the “yoga” journey.
In Tantra, that “union” preached by Yoga, arrives when the “I” opens up to Life. Open, open, expand, until the “I” is no longer there…
In your Life at this time, you may be living your interpretation, your creation, of one of those 2 paths. However, a fruit matures at the end of the journey. Thus, in spirituality, in Life the journey is to go through both paths without choosing, without making a brainy “selection” coming from the “I.” Life will give the opportunity when the “aspirant” is ready.
I realize that “yoga” has a name recognition. A “good” name. Easy to follow. Easy to understand. Tantra instead, has a “bad reputation.”
To go into the path of pleasure, before having experienced fully the suffering of the “I,” means to find suffering in pleasure. Nevertheless, as we know; all experiences are “good.” They are part of the journey.
“How do you label your own journey then?”
In this life I could call it: From yoga to tantra. The offspring of that marriage is Ahnanda.
Both, yoga and tantra; are paths of self-discovery. Life may give someone a book, another a guru, yet to another a spirit-guide, etc. The means are different, but the end is the same: Self-discovery. To be one with Life.
Self-realization is a gift to mankind. The “I” offers itself to be no-self.
The “I” with all its tricks, desires, wants, plans, etc. will go away little by little creating pain and agony in “going away” from Life, just to be someone different, unknown, mysterious.
That offer is not related with an ulterior motive. It is to be part of the Totality through a particular role, according to time.
In a way self-realization is unpredictable like death. We could plan all we want for the future, but when the time arrives, there is no going back.
While experiencing this “death,” there is very little interest in any hopeful belief system for the future; in the “after life.”
Being one with Life is not in the future. It is right now.
The wonderful “I” with all his beliefs of salvation and a better Life in the future are left aside to embrace what is now. Fulfillment, enjoyment, appreciation of Life are in the “now.”
Here there is no praying necessary, nor any special offers to the Gods to be made. There is no promise of any kind to no one.
Life has no promises other than being what is, thus a feeling of appreciation to Life is the ingredient to enjoy it.
We are free.
Do we want a method to reach “heaven”?
Do we want everlasting “insurance” and good “karma”?
Do we want to be happy in this Life?
Then, why is it that Self-realization is not being preached to others, why is it not being taught to others rather than beliefs in everlasting life in the afterlife?
We cannot teach it or preach it. It is not something to be taught or learned from a book. No one knows how to get “there,” even if there is experience of it.
That is why there are so many beliefs and so many holy books instead. Those are things that most everyone could understand or interpret, the method to “get there;” to attain that “special” state, everyone wants to play it safe by following a “planned out” trip to “Heaven,” “risk free.”
All you need to do is to believe, to follow, to entertain yourself with the thought that you are getting there, becoming, arriving … soon…
If there is no method, if there is no way to proactively pursue and obtain that self-realization, what could be “done” to attain it?
Nothing. So enjoy what is.
It is not about “doing.”
It will happen when we are ready, not before or after. “Being” ready is not about “doing” things.
When we have gone through the experiences of the pendulum of Life from one extreme to the other, and our capacity for experiencing suffering has reached its peak, in the depth of that darkness; perhaps light could be seen.
As the “I” takes that helping light to move out of that space of suffering, the “I” perhaps will realize through the experiences of Life, that there is only suffering because there is “I.”
That is a day to celebrate!
The very thing the “I“ has been struggling to and searching everywhere to attain, is in the absence of that “I.”
The medicine resides in the disease.
Suffering= “I.” Pleasure= “I.”
Thus, duality = “I.”
Nevertheless, observe how our society from time immemorial, has been trying to build up that “I,” through beliefs in the eternal permanence of that “I.” Isn’t that ironic?
Some say “Life is suffering.”
That is nonsense; although many are repeating and spreading that line of “spiritual wisdom.”
Life is the mirror of the “I.”
The “I” suffers.
How is the “I” capable of being one with Life?
It does not mean that we shouldn’t feel pleasure or pain. NO! It means that while experiencing those experiences we could understand the “I.”
The trauma of the experience, the anxiety, the neediness, the “I cannot live without it” state or the “I need more of that;” those are the ingredients which acknowledge a well built up “I.”
If we stop the urge out of compulsion to practice asceticism or if we go all out for it in full indulgence, both extremes will increase our experience of suffering. It is the “I” driving the show.
Do we see that?
Thus, the middle-way… which is not “middle-way,” but there are no words to express inner balance within Life.
The word is harmony. Behind that word there is absolute emptiness.
Ohh.. now I get it! That is why the “I” cannot “do” anything to become one with Life!
Because anything the “I” does, takes the “I” away from Life. It is the doing of the “I” which gives greater presence to the “I.”
You said it. However, know that it cannot be said. For everything which is said, it is half-truth and half-false. Duality within words.
Words are only deceiving pointers to a place with no name.
Do you see the “truth” of this article?
See its “falsehood” as well.
The “truth” cannot be written in words.
Until July 6th! 🙂
Isn’t sensual pleasure part of the experience of living life?
Why it has been denied in many ways and in many beliefs?
The word “spirituality” is identified by many as “beyond the body.” To reach that belief of “beyond the body” for many, it is about denying the body. That acceptable practice could be mystified by adding another word to it: Purity or to purify our self.
Pain and suffering could be easily accepted as “life lessons” or “karma” but the experience of pleasure is to be rejected as “non-spiritual.” 😉
We accept one side and reject the other. That surely will bring issues in our lives.
Individuals nowadays are addicted to thinking. Their feelings have been shut down. Because the mind is always looking to repeat a pleasurable experience, then addiction appears.
“Thinking” when it is related to pleasure means repetition. Something to compare to. Something to enhance every time, to make it “better.”
When the mind meets an experience in life full of thoughts, taboos, beliefs and traumas, it is obvious that there will not be a fulfilling experience, even while that is pleasurable.
Thinking separates the subject and the object. It is in that separation when “loneliness” arrives. However, not only loneliness arrives but everything else that we believe to be “me.”
Neediness, emotional traumas, addictions, taboos, beliefs, etc.
Pleasure or desire is the opportunity to calm or fill even momentarily our own feeling of emptiness through something beyond our sense of self.
That is how pleasure was satanized by cultural beliefs and religions, for it became an addiction.
“I” could enjoy a party if paradoxically; “I” am not there. That means the baggage that comes with thinking about “me.” That “me” only exists in my mind.
“I just want to be myself.” 🙂 It is actually “no-self.”
To get out of thinking and the world at the “office,” where logic, analysis and research is needed, we may need to open our feelings. We could do that when we experience the “non-I” which we could find in Nature.
To increase our ability to enjoy life means to decrease our capacity to think.
Our culture worships thinking and forgets about feelings.
Too much thinking kills our feelings and without feelings, we cannot enjoy life.
Pleasure is enjoyed when “I” am not there and because of that, “I” let things happen.
That enjoyment is fulfilling because there is no “I” there to think about it…
At that point, I am living in the “now.”
Sex and pleasure are not bad or evil. It is the condition of our minds which make something “ugly” out of an experience.
Drinking a glass of beer is not bad. Unless you are an addict. (That is a mind condition.)
If I say: “Beer is bad. It is impure…” all I am doing is reinforcing fear to drinking beer and denying the experience of it. Beer becomes a “problem” in my mind.
If you want for something to be remembered continuously in your mind, all you have to do is deny it to yourself, then it becomes a “problem.”
Religions will find a childish solution to that “problem.”
“There is something better than beer.”
“There is paradise in the future where you could enjoy.” Deny yourself now. Repress yourself now. Wait for the future, wait for enlightenment.
“There is a non-sensual pleasure in meditation which is better than physical pleasure.”
“Connect to God and you will not feel the body.”
For God’s sake… the issue is our minds. The issue is our addictive thinking, everything else gets colored by the condition of our minds.
A belief of the suppression of something to cure our minds is like patching our internally bleeding heart with an external band-aid, so everyone could see that “ our bleeding has stopped” but we are the only ones who can feel otherwise.