Lust – Greed – Anger – Pride – Envy & Attachment are known as the six hindrances of human spiritual development while at the same time the six drivers of human ambition.
Based on this knowledge, is the common misconception that an ego-death is necessary in order to attain the goal. Problem is, the ego cannot die and one is ill-served when devoting one’s energy to that purpose. The violence required to subvert one’s own psychology in such ways as denial, nihilism, brute force, drugs, arbitrary belief-systems based on New Age constructs, etc. will only serve to further entrench the mind in deluded value systems resulting only in the attainment of a new shade of illusion.
Conversion, or sublimation of the six, can be addressed, firstly, through a process found in Jñana Yoga known as Viveka Samskara, or proper discernment and discrimination. In short – critical, intellectual analysis and identification of trends, patterns and results. This process gives rise to what the Buddha refers to as Right Knowledge and Advaita refers to as Anubhava or Vijñānam. It is the correct perception that all phenomenon are both eternal, or based in One Supreme Idea that is Brahman, and at the same time, illusory, or based in Maya. Adherence to doubt, personal remembrance and/or hypothetical argumentation is the root of misleading paths of knowledge.
Tantric Buddhism, sometimes referred to as Deity Yoga, or simply ritual yoga in the world of the ascetic yogin, employs further sublimation techniques on the way to the goal. These are more visual in nature, as opposed to the intellectual activity of classical Jñana Yoga. This potent aspect of mind is activated through meditation in a process known as the Tantric Imagination among other. What’s more, these processes are entirely accessible to the layman.
Clarifying one’s personal vision for life, setting achievable, realistic goals and establishing workable action plans surrounding the goals of one’s meditation is a pragmatic, practical approach to overcoming the challenges of unconscious ego. Such clarity of intention and purpose empowers and grounds oneself, enabling one to take the next step wherein one consciously uses the mind as the massively dynamic and powerful tool that it is, to manifest the reality of one’s vision. Much more productive than trying to kill off this integral aspect of the human nature!
Let’s look at Lust in one concrete example of the above processes.
- One makes the determination that among the six hindrances, lust stands out as the desire-force to be sublimated-converted.
- The process of analysis begins, with introspection, honest evaluation, knowledge over blind faith. It begins with questions and admissions.
- Why? Why is lust an issue for you? What are your beliefs concerning the detriments of lust. How is lust holding you back and/or keeping you from attaining your outcomes? Is lust really the issue? Where do your beliefs come from ie. religion, personal moral code, biological imperatives, etc. Are your beliefs valid or simple constructs created by someone else, an authority?
- What? What is the manifestation of lust that is keeping you from attaining the outcome? For instance, does a preoccupation with sexual imagery (porn, life experience, imagination, etc.) interfere with focus during meditation? Is there guilt involved, too? Guilt = fear of consequence. Fear. If your path is Ashtangha, is an adulterous past keeping you from becoming absorbed in your practice? Identify.
- Consider. Consider whether lust might be a natural product of being human, or being sentient. Consider the position of lust in your life if there were no governing authority to tell you right from wrong concerning this desire-force. Without one’s religion, before one’s education took over, what was the role of lust? Is it valid? Is there a place for lust in one’s life?
- Which? In which way would you otherwise seek to employ the energy of lust? All that energy that goes into the visualization of sexuality. All that time put into the chasing after sexuality. All the energy put into the acts themselves. All those hours and days – all that money. In which way would you otherwise use that energy, practically. Pragmatically. Physically.
- Consider. Consider that if lust were a metaphysical entity, an energy with an intelligence that could be aligned to a goal, in what way would you seek to have that energy work for you?
And then comes the Kriya, the ritual. The meditation.
There is no light switch to flip and suddenly energy is sublimated, just like there is no so-called Kundalini to fire up your spine and suddenly enlighten you just because you focus on muladhara in such a way, and hold your tongue in such a position and chant a particular mantra at the time of orgasm after holding down that desire, and raising it again, and holding back and raising it again in a series of sexual exercises in time with breath while imagining the light running up the length of your chakra bodies. That is some new age bullshit right there. But the Tantric Imagination does have a place in the ritual, it is true. But first, an essential part of the purification process is the purification of one’s own systems of recognition and control. You must be able to take control of your thought process, no longer a slave to education that may have been forced upon you at some point. You, as the Operator of your life, the observer of your will, the instigator of your drama – You, must be clear. And that is a process. And not an easy one. I introduce beginners to the path of meditation in a program called Seven Steps to Samadhi in which the first stages of Step One culminate in a good lesson on the Vajrayana Tantric Imagination. I invite you to join me in a profound Masterclass to learn more about that!
It’s hard to ask ourselves the correct questions particularly when we are under the influence of the illusion. And it’s hard to answer honestly. And it’s hard to do something about it once we’ve come that far. But only then will the subsequent rituals be supported enough to offer a potent message to the Greater Nature that is the intelligence which in turn supports our sublimation. It’s a good and Holy process and I wish you a happy journey on your path.
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.