Thursday, November 5, 2009

"My whole being was seeking for something still unknown which might confer meaning upon the banality of life." Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, p. 165

"Freud's greatest achievement probably consisted in taking neurotic patients seriously and entering into their peculiar individual psychology...The impetus which he gave to our civilization sprang from his discovery of an avenue to the unconscious." p. 168-69

"It may well be said that the contemporary cultural consciousness has not yet absorbed into its general philosophy the idea of the unconscious and all that it means, despite the fact that modern man has been confronted with this idea for more than half a century. The assimilation of the fundamental insight that psychic life has two poles remains a task for the future." p. 169, written in 1961

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tantric Sex and Soul Making

Someone recently asked me why anyone would fast from food, sex or anything pleasurable. They said it sounded like unnecessary deprivation.


I suppose you could call it deprivation, which simply means 'suspension,' but I think that you are using the term in a sort of misunderstood Catholic sense, or stereotyped Catholicism. Many people today see no purpose in missing one minute of pleasure just as television and radio want no 'dead air' time. If the senses are not being engaged and titillated 100% of the time, says the modern person, you are wasting a good life.

But the Catholics originally understood the importance and necessity of the spiritual disciplines, specifically fasting, for expansion of consciousness (like Augustine, Ignatius, Francis, etc.) Pleasure was seen as coming from God, but 'deprivation' was also necessary. Here is why.

The European mystic Gurdjieff called it 'voluntary suffering.' Pain is in the cosmos in order to cause the soul to expand. One of his students said this when it was suggested that we do away with all suffering, "To destroy suffering would mean...destroying a whole series of perceptions for which man exists, and...the destruction of the 'shock,' that is to say, the force which alone can change the situation." (ISOTM308), Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous

This view did not glorify pain and suffering, but recognized it as purposeful rather than accidental or the unfortunate result of human failure or sin. Just as the inanimate world must have big bangs, explosions, collisions and disasters (literally stars or planets going astray), so too human psycho-spiritual evolution requires 'disasters'. All religious groups have recognized this fact by declaring times of fasting or other 'deprivational' practices. If we don't volunteer, the universe will eventually enforce them on us in order to expand or evolve consciousness; it is a kind of cosmic and psychological compensatory action/reaction as seen in the Chinese Tao Te Ching:

As it acts in the world, the Tao
is like the bending of a bow.
The top is bent downward;
the bottom is bent up.
It adjusts excess and deficiency
so that there is perfect balance.
It takes from what is too much
and give to what isn't enough.

Some forms of tantric sex involve expanding consciousness through desire. Suspending orgasm allows the shakti or energy to move in another direction, up through the chakras toward soulful liberation.

These various temporary suspensions, when done with clarity, cause one to pay attention to his/her troubled and disturbed sensations, thoughts, feelings, fantasies, night dreams and other non-conscious material that shakes loose into consciousness. I see these troubling 'Emotions' as living archetypal Presences Who are being stirred up and shaken loose. These new aspects of the Self are rising into consciousness. The 'revelations' that occur are sometimes written down and become 'apocalyptic.'

Like physical work outs, one has to change their exercise routines -- repetitions and other regular patterns must shock the muscles because the body becomes habituated and stops developing. The same is true of consciousness; regular patterns (habits, addictions) become stuck in blissful ignorance, limiting consciousness. Like Adam and Eve, it often takes a traumatic, out of the ordinary event to shock and expand us outside the of the psychic Garden in order to grow a soul.

That's why disasters and pathologies are so important in this cosmos -- in order to evolve the universal, global and psychic topographies. It may be deprivation, but when done with a purposeful and conscious aim, it is very beneficial to the expansion of soul.