Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sublimation: Transforming Drains into Wells

Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Amber Dorrian, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly; Vocabulary.com

Christy Turlington (sportsforus.com)
To sublimate is a chemistry term used in psychology. To sublimate is to go from a solid state into a more rarefied gaseous one, from dense to vapor without melting in between.

We can turn what drains us into what fills us, transforming drains into wells and reservoirs of energy. In psychology, sublimating means going from base to sublime. Imagine sitting on a meditation mat in a hall feeling restless -- beset by one or more of the Five mental/heart Hindrances: craving, anger, restlessness, sleepiness, doubt.

Done right, it is bliss and joy unutterable!
There will be no successful meditation. (But sitting through it, not getting up, is also progress. It is also meditating. This is true even if it seems like it has been a complete waste of time. In time, over time, with time and diligence, one notices that one has come a long way. One has gone from being scattered to being able to sit as one wishes rather than being controlled by mental aberrations and disruptive emotions. One becomes cool. "Cool" is a synonym of nirvana, which is quenching, slaking, extinguishing the defilements and aberrations that cause and support suffering, woe, and sadness).

Meditation becomes possible anywhere once it is mastered in silence and peace (gaynerdlife)
Now imagine sitting in a hall or cave or wherever and moving from restlessness to calm, from thirsty (tanha) to quenched (cooled).

Going from anger to appeasement, sleepiness to energized, confusion to clarity (doubt or confidence) -- all of these are examples of sublimation. These five have antidotes. 

America loves Science of Yoga
The Five Hindrances have opposites in Buddhism which are called the Five Factors of Absorption.
Another word for absorption (jhana) is "meditation." Jhana is the Sanskrit dhyana, which means "zen," or ch'an (Chinese), words that are synonymous with meditation, with cool, with calm collectedness (the right understanding of concentration, which does not mean trying and striving but rather getting into the flow, effortless ease, the Tao, the way, the path).
The hindrance or defilement becomes more subtle so we can continue being still, applying the mind, giving applied and sustained attention to a meditation object, to "meditating." This becomes the case even if at first we do not want to, if we do not "feel like it," if we can't. We sublimate the impulse into something useful. Anger can be fierce determination, as one hears so much about in tantra-influenced Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism sometimes also called Tantrayana). The DAKINIS are all about turning fierce "spirits" or moods into useful ones that advance rather than retard us along the path.
Well, for one thing, it explained your neuroses.
Psychologists and some meditators use the verb sublimate to describe the process of channeling intense energy into something useful and appropriate. The meditator may turn the intense energy of the Five Hindrances into determined diligence that open up the Path as the Five Factors of Absorption (jhana-anga, the limbs of "right concentration").  

According to Vocabulary.com, sublimate is related to the word sublime. Both words come from the Latin word sublimare, which means "to raise up" or "to exalt." So a struggling sitter finally being able to effortlessly meditate is a superior -- a more exalted -- situation. If suffering hurts, the cool peace of nirvana holds out the promise that we are not in a hopeless situation. It can get better, so much better that the goal comes into view and our happiness runneth over.

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