Tuesday, February 19, 2013

TANTRA to tansmute the base to the sublime

Dhr. Seven and Yogini Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
If only tantric sex could lead to more than a momentary epiphany. Yogic union and Oneness are not Buddhist enlightenment, which is final liberation (cartoonstock.com).

Sex is nice. Sex is soothing. Sex is sexy. But sex is not the way to enlightenment (bodhi). So can it help?
There was an entire movement in Vedic India that came to be known as tantra -- sublimating a base practice into something worthy of a temple or monastic (disciplined self-development) complex.
Indian temple depicts tantric sex (uglypeople.se)
When we approach any ordinary activity -- sitting, walking, eating, answering the call of nature -- with mindfulness, we begin to imbue it with a higher purpose.
Any beneficial action becomes a parami (a perfection, super profitable karma, high merit, punya) when the motivation behind it is gaining nirvana. So we can eat to indulge our desire to enjoy sweets and savories. Or one can do it to survive and energetically persist in support of gaining enlightenment (bodhi) and complete freedom (nirvana).

Enlightenment and nirvana happen when the causes and conditions for their realization are present. They will not come into being by themselves. But they can be "brought into being" (bhavana). It takes serenity, mindfulness, purification, focus, persistence, and insight. All we learn about meditating -- that is, bringing things into being -- may not do it if the foundation is not established.

Try practicing vipassana ("insight" meditation) without sufficient samadhi (absorption or jhana), and it will not produce the promised results. That can be so frustrating that one abandons the Path as ineffective. What can we expect when we pick and choose what we like about Buddhism as if it were a buffet table? The Buddha's teachings are actually a gradual path of development that lead us up to and into the final goal.

A yantra (instrument) is a meditation tool, a kind of visual-mantra (wiki).
Enlightenment is not the ultimate goal; nirvana is. They are very related but not the same. The stages of enlightenment lead from stream-entry, which glimpses nirvana, to arhatship, final liberation, safety, the release from all bonds, utter emancipation here and now in this very life.

NOT the Buddha: Tantrika on yogi.
Sex binds us to thirst (tanha) or sensual craving. We want more and more until our senses are fried. But tantric sex tries to use this dangerous fire to avoid the pit, the abyss of craving, and make it useful -- leading to a sense of union with the breath, with each other, with the world(s) we inhabit.

Of course, most people fool themselves and attempt to fool other, looking for the first in the guise of the second. What can be done? The fire turns around and certainly burns one. Let go. There is a better approach to sex, to eating, to "striving," to meditating.

Greek worshiped Eros (Kama)
The bliss available to the Buddhist shamatha-meditator goes from serene to sublime, from unfamiliar joy (piti) to happiness/bliss (sukha).
It is certainly better than sensual enjoyment, but it is not the goal. For the sake of it or the freedom beyond, one withdraws the senses, secludes and guards the mind/heart, pulls the body away from distractions and debasements.
This is very natural, for one wishes to preserve this very subtle pleasure that suffuses the body and gladdens the heart.
Make Love Not War (Spookychild/Deviantart)
What is the body's greatest distraction? Of all the five strands of sense pleasure, sex tends to be the strongest for most people. Of course, some stuff themselves with food/tastes, others with sounds, sights, and even cerebral pleasures. But the draw of sex is very powerful. It is most amenable to sublimation, a psychological term that means transmuting or transforming from dense to subtle, from base to elevated.

We can hit it, hit it, and quit it. Or another possibility is romance and a denouement, a skillful build up to a crescendo. Sex with someone for the sake of love (closeness, caring, recognizing) can actually be more fulfilling than sex for the sake of impulsive lust (objectifying, avoiding intimacy and vulnerability).

As men we say, LUST all the way! As women we smile and wink but feel we must speak up for LOVE. We all experience lust, males and females; we can all come to enjoy love. And we can even go beyond that! Sex is not the way to enlightenment. But sex can be better than the way we usually treat it.

No comments: