Honesty and Bliss
(An Essay on Desire)
(c) Kristen Camp 2004
What, in truth, is the basis of desire? Is it greed or lust? Or, does it spring from something much deeper within ourselves? Is desire the base manifestation of Ego, of the Lower Self, or is it the catalyst through which we unlock the mysteries of our own Higher Selves? I have recently heard the quote, "Hair is the manifestation of Ego. At one point in our lives, we will cut off all of our hair, symbolizing the transcendance of Self." Now, that statement in itself says a few things about us, as people. Most (and I do mean most, not all!) people find some level of physical attraction in the appearance of hair and so, we groom our hair to be more attractive and use it as a tool for desire. We want people to desire us. It makes us feel good to know we are desired. We enjoy desiring others. Is this a blatant manifestation of our Lower Selves or is it by giving in to our desires that we attain higher consciousness?
Granted, our desire doesn't have to be for another person: it can be
something as simple as a favoured food, clothing, scent, what ever. The object of the desire is not what is important but since desire for another person is what I find to be the strongest in most cases, that is what I will focus on as my basis for this rant. When we desire someone, is it for their company? Their companionship? Their sexual prowess? In most cases with the strongest of desire, we can honestly say "All of the above". Don't get me wrong here, we CAN desire just one aspect of the person, be it their company, companionship, sexual prowess, sense of humour or any of a million other aspects... but when is the desire the strongest? When you desire one aspect of a person or ALL ASPECTS of a person? Yep. When you desire all aspects of a person, or even just multiple aspects without encompassing all of them, the desire is always stronger. Some philosophies teach that it is only by controlling desires
can enlightment be reached: controlling and denying nature's basic
urges that we feel within ourselves to gain ultimate control over our
own bodies and minds, this reaching higher consciousness through self-denial. Other philosophies teach that it is only by indulging every whim of our basic urges that we can attain higher consciousness: using physical, mental and emotional ecstacy as a tool to open ourselves to the higher consciousness through the altered state we enter only when every desire of that particular moment is fulfilled. Most people have felt the consequences of both philosophical states at one point or another: we deny our desires or we indulge in them.
I have found denial of desire to be one of the most powerful tools of
self-focus. It doesn't work to simply deny desire: there must be a lack of desire for the self-focus benefits to be seen. By training our bodies, emotions and mind to avoid the feeling of desire, we are free to focus on other things, such as magickal workings, meditation, etc. This is a long process and is one that must be maintained in order for the benefits to continue. We can't simply train ourselves to not feel desire and expect that instinct to just disappear. It is a never ending focus cycle and once broken, we usually have to start over again from square one to re-train ourselves. Though it seems like a long and unrewarding path, many have found peace through focusing on their inner selves and ignoring the physical desires. In fact, many live out their lives in this state perfectly happy and at peace. On the other hand, there are those of us who can't seem to break apart from the enjoyment we feel from the desire... not necessarily from fulfilling our desires, but just from the desire. Call it "the thrill of the chase" if you will, and many find themselves totally entrenched in it.
There is a certain level of self exploration that can be found through "the thrill of the chase" but I beleive that it is a limited form of self exploration at best. By allowing ourselves to feel (and sometimes purposfully build up) our desirous emotions, we can attempt to understand our own desires and thus gain a window into a portion of ourselves that many never understand: our own motivations. Do you go out to that particular bar on Saturday nights because you truly enjoy being there or is it because you enjoy watching all of the "eye candy" there? Do you get a rush or a thrill by the loud music, crowds dancing and watching attractive people or do you simply enjoy getting out of the house and like the wallpaper there? However we go through "the thrill of the chase", the chase has to end eventually and we either catch our prize or give up. This chase can be seen as merely a staging ground between one philosophical standpoint to another: denial or indulgance. When we give up on our chase, we recognize an unattainable nature in the object of our desire and then work to overcome our desire, first by denial of it and finally by letting go of it. When we win the chase and attain the object of our desire, we indulge in our own desirous feelings and feel the self satisfaction that goes along with that indulgence. Either way, it is fairly impossible to continue "the thrill of the chase" throughout any extended period of time, much less a lifetime. We can move from one chase to another, exploring our own motivations behind the chase each time but we can not continue a chase based on instinctual desire forever.
Indulgence of desire is another matter entirely. We don't have to train ourselves throughout our lifetimes to handle indulgence... we naturally enjoy it. We don't have to consciously move from one object to the next to continue our exploration into the motive: we already know the motive. We enjoy the indulgence and so we do it. Yes, life can be that simple at times. However simple it may get, there are always more levels than merely enjoyment or displeasure. At the end of the indulgence path, there is a new kind of peace, one that we haven't had to mentally, emotionally or physically train ourselves to attain. A quote from The Charge of the Goddess comes to mind: "I am that which is found at the end of desire.", which brings me to my next point. We usually think of the end of desire as the point after we have attained our desires yet before the point when we seek a new desire but, looking at it from the indulgence standpoint, it is really the point where we fully indulge in our desires and lose sight of ourselves in light of the pleasure we receive through the very act of indulgence. It would then become the point in which we forget ourselves through focusing on pure bliss. This, in itself, would be a lesson in self exploration as we would then know not only our motivations behind our desires but also those thoughts, emotions and experiences which only come in those moments of true bliss when we are totally disconnected from our Lower Selves and transcend our consciousness via esctacy. Yes, these moments can be mimicked through studious meditation and most popularly through sensory or sleep deprivation but personally I have not found that they can be entirely duplicated through these methods, only shown as a shadow rather than as the astounding blissful feeling that is found at the end of desire.
Which is better: denial or indulgence? It is different for each of us, though most of us strive to find a happy meduim between the two: denying when we feel is appropiate and indulging when we can no longer deny it. Desire is one of the many tools we may use to reach our Higher Selves and is one that some never master. Others will find that they are eternal slaves to desire while some find that they master their desires with little or no effort at all. As a tool for self exploration, it's possibilities are staggering and I wish luck to all who endeavour to understand it's mysteries.