Primal Nature (Explorations of Desire, Part Two) (c) Kristen Camp 2004

Before we can begin to explore the different ways that desire can be used as a doorway to our Higher Selves, we must first attempt to understand desire itself. Many people make the common mistake to call desire "lust", but to see it in this light is only to see a part of the whole. Webster's Dictionary defines lust as: "usually intense or unbridled sexual desire" whereas desire is defined as "to have a longing for. Desire stresses the strength of feeling and often implies strong intention or aim." According to these definitions, lust is merely a stage of sexual desire. It occurs after the seed of desire is planted within our minds yet before we reach the "indulge or deny" stage. Desire can be one of the strongest emotions that we are able to feel, sometimes growing in strength to rival the drives of love and hatred, commonly considered the two strongest human emotions. Much like love and hate, desire has the ability to cloud our thinking and our judgment, can overwhelm our mental processes and we can often find ourselves dwelling upon the object of our desire. Though this can be a healthy process and can lead to personal growth, it can also be a dangerous stage for some people to enter into if they do not possess the mental or emotional stability to handle such feelings. These people are often those who turn to unhealthy methods to feel close to the object of their desires, such as stalking, kidnapping or even worse actions. Though desire can be a dangerous emotion, it can also be a very positive experience when approached correctly. As a tool of the Lower Consciousness, it invokes aspects of our own primal natures and cries to be heard... but can it truly be used as a tool to open us to our Higher Consciousness?

As one of our most primal of emotions, some doubt the ability of desire to open that sacred gateway into the Higher Self while others believe that there is no method that allows a more true and naturally free transition between stages of consciousness. To allow one's self to be consumed by desire also means to lose sight of one's own self. At such a moment, we tend to simply forget about the rest of the world and focus on our own sensations, sending us on the rollercoaster ride that is ecstasy. As we experience this transition between desire and ecstasy, many find themselves uncomfortable with letting go of their own personal awareness and hold back from the full experience, thus lessening the ability of desire to open them to their Higher Selves. For those who are comfortable with this sensation, they find that in the moments of pure ecstasy, they experience sights, sounds and sensations that they can find at no other time without the aid of long periods of sensory or sleep deprivation, hours upon hours of steadfast meditation or the aid of drugs: a naturally heightened spiritual awareness, visual and auditory hallucinations (some even find these hallucinations to be prophetic!) and a feeling of oneness and peace with their surroundings.

The concept of "self" is one of the first parts of awareness we gain in our lives. Newborn infants learn the concept of "self" through hunger, fear, discomfort, pleasure and peace. Thus, we learn at an extremely young age to be aware of ourselves and begin to learn how to relate to others using the knowledge of ourselves as a basis for comparison. This basic knowledge forms the basis of the four levels of self-awareness: Lower Consciousness, which is often thought of as our basic instinctual urges and emotions; Consciousness, which is defined as our normal state of waking awareness; Higher Consciousness, which is considered the state of spiritual awareness and peace where self-awareness is temporarily lost; and finally Enlightenment, or Nirvana. These stages of awareness form a crisscrossing web within our psyches that experts and novices alike have sought to understand for thousands of years and are the foundation for our own unique personalities. It is thought by some that it is only by stimulating the Lower Consciousness and allowing the natural flow between awareness stages to be fully realized that we can attain a waking sense of our Higher Consciousness and thus can aid in opening the doorway to personal Enlightenment.

As creatures of instinct yet rational beings, we seek to balance our instincts with our rational minds, but what happens when our instincts override our rational thinking? We open to our Lower Selves and, with appropriate stimulation and nurturing of our primal natures, can begin the transition throughout the levels of awareness. We find ourselves losing touch with our natural state of self-awareness and transcending into Higher Consciousness, using our own Lower Consciousness as the conduit for the transition. So, here we see that it is possible to use our primal natures as a catalyst to reach our Higher Selves but what makes it possible? I believe that in order to understand how it is possible, we must see how we relate to our environment in a more spiritual sense. As spiritual beings, we hold within our essences each of the five sacred elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. As we awaken each element within ourselves, we are also widening the scope of our conscious self-awareness and sometimes we are able to manage a conscious bridge between our waking awareness and our Higher Selves.

Though we hold within us each of the sacred elements, we must work to attune ourselves to their specific energies in order to fully realize the potential forces housed within each of us. By using desire to reach our Higher Selves, we are attuning ourselves to each element in turn through the different levels of desire: attraction, infatuation, lust, indulgence and ecstasy. If this is done with awareness and purpose, we are then able to find ourselves in touch with the pure, elemental and spiritual forces hidden deep within our essences. To be able to do this, we must first understand the levels of desire and how they correspond with the sacred elements.

Attraction is a simple yet powerful point in any relationship. It is through attraction that we gain awareness of another person's physical details and personalities. It is also through attraction to someone else that we tend to notice our own physical details and personality traits. This level of desire corresponds to the qualities of the element of Earth: attention to detail, realistic vision of one's self and the tendency to work to become more physically attractive. Because attraction is just the first level of desire, it is the one that is most commonly felt. Simply noticing someone you are attracted to while you are out on your morning jog can have an influence on how you view yourself and others around you for the rest of the day.

Infatuation is felt slightly less commonly than attraction, though it is still something that all people feel regularly. Infatuation relates to the element of Air by sharing many of the same qualities that Air embodies: the tendency to become lost in fantasy, optimism and a general feeling of happiness. When we are feeling the influence of this level of desire, we tend to be less aware of our own physical presence and more aware of the presence of the object of our infatuation. We also tend to get lost in daydreams or fantasies about the person and may begin to feel optimistic about continuing our path through the levels of desire with them.

Lust, the third stage of desire, is often the strongest and longest lasting level of desire. It is also the level that we may tend to "jump to" with someone after we have already completed other the levels of desire with him or her. Lust is a natural drive in every sexually healthy person. As with the element of Fire, lust can bring out some of the best and worse in human nature: enthusiasm, a rise in daily activities, courage, daring and willpower as well as hate, jealousy, fear, anger and various forms of conflict. When we feel lust for someone who is available to us, we feel more happiness than usual, we can become very enthusiastic about pursuing the person, we may find that we have more energy, are more daring in our actions and words around the person and that we can show more willpower in situations when we know the object of our desires will be paying attention to us. When we feel lust for someone who is not available to us, we can become jealous of others, even growing to hate them and may seek conflicts as a way to deal with our own frustration. It is often this stage of desire that will be the deciding point: we pursue the object of our desire and attempt to indulge in our desires or we deny our desire and continue on through life without the indulgence.

Indulgence and the elemental force of Water have much in common: we feel and show affection and we tend to be compassionate, feel a great peacefulness and a lack of emotional control. As we indulge in our desires, our passions consume us and we begin to feel true bliss: the beginnings of ecstasy. Our emotions overwhelm us and we give up to them, losing our personal control, letting go of personal boundaries and forgetting about our sense of self-awareness in favour of the sensation of the moment. By doing so, we open ourselves to explore our Higher Selves and through extending this time of heightened sensual awareness through Tantric exercises or other methods, we can allow our Higher Self to have a stronger hold on our psyche and influence on our waking minds.

Ecstasy is the last level of desire and it is through this level that we can experience a pure loss of self-awareness, becoming totally and completely engrossed in pure sensation. Rather than having the realization that we exist as separate entities from others around us and our environment, we feel totally at peace with our environment and often feel a strong unity with our partner. Extending the moment of ecstasy can allow us to fully realize the peace and unity that it brings, even to the point of allowing us to feel totally at one with the universe itself. This extended ecstasy brings a pure, joyful bliss, which is the catalyst for a total change in our waking conscious awareness: from our normal awareness to the waking realization and unity with our Higher Consciousness. Some may even experience what is commonly termed as "Golden Moments", or short glimpses of Enlightenment, during periods of extended ecstasy. This unity with our partner and our environment is through awakening and nurturing your elemental Spirit, which allows us to feel the spiritual bond between all living beings much more acutely.

It is possible to awaken each elemental force within us through meditation, healing or other means... desire is by no means the only method in which this can be accomplished, though it is a very effective method. By understanding desire, the levels of desire and the emotional stages we go through when we experience these levels, we can begin to understand this instinctual force that drive us. As easy as it may seem to categorize levels of desire, sort and pull it apart bit by bit, it no easier to experience the force of this primal emotion. It can overwhelm us with its intensity; cloud our minds and even creep into our dreams. Desire is one of the single most powerful forces we can experience during our lifetimes if we allow it to complete its cycle. For some, it is a sobering reality-check to awaken us from our own concerns and notice something (or someone) else. For others, it is a welcome release from our daily stresses and can relieve tension, bringing happiness and joy. For yet others, it is a never ending cycle of ups and downs that envelops our thoughts and emotions on a daily basis.

Many people study the Tantric arts in an attempt to harness the power of primal desire and extend moments of ecstasy, trying to glimpse Enlightenment while many more choose to deny desire altogether as their path to Enlightenment, preferring rigid routines of meditation and self-discipline to open the path to the Higher Self. Some merely use desire as a tool to boost self-esteem or to just find a break from our daily routines. Whether you use desire as a self-esteem boost, a break from daily life, a pit stop on the path to Enlightenment or choose to deny it entirely, the fact remains that desire is indeed a very strong primal force.

When we tread the path of desire, we are opening ourselves to many levels of self-discovery, awareness and motivation. We lose touch with our civilized, every day selves and learn to embrace our primal natures and the elemental forces that lay hidden within each of us. The more comfortable we become with embracing our primal natures, the more we will be able to understand our own drives, needs and personal dreams, then we can then honestly say that we understand ourselves and can use that knowledge to understand others as well. Desire as a conduit for personal Enlightenment may have its limitations but when studied and used to its fullest potential, it has the ability to help us build a temporary bridge between our own levels of awareness, thus allowing us to broaden our scope of possibility, both physically and spiritually.


This page was created March 10, 2004 and updated on 2007-06-13.