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May 12, 2009

Teachings on Love (7): From Lust to Ecstatic Union

There is a way to enslave the arising of lust in the midst of physical intercourse to the service of a higher manifestation of love. To experience this phenomenon for more than an instant requires exceptional luck, or extraordinary good karma, or many years of unselfish service in practice. The practice approach is of course the most reliable path, for then one can recreate the conditions for its repetition as required.

To achieve this effect, lust must be subsumed within something much larger and greater than itself. Most people experience lust in one direction only: instead of subsuming lust within themselves, they find themselves subsumed within a compulsive craving that seems beyond management or escape. Higher manifestations of love are unattainable from such a place. Minnows cannot through imagination make themselves bigger than the sea. They must find extraordinary means to expand far past their usual limits.

The surest means for growth of human consciousness is the creation of the habit of pure Witnessing of all that is. Despite lust’s intensity, Witnessing is no less effective in transformation of it than with other phenomena.  As the Witnessing function of Self-Observation (and other meditative techniques) strengthens with practice over time, consciousness unfurls in a gentle, radiative expansion. If extended far enough, for long enough, then the tender embrace of love cultivated through Witnessing  inexorably loosens the white-knuckle grip of lust. But this work demands a dedication that few are able or willing to make. 

Those who persevere, and refuse to settle for false coin, surely experience the loosening of the grip of lust.  When the shift happens, the practitioner may redirect the tenacious energies of lust to further intensify the clear Witnessing of the inexpressible beauty of the beloved. The context thus created retains lust as an element during sex, but one that has been relegated to a more becoming status, because the practitioner can see every facet of the partner, and not simply a delusional fantasy generated by desire.  The beloved is perfect, without need of amendment or reform.  In that place of true Witnessing, no judgment clouds vision, and all that is, is as it should be. The practitioner sees both “virtues” and “flaws” of the beloved alike as exquisite adornments inherent in the being of the beloved.

In that eternal moment, lover and beloved partake of a mutual Presence enabled by grace. Thus ecstatic union shreds the dark of night.

But do not debase this ideal with the delusion that this achievement is cheap or easy, or that you personally have ever even approached it for more than a lucky instant. Resting in this place demands payment comprised of a purity of rigorous practice that only saints achieve—but who ever said you couldn’t aspire to holiness?  Be honest with yourself about your past and present capacities; but simultaneously recognize that the fervent yearning toward greatheartedness is the birthright of all. In sacrificing lust for love, serve well, and you will be well served.


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