I’m preparing to teach a class on embracing daily sensual pleasure (check it out!), and have been doing extensive reading on the topic in order to enhance the class experience. As a result, I’ve been reading some fairly diverse books lately – from sketchy massage guides to scientific studies that included several accounts of cannibalism. (Don’t worry, neither of those sources made it into the class material.) Of course, no study of pleasure and sensuality is complete without reading about Tantra. I’m not talking about the Kama Sutra, but Tantra as a whole – an offshoot of Buddhism that focuses on enlightenment through desire. I don’t fully understand it yet, but I’m intrigued. In reading, I came across an idea so interesting that I wanted to share it with you this week. This is from OSHO’s The Tantra Experience: Evolution through Love:
“The most basic thing about Tantra is this – and very radical, revolutionary, rebellious – the basic vision is that the world is not divided into the lower and the higher, but that the world is one piece. The higher and the lower are holding hands. The higher includes the lower, and the lower includes the higher. The higher is hidden in the lower – so the lower has not to be denied, has not to be condemned, has not to be destroyed or killed. The lower has to be transformed. … The word devil comes from divine; it is the divine not yet evolved, that’s all. … The Devil is on the way towards the divine; it is not the enemy, it is the seed. The divine is the tree fully in bloom, and the Devil is the seed – but the tree is hidden in the seed, and the seed is not against the tree. In fact the tree cannot exist if the seed is not there. The tree is not against the seed; they are in deep friendship, they are together.”
While there is a lot of potentially fun debate to be had about the credibility of OSHO, and his assertion that Tantra is the only religion that embraces nonduality, I’m going to leave those alone for the moment. What I want to talk about this week is looking at our dark sides and seeing if we can’t do some transformation of our own.
Confronting Your Shadow
“I sensed great darkness within you. You have to be careful to choose the light each day and not walk in that direction.” This was said to me by one of my dearest friends, an empath, after performing an energetic healing on me which left me feeling completely raw and exposed. It was a moment out of my worst nightmare. My father was a sociopath, and my greatest life fear has always been turning out to be like him. Hearing that my beloved friend saw darkness within me and feared it nearly unhinged me. Luckily my shaman friend was also present, and was able to help me see this as an opportunity for growth presented by my higher self. It forced me to confront a lifelong fear that was so scary I couldn’t even look at it. In doing so, I realized that it’s rather ridiculous. I’m not my father. I don’t hurt people on purpose. I have no reason to believe I’m suddenly going to start.
Having so much fear around the fear kept me from ever looking at it directly and evaluating it. It drained my energy. It held me back. It made me afraid to “claim my own power.” I hate that phrase – what does it mean, exactly? But it feels right. If I lead a small life, and turn into my father, my damage to those around me will be minimal. If I lead a big life, and turn into my father, the damage I could cause would be terrifying. It didn’t occur to me – until I had to look at it – that trying to shrink my sphere of influence to mitigate any potential harm was proof in itself that I’ve chosen to be different than my father. Is that potential within me? Yes. Is that the choice I would ever make? No. Once examined, it seems silly. When I was afraid to even look at it, it seemed monstrous.
So this week, I’m inviting you to try this yourself. I don’t think it’s the best idea to jump straight to your worst nightmare fear. When this happened for me, I was surrounded by six loving people who got me through it. I suggest starting way smaller. To begin, think of someone who annoys the hell out of you. List out the various character defects of this person and pick one in the middle of your annoyance scale. I, for example, am completely annoyed by people who talk endlessly. I know you know what’s coming next – you’ve no doubt heard the phrase: “You spot it, you got it.” My questions for the week:
- Where is this annoying characteristic in you? (You can all guess that I like to talk. I also fight myself for this, and judge myself for talking too much.)
- What really bugs you about the tendency? (Excessive talkers steal the spotlight! It’s all about THEM. Sigh. I hate doing this even with a minor character ‘flaw.”)
- What need within you would adopting this annoying characteristic fulfill? (I want to be seen! I want to be heard! I want to shine!)
- What judgments do you have about the need? (People hate shiny people! I should be satisfied with a very dim glow!)
- If your beloved announced those judgments about themselves, how would you react? (That’s ridiculous. People love shiny people. Shiny people bring light to all around them.)
- How can you evolve the initial annoying characteristic to fulfill the need in a positive way? (I could take my spotlight time to talk about something important that might help people. I could use my voice to speak about things that matter to me.)
- How can you take a tiny action step towards evolving that characteristic this week? (Ack! I hate suggesting action steps, cause then I have to DO them! Okay, here’s mine – please stop reading this post and go read this one instead. It’s the most important thing that I’ve said to date. I’ll even get all wild & crazy with my action step and ask you to send it on to anyone who you think it might help! Ack!!)
To reiterate OSHO, “The divine is the tree fully in bloom, and the Devil is the seed – but the tree is hidden in the seed, and the seed is not against the tree. In fact the tree cannot exist if the seed is not there.” Imagine all the divine potential in those seeds we hate in ourselves. Are you willing to walk in the darkness to find the divine? Are you willing to love all of you, even the things that scare you?