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What If Your Desires Are Holy?

excerpted from PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia

Some religious traditions teach the doctrine, "Kill off your longings." In their view, attachment to desire is at the root of human suffering. But the religion of materialism takes the opposite tack, asserting that the meaning of life is to be found in indulging desires. Its creed is, "Feed your cravings like a French foie gras farmer cramming eight pounds of maize down a goose's gullet every day."

At the Beauty and Truth Lab, we walk a middle path. We believe there are both degrading desires that enslave you and sacred desires that liberate you.

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Psychologist Carl Jung believed that all desires have a sacred origin, no matter how odd they may seem. Frustration and ignorance may contort them into distorted caricatures, but it is always possible to locate the divine source from which they arose. In describing one of his addictive patients, Jung said: "His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst for wholeness, or as expressed in medieval language: the union with God."

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Therapist James Hillman echoes the theme: "Psychology regards all symptoms to be expressing the right thing in the wrong way." A preoccupation with porn or romance novels, for instance, may come to dominate a passionate person whose quest for love has degenerated into an obsession with images of love. "Follow the lead of your symptoms," Hillman suggests, "for there's usually a myth in the mess, and a mess is an expression of soul."

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In Maldoror and Poems, the French poet Lautréamont wrote about holy yearning disguised as mournful complaint. "Whenever you hear the dogs' howling in the fields," his mother told him as a child, "don't deride what they do: They thirst insatiably for the infinite, like you, me, and the rest of us humans. I even allow you to stand at the window and gaze upon this exalted spectacle."

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"The primordial fire that sparked millions of galaxies is the same fire that sparks the human creative impulse." —Cindy Spring, "The Non-Profit Universe," EarthLight, Summer 2002.

"The human reproductive drive is a watered-down version of the godsex that spawned our solar system." —"Lieutenant" Anfortas, the homeless guy in the Safeway parking lot.

"Feelings that originate in the human genitalia are among the most powerful forces on earth. They have a complex relationship with the feelings that stem from the human heart: at various times in competition or in harmony. Together these primal energies have forged and toppled empires; unleashed terrible and wonderful ideas; and generated the greatest stories ever told. Our goal is to harness our sexual urges in service to the heart's wisdom." —Sheila Samizdat, "Ritual Foreplay for a New History," Underground Pronoia

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"Mad! One must become mad with love in order to realize God. When a person attains ecstatic love of God, all the pores of the skin, even the roots of the hair, become like so many sex organs, and in every pore the aspirant enjoys the happiness of communion with the Supreme Universal Self." —Ramakrishna
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Like all of us, you have desires for things that you don't really need and aren't good for you. But you shouldn't disparage yourself for having them, nor should you conclude that every desire is tainted. Rather, think of your misguided longings as the bumbling, amateur expressions of a faculty that will one day be far more expert. They're how you practice as you work toward the goal of becoming a master of desire. It may take a while, but eventually you will get the hang of wanting things that are really good for you, and good for everyone else, too.

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"The only way anyone is ever cured of desiring nonsensical things is by getting the nonsensical things and then experiencing the unpleasant but educational consequences." —Ann Davies, www.bota.org

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"To become a master of desire, keep talking yourself out of being attached to trivial goals and keep talking yourself into being thrilled about the precious few goals that are really important. Here's another way to say it: Wean yourself from ego-driven desires and pour your libido into a longing for beauty, truth, goodness, justice, integrity, creativity, love, and an intimate relationship with the Wild Divine." —Raye Sangfreud, "Black Market Orchids," Underground Pronoia

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"God has desires. Since I want to be close to God and to model myself after God, I therefore don't aspire to extinguish my desires, but rather to make my desires more God-like: i.e., imbued with an inexorable ambition to create the greatest and most interesting blessings for everyone and everything." —Collin Klamper

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"'Heterosexual,' 'bisexual,' 'lesbian,' and 'gender queer' are not terms I use to describe myself. They're too limiting, like every other name and role I've had the pleasure of escaping. In a pinch, I might agree to call myself ocean-fucker or sky-sucker or earth-bonker. As much as I love men and women, they can't satisfy the full extent of my yearning. I need intimate relations with clouds and eagles and sea anemones and mountains and spirits of the dead and kitchen appliances and the creatures in my dreams. To be continued. To be enhanced and amplified and enlarged upon, world without end, amen. One day I really do hope to be a wise enough lover to be able to fuck the ocean. To give a forest fire a blow job. To make a pride of lions come just by looking at them." —Jumbler Javalina, "Bite into the Mysteries," Underground Pronoia

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"When I hold you, I hold everything: ruby-throated hummingbirds sipping from plum flowers, mangoes ripening in the smoke of burning forests, crones praying in the foamy sand at low tide, shocked waterfalls gracing new housing developments, volcanoes drinking in the fragrance of the stars. In your eyes I see everything that lives." —mash-up of Pablo Neruda and Rob Brezsny

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Imagine it's 30 years from now. You're looking back at the history of your relationship with desire. There was a certain watershed moment when you clearly saw that some of your desires were mediocre, inferior, and wasteful, while others were pure, righteous, and invigorating. Beginning then, you made it a life goal to purge the former and cultivate the latter. Thereafter, you occasionally wandered down dead ends trying to gratify yearnings that weren't worthy of you, but usually you wielded your passions with discrimination, dedicating them to serve the highest and most interesting good.

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To buy PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia, the book from which the above piece is excerpted, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
 
 
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