First, a disclaimer, and perhaps a warning:
This description of an aspect of the workings of the mind is intended for those who are being guided by a Dakini or other teacher/practitioner who has some relation or connection to my teaching.
Wider than that, it is perhaps useful to those who take their spiritual journey with a tantric, as opposed to a monastic, approach and understand that some ideas expressed here may be bad for those suited to a monastic pace and methods.
I do not recommend these ideas as having usefulness or merit for academics, social commentators, therapists or most good people. As to bad people … misuse of such ideas is self-punishing.
As with some videos I have been recording lately, this is “inner school” material, which means I am not open to public or casual debate about it.
Even if you resonate closely with this idea, please appreciate that it is too raw, too close for those who still have to pass through some of the lessons of life that you have likely managed. Each step of your awareness has been followed by a different capacity for understanding, yet each step was, in its turn, necessary. Rather help people with the lessons you needed to learn when you faced what they face.
Welcome beloved students, friends, fellow teachers and tantrikas.
I feel to share this very stripped down model of mind with you because it is an understanding which has arisen in my work, not something I have heard or read that I can refer you to. Many of you will, of course, have heard it from me repeatedly, so here it is again, if you are needing another repetition ;)
The concise version:
The subconscious mind can do many awesome things for you, but, until it has completed its main work - that is what it will be concentrating on.
From puberty on, until maturation is complete, the subconscious has one job: To purge the massive backlog of incomplete feelings (aka psychological traumas) which have been accumulated.
To do this, the subconscious has to arrange events that resonate with the past traumas. It has to trigger them, moving them towards consciousness, where they can be felt and finished.
In this endeavor, it is in conflict with the conscious mind (you), which reflexively strives to protect itself (you) from the triggering of traumatic memories and feelings.
To get that pile of past trauma addressed, the subconscious has two superpowers:
It gets to generate your desires.
It is cleverer than the conscious mind (therefore cleverer than you).
This is a natural mechanism of maturation. The subconscious is set up to win.
If it wins, one becomes truly capable of “Living in the Moment” – responding and relating directly to life’s arising.
Not “whole-elephant-enlightenment”, perhaps, but a very worthwhile attainment nonetheless.
That’s the concise version.
The verbose version follows …
Through our childhood, many experiences are too scary, intense, powerful, delightful, painful or pleasurable to be felt in fullness at the time. Not that they are good or bad, just that it is beyond our capacity to feel them in fullness, to completion, at the time of their occurrence.
When feelings cannot be felt in fullness, they get put away for later. This happens continually throughout a typical childhood.
Apart from vanishingly rare extreme variations, such as childhoods featuring exceptionally horrific abuse, or insanely generous freedom (See Osho’s stories of his Golden Childhood), there is, from a therapeutic perspective, surprisingly little practical difference between the feelings which are put away, even though the stories, scenarios and apparent severity can vary hugely.
There can be remarkably little difference, therapeutically speaking, between feelings put away on account of being beaten harshly and those put away on account of detecting a parent’s disapproval from a raised eyebrow.
I am not out to trivialize the differences between the relative suffering involved in, say, severe sexual abuse and self-generated nightmares and terrors on account of having glimpsed, just once, a semi-erect penis.
They are indeed different. Nonetheless, when it comes to how they are stored, how they later express in life, how they are remembered and how they respond to various therapeutic approaches, they can be very similar indeed.
One’s childhood trauma is simply that which was beyond one’s capacity to feel at the time. It was put away throughout the childhood. There is not a lot of difference between differing degrees of how much beyond one’s capacity things were – overflow is overflow.
Certainly, great differences exist in how we variously protect, avoid, oppose, confront, nurture, self-destruct over, define ourselves by, or heal our traumas – but these differences have far more to do with our individual capacities and attitudes than differences in the intensities, frequencies, areas or even the reality of the events associated with our traumas.
Puberty is when hormones pump and a whole new level of desire is experienced.
Let’s take a young man for an example, and let’s call him, for no particular reason, Randy.
Randy, when his hormones hit him at 14, will run around, overwhelmed with desire for almost any level of touch and attention from anything. He will make many inappropriate and possibly offensive sexual advances at beings of perhaps several genders and species … and will suffer rejection after rejection.
If his subconscious is diligent and clever in its generation of his desires, Randy will spend most of his nights alone, passing in agony through the layers of anger and pain which protect his trauma – and deeper: into the stored feelings that were once put away for later. Feelings about being put in his own room, not mother’s bed. Feelings about failing in trying to please mommy. Feelings about being excluded from her world …
When his conscious mind gets clever, and paralyses him with fears of rejection and terrorises him with whatever the current cultural STD horror is, his subconscious will get cleverer, perhaps not giving him a weird urge to grab boob at exactly the wrong moment, instead letting him get laid (of course just to make the morning-after rejection into a better, deeper-probing trigger).
In this way, bit by bit, Randy’s subconscious will get Randy to feel what he needs to feel …
Then … one day, Randy will finally pass through and complete his feelings about the overwhelming horror he experienced when his mother first pulled her tit from his mouth.
When that happens, Randy will be relating to things quite differently. We could say that, as a person, Randy will then have matured somewhat.
This process of following desire and enduring (if not exactly willingly accepting) the triggering it brings … is harsh.
Owing to the current degree of domestication, and as predicted 2500ish years ago by The Buddha, the middle bulk of the bell curve do not, and, without unconscionable interventions, cannot mature.
If you doubt that, consider the fact that the most visible elected office on the planet’s current (2019) incumbent gets excited at the idea that his position of power enables him to grab girls “by the pussy”. That’s … 9, or to give it every indulgence, maybe 12 years old?
Most people do not mature beyond a natural 10-year-old. Most get married with (and have relationship dramas typical of) the maturity of a 5-year-old.
Most people never even start to address the feelings put away through their childhood. The weakened hormones that accompany domestication enable them to ’successfully’ numb, censor, deny and, if needed, bully their subconscious and the desires it generates. They keep suppressing and putting away feelings throughout and to the very ends of their lives.
They die while struggling to put their fear of death away for later.
They cannot be fixed – and they do not need to be fixed. Strange, or even offensive though it may seem to you, there are perfectly good reasons, in terms of the development of humanity, for the current state of affairs … which may be a tale for another time.
They can be (and sometimes are) broken (and not in a good way). There is no surer way to break them than to trigger their deeper traumas. For them, Pandora’s box should and generally does remain tightly shut.
The point I am trying to make absolutely clear here is that the approach I recommend to tantrikas is not appropriate to most people, as per my disclaimer.
It was not always thus.
To rephrase the ancient stats from a few thousand years ago, back when humanity was a lot less domesticated:
The 98% (mid-bell-curve-bulk) of humanity used to complete the process of maturity in 50 years from puberty. By 65, pretty much anyone had the wisdom of years. They met you responsively, not reactively. They had a certain kind of wisdom. They were worth listening to. To achieve this, they had made no particular effort. they just lived as their desires, intelligence and capacity allowed.
The 2% (conscious seekers of truth/growth/maturity/progress) who are blessed/cursed with an arising of sufficient energy to make an effort to engage with the secrets and mysteries of life would manage the journey to Living in the Moment a lot quicker. Typically, those who got themselves into monasteries and religious communities reached this level of maturity by around 36. 22ish years from puberty.
Those I am privileged to teach (and those for whom my lessons are most useful) are perhaps a fifth of the conscious seekers – the terrible tantrikas. Those for whom even the best of gold-standard monastic methods can be a retardation. Those exceptional ones who immerse themselves in the lessons of both the spiritual and the worldly.
These extreme ones would manage this journey in just 7 years starting from puberty. Sometimes even from a premature puberty. By 21 or even younger, they could already be living in the freedom from the war of their conscious and subconscious minds.
Returning to modern times, the stats around my work are similar but different. Typically (if there can be said to be such a thing when it comes to people like you) it takes my students 4 to 7 years to catch up from the domesticated condition to their natural (physical-age-related) level of maturity.
Appropriate method choice is important. Because many of you are teachers, I feel it is good to give you some meta~, some overview …
METHODS FOR REGULAR PEOPLE
For Pasha and Virya (the above mentioned 98%:
Compassion consists in supporting them at the level of maturity they have. Just as you should support a 10-yr-old.
Support them to put things away for later, and help them protect themselves from the re-traumatisation of their heavier triggers.
Appropriate methods include affirmations (Louise Hay et al) and positive/affirming imaginal exercises (T Robbins etc) to override/dilute the desires of the subconscious with faked conscious desires.
Help them with avoidance of triggering situations and the triggering itself with NLPish stuff like consciously taking a posture of confidence, or inwardly ridiculing the person you fear by imagining them dressed as a clown, or pissing their pants.
That, and gentle techniques (Traegar and modern trauma release therapies) are useful.
METHODS FOR MONASTIC/COMMUNAL PEOPLE
For most Devya (the 2ish%), monastic/communal methods are best. They will mature somewhat, but progress is slow and uncertain.
Look for improvement, not transcendence, and work within the context of a polarized understanding. Allow their rejection of the worldly, and their urge towards the spiritual. Indulge their gender-preference stuff, be it fixed or flip-flopping.
Mostly, their direction of maturing will involve moving into tribal/communal contexts, not individuating from them. Things like Biodanza, Landmark, NLPish clubs and such are generally good for them. Even the dark side, as in a bit of Mr Hubbard, or the dumb side, as in the American Kentucky fried Tantra franchises are good for them, and are not terrible places to get stuck, if that’s what happens.
Those who’s chi suits a monastic approach can move much faster together in a group than they can individually. It is those who always need to jump ahead – those who don’t coordinate/play well with others who most need the methods appropriate to tanrikas.
METHODS FOR TANTRIKAS
Some of the lower-chi methods will occasionally be useful in particularly hard times, but some need caution.
Affirmations, NLPish stuff, zen ox-herding and in general, methods that involve an attitude of opposition/stalking/mastering your subconscious, and/or bombing it with affirmations and manufactured (consciously chosen) desires … all have their place and usefulness, but …
and let’s make that a BIG BUT …
Tantrikas have a lot more chi than monastic seekers, and can therefore bring a much higher than necessary intensity of energy to such practices. A lot more than is good and useful.
In general, the best approach for tantrikas is to find a state of truce, mutual accommodation, even one of cooperation and possibly friendly enmity with one’s beloved subconscious mind, rather than the standard monastic adversarial approach.
Looking the basic facts of what needs to happen:
The childhood needs to get completed.
Following desire means exposure to triggering.
Being triggered can complete the feelings which went unfelt – if one breaks to it willingly and does not manage a hard defense.
Hence … it makes good strategic sense to give up and admit defeat in the war. It makes even better sense to align your Conscious mind with the Subconscious. In this way, one can get those pesky feelings-past all felt and finished in a hurry. At a speed worthy of an old-times, natural, pre-domestication tantrika.
When you listen to your desire, you already know that it means trouble. Accept that fact, and accept that you want, and that you do have the capacity for that trouble.
One trick: Work on your “This is NOTHING” list. This is the list of things you have already faced and survived. The way you use it is: when you face something daunting and you feel the fear getting to you, pick an item from the list. Hopefully you should have one that, at the time, looked far worse than your current predicament. Then you can quickly review that story, ending it with “I survived that. This … that which i face now, is NOTHING.
Another, not so much a trick as a helpful attitude, is developing what I call an “Addams Family Perversity” or a “Rocky Horror Attitude". When you feel your suffering, yield to it completely. When you feel a passion that you could kill for or die for, acknowledge that “Either way, what Bliss!” When your desire is clearly going to be taking you into a triggering of shame, guilt, helplessness and despair, ask yourself “Can I imagine a childhood in which those feelings have not been put away for later … in significant quantities?” If the answer is “No”, then dive in!
Enjoy the carrot while keeping ahead of the stick. It may be horrible and scary to follow your eros into, for example, a humiliation of some kind, but at least there is the heat and horniness of life in it. Enjoy that!
It is indeed hard to soar with the eagles if you are surrounded by a bunch of turkeys, so do hang out with your friendly neighborhood tantrikas, if you can find them. Tantrikas don’t generally make, or really commit happily to tribes (on account of another topic for another day, called “Individuation”), but they can be friendly with tribes and the individuated.
If you can get the overview and guidance of a Dakini to guid you, that is in itself probably the greatest accelerant of the path in general, and the area currently under discussion in particular.
Guidance is the resource I lacked the most on my own path, and that lack is my main excuse for my taking a monastic 22 years from the start of my sex life instead of something more respectable for a tantrika, like 7 or so.
As to following desires in the specifically sexual department, let your interest be much more in reaching insanely high levels of intensity, rather than in how often you can reach an intensity you can dissipate/expel in orgasm. It is in the indulgence/endurance of high intensities that the feelings from the past can purge the fastest. This is key to how we move at that frantic Tantric speed.
I asked a student one day how her journey of eros was going. She glowed beautifully and quietly said “Oh, gorgeously, perfectly. It is all about pain, humiliation and tears right now. Delicious.”
I wish you strong desires, deep triggerings and much breaking-open to the most fulsome feelings.
May you soon truly know what it is to Live in the Moment.