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kama – desires of the heart

 
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kama – desires of the heart

Shiva, deep in meditation, felt a sharp pang of desire inflicted by Kama, who like Eros, performs his mischief with infallibly aimed arrows. Annoyed, the god pushed the distraction aside. His meditation continued. No doubt, whole universes were created and destroyed in the path of his intense concentration. Kama approached again. This time he pierced Shiva with fascination. The god succumbed. We call it falling in love. When you think of it though, love is actually the place we land in – if we’re lucky. What we fall through in the first wild, sweet flush of romance is desire, and it’s a thrilling ride with ups and downs of fascination, curiosity, joy, and passion. Desire itself is desirable. It is possible to resist desire, but when the force hits, so strong is the magnetism that not even the gods want to resist it. Yet the process of falling in love, or the descent into infatuation, can be a singular invitation to discover the mysteries and possibilities not just of another person, but of that part of ourselves that joyfully emerges and flourishes when we succumb to passion. I myself embarked on a pilgrimage into desire a few years ago when, at the age of fifty, happily married and immersed in work I loved, I plummeted into fascination for a younger man. Because I was determined not to jeopardize my marriage, yet also unwilling to turn my back on what felt like a dynamiting of my whole being, I decided to follow the trail of desire itself. In the process, I discovered that the heady fall through infatuation can be transformed into a slow, graceful, and deliberate saunter into deep, authentic passion and allurement. When we fall in love – or fall through desire – we become like geodes, those nuggets of rock that are rough and drab on the outside, but when broken open and buffed reveal a jeweled core. For millennia, poets and singers, playwrights and artists, novelists and filmmakers have turned to desire and its transformations as a topic that never ceases to provide inspiration. Yet what the art they make rarely conveys is that the polisher of those rough surfaces is not the beloved, but the lover’s own awakened being as it quickens to the grandeur of loving and being loved. Suddenly, we have the opportunity to lavish upon another all the wondrous aspects of ourselves that we feel have remained untapped until now: creativity, sexiness, tenderness, an adventurous spirit. Believing that the other will somehow make us more of who we were destined to be, we behave in ways that fulfill the very prophecy we long to have realized. We bloom. We sparkle. We carry a light inside us and shine on the world as we go. Eventually, of course, the fall must end. Whether in a long, loving marriage, a quick and tumultuous break-up, or anything in between. We hit ground. We see that the other person is no magician come to transform us, but simply another human in search of his or her own jeweled core – who just happened to believe for a time that it could be found in us. We are cast back to our old selves again, dull and unpolished. It feels like a terrible betrayal. But something even better, and more in our control, can arise at the end of the fall – or whenever we choose to take it on. If we dare to keep our breached heart open and experiment with a different kind of desire, one that is open-ended, unpredictable, and full of potential, we rediscover that jeweled core and take control of it, using it to light our own way forth into the world. The German poet Goethe called transformed desire “soulful yearning” and described it as “a higher lovemaking.” Myths from around the world personify the concept with tales of a beguiling, often semi-divine lover who beckons his or her human lover forth. Then, after a blissful embrace, an enchanting smile, they slip away once more into the unknown, compelling the lover to embark on an endless journey toward reunion. Call it the beloved, the soul, life force, god, goddess, or spirit, this potent, animating energy draws us constantly toward our own highest self, the very self that emerges when we fall in love. Embarking on my own journey into desire, I had to recognize that the man who upturned me was not the ideal, divine beloved himself, but a vital escort to my own higher being. Such is often the case. The new lover may possess certain qualities – honesty, a disciplined devotion to spiritual practice, a sense of play – that we long to develop. Or he may perceive us in some way we cannot yet see ourselves. For example, the man whom I was smitten with had a powerful dream that I was a sorceress who called him forth to the top of a mountain, or to his highest self. When he treated me as his psyche perceived me, I was emboldened to embody that presence even more. This meant taking a hard honest look at my attitude toward my own femininity, which I had tended to submerge under a tough-guy demeanor and a decisive way of speaking. It meant bringing the seductive, alluring feminine of myself out of the closet, and making friends with her, so that she could emerge in my writing and in the ways I opened up my heart more fully to participants on the trips I led. Defining dormant yet desirable qualities in ourselves, then striving to incorporate them is no easy process. We are likely to face a mighty resistance, not from others, as we often fear, but from our own old habit patterns, our fear of change, and our stubborn conviction that it is more important to be likeable and polite than bold and authentic. It’s a process that thankfully never ends – if it did, we would simply be stuck in dull changelessness. Yet every step brings us closer to reconciliation between who we are and who we choose to become, as if we are constantly taking on a more and more delicately refined and luminous version of ourselves. How different is such a movement, graceful and deliberate, from the crazy freefall of romantic desire? Now, instead of a dive without discipline, a rag doll-drop to the depths, the lover moves confidently toward a coalescing image of the sacred self. Instead of “falling” in love and hoping to land without pain, this lover traverses ground that gains new meaning from the very way she covers it. One person might find the beloved beckoning to her from a blank sheet of paper on which she has begun writing a poem, while another may hear the beloved’s call in the song of a robin, a call so alluring that he is forced to stop right then and there in his office parking lot and simply give all his attention over to listening. Determining the direction of the soul’s calling, we turn that way, only to find that the radiance that attracts us now illuminates our own face. We walk into the world as into the arms of a waiting lover. If you are looking for a way to start or deepen your daily meditation – take look at this program by MindValley: bit.ly/YOGIMeditation and the Mindfulness Based Stressed Reduction online course by Sounds True: – The YOGI TIMES team

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