Compulsion

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  • a name to the nameless

In the process of “self-establishment” the personality’s self-concept is most strongly defined by its relation to its social environment. This is true whether we are speaking of the evolution of the entire human species through the Svadhistana or the development of an individual from infancy toward maturity. No being is born liberated, one is rather born to experience liberation. At the Svadhistana level of development, the conscious sense of “I am” is not complete in itself but requires external references in order to qualify itself. When the personality is well-adjusted there exists a secure sense of belonging to a family or social group that gives one a healthy reference to one’s reality. The ego at this stage is so dependent upon its immediate environment of socialization, be it the clan, the family, or nation. Maintaining this strong and definite attachment solidifies the identity in something greater than itself. When these basic conditions of security and belonging don’t exist, the mind must find some way of acquiring them. Compulsion drives the personality to force these basic existential necessities in whatever way necessary. The mind may compulsively attach itself to an external, ready-made social image, or perhaps a rigid an isolated and defensive ego image. Compulsion also attacks sensory habits or pleasures and exploits them with its desperation.

Compulsion narrows the possibilities of choices in a mind faced with the overwhelming inscrutability of the totality of the human experience. Instead of the insecure and uncertain person having to use one’s rationality and self-confidence to adapt and choose a particular mode of being, compulsion narrows those immense possibilities by desperately clinging to one facet of the potentially whole and complete Self. Compulsion is one of the main vrttis that uphold an expanding, though uncertain, ego structure. Viewed at from a higher stage of psychological and spiritual maturity this tendency confines and hampers the flourishing of character by compartmentalizing the personality into a isolated ego image and some impulses for it to grasp on to. But where would the masses of humanity find security if not for the repetitive and seemingly absolute liturgy of traditions, religion, politics and social convention? However, it is a great danger when there is such cultural decay and loss of deep meaning in society that there are no longer many effective systems to keep the blind and impulsive masses from falling into compulsive mental patterns, pathological behavior, or dangerous addictions. At the Svadhistana level, the fall of culture is the fall of the person. There is not yet enough strength of character in the Aham-ego to find creative channels of expression to resist social decay.

Again, it is not only that this tendency is active at only the most basic levels of the self-establishing personality. They can also be very active in more mature personalities as well. This vrtti will often compensate for a weakness in an ego that is only tenuously held together. If the mind can garner all of its strength to focus on a particular image or habit or belief, then that mind is qualified by that habit, symbol, or mode of being to the degree of energy put into it. Instead of experiencing the pull of entropy and degeneration the mind develops an outward momentum. It is a desperate attempt to hold together the structural solidarity of the self by developing a compulsive attachment to something other than the self. The object of compulsion could be something physical like a substance; an action like a repetitive behavior pattern, or a fixed fanatical and dogmatic idea that one clings to in order to have something to believe in.

Compulsion may overpower all other forces of repression when the mind desperately needs an intense experience to overpower the effects of inertia and depression. What was once an active, intervening conscience that inhibited or channelized blind impulse, may simply be forgotten or argued away. In a crime of passion, for example, the conscience is entirely overridden. With the common compulsive habits the higher, more intelligent level of personality can invent excuses, arguments, projections and distortions so that the desperate, taboo, compulsive expression is somehow permitted to exist side by side with the ego’s social image. Duplicity and argumentation, for example, are tendencies of the Anahata Vortex that permit a level of really sophisticated argumentation, repression, and distortion to keep the ego unaware of what is really occurring. Dark, unconscious tendencies continue to express themselves while the most intelligent part of the personality in the Anahata Vortex and intuitive level of mind is used to make excuses and justify. This duality is common in almost all people to some degree as long as there is a rift between who one is on the inside and who one is on the outside. To liberate blind compulsion and its defenders is a huge leap in one’s evolution of self awareness. This is often a great inconvenience, even terror, that presents stubborn resistance. This liberation requires seeing, accepting, and ultimately understanding the complexes that drove the mind toward compulsive habits or addictions.

Compulsion can even hone in on purely sensual tendencies that are in the domain of kama vrtti, physical desire. And because everyone somewhat familiar with the vortexes seems to associate sexuality with the second vortex, what better example could one give other than the sex? Sexual desire is a tendency of the first vortex within kama vrtii, or physical instinct. This doesn’t mean that sexuality can only express itself on the most basic levels of reproduction and sensory gratification. The basic, instinctual sexuality can be qualified by the higher vortexes. Compulsion is sublimated to a desire for beautiful, attractive forms in the 3rd vortex and to an even higher degree of interpersonal intimacy in the 4th vortex. Compulsive sexuality is a co-mingling of Svadhistana mental complexity with what is fundamentally a sensual and animal desire in the Muladhara, 1st vortex. Compulsive sexuality is not mere animal propagation, but a desperate attempt for the mind to establish a base for oneself through intense contact with one’s own natural, repressed instincts. Compulsion will never be love, nor even romance. The danger is that other vrttis of the Svadhistana like repression or lack of confidence may express and apparently alleviate themselves through compulsive sexuality. If there are no meaningful and expansive emotive and cognitive outlets for the mind to flow into, it can resort back into the senses for its meaning and psychological foundation. And what closer and more immediate sense of gratification is there than one’s own body? Certainly it is not the healthiest equation for one to unconsciously make, but one quite common and even glorified in this society. The danger of this equation, or any other equation that the mind makes to compensate for its insecurity and lack of meaning through whatever form of sensual compulsion, is that the body is designed to accommodate the desires of the Sensory Mind. Sexuality is natural. Enjoying food is natural. But compensating for a lack of meaning in the psychological level by indulging the Sensory Mind is certainly an overload for the body to bear. The mental desires, artha vrtti, must find their compensations in the mental, existential level. To channelize this heightened, more potent mental energy into the senses will always exhaust and sicken the body. By compulsive eating one makes the body toxic and damages the digestive organs and also becomes obese. Through compulsive sexuality one may weaken and damage the liver, kidneys, and the reproductive organs and exhaust one’s vital energy.

I have never taken the so-called “sexual Tantra” seriously. Firstly, because the only people who I have ever known to practice such things were never really balanced. Sure, they spoke of awareness and love and transmutation and all of those nice things, but it was just all too obvious that they were just sex addicts propelled by unconscious emotions. They always left a trail of harm. It may be that there were once some more conscious practices that really didn’t trap people into their compulsions, but if they were in fact truthful, then would have to be based on yama and niyama, the ethical base for the practice of yoga. Most sexual relations ultimately lead one to suffering. It is a transgression of ahimsa, or non- violence, to project one’s selfish urges onto another. It is no wonder that in the 2 languages that I understand, the crude word for the sexual act can be synonymous with the words cheating, deceiving, or generally harming another.

The only functional sexual Tantra that I have could ever imagine is to be responsible and never try to harm anyone while at the same time make the indefatigable effort to try and understand the propensities of the second vortex. The sexual distortions exploit these fundamental vrttis. The more suffering, separation, and insecurity that there is in the Svadhistana level, the more likely that sexuality will try and compensate for these emotions. However, these necessities are valid and are so profound and fundamental to the personality that they really need to be understood. Perhaps the blind compulsions are rooted in an untimely withdrawal of a mother’s breast that left one sucking in nothingness. Or perhaps sexuality has aligned itself with an inner, unconscious resentment and lack of confidence that tries to outwardly seduce and dominate through sexual dominance, games, or manipulation.

The purest and happiest people I have known were celibate yogis. They speak of how the mindful retention of the seminal fluid permits this energy to be used for meditation and to strengthen the nervous system. Not many people are emotionally mature enough to practice celibacy without brutal repression and the accompanying psychological back-lash. However, for those few who have deeply understood life, celibacy may come quite naturally. Really, one has to have lived and understood desire before being able to “renounce” desires.

When there is no suffering, there is no desire, and where there is no desire, there is no suffering. This is true for all desires, not just sex. Few people can really understand this. Ramakrishna once said that mundane pleasure is like a dog chewing a sharp bone that doesn’t realize the “satiation” of this desire comes from its own blood. It is fear and insecurity that keep us bound into the limitation of a separate self, and therefore bound to selfish desires. Sometimes, even very highly developed minds overlook these underlying reverberations in the shadows of the emotions. The pirates to our present state of peace are often something unseen from our past. I have found that the study of the vrttis, especially those of the Svadhistana, are paramount for finding the psychological balance that permits further balanced, intuitive, spiritual development. Download “A Name To The Nameless”

by Vishal Eckhart email: vishal@vishaleckhart.org