Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Struggles with Desire

Yesterday was a challenging day for me as it was a day a "devil" tried to "seduce" me, but thankfully, I was still very mindful of what I stand for, especially my principles. I will never trade in my "spiritual specialities" for some dumb worldly stuff. And a rain that came pouring in suddenly became my excuse for not "giving in". It was good to be tested and be able to cut evil just as it arises. You know it is like in the midst of anger, just as you are about to stab into someone and committing a kill, you stopped your anger just in the nick of time. Controlling yourself at that time and thus avoiding huge negative karma. If you have not been tempted before and successfully passing this kind of test, then you have not really had a matured spiritual experience. Pure abstinence from worldly temptations is not enough. You have to submerge in it and yet not liking it, to be able to transcend it. But just a caution here. If you are not ready for this kind of test, you can actually find yourself drowning in worldly temptations. Be warned! Real renunciation is achieved by revulsion, not abstinence! It must be true revulsion, because sometimes you think you do not like something, but it is actually still hiding somewhere inside you! Still lurking in the dark, waiting to come out when you least expect it. And then, when it does appear, at that time, it will be too late for you!

And as if the Buddhas knew, right after that, I bumped into a Tzu Chi booth at a local night market. Just as I flipped over some books at their booth, I saw a message on a particular page of a book (I think it is Jing Si aphorism). It says something about humans not being able to give up worldly desires. To me that it both a warning/reminder and a blessing to me for being able to let it go in the nick of time. That encounter with Tzu Chi also provided me with an eye opener of the activities of Tzu Chi which I will write about in a later blog post. For now, I am just dealing with my own internal struggles. Even Gautama Buddha who as a bodhisattva sitting there under the Bodhi tree before his enlightenment, was tempted by Mara and his seductive daughters. Venerable Ananda was also tempted by the daughter of a witch named Matangi and was cast in a magic spell. Using Only Surangama mantra, the Buddha was able to break that spell. I am thinking everyone has to go through it. You do not want to get "enlightened" only to find that you are still tempted by sensual pleasures, do you? There are monks or Lamas /Masters who find out this hard truth and found themselves embroiled in sexual scandals. At that time, the line between having "sex" as a spiritual practice or liberating activity and succumbing to desires will be blurred. Hence, the sooner you experience this test the better, preferably before your first stage of enlightenment (i.e. the path of seeing). There is one more thing you must understand. Desire is usually not rooted at one go, it is done as a process or in stages. So, one must always be on guard. You may think you have rooted out desires, but actually it may only be gross desire. But the subtle desire is still there. Only by testing oneself, do we know it is still there. But be ready first, do not get yourself in trouble unnecessarily just to test yourself. It would be silliness!    

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