* How do our desires become the vehicle for our spiritual growth?
* Desire is problematic for us for a lot of different reasons. One of the most obvious reasons we struggle with desire is that desire keeps us stuck in a cycle of needing what we don’t have, struggling to maintain what we have once we have it (the joy or satisfaction often being stripped in the process), and then being disappointed or suffering when we inevitably lose the object of our desire. All of these struggles are due to the fact that when our desires are pointed toward literal material experiences they can’t help but participate in literal material nature. Material nature is literally impermanent and constantly changing.
* So our material desires loop us into a cycle that can’t ever truly satisfy us, or last. If we start on a spiritual path this is like mystical/spiritual philosophy 101. This basic truth about material nature is a fundamental part of most major world religions and all mystical traditions that I’ve ever studied.
* When we embark on a spiritual path we train ourselves to distrust, question, examine, and make “conscious” the flow of our desires and how they unconsciously direct our actions, behavior, thinking, etc. This is a necessary part of spiritual life and spiritual practice.
* But then a problem arises because it turns out that not every desire is a material desire. And not every want or need is unhealthy or self-destructive. But we’re now in the habit of questioning, scrutinizing, and training ourselves to override the power of our desires, and so things can quickly become very black and white, absolute, rigid, dogmatic, and suppressive.
* The question becomes how do we recognize healthy needs and wants from unhealthy needs and wants? How do we develop discernment rather than collapsing into an extreme position?
* The extreme opposite position (opposite the total suppression of material wants/needs/desires) would be a total and complete immersion into the satisfaction of our desires, cravings, etc. This isn’t going to work, either.
* Most people live therefore somewhere in the middle, struggling and collapsing back and forth, overcompensating back and forth. We indulge ourselves because we believe we are special, and then we realize we overindulged ourselves, we now think we’re not so special, and so we go on an extreme cleanse and join club ashram for a few weeks or months until we feel that we’re not honoring or desires again.
* Gosh, couldn’t there be a “victims’ of desire movement?” We could call it the #mydesiretoo movement. We could use the hashtag every time we are either the victims of our own predatory desires, constantly derailing our spiritual health and integrity, catcalling us right out of our “zone of spiritual happiness,” or, alternatively, we could use the hashtag when we become the victims of our own material suppression, when we try to harm, control, contain, and shame any and all material desires that we have.
* One of the main problems is that we think of ourselves as the possessor of desires when frequently enough desire is its own entity who has total possession of us. We then blame ourselves for having something that actually has us. Talk about victim blaming!
* On the other hand, when we entertain unhealthy desires and allow them a home in our body and mind, we are indeed part of the problem, and thus the possession moves in both directions: desire has us as we have desire. We lose a sense of the distinction between the soul and a desire altogether, we forget that we aren’t our desires, and we go on an impossible mission of trying to exorcise ourselves from ourselves, rather than trying to regain a healthy sense of autonomy and distance from material nature.
* The planets in astrology all represent desires and aversions, longings and fears that cycle endlessly in the material world. They are compromised of opposites and fluctional states that tense and relax or flow into and out of each other, constantly. The planets are therefore traditionally understood as agents of karma and destiny in the material world (the language is different from east to west but the concept is the same). The planets are called “grahas” in the Indian tradition, which means “grabbers.” The planets grab or hold us, and insofar as our spiritual consciousness is undeveloped it is truly possible to be in their grip and somewhat powerless, even if it appears as though we are “free agents.” As we grow in awareness it is possible to be loosed from their grip and to have a more conscious relationship with them (which is tantamount to saying that we can have a more conscious relationship to material nature). In modern, western astrology we say the same thing by suggesting that the archetypal powers of the planets are like complexes that can “seize” the psyche in their grip.
* Jupiter in Scorpio represents a time where we can be totally consumed and possessed by desires that we feel are noble, true, spiritual, and ideal, even though they are actually just as destructive as a constant hankering for loads of cheese pizza. The karma of this Jupiter in Scorpio season may show us the difference between a lofty ideal and a base desire dressed up in priestly clothing.
* On the other hand, Jupiter in Scorpio can refer to a time where we are taking huge steps, spiritually, as we recognize and gain healthy distance from material desires that have held us for far too long in their powerful grip.
* Jupiter in Scorpio is also about learning to discern between a healthy and an unhealthy desire, between a spiritual and material desire (remembering that “spiritual” does not mean impersonal or totally severed or divorced from materiality…this is worth repeating).
* Jupiter in Scorpio is about recognizing that our desires are not always our own. We are not merely our desires. We are therefore not always to blame, or not 100% to blame when desire takes control of us. At the same time, if we are participants in a relationship with desire, then Jupiter in Scorpio can teach us to refine our desires, spiritualizing them.
* At the end of the day, Jupiter in Scorpio won’t let us get away with calling our selfishness holy, but it won’t let us get away with holy selfishness, either.
Prayer: Teach us to see and desire your heart, in everything.