In these times of rampaging fundamentalism, with its emphasis on “moral values,” creationism and the blurring of the line between Church and State, it’s refreshing to see that Victoria’s Secret has managed to make an industry out of selling sensuality in the suburbs. Any time I’m in a mall, their store is always chock full of soccer moms, brides-to-be and teenage girls buying lacy bras, stockings and garters, and thongs.
Sensual craving is a fundamental human condition; indeed, the Buddha identified craving as the source of mankind’s suffering. Of course, he was referring to all forms of craving, including sensual, but also craving for comfort, craving for food, craving to avoid the unpleasant and craving to associate with that which is pleasurable.
The internet is as good a representation of the varieties of human craving as anything. Surf around a while and you will see sites catering to craving for knowledge, craving for material possessions, craving for popularity, and craving for sensuality. Of course, many of the sites in the latter category fall into the realm of the pornographic.
Pornography can be distinguished from erotica based on yogic principals. Pornography tends to redirect our energy from the fourth (heart) chakra down to the lower two chakras (anal and sexual). Erotica, like all art, raises the energy level to the heart and upper chakras.
More specifically, porn typically depicts the human body as merely a vessel for sexual gratification. However else we might otherwise react to the person depicted in porn, it causes our response, physically experienced in the genitalia, to be primal and singularly sexual.Erotica, on the other hand, depicts the sexual and sensual and presents it is a way that engages the heart and mind, raising the energy from the lower to the middle and upper chakras. The best erotica turns you on, but also makes you aware of more than just your arousal. Some artists, such as Robert Mapplethorpe, can tease us by simultaneously drawing the energy both ways and cause one to consider the conflicting emotional distinctions in novel ways.
This is not to say that one is bad and one is good. Moral distinctions such as this are products of the sixth chakra and the thinking mind. However, the effect of constantly striving to fulfill one’s cravings only leads to an increased appetite. Cessation of craving is not found in indulgence. In the case of pornography, the subliminal message of seeing people reduced to their lowermost (in the yogic/chakra sense) urges dehumanizes the subject, and after a while dehumanizes the viewer as well. In the case of some erotica, the impossible standards set by the artist’s vision or the photographer’s model creates unreal expectations. However, these are not “moral” consequences, just the conditions that arise from causes.
The soccer moms, brides-to-be and teenage girls buy their lingerie, but very few find themselves looking like the Victoria’s Secret models when they wear if at home. Their craving leads ultimately to disappointment, and their suffering has karmic consequences on their lovers, family and friends. And thus we have anorexia, bulimia and the whole cognitive body-image dissonance so rampant in our society.I’m not sure this posting has anything to do with Zen, although I did try to bring it up a few times. Maybe I’m just writing this as an alibi to post some nekkid pictures on my blog.
Oh, by the way, a happy New Year’s to everyone.
And happy birthday, Jackie! Thanks for the pictures of your Special K!