'Your serried squadrons, which the world
With all its gods cannot defeat,
I shall now break with wisdom
As with a stone a clay pot.' Buddha
These words were spoken by the Buddha around 1500BC when he described his spiritual battle against his opponent prior to enlightenment, his battle against Mara, the SheLord of temptations. As he approached enlightenment and was removing the final veil of his delusions (sexual desire), Mara presented herself at his feet as a naked temptress. She offered him all the powers of the universe in exchange for his subservience to Desire. This fable (or truth, depending on your beliefs) is told by Jesus as his temptation by the Devil during his 40 days in the wilderness.
The Buddha said of this unquenchable sexual desire, 'So long as the love, even the smallest, of man toward woman is not destroyed, so long is his mind in bondage as the calf that drinks milk is to his mother.' Desire is a universal symbolism portrayed throughout the major world religions. Pornography, beauty and sexual deviance are a primary tool used commonly by mainstream advertising as a subtle method of fixating consciousness on its primary sensual hunger, which forces consciousness to stick to the matrix's web. The Buddha was a preacher of balance (finding the middle way between the two extremes of asceticism and hedonism), and he emphasised that forcing oneself to hate sexuality or the sexual attractiveness of the opposite sex was anathema to renouncing it. As Neale Donald Walsch remarked, 'that which we resist, persists.'
Fighting against natural instincts is pointless and futile. To overcome desire, we must let it go in its entirety, to see it the way a child eventually gives up the toys of youth not because he has to but because he has outgrown them. Forcing a woman to wear a Burkha will not remove the desire within a man's heart any more than female or male castration has done. It is the thoughts that must be renounced, not the physical manifestations of them. A teflon mind is the goal, whereas the matrix attempts to constantly create a velcro one. We are what we hold, not what we withhold.
What the Buddha emphasised during his many teachings is that Mara is a personification of the matrix which holds us within the chains of sensual slavery. Wisdom, compassion and renunciation are the tools through which liberation from these chains are effected. The Buddha emphasised that each individual must seek within himself or herself the keys to their own liberation rather than looking outside for salvation. Anything which offers release from slavery as an outside modality is ultimately corrupted and bound to induce further slavery, for it is a tool by which Mara keeps us locked within her chains. 'Let me help you', says a friend, and before you know it, you are worse off than before.
Wisdom, compassion and renunciation are personal attributes or skills that we develop during our spiritual path. They are evolving tools, not ones that can be gained instantly, although they can arrive suddenly after long effort. How do we get these skills? Wisdom is the result of the distillation of learned knowledge gained through the use of inner discernment, and assisted by a competent teacher(s). Compassion is the result of seeing others as intimate to our own personal identity, that the sense of self is a delusion and that 'I' and 'we' are the same consciousness, thus breaking the confines of ego-hood. Renunciation is the letting go of self-identity; we are not our name, title, occupation, family, race, religion, what we own or the power that we possess over others.
Not one enlightened being has achieved wisdom, compassion and renunciation solely through their own efforts, but has required the assistance of others who have been through a similar journey and has instructed them when they have become blocked with past-issues, sidelaned with spiritual powers, bogged-down with overwhelming emotions or bloated with spiritual self-importance.
To continue on our upward journey, we must maintain the fellowship of light, whether through community groups, online forums or the blogosphere in order to continue our progress. We cannot rise as 'one ' if one is missing. Once we understand these three aspects of enlightenment, we can see that we are finally free to act in ways that do not impinge on others, invoke further karma, or entrap ourselves deeper in the web of desire.
We are then free to be at home with ourselves; to play, to teach, to grow.