If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
--The Gospel of St Thomas: Logion 45
The most important tool we have for the process of Self-creation is the controversial quality of our Desire. Throughout history there has raged a battle between East and West, wherein one views "desirelessness" as the highest good, while the other appears caught in a frantic search for gratification. When we attempt to resolve this dualism with spiritual dogma, we fall short of resolution. On the one hand, living without desire doesn't seem authentic. On the other, it seems our desires are evil and catapult us uncontrollably toward personal disaster.
Dr. Carl Gustav Jung provided a way to synthesize this apparent paradox by defining desire as a "combination of pleasure and the urge to individuate." With this definition, desire translates into a commitment to the experience of the forces of life as it is, a path of consciously committed action. Dr. Jung warned that if we attempt to give up desire prematurely, we can become "psychic corpses" and perish from "psychic pernicious anemia," lacking the motivation necessary to individuate. We can view the descent into the Earth's raw, transformative forces of vitality and tribulation as the link with Heaven's mission for us. I hope you will feel a sense of relief as you hear this validation of your human passions as having a sacred function.
Our Insatiable Craving to be Both Human and Divine
Seeking "the delights of the flesh" has ancient roots within the human design. And so do feelings of guilt and wrong for wanting such pleasures. Our ordinary human desires are often thought of as "selfish." We've been taught it is sinful to have passionate human desires, especially sexual feelings. Some forms of religion, in fact, are so restrictive and judgmental, members must hide most of their human feelings and urges, wearing plastic smiles on their faces, needing to appear above and beyond such "lower needs." You may recall a humorous country-and-western song that goes: "You've gotten so heavenly, you ain't no earthly good."
So here is the other side of the story, for we can't win in this incessant battle between good and evil. Not as long as misguided or half alive human beings are in charge of our morality! There is a term we use in our work that describes people who try to be only "heavenly," or always positive and loving. We say they are in a spiritual bypass- a phrase coined by psychologist John WelwoodÑfor people who are this lopsided can never truly be themselves. And we don't trust them, because we never know what is really going on behind the sunny facades.
Either way we view our nature, whether looking up or down, we tend to separate our earthly self from our spiritual self, as though one is bad, the other good. Our inability to understand the troublesome conflicts within us has led many an unsteady soul into the lure of addiction or neurosis a treacherous road that no one would ever consciously choose. It is completely natural to love both the sensuous pleasures and the feelings of being holy and high. Yet these either lusty or lofty pursuits tend to split apart within our psyche. If they are not integrated, they can get us in to a great deal of trouble.
We've all been taught since we were very young that nations divided within cannot be strong. This is true of the human psyche as well. To be split off from any part of our natural instincts and urgesÑthe traits that are most "species-like," the traits that give us our very definition as earthlingsÑcan be crazy-making. If we cannot integrate and make conscious all parts of ourselves, our denied parts have no place to go but into the closets of repression, deep in our subconscious. They are still present nonetheless, and eventually our feelings will pop out unexpectedly, now exaggerated, and they'll usually embarrass or disgrace us in some awful manner. This explains how an especially rigid, righteous person can proselytize against "sins of the flesh," and also have a dark and lurid "secret life"! Sadly for us humans, we've lost what the ancient Greek Orthodox Church knew: