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Delayed Gratification

May 26, 2010

When I was a child, my brother was sent to juvenile hall for molestation, and given treatment for his lack of sexual control– it was here that I first heard the word “delayed gratification”.  I would not know exactly what it meant until many years later, although in retrospect my initial guess was pretty close to the truth.

That’s what this post is about: Sexual control.

I’ve found that although instinct tells us to consummate our sexual desire immediately, it’s far better to delay that gratification so that we might sublimate it, and in doing so convert mere raw instinct into the more refined and transcendent creative and spiritual energies. The gratification of sexual desire is only useful for reproduction and short-lived pleasure; but by converting that raw energy into these higher forms– the potential is limitless!

Mankind has been practicing sexual sublimation almost since philosophy has existed as an art, and it has happened all over the world too: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, China, India, and Greece, and even the Jewish culture are known to emphasize it. It was never that common of a practice (only the most refined of character could practice it to begin with), but in that past few hundred years, its prevalence has become fearfully depreciated.

Some of the more prominent forms of sublimation are: Sex Magic, Freudian sublimation, Tantra, and Amor Platonicus (Love according to Plato).

Sex Magic is the use of sexual activity to store up sexual energy and direct it towards certain means. Because it’s usually done using rituals and magic, it can be considered witchcraft; however, “the premise of sex magic is the concept that the Sexual Energy is the most potent force the body contains and harnessing the unique states that arise through sexual activity may provide an experiential conduit for the transcendence of an individual’s normally perceived reality.” In this sense it can be considered a means for general sublimation, utilizing a combination of magic, rituals, and sexual activities as the primary tools.

It should be noted that the reason why that sex magic emphasizes actual sexual activity so much is because of the spiritual power contained in an orgasmic release– it can in this sense be considered “experiencing God”.

This train of thought brings us to Neotantra, which is unique in regards to sublimation in that rather than converting sexual energy to higher forms of energy, the primary emphasis of Neotantra is to delay sexual gratification so that it might be converted into a greater sexual experience when it is released.

It should be noted that Neotantra in its full form recognizes that “tantric sexuality is just one dimension of a spiritual path that is devoted and dedicated to the challenge of becoming aware, in every moment of our embodied lives, of the supreme flow of the sacred lifeforce itself—the Sacred Unity of Love.” In this sense, Tantra (and to a greater extent, Neotantra) can be considered the sexual application of Amor Platonicus philosophy.

Now, for the application of all this to my life:  I have been having difficulties with my pledge to complete celibacy (no masturbation or pornography)– even though I have very little interest in actual sex, this is a habit I have been reinforcing my entire life, and to make matters worse. So I can’t very well force myself to stop– I must convert that habit to another one with similar desire.

For me, the best choice of replacement for masturbation is clearly sexual sublimation. By applying my excess sexual energy to creative and spiritual means, I can control my sexuality (instead of it controlling me), and in doing so achieve transcendence of the self. By delaying my sexual gratification, I will be able to appreciate that energy in transcendent form, thus experiencing God instead of appreciating mere primal instinct.

Sublimation, although the methodology is clearly diverse, can (in my opinion) be simplified to the Freudian interpretation: “Sublimation is the process of transforming libido into “socially useful” achievements”

On a side note, I find it interesting to note that Freud’s triadic system of consciousness, the Id, Ego, and SuperEgo, which themselves were derived from Aristotle’s three souls, are extremely similar to the Jewish mysticism, which clearly predates Aristotle. This would mean that sublimation is a practice encouraged by Judaism; in addition, some of the early Christians also supported it.

Finally, sublimation will prove very useful to my marriage in the future, in particular as exemplified by the teachings of the Kama Sutra (contrary to popular opinion, the Kama Sutra focuses on the cultivating of a healthy marriage– sex is only of limited emphasis in this text, and when it is, only in the context of marriage.)

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