A Different Path to Freedom

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by 232, Jan 24, 2023.

  1. 232

    232 Fapstronaut

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    Introduction

    All my career I have been a teacher, bringing principles of the inner world to children of all ages in schools. Now I'm a Mindfulness trainer, therapist in training and wellbeing coach. Sadly and happily, I have battled with this particular foe for many many years, with varying levels of success. It has been extraordinarily difficult but also illuminating. I write this now a while after having reached what I perceive to be the final milestone. It has been a long time coming.

    I've studied the mind, meditation and spiritual transformation since I was 15 relentlessly, particularly the difficult teaching of Jiddu Krishnamurti. His direct and unequivocal approach to conflict has influenced me greatly. He calls for a total end to inner conflict, and this is the 'Holy Grail' in this matter, as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, I don't think most people realise that this is the true goal. Most think that it's just not to watch porn, no matter what. But if you are living with repression, still looking over your shoulder, then you are still in conflict. In fact, there is a natural way to move beyond this without leaving any trace of conflict whatsoever. The true goal is absolute freedom from the whole pernicious cycle and everything it entails, that whole world of perception of other human beings, yourself and the sexual realm. I hope, in this long post, to convey to you that not only is this possible but also to point to how. Many of the things I write may have been written on this site before, but I think that some key insights are new here and that is my main motivation for posting.

    Disclaimer: This is all written from the point of view of a heterosexual male and so please do not be offended if it does not include or speak to your own experiences and inclinations. I know that what is relevant for me is not necessarily relevant for everyone and that there will be many aspects of all this which I do not address here because they are not part of my story.


    My Story

    I am a happily married man and I am extremely lucky because my wife is not only beautiful but angelic in her personality as well. This is the experience I come from, and so pornography from the perspective of a single person is different for me to understand, but I still think everything I've learned is relevant to those people as well.

    We got together when we were 17 and she made it immediately clear that, for her, porn was akin to cheating. Obviously not as bad, but the sentiment was clear: it's not ok.

    This was incredibly difficult for me as a teen. I didn't have the confidence or the wherewithal to discuss it with her frankly, and explain how hard it would be to give it up and to really get into whether or not I should. If I had it would have all been so much easier.

    I just quietly went about trying to stop doing it and we never spoke about it at all. I had no idea what I was getting into! She kind of caught me once in the few years that followed and obviously this created a bit of conflict but still we never really discussed it. I think she probably assumed I had given it up completely quite fast after that because I never spoke about it to her and she probably had no idea how challenging that could be, for a guy who has grown up with the arrival of full on internet porn.

    Some of the main points from these years are as follows, although I didn’t necessarily realise them at the time. I had urges to consume erotic content and I believed that these urges were 'bad', that I had to repress, suppress them and not act on them. If I acted on them I had to make sure it was a secret. This all created a horrible fragmentation within me which you are all no doubt very good friends with.

    I did not understand if the urges were bad or not, or how should respond to them, or whether or not I should act on them. I did not know if it was my wish or not, to not consume this material.

    I was afraid that I would always experience this conflict, that I would always feel broken and fragmented. I was afraid that I would never know how to move beyond it, and that I would always feel some degree of guilt or shame for this 'part of me'. I was afraid that the cycle would continue for all of my life. This is all incredibly debilitating for mind, heart and soul, as most of you know. It probably created all manner of bad moods, agitation, depression and anxiety.

    If I 'gave in' and viewed any material it became a spiralling habit and a compulsion. This compulsivity creates the most extreme fragmentation, as it is an immediate and present direct conflict between wanting and not wanting something. I was afraid of all of this.

    On some level, I was afraid of beautiful women, or women acting seductively or sexily. I was afraid of perceiving women on TV or out in the street as attractive because I had taken on the belief that it was a betrayal of my soul mate and beloved. When I say ‘afraid’, you may imagine me cowering or physically recoiling, no, it’s not like that. These are small, inner reactions and aversions. Fear moves in mysterious and subtle ways and I would never have recognised this as fear in the moment as a teenager. Now I know better.

    Part of my wife’s opinion about porn definitely came from a teenage fear on her part, seeing attractive women everywhere and knowing how easy it is for people to cheat on one another. This fear was amplified by the fact that both of us had experience with this in our parents’ marriages and it had severely impacted our lives and resulted in them divorcing. Yet part of it also comes from a deep knowing of a profound truth; that there is something truly beautiful about monogamy and ‘inner monogamy’ as well, some wonderful devotion and loyalty which is sacred and very special. What I didn’t know then is that this isn’t sacred and special if it comes from fear.

    How did it affect my perception of women and sex?

    Profoundly. Billie Eilish recently said that porn had destroyed her brain and spoke about how it has distorted her viewpoint. My long journey with all this has shown me all this in great depth.

    1. The ‘Ideal Form’
    This is an obvious one. It conditioned me to have a particular view of what was beautiful in women. On the surface, this is bad enough. It taught me that big boobs, slim waist and big bum are attractive and everything else is not. So simple, so pernicious. Aside from the enormous but subtle issue of conditioning my subconscious to believe that external beauty is the most important/only kind, it distorted this further to make me seek and enjoy only a specific subset of external beauty. So simple, yet so imprisoning.

    As we all know, this causes tremendous problems for women, who believe (and rightly so, mainly) that this is what men are looking for, so they must go to great lengths to fit with this. This means a rejection of themselves as they are and an enormous expenditure of energy to make changes to fit with this. This is a betrayal of themselves and by falling prey to this, women become part of the cycle, instead of helping men to free themselves from it by actually embodying a different sort of beauty and therefore enlarging the conversation. Presumably, this actually forces these women to totally lose sight of what they actually value and think is beautiful, if it was ever in sight to begin with.

    1. Sexual aggression and ‘possession’
    I realised many years ago that a good way to characterise the aggressive sort of lust displayed in pornography is the desire to possess beauty. To possess what has been perceived as beautiful as an experience. Almost like watching the sunset and feeling compelled to take a picture of it so it lasts longer. We can’t just let it be. All this is probably, for me, the most dangerous effect of pornography. It conditions us to believe, from a young age in my case, that this desire to possess is the sexual experience. This is what we can get from it, this is what we should want from it. The desire to do all sorts of things to that which is beautiful. Just let that sentence sink in for a while. I know I have.

    It is ‘praising beauty’ gone wrong.

    We really need to digest how dangerous this fact is. The sexual energy we experience is arguably the most powerful we have access to, and this forces it down a very narrow funnel indeed. It makes men seek to ‘conquer’ the women who conform most to the ideal form (bragging rights etc), and then not to actually give in the process. To ‘do’ what has been done in the porn films as if this is the Holy Grail. It really isn’t.

    Do women really want you to shoot semen all over their face and in their hair? I have had many amusing conversations with my wife about this, and was fairly devastated to realise she definitely had no interest in this. Then, after speaking to lots of other real human women, found out that they don’t really want this either.

    “But loads of women enjoy that!” I hear some cry. I always hear this when this discussion comes up. Ask yourself: do you want that to be the case? If so, that’s probably distorting your viewpoint, so it’s best to acknowledge that immediately, because it’s truth I am after here. Also ask yourself this: is the only reason you want it to be true because you’ve seen it in porn? Probably.

    Let’s face this directly. Yes, I’m sure there are many women in the world who enjoy that and many other things they see in porn. Fine. I don’t deny that. But let’s also consider if women are being enslaved by all this as well. Of course they are, they are one side of the equation.

    How many women in porn are doing drugs just so they can pretend to enjoy it and get their paycheck? More importantly, what is the background of the women, in porn or real life, who really enjoy the aggression which is shown so often on the screen? Do they all have healthy sexual backgrounds and excellent role models? How many women who enjoy this sort of thing do so because they want to impress men and now they’ve just accepted it as normal? I don’t know, and I can see how many people would be offended even by that suggestion, but I’m honestly asking the question. It’s a running joke that at the beginning of relationships women do things they wouldn’t dream of doing years later when they aren’t trying to ‘get’ the man. I used to think that blowjobs were my wife’s favourite thing in the world!

    The most important point I am making here is that just because some women may ‘like that sort of thing’ still doesn’t mean it’s what you should seek out as the best there can be. It’s all still part of the sexual narrative of society.

    Unfortunately, so much of this is about power. It’s about one person wanting power over another. In my experience, as a heterosexual male consuming that sort of pornography, men wanting power over women (of course it can be the other way round as well). “But it’s normal! It’s fine!” All the men say who haven’t dared try to give up porn.

    Normal DOES NOT EQUAL fine.

    I do not want to have power over my wife. I want love and I think deep down that’s what we all want.

    “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti

    So what else is there?
    1. Visuals, visuals, visuals
    Porn trapped me on the visual level of sex only. Simple as that. In fact, in the first few years of my relationship my sexual performances were hampered hugely by how distracting and delightful the visuals were. I just couldn’t handle it.

    Yet it is such a fundamental aspect of the whole pornoGRAPHIC experience that it disappears from awareness and understanding: it’s ALL VISUAL.

    Ingraining the habit of linking sexual energy and release with visual stimulation is a significant and powerful thing to do, but we don’t realise that because of how ‘normal’ it is. It keeps us there and distorts and restricts our perception not only of sex but of women generally. Look at how beguiling all these images are on Instagram and Tiktok which people are being assailed by on an hourly basis. It is aggressively keeping consciousness at a certain level of perception, unable to see beyond.

    But are these visuals really all there is?

    Love

    I cannot stress enough that this is not about demonising lust. I also do not want to demonise power seeking in the sexual realm; if people enjoy playing power games in the bedroom that is totally up to them; who am I to say what anyone should or should not like or do? My intention has always been only to find what I believe to be the most profound and important truths in this area and so to free myself from conflict.

    It is so easy for these thoughts to be taken in that way, to think that people are trying to ‘kill the fun’. No. It’s not about that. We experience this reaction because we don’t want our way of seeing, or our way of being, to be challenged. It is threatening to us, like if somebody shows us evidence against our political views.

    Instead, think of it like this. The sexual experience can be seen as a rainbow, a symphony. Lust is a perfectly natural part of this, the part which attracts us to one another in the first place and then repopulates the species. It is also enjoyable to experience passionate lust. But it’s only one part of the rainbow. Yet for so many of us, it’s the only part of the sexual rainbow we know. To take the analogy further, this means we can take red and make it an entire rainbow in and of itself. We could easily make 7 broad bands of red and they would all seem different, because life is so magical there is so much to see inside everything. This means that lust can actually seem like a huge world to exist within. Just look at all the porn categories there can be. One person could probably spend multiple lifetimes watching different porn videos without pause. This might lure us into believing that there is almost infinite variety in that world, but there isn’t.

    It’s just one colour in the rainbow. Just one colour.

    After I allowed my wife to educate me, I saw that sexually speaking I had been living in a tiny little world of visuals, lust and the desire for possession of a small and largely empty experience.

    When we go beyond that level of sexual perception and participation, which I believe is our birthright and a totally natural movement, when we stop simply desiring to ‘have something for ourselves’, we can come to true connection which not only takes us beyond lust but beyond self altogether. Then we can actually ‘make love’ in an act of sacred magic in which two souls come together as one, fulfilling the spiritual purpose of the sexual act. This is a totally different world, home to all sorts of treasures which I dare not describe in words and which cannot even be imagined by the little mind caught in neverending circles of lust.

    How is porn helping anyone to prepare for or to experience that aspect of the sexual realm? Far from it; porn actively prevents us from even seeing that such a world exists.

    ‘Giving up’

    As I write this, I must confess that I no longer believe in the normal paradigm of addiction and recovery from it, though it may ‘work’ for many people.

    You can ‘resist temptation’ and try to ‘ascend’ to something higher, ‘lifting yourself’ above the murky world of lust and the cycle of desire and imagination you find yourself in. Certainly, at the beginning of ‘trying to give up’ I think all of this is really useful, and that strong effort must be made to break the cycle for a period of time so that you can see clearly. Like a drug addict needs to totally have rhe substance out of their system to be able to start to see a new path.

    However, as I said at the beginning, I just do not think this sort of mindset provides a workable long term solution. I think the real solution is to end the conflict within totally. That is the only way I am happy to aim for, anyway. I will try to give a roadmap below of how this can be done.

    1. Observation
    First of all I found it important to understand what sort of beast I was dealing with by understanding how and why porn is so addictive and observing the cycles of watching porn. The endless clicking, looking for something new even though it’s still kind of the same, the dopamine, the not even enjoying it, you know, the whole thing. The whole cycle.

    Watch the whole cycle.

    See, with addiction, we don’t do that. We watch half of the cycle. We watch the ‘bad thing’ - in this case the actual consumption of porn - and then we fall subconsciously into thoughts and feelings spirals about the habit itself. This judgment is the other side of the cycle/circle. The shame, the guilt, the sadness, the frustration, this is half of the equation and must also be seen.

    But that’s very hard to see, because we fall into a storm of emotion and totally believe the validity of it all. Oh I’m a bad person, I’ll never get out of it, I just can’t stop bla bla bla bla bla. I’m sure you could fill in some more of those thoughts.

    That’s the thing…they are thoughts. Just thoughts.

    Watch them.

    This leads to the second key point involved in observation. How to observe this?

    This cycle must be seen with detachment, which means without emotion and reaction. That is extremely difficult and a truly key piece of the puzzle. It is so difficult because we do care about it. We can’t fool ourselves into pretending we don’t. Unfortunately, we are watching the entire cycle with bias from the beginning, because we are observing it through fear of it and the desire for the whole thing to end.

    This muddies the entire picture and so it is imperative to learn to observe yourself without judgment. First of all this means doing what I have said above, and observing the judgment itself.

    1. Accept
    When all of this is seen, you are able to take the next step, which is to accept yourself as you are right now and have compassion and understanding for yourself, without trying to change any of it. As long as we are trying to change it, we are in conflict. So we must truly, deeply, accept the situation as it is, with all the pain that may bring. Accept everything that has brought you to this point, too, without moving away from this acceptance. Stop. Let it really sit and simmer and marinate. This is difficult and deep emotional work. It is not an idea. It takes time and requires patience, effort and energy.

    Accept your habit, your guilt, your shame, your confusion, the whole mess of it, each time any of it comes into awareness. Welcome your thoughts and feelings in. Don’t run away.

    This opens up a new space and brings you to the precipice of what I would describe as the most important part of the puzzle.

    1. Descend
    Is lust OK? Is sex OK? Is it dirty? Should it be a secretive, closed thing schools can’t speak to teenagers about because we are all so repressed and weird about it? Should we have to hide the sexual part of ourselves and pretend it’s not there?

    Unfortunately, religion has really done a number on us here. So many people feel that pretty much anything sexual is wrong and shameful and all the rest of it. These scars are so deep we may not even realise they are there. It is embedded in every layer of culture. How can we possibly move forwards in a healthy way if we do not come to a harmonious understanding of that?

    You see, so much of the desire to ‘rise above’, to ‘fight off temptation’, to ‘count the days’ comes from a straightforward judgment that lust is bad. That sexuality is bad and that our sexual power is a problem.

    Yet Carl Jung popularised the idea that we need to ‘integrate the shadow’ and this is the perfect medicine here. We need to question that first fundamental judgment (which was not our judgment anyway, it was given to us by others) and look with totally fresh eyes.

    Please read the following short story; it is absolutely fundamental for the main point I am trying to make here:

    Prince Lindworm (search on google)

    The snake could be said to represent the wild, powerful, sexual part of ourselves which we (as individuals and as society throughout history) have repressed, hidden and pretended isn’t there. Everything we are ashamed of, everything which we don’t understand.

    Yet all of this suppression and repression has made this aspect of us twist and morph into something worse, something almost unrecognisable. Of course it’s unrecognisable, we aren’t willing to even look at it. We have not allowed it to mature with the rest of us and so it lies dormant, more wild than ever before. When we contact it we cannot face its wildness, it seems so at odds with our ‘sensible’ self sitting up high in the castle. We haven’t matured and grown with all our parts, we have left a big chunk which we don’t like or understand behind and now it is always there in the background, biting at our heels. (For more on this see the work of Martin Shaw or Robert Bly)

    So then we try to educate it, make it transform, make it rise up to where we are. Very patronising indeed! None of these attempts work. This act of ‘resisting temptation’ says, ‘No. I’m better than that.” The snake says “Are you sure?”

    Well, hold on. That is you. It is part of you. Stop trying to educate it.

    Descend.

    Go down there, into the cave of the snake, and let it educate you. Go into that world without any fear. Allow yourself to fully face and feel your raw sexuality, wildness and power, and let it educate you.

    Why on Earth should you be afraid of porn? Go and face it without fear.

    Cast off the shackles placed upon you by your religion, your peers, your spouse or whoever else it is, and go and really see what it has to offer.

    Here’s the thing. When you really do this, really descend, really look at all of this without any fear, something totally changes. You may find that it totally loses its sting.

    Then you see that it was your own fear of wildness, the fear of your own power, which had fuelled a huge part of the cycle all along, making your sexual energy and what it wants to into a problem.

    You cannot live hoping that you don’t ‘give in’ and do something you think is ‘bad’. You cannot live in fear of watching porn, of wanting to watch it, of being attached to it, hiding from it.

    You cannot live in fear. Go and find out what it is and if it really is bad. If it really is bad, and you are looking without fear, you will see that it is bad and naturally move away from it, without effort or conflict.

    When I took this momentous step, I really saw that porn actually was not interesting at all to me. I saw that it was all the same. It seemed ugly and it genuinely made me sad. I was totally shocked about this, because I had not really, properly seen it in that way before. I had tried to, but that’s something different.

    I realised then that it was never watching porn which was the problem. It wasn’t giving in to temptation or anything like that.

    The problem was that I was in conflict and confused.

    I was trying to stop doing something that I also wanted to do. The conflict only ended when I genuinely stopped wanting to do it, and I only stopped wanting to do when I faced it totally without fear and was lucky enough to truly see that it did not serve me, that it had nothing of real value to offer me.

    Many people may read the above and think that actually it all sounds too easy, too simple. Yes, that’s because it’s all just words which become ideas in your mind. Rest assured, my journey with this was neither of those things. Each step above, relatively easy to write in words, involved difficult inner work and it was not a linear step by step IKEA furniture solution. These are all just clues. The major insights which are vital for each step of what I’ve described above were hard fought, in my case.

    I will finish with two quotes from two gurus who have made an enormous impact on my life:

    “It comes with understanding, not determination. Become fully aware of your problem, look at it from all sides, watch how it affects your life. You are free from what you have understood.” - Nisargadatta Maharaj

    “It is truth that liberates, not your effort to be free.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti

    I truly hope this helps at least one soul out there, from the bottom of my heart. Feel free to message me if you would like to.
     
  2. M_H

    M_H Fapstronaut

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    This was a pleasure to read. I thank you for your time and the information you have shared is valuable. All the best
     
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  3. Lumian

    Lumian Fapstronaut

    It's amazing to see some key similarities in our stories, how the inner work is key, how guilt and shame is part of the problem and that the power lies in understanding, not "fighting against the desire". I loved when you spoke about "descend".

    But just one thing, when you say "So then we try to educate it, make it transform, make it rise up to where we are. Very patronising indeed! None of these attempts work. This act of ‘resisting temptation’ says, ‘No. I’m better than that.” The snake says “Are you sure?”"

    I understand what you are saying here, but I assure you that making the energy rise is a very real thing and making it rise does not mean educating it and it's not about resisting, but transforming this energy into higher possibilities so that you don't have to resist anything. You probably still have sex, so I assume you don't have to deal with that extra energy when you don't engage in sexual activity at all. So I would be very careful with that. (Please correct me if I'm wrong).

    Also I think that "resisting" is very important at the beginning of the process and it's almost inevitable because the tendency is so strong. But we can transform this resistance into some intelligent strategies, working with the mind that is trapped in the visuals by creating other visuals. For example, if a desire-image comes you can face that image and create an "x ray" visual, by imagining everything under the skin, the flesh, blood, fecal matter, the bones... Whatever works. Until you reach a point where you don't need this.

    And in this process it's really important to see porn for what it is and to observe what you have created in your mind. But I wouldn't recommend for anyone who's starting to try to actually see porn, it's best to start by just reflecting on it, on the consequences and on what you really want for your life.

    BTW, I love the way you write! All the best.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2023
  4. Perfectionst

    Perfectionst Fapstronaut

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    Yes, this very thing happened to me. But I didn't make the same effort as you to understand what had happened at a deep level, why this approach worked. You have done an amazing job of introspection, and translated into words things that are very difficult to describe, congratulations!. It would be great to hear more details about what changes you have experienced on a personal level and in your relationship.

    I am very happy to be on this boards. It feels like, each of us in our own place, maybe on the other side of the planet, we are putting together the pieces of a puzzle.
     
    Lumian likes this.
  5. 232

    232 Fapstronaut

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    Thank you for this. I totally agree with what you've said. No I don't think you are wrong at all, I just think there's a subtle point of potential misunderstanding here in a really tricky area so I should clarify my position.

    I totally agree that the enormous sexual energy which we have access to can be channeled and transformed in all sorts of different ways (used constructively in exercise, learning a new hobby, creative pursuits, and even physically transformed within the body through things like Qi Gong and meditation). This sort of thing I'm sure is extremely helpful for everyone on this site.

    The point I am making which is so odd and unusual, and which we basically never encounter, is that we always 'try to make it rise' before making the descent I have described, which is so vital.

    We will do anything to avoid this descent, basically, because it means really facing the situation and ourselves in its totality without moving away or trying to change anything. We jump the gun, and immediately try to 'fix' what we see.

    So in a way, you could say that the process I have described is actually make the energy 'rise', speaking metaphorically (and probably physically too). It is certainly a most wonderful transformation. But our usual attempts to do this come from fear, not organically through understanding. We don't want the truth, we want the thing to be gone. But the thing is us!

    Krishnamurti had the most beautiful way of describing this using the verb 'flowering'. We don't allow our difficult emotions and patterns to actually flower fully and die or transform naturally, we always get involved and try to chop them down (in the case of a destructive pattern or one we don't like) and this actually prevents the true flowering from taking place. I have found this to be absolutely true in my experience and the 'descent' to be the most excellent missing puzzle piece.

    Does this clarify it?
     
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  6. 232

    232 Fapstronaut

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    This is so great to hear. I'm really glad I was able to make the time to write this and replies like this show me that it was time well spent.

    On a personal level the most significant change was what I was really craving all along, the peace of mind and heart which comes from an end to conflict. As I said, I've practised meditation for years and accessed deep peace hundreds of times through it, but when we are enmeshed in a struggle like this it creates a deep wound in us which can basically poison everything to some degree. That's what if was doing to me. I felt like I was betraying myself in some deep way, and actually I was. But I didn't realise that I had it all the wrong way around. The way that I was betraying myself was in turning away and rejecting a part of myself and wanting it to go away. This is the snake in the story, the wild, primal self. Whereas I thought it was the watching of porn which was a betrayal to my self that 'shouldn't watch porn'. What a subtle trap that is!

    The benefits to this end to conflict are incalculable and I could probably spend days writing about them. A nice analogy might be a bubble around someone which has little holes poked in it all over, and suddenly the bubble being totally solid all the way around. It is integration!
     
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  7. Lumian

    Lumian Fapstronaut

    It does clarify it! Thank you for that. I just thought about someone who's reading your message at the beginning of their process and I think it can be a little bit dangerous to face the snake right off the bat. What you're saying is very interesting and I think it is a very important step, at the right stage after you have already done some work, when you can observe things more clearly and discern what is real and what you are creating in your mind and after you've decided what you really want.

    I do think your message also speaks to me because I still have the tendency to avoid everything that may trigger something sexual. But I'm already getting better at accepting and understanding and now I think I'm getting to the point where I can face the snake of the actual images of porn without fear. But I feel this because I have been going through a process, and without this process I wouldn't feel I have this power. You know?

    I'm speaking more specifically about getting exposed to the actual content. But facing the sexual energy in your body, the power, the wildness is essencial, altogether with knowing what you want and learning how to deal with that energy. Like using the fire to cook instead of burning yourself and your house down lol. Thank you for answering.
     
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  8. Perfectionst

    Perfectionst Fapstronaut

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    We addicts have a troubled relationship with this part of ourselves, especially those who were edging, like me. We would like our masturbation sessions to last forever. So we see orgasms, the ultimate manifestation of this energy, as something we have to avoid.
    Even when I consider myself recovered, I still feel a bit disconnected from this part. Or more than disconnected, in this example you give:

    I feel like there's still a hole in the bubble.
     
  9. 232

    232 Fapstronaut

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    Yes I agree with you totally.
     
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  10. 232

    232 Fapstronaut

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    I found this really interesting to read and it shows just how important this all is. It sounds like the edging habit is fear and avoidance of the second half of the cycle because it is so difficult to understand and integrate and brings forth so much that is hard to feel.

    One thing I thought is how the idea of 'play' comes into this. Nisargadatta Maharaj also mentioned this in relation to how we always make a problem of everything and my wife has shown me this perspective a lot also. The entire sexual realm can be perceived as just being a wonderful avenue for play for beings. Innocent play. Isn't that nice? It entails no attachment and a certain happy-go-lucky attitude which is so opposite to all of the issues in the addictive cycle. This return to innocence is good medicine!
     
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  11. Thank you for sharing your deep reflections.
    Is what you're describing here something akin to the approach that some have termed 'urge surfing' ?
    https://pmoflatline.com/nofap-and-urge-surfing/
     
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  12. 232

    232 Fapstronaut

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    Thanks for this. I hadn't come across this in this context and I think it's great. Yes it's quite similar to lots of what I have been pointing to and it's just classic mindfulness really. 'You can't fight the waves but you can learn to surf' or something similar is a famous quote within mindfulness circles, and it's true because of the sort of thing I'm describing. The fighting comes from fear and the surfing helps towards understanding.

    However, I would say that this urge surfing should be contextualised and understood within a broader goal to understand and embrace your whole nature (eg integrating the snake/shadow), rather than just as a clever and effective strategy to 'give up'. Because let's say someone does this urge surfing really effectively, breaks the cycle and gives up porn - which would be awesome no doubt - they could in theory do all of that without really gaining any of the deep understanding I'm describing which I think is such an important part of this. It's not really illuminating the root of it and embracing the sexual side of one's nature. The motive is still laced with fear!

    Still, I'm very pleased this powerful idea of surfing is being written about and understood by people struggling with this.
     
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  13. Ok, I like your approach! Seems like you are aiming at having a higher goal (or "Telos") which is to grow holistically as a human being, instead of just categorically dealing with a "behavior" such as PMO.
    I am a Christian, so I am also discovering some parallels in that side of things. Namely, in much of Christianity it seems people are aiming for "behavior modification" which is not bad in itself, but the higher , fuller goal is transformation of the entire self (to be like Christ, in my personal journey).
    Regardless of people's differences in motivations for change, I think we can all agree that wholistic transformation, instead of mere behavior change, techniques, and prohibitions, is ideal. Thanks again for sharing!
     
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  14. Lumian

    Lumian Fapstronaut

    I just wanna say that I love that we can talk in this way :D

    Thank you everyone for being here with the willingness to be and create a better experience!
     
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  15. I love how the NF community is diverse, yet also somehow United in pursuing the Good. Onwards !
     
  16. tawwab1

    tawwab1 Fapstronaut

    This resonates strongly with me. It's such a rich and profound piece, I'm going to save this somewhere to come back to it and re-read it again and again. It's too rich perhaps, and maybe you should have broken it up into several posts so the community can take in all of what you're saying.

    The three principles you laid out of "observation," "acceptance," and "descent" are familiar to me but not identical to my journey (I'll explain why). Many themes you touched on, like the cycle of addiction, deep acceptance of oneself, and the subtle deception of pornography are things I've reflected on and written about here before. I'd like to share a "meeting of the minds" with you and invite you to read some of my essays (link in sig).

    It's intriguing that we came to such a similar understanding despite coming from VERY different spiritual traditions, you coming from occultism and theosophy and myself traveling along the deen of Islam. Wisdom is something Allah places anywhere He wishes.

    The way I visualize the "cycle" is like this:

    Thief -> Hedonist -> Sinner -> Parole -> Thief

    The thief is stealing glances at women, lingering a little *too* long on that YouTube thumbnail, "visiting" people on Facebook in a creepy way, etc. The hedonist is in full-blown relapse. The sinner is wringing his hands, depressed, despondent, screaming into his pillow with guilt, etc. Then he installs porn blockers and becomes a prisoner on parole until he gets the idea to have "just one look..."

    You can't move forward without seeing the whole thing.

    I was raised in a strict, shame-based way without much spirituality. It took me about 8 or 9 years of addiction to actually confront the fact that I was addicted, because of the layers of shame and guilt that buried my consciousness. It was only after a personal crisis that I realized that I have to accept that I'm addicted and don't have any way to get better, because the shame was so great that it was killing me. That, I think, was the beginning of my recovery. Later I moved on to understanding that the addiction is not part of me and can be removed. Before you accept yourself fully, you're always just reacting to temptations, and the temptations are never finished.

    I came to an understanding of lust as something that serves a higher purpose in human life. It guides us to having children and finding comfort and peace in a spouse. It's wrong to demonize it. We just have to be in control of it, not the other way around. That's why I don't consider being in touch with one's desires as "descent," as if there's a "higher" self and a "lower" self, but more like "integration"

    When I remembered back what it was like to first discover porn as a 10-year-old, I remember feeling disgusted by it. I remember thinking it must be fake, like someone is playing a trick on me. I felt that no one would ever do these things.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2023 at 10:00 AM
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  17. 232

    232 Fapstronaut

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    Thank you so much for your kind words, I am pleased that you enjoyed reading it. I would be more than happy to read what you've written, thanks for directing me to it. I know it is a dense post and perhaps you are right that it should have been broken up.

    Just a couple of things to say in response. Firstly, just for context and in case anyone wants to read into it further (not just to 'correct' you), the spiritual background for me has been mainly Advaita Vedanta and the Direct Path (Mooji and Rupert Spira are two excellent modern examples you can find on Youtube - or the books of Nisargadatta Maharaj); I would say the enigmatic teaching of Krishnamurti comes under this bracket too. This approach is all about direct inquiry and attempting to go to the root of consciousness and, you could say, to find God within.

    Secondly, regarding descent, because it is such an important part of what I've written. I agree with you, it is actually about integration, but the reason it is referred to here as a descent is because we have, for all intents and purposes, split ourselves into lower and higher, although the separation is ultimately illusory. We observe the 'lower' in us through a lens of superiority, which has been created and clouded by various factors (ie religion, our parents etc).

    We look 'down on' the aspect of ourselves which we think is impure and judge it as if we are separate from it. This is the prince high up in the castle looking down on the snake, in the story I gave. So in practice what is required really does feel like a descent, because it involves a 'taking back' of all these years of patronising, judging and condemning; almost a repentance for this. It involves going down to that rejected part of yourself and befriending it, accepting all of its power, seeing that it is you, rather than trying to bring it up to the state or way of living which you have believed is better. After this 'move' has been made, both aspects, integrated, can leave the cave of the snake as one. The split, the artificial separation, can end and there can be peace, harmony and true integration. I hope that makes some sort of sense. I just wanted to clarify this as it is such an important point here; the most important, from my perspective and in my journey.

    I look forward to reading your stuff! Thanks again for your reply.
     
  18. 232

    232 Fapstronaut

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    There is something else I must add to this and it relates to the enormously significant subject of control, which you mentioned briefly. What I am suggesting here is something radically different from our normal way of living, so much so that it means a total end to the entire drama of control. It is going beyond the entire paradigm of how we usually live, not just in relation to addiction but in the whole way that we live. We have made a real mess.

    A funny and apt example which points to what I mean here comes from the Matrix:

    Neo: You're saying I can dodge bullets?
    Morpheus: No, Neo. I'm saying that when you're ready. You won't have to.

    I think we can all agree this was an epic moment from the film.

    I must point out that I am not nitpicking on what you said and I am not saying you are 'wrong'. This is such difficult territory here and language can easily become a problem. Yet the whole idea of control is essentially what I have been questioning. I am suggesting (though the suggestion has come into my life from Krishnamurti's teachings) that once there really is integration, once we really are not separated into 'higher' and 'lower' and the realm of lust and pornography has really been understood, there there is no need for control. Control still necessitates the higher acting on and controlling the lower.

    When we have understood the whole 'problem' - or rather 'situation' - then the pulls from the world of porn and lust are seen in a totally different way, and they lose their power and vitality just as the bullets do in the Matrix. Then there is no more need to fight yourself, to stop yourself, etc. In short, no need for control. That's the ultimate relief and the end of what I described as 'looking over your shoulder', the end of fear.

    I do acknowledge, as I said in the original post, that this is not really possible at the beginning of this journey when effort must be made and control can be very helpful to lift oneself out of the initial cycle to start to see things more clearly.

    I'm thankful again for your reply because what you said has helped to bring this out, and I know it's a really important, unusual and difficult point to discuss and consider.
     
  19. tawwab1

    tawwab1 Fapstronaut

    Totally agree with the above 100%
     

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