Virtue (the quality of being morally good) it sounds like a word your father, or maybe your grandfather, might have used. I don't use that word much either, but I know the word and its meaning. Today the word Ethics (a system of moral principles governing the appropriate conduct for an individual or group) comes into our vocabulary a bit more than the rather old fashioned sounding 'Virtue' with the rash of corporate scandals and un-ethical behavior in the business world. Corporate scoundrels abound, most of use have a very healthy distrust of corporations, and yet we see that we have little perceived power in these situations.
But what about our Life world - how does ethics or even virtue fit into the complexities of your relationships, even down to the bedroom? How are we duplicitous (deceptive, dishonest, or misleading) as lovers, wives, husbands, partners, friends, parents, neighbors, and coworkers?
For the most part we are not shone ethical behavior. Our movies, television programs, print media, and radio are such offenders of this realm driven by profits and ratings. These mediums are our parents in many cases. We allow them to baby-sit our children and teens. Our western systems have forced both parents into the workplace leaving the TV and overworked and under valued teachers to educate our children.
We are sold a bill of goods by advertisers who sell us 'Things'. We are caught up in a whorl wind of 'Needs' and 'Wants' that keep the corporate world happy. Does it keep us happy?
Guilt about this is natural but if we stop there or give into it we defeat the purpose of guilt. It is there to help show us that change might be possible. That a gaping hole exists that can be transformed to allow light to shine on our standards of behavior.
This is big responsibility and not for the faint of heart. This is hard work but it needn't be necessarily not fun and exciting work. Yes, it would help if the western world had a system by which we lived that introduced integrity and ethical behavior to us a babies, children, teens, young adults, adults, and elders. In fact, by the time we got to be young adults the ethical attitudes and functioning would be ingrained in us. Society would uphold these values and we, as citizens of that society, would hold those values dear and support the society in keeping them.
Tantra comes from ancient Hindu systems that promoted a four-fold path. This path included three guiding principles or aims by which a person lived Virtue, Success, and Pleasure. The fourth and last is Enlightenment resulting from right living. The guidelines for each of these aims in life were outlined and refined over thousands of years into what we know today as the 'Sutras'. By far the best known of these is the Kama Sutra and we think it stands alone. We see the Kama Sutra as many things but mostly as an erotically stimulating guide to sex positions. In reality the sex positions are about one twentieth of the complete Kama Sutras. A more complete view of them includes behaviors for all the social situations that life presents us, prescriptions for how men and women should conduct their lives morally, and a few extras like how to make aphrodisiacs. It is not so much a sex guide as it is a guide for conducting the Pleasurable aspects of one's life.
The Artha Sutras attend to the gaining of wealth and status or success that one strives for in life. The Dharma Sutras focus on the virtues of karmic good works in the world, of leading an upstanding life, and giving back generously to community projects and religious duties. When one has enough money it is possible to portion your time to liberally give back to your community and to enjoy the aspects of life that include all of the pleasures one loves. This 'Kama' is not only about sex, it includes an active social life, time with family and friends, sports, hobbies, art, and the other finer aspects of being a human being. Liberation from the karmic cycle of death and rebirth is the ultimate goal of this path through life.
Learning to develop ways to understand your self and your motivations is one of the components to a more ethical way of being in the world. It can be helpful to know about your personality type, what triggers you to act or to anger, and other psychological factors that influence your everyday life. Knowing about the system of the chakras can help you navigate the stresses and satisfactions that your life brings to you. What they can provide you is the bodily contact and wisdom connected to the psychological understanding of the higherarchy of needs and wants that run our everyday lives. Take me, for example.
Right now I am going through a divorce. We are taking it slowly after 25 years of marriage and we are both on-board for what is ahead. But, as you can imagine, it affects me. I am selling the house I live in. That's my first chakra security of a roof over my head, money issues of getting what I want for it, and the in-stability of not quite knowing where I'm going to live in the future. These are basic functions that we often dismiss or, at the very least, don't pay attention to when they are happening but we kind of just 'plow-through' and keep going. Yet they are hard on us in many ways. We don't acknowledge this fact and take appropriate actions to mitigate the damage done. I have been meditating more on this. I notice my bottom when I'm sitting. This is the location of the first chakra. I feel the solidness of the cushion or ground I'm sitting on and become thankful for it's stabilizing affects. I become thankful for my community of friends and family that support me in so many ways. It's just that easy. It's consciousness about what is going on and very organic.
At the same time, because I am divorcing, the hot, erotic sex I am used to is sometimes missing. That is the second chakra. I have upped my PC muscle sexercises to four hundred at a time to keep my awareness of my genitals in my mind and to keep my pelvic region invigorated and present. I am having long, delicious self-loving sessions where I practice the more subtle, finer details of the bliss state of orgasm and pleasure. I am consciously keeping my second chakra healthy so that I don't have more breakdowns than I can handle in this time of change.
The fifth chakra is in the throat region and stands for integrity, knowledge, and speaking our truths. I am exercising it more these days in new ways. I am being more careful about the words I choose and the deeds I find myself thinking about and saying when I am with friends, my husband, my children, and in business. I am slowing down a bit. I am writing things like this that expose me a little and are very vulnerable things to do, especially in the business world. It is a 'no-no' in journalism to use your self as an example of something personal. I don't believe in hiding like that. If I offend anyone, I am sorry to have hurt you.
I give those examples so that you can see how the everyday use of some of the more non-sexual aspects of Tantric systems do assist you in making your life more solid. It is in this solid place that we can act much more virtuous, ethical, and in integrity with our own needs. When we lie, if we have at all cultivated a sense of body wisdom, we feel it in our gut. This is the third chakra - our will, our convictions, our fears of doing it wrong, our integrity spot. If we notice it those butterflies when we are unsure of ourselves or the tightening that happens when we know we have lied we have a chance to shift the next time, maybe before we react internally, and make the shift that keeps us in higher integrity with our selves.
Again, it is awareness that brings us knowledge. Acting on the awareness brings us higher consciousness. That, in turn, causes us to act different next time. That is personal growth. That is what can bring us to more ethical and right living standards for our selves.
It is a grass-roots project I'm talking about here. We can not expect the corporate world to change much unless we take responsibility in our own lives in the bedroom, at the dinner table with our children, with our friends and lovers, in our interactions with everyone, right down to the driver that pisses you off or the grocery clerk that bags your groceries or the cloth bags you bring to the store because you want to do something about being more environmentally aware or the way in which you acknowledge your own hard work in the world or on and on the examples are everywhere.
It feels like risky business to say what we feel, act on what we know, and conduct our lives the way we know in our gut and hearts we should. Yes, we may not be 'trained' to do this but we still 'know' it is right and good. When kindness accompanies the truth and integrity walks beside us virtue and ethical action comes easier and more freely. The extra bonus is that it feels great and you always know it immediately when you are connected in body, mind, and spirit.