Copyright © 2002 by William Mistele. All rights reserved.
How a Womanizer Became Enlightened
A Few Well-Known Sayings of Kamhia:
Find what is within you and you attain salvation. Fail to find what is within you and you risk damnation.
Desire sharpens the mind like a sword, the senses amplified, intentions purified, until a diamond of light in the heart is born.
Learn from your enemies. They are your best teachers.
I am haunted by moments of enlightenment:
I see the world with perfect clarity--
All that has been and all that shall be--
Nothing is hidden from me.
But then, amid the vision, I awaken
Abandoned and forlorn,
Forsaken and alone--a lost soul
Condemned to wander forever without a home.
“How strange!” Kamhia thought to himself. “What has happened to me?” For once in as long as he could remember, Kamhia was no longer obsessed with women. It was a shock for him but there was much more to it than just an infatuation overcome. How did it happen? Let’s take a look at Kamhia’s personal history.
Kamhia served with distinction as priest to the High King in Ubarim. Later on in his life, he left that position to study the mysterious power in women. In this pursuit, he went through a phase where he brought back the practices of the Old Religion that was now forbidden.
But not only did he become a heretic. He had the spiritual capacity to interact and communicate with both positive and negative spirits. Using spirits as consultants, he sought to taste first hand the whole gamut of ecstasies and bliss that erotic love can convey. High demons offered him their human servants in an attempt to seduce him into their service. These efforts failed in part because Kamhia genuinely sought to love the women who came into his life even if they were servants of the dark light.
I can summarize Kamhia’s experiences in this regard. Kamhia found that women were like magic mirrors. Their beauty allows a man to bring together and unite in one taste everything he has ever felt, hoped for, dreamed of, and sought to love in life. Kamhia met women who would find his deepest desires and needs and then mold themselves, even transform themselves, in order to satisfy his cravings.
In Kamhia’s words, “You put something of yourself into a woman and she returns it to you in a new and wonderful form. She enables you to experience things you cannot attain on your own.”
The problem was that a real union with a woman, an inner oneness, always eluded him. He was not quite sure why this was. Maybe it was because he knew too much about them. He did not really trust women. It was not that they did not love him. It was rather that he never met a woman who was as hungry as he was to become one.
Kamhia explained it to one woman. He told her that the great danger in love is that it forces you to let go of your personal boundaries if you are going to join with another. Love is a journey into the unknown. You have to be willing to confront the darkness hidden in yourself because this darkness will always rise to the surface and engulf you if you are unwilling to acknowledge it and find a way to understand and live with it.
It is that old thing again: to love you have to be free of fear. To be free of fear you have to be ever ready to become something other than the person you are now. The change can be something new and wonderful and also something terrifying if there is something you have to hold onto in order to be you.
Kamhia sometimes thought to himself that his problems existed because he was the devotee of some unknown goddess in a religion that was yet to be discovered. In this religion, women were the embodiment of the goddess. And the goddess, like the goddess Kundalini in the Hindu religion that arose much later in the world, is the personal guide through every nerve, sensation, and sensory experience in the body.
When the goddess is embodied in a woman, this woman can make love with a man and consciously produce in him any feeling, bliss, pleasure, or ecstasy that exists. She can take him into the domain of nature and awaken in him any instinct, drive, or passion in any animal. She can also just as easily take him into the realm of the gods and produce in him any vision, wisdom, or perception of any god or goddess in all of creation.
It was quite clear to Kamhia that women did not know that they have this power. But it was also perfectly clear to Kamhia, beyond all doubt, that women did possess this power to transform and transmute. Such a woman can lead a man to attain perfect enlightenment. (Even the Dalai Lama in our own time has said as much in the book, The Wheel of Time. He states that in order for an individual to attain enlightenment in his own lifetime he must employ an actual physical consort, a yabyum in Tibetan terminology.)
The problem in terms of real life, and not just theory, is that for Kamhia the experience of love was always fleeting. In loving a woman, the love is there. It is real. It is passionate and overwhelming. And then it is gone. Kamhia could not hold on to it or sustain it.
This is not something Kamhia concluded after a few dates. He had sought to love women for twenty-five years. Though wise and possessing great knowledge about women, he was now no closer to attaining the oneness of love he sought than he was in the beginning.
A Brief Summary of Hinduism and Buddhism
Perhaps it would help to recall the story of Buddha, for Buddha attained perfect enlightenment through his own initiative. Guatama’s final temptation before attaining enlightenment involved an encounter with Kama, the god created by Brahma. Kama was both the Lord of Love as well as the Lord of Demons. Brahma stated at Kama’s creation that Kama would have power over all the gods and goddesses.
This power Kama possessed in order to insure the unfolding of creation. Without involvement with sensation, desire, and satisfaction, there would be no action. Without action, no experience and the venture of life would be abandoned.
But love also implies its opposite—hatred, fear, despair, terror, and domination. These things were embodied in the demons who were the counterparts of the gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology. The demons came into existence indirectly through Kama’s actions as well. It was one of the three primary gods, Shiva, who refused to fulfill his role in the unfolding of life. Shiva, the god of destruction, the one called upon to end one eon so another could begin, refused to take a consort.
After all, Shiva in his very nature stood separate and transcendent from the principal of life. He needed no one and relied upon nothing outside of himself. And so the other gods turned to Kama to remedy this situation. It was Kama who, like Cupid in Greek mythology, unleashed an arrow of desire that pierced Shiva’s protective armor.
As a result, Shiva took Maya, the queen of the universe, as his consort. But in the end, Maya left Shiva for the gods failed to render to her the respect she was due. It is from the tears Shiva wept at his loss that the demons arose. The demons, the agents of evil, are the embodiment of lost love. They act out of rage, despair, meaninglessness, and the desire to destroy the life that they are forever denied.
And so quite naturally, when Guatama is on the verge of enlightenment, it is Kama who shows up in his full strength carrying the essence of all desire as well as commanding the hosts of demons. Kama acts to fulfill the mission for which he was created—to insure that every being does not forsake life but rather obeys the dharma and the laws placed in every soul that it fulfill its proper role.
Those who seek enlightenment must through personal experience reenact these ancient dramas and archetypal conflicts in their own body and soul. Shiva is the perfection of the third eye—of transcendent vision, occult siddhis, and autonomous freedom. Kama is primal desire, the life force itself imbued with the power of the physical universe.
All forces of cohesion that attract and draw together—gravity, magnetism, the nuclear forces inside the atom as well as desire and instinct—these are the “poisons” (the enchantments on the arrow tip) behind Kama’s authority and power. As long as there is an opposite to the self from which to learn, as long as there is experience from which knowledge is born, then the union Kama’s desire attracts will require consciousness to act when it lacks the wisdom to foresee the consequences of its intentions.
Consequently, these two great principles, Kama as primal desire and Shiva as complete transcendence, are forever in conflict. Desire leads to pain and suffering. Love can be lost, because like fire that requires fuel in order to burn, love requires desire perhaps more than wisdom in order to be preserved. But for Buddha, it was the attachment to and surrender to desire that is the cause of all suffering.
In attaining enlightenment, Buddha stepped outside of the conflict. He did not deny desire. This is what Shiva had tried to do. Shiva said to himself, “I am autonomous and independent of creation. All that is created is under the authority of my will.”
Though designed as a mirror so clear it could reflect the entire universe within itself, Shiva’s third eye came to distort and betray the perceptions of his five senses. He allowed his heart to overrule his transcendence. In his case, he forsook clarity for the sake of love and as an unforeseen consequence became the father of demons as a result.
Buddha did not fall into this trap. He neither denied the horrors nor did he surrender to the delights that desire invites. He accepted the universe as he found it. He opened himself up so that every desire was free to move within his heart.
He embraced equally in the same moment—the entire spectrum of primal desires and complete transcendence. The two are not separate. In the third eye of Buddha, Shiva and Shiva’s consort, Shakti, are forever united and cannot be separated.
It was Kamhia’s life long quest to discover how “every desire contains a fire that inspires” that brought him to the attention of the Goddess of the Earth. In searching through the dungeons of desire, in encountering the demons of abandoned love, Kamhia finally came to realize that desire and the light in the enlightened mind are more than intimate. They are forever joined. The one does not deny the other. Like the heart of the Buddha, the union of these opposing principles produces what even the gods and goddesses cannot comprehend—a compassion that holds the universe within its heart.
Kamhia on Women
In Kamhia’s words, “A woman’s body is a symbol of the universe, of the journey of life, and every feeling that makes life worth living. Her hips remind us of the mystery of being alive. Here is the place of our birth, the gate through which we enter life. As birth itself involves risk and pain, the child’s dawning awareness discovers the power and the regret in choice.
“The power of the womb is in its ability to be empty and to receive. It takes the seed and unites with it in a place of darkness offering nourishment and shelter. A woman’s body is a reminder and a symbol of this generosity that protects, shelters, and offers itself so that new life can enter the world. Her form is the essence of all that transforms.
“The womb, like the infinity of space, is an open place embracing an emptiness free to contain all the stars and galaxies within itself. The womb and the emptiness of space are intimately joined. They carry the same promise—the promise that life can arise, sustain, and renew itself within and beyond the boundaries of imagination.
“And a woman’s breasts are the fruitfulness of life. They are the taste of everything good flowing through oneself. They are affection, love, caring, tenderness, generosity, and kindness. To take a walk in the late afternoon through hills and valleys saturated with peace and well-being: this experience the infant already tastes first hand without having to spend a life time in the pursuit of wisdom or completing a painful quest that leads to self-understanding.
“And a woman’s eyes, have you never seen it, that sparkling delight that willingly seeks to satisfy your deepest desire? That with art and design beyond the restrictions of mind finds a way to dissolve the loneliness beneath your fingernails, in your bones, and in the places where memory can no longer go. And her lips, have you never embraced this taste, that can put all of her heart and soul into one kiss? A kiss so giving and so enchanting your identity, who you are, your name and history—they on longer exist. I have tasted this.
“To have your body wrapped about with the body of a woman who loves you is to have more than desire satisfied. It is to become the sea that is beyond all need--that is content to dwell between the confines of the shores because it is the place that gives birth to life. It is to find, at least for a brief time, the reason why life exists—to taste this bliss, to know that amid the dark chaos that surrounds all of us that a light still shines, that there is a purpose called love that nothing can confine.
“When your hand caresses her body, exploring the soft, exquisite symphony of tactile sensations, your touch traces and replaces the decades of your life. Every sensory sensation, every perception, and every thought that have played out over the years are now caught and distilled into something new. The world is made new. What is now in this moment overwhelms the past and grants the courage to accept the challenge in any future that shall be.
“To touch a woman in this way, to caress with this degree of ecstasy, is the central ritual, the action of faith and expiation, in the religion I celebrate. It is the worship of the Beloved—the enactment, the search for, the quest and union with another—that transforms my body in the temple that God can enter.”
These are the words of Kamhia. He possesses some of the art of a poet, or a troubadour no doubt. Kamhia, of course, would be the first to insist that women do not fully comprehend the wonders that are within them. It takes a man who possesses a profound awareness of beauty and a relentless will to discover the truth that can reveal it to them. And since most men lack this depth of insight, such wonders are usually lost to mankind.
All the same, Kamhia’s quest to explore without restriction every sensual form of gratification has gotten him into more than a little trouble. Perhaps he was a great fool. But fools like this can unwittingly or inadvertently make discoveries that defy all logic and convention.
The question is, What provided the impetus for Kamhia to make that final transition from unenlightened to enlightened? For Guatama, it came in part after recalling all his past lives and the sacrifices he had made. Kamhia, by contrast, practiced none of the austerities that preceded Buddha’s enlightenment. And Kamhia certainly had no third eye comparable to the god Shiva that Buddha’s third eye surpassed. How did Kamhia unite transcendence and imminence, Shiva and Shakti, illumination and desire within his body and mind?
If a clever Zen master was acquainted with Kamhia’s infatuation with women, the Zen master might have assigned Kamhia a koan to solve as he meditated and studied women. The koan would have gone like this, “What is the beginning and end of love?”
The only true answer acceptable to this koan would have to be based on direct, personal experience. And the answer when spoken would have to reflect without any incongruity a unity of thought, feeling, and body in the same moment. The answer would have to be spoken spontaneously without thought and also reflect without doubt the entire sequence of Kamhia’s contemplations on the question.
Still, if a Zen master simply looked at Kamhia even a few minutes after Kamhia became enlightened, it would have been perfectly obvious that Kamhia had solved his life koan. The depth of the warmth he exuded, the bright light in his eyes, and the equilibrium and balance in his poise, would have been enough to testify to Kamhia’s accomplishment. Each individual’s enlightenment is a major event in the history of the world. Kamhia was now such an event.
And yet we might ask for the record, What would Kamhia have said in answer to his koan—What is the beginning and end of love? He would have said this, “I am no longer separate from anyone or anything.”
These words spoken by Kamhia are not an assertion or a declaration. Anyone of course can speak them and it would mean nothing. Rather, Kamhia’s words were an after the fact description. They articulate what his mind, feelings, and body now know to be true beyond all doubt. As I have mentioned, they describe an event that has taken place and that cannot be erased.
The Temple of Saturn
One day while practicing contemplation at the Temple of Saturn, high in the northern mountains of Ubarim, Kamhia heard a knock on his door. Sitting on the balcony of his room that overlooked a vast ravine and a high mountain range beyond, Kamhia rose and went to see who wished to disturb his tranquility.
Behind the door as he opened it was one of the higher priests named Jarock. Kamhia knew Jarock because he was the gatekeeper. Jarock interviewed all those who entered the temple. The gatekeeper bears the responsibility of insuring that the purpose behind each person who enters the temple is fulfilled in its rightful time and season.
Jarock spoke with a quiet, if not strained voice, “I have an unusual request to make of you. I don’t know what do. The priests here at the Temple of Saturn do not specialize in the conflicts and resolutions of love. We seek the enlightened mind. Nonetheless, we have a request that comes directly from the royal house. The king has asked that we assist and solve the problems that have befallen one of his children.
“Since you have so much experience in matters of the heart, especially in those dark recesses of the soul where so few have ever explored, the council requests of you that you assist this woman. Her name is Linea. Will you do this?”
It is not as if Kamhia had not brought peace and comfort to hundreds of other lost souls. It was one of those things he was good at when he was not pursuing some secret knowledge long forbidden. “I would be happy to offer whatever assistance I can,” replied Kamhia.
In the next instant, another priest ushered into the room a frail looking woman. He eyes were dark and her hair raven black. She was medium height, and though somewhat thin, she possessed that conspicuous combination of vulnerability combined with beauty. It was in the receptivity of her eyes and the ravenous sensuality of her lips.
The door closed as the priests left and the woman spoke softly, “They say you are able to help me.”
“Come. Sit here. Tell me your story,” said Kamhia.
As she sat down in a chair on the balcony, she gazed out upon the mountains almost as if she possessed their patience and silence. She looked and Kamhia could read nothing in her face or posture indicating whatever it was that held her in its grip.
Finally she spoke, “Another person has invaded my soul. He reads my thoughts and causes me pain when I think anything that displeases him. He can make me blink my eyes or slap my face with my own hand. He can make me laugh or cry, feel happiness or despair changing my moods from one to another in a moment. He enters my dreams and forces me to see whatever he wishes, to experience any desire or hunger and there is nothing I can do to put a stop to it.
“No one has been able to help me or offer me the least protection. This goes on and on day after day. It is nearly unbearable. I don’t know how much longer I can endure to be exploited in this way.”
“How long has this been going on?” Kamhia asks.
“For three years,” Linea replies.
“Have you met this individual or do you know who he is?” Kamhia asks.
“I was traveling in an outer province with my family and we passed a stranger on the road. His eyes were empty and cold. That is when it began,” she answers.
“He has never contacted you in any other way than though telepathy?” Kamhia asks.
“No,” she replies.
“Give me a few moments and I will see what I can sense of this person,” Kamhia says as he closes his eyes.
After a few minutes, Kamhia says, “I think I know this individual, or at least I have heard stories about him. He was kidnapped as a child and raised by a dark order of priests. They made him one of their own through their rituals of pain and hatred. But he turned on them when he was still young and killed all of them through the power of his magic and a will that no one understands.
“Now he exists without purpose, without love or friends, surrounded by a great darkness that consumes him. When he saw you on the road, he saw in that moment a vision of all that life had denied him. You were beauty and feeling and love, sensitivity, passion, and innocence. You were spontaneity sparkling and pure like a wine so wonderful even a small taste can take away at least for brief time every sorrow and pain.
“He feeds on you, drinks in the life within your soul in order to remind himself of what it is to be a human being. You see, though he retains a human form in body and mind, his human soul is nearly gone. He is well on in the process of turning into a demon. He is part parasite and something so sick and deformed that if I did not know otherwise I would declare that he never was a human being. This is the nature of the person who invades you off and on through every day.”
“What can be done?” she asks.
“Cases such as these are always unique. You just have to try different things until you find what works,” Kamhia replies.
“Why has this happened to me?” she asks.
“He could have chosen a thousand other women. But he met you on the road. You were the first taste of love and light that has appeared in his dark dungeon of a life. Now he is obsessed and nothing else will due. He invades, controls you, and uses you but you at least are still alive. He has nothing beyond his power and magic. He has no life.”
“What is the remedy? What must I do?” she asks again.
Kamhia’s First Response
Kamhia answers, “It appears to me that in your case as in many other cases is that what you have is a predator who is stalking you. Men stalking women or women men is not at all unusual. But in this case he is using telepathy and psychic abilities to do so and in these areas his powers are very great
. “Understand that to be attacked through the power of magic, the attacker needs the victim to be attached to an ego, an identity, or a sense of feeling that is self. These are concrete things that he can perceive and grasp.”
At this point, Kamhia begins to speak as if he is entering a trance, as if he is accessing a part of the archetypal world, of the global unconsciousness, where he has not ventured as much as he might have. Kamhia now says as if something else, a greater presence, is overshadowing and speaking through him, “Since you have asked, I will tell you the remedy—it is to offer no self, no identity, or feeling that you cling to that you can say this is me and please don't attack it.
“Instead, you imagine you are like a mirror, reflective, empty, without form or attachment. In your mind and heart be as open as the sky and able to contain and accept all things without being constrained or limited in any way. Your response must be each time he seeks to invade you, to say there is no one here to attack.
“Instead of feeling hurt or fear, say rather to yourself, my mind is clear. I accept who you are and I accept life as it is in all aspects. I have no fear. There is nothing I am holding on to that I must defend and there is nothing you can find in me that can be destroyed. There is nothing you are that can threaten me. When you look at me you only see yourself. When you attack me, the attack finds no one it can grasp and so it returns to the one who sent it.
“This response is a massive and wondrous celebration of the open, unattached, luminous, and empty state of mind that is the mind of enlightenment. Understand, in those situations of life where evil appears in its most extreme and malicious form, your response must be equally profound. The greater the darkness and the more vast the emptiness, the greater the light and the compassion that fills it.
“Enlightenment accepts everything, is intimate with everything, and yet in no way is constrained or attached itself. Its very essence is a freedom that is a compassion that is both generous and the perfection of justice. Learn from your enemies. They are your best teachers.”
It was in this moment, in the very instant as Kamhia finished speaking these words that Kamhia experienced his realization. Looking into his eyes, Linea says, “What has happened to you?” She sees it. And seeing it, she forgets about her despair, hopelessness, and desperation.
She goes on and says, “I no longer care about my condition. I want to have within myself what you have become. Can you teach this or share it in some form with me?”
Unlike Buddha who refused to teach the path to enlightenment until the gods rallied around him and Indra, the King the gods, sought to persuade him, Kamhia was more flexible. His tradition and culture permitted a higher level of empathy since nearly everyone in Ubarim practiced poetry and love was considered the highest art.
Before we pursue Kamhia’s response to Linea, I would add what I notice going inside Kamhia’s mind. These things after all are very easily lost because traditions and religions have their own agendas when it comes to defining and explaining the masters’ words. When Kamhia was describing how to be free of all attachment to Linea, in his mind he looked again at the form of the dark magician who had attached himself to her.
And he saw what can happen when a human being abandons love. Like a tear of Shiva, the pain of the loss—the terror, fear, and despair--is so great it gives birth to a demon. It is not desire, hunger, or need that cause suffering. It is the fear that these things cannot be satisfied or that everything that is wonderful and beautiful in life will never enter your life.
This despair and fear had turned the dark magician into an abomination. The stalker had become a horror. Beyond malice, he was simply a force that destroyed and contaminated all that he touched. He was the poison that is the opposite of everything that sustains and nourishes life.
This sudden insight put Kamhia’s entire life into perspective. There was nothing a matter with Kamhia’s pursuit of dark desires. Others put the darkness within themselves off to the side, denying, repressing, or ignoring what is within them in order to get on with their lives. Others who surrender to their darkness allow their desires to turn into obsessions. Their lives are torn apart. But there is a better choice that is to accept all that is in life—to deny nothing and also to be chained to nothing.
Kamhia’s Second Response
And so Kamhia answers Linea with these words that have since become known as Kamhia’s Sutra which was spoken long before Buddha became enlightened and long before Viyasa wrote the Mahabarata that celebrated the story of Vishnu entering history in the form of Krishna.
Desire and satisfaction cannot be separated in a mind that is free of fear. They are forever entwined. There is nothing to deny. There is no need for lies. There is nothing you cannot find. The enlightened mind experiences desire and satisfaction at the same time because it has overcome separation. Those who are enlightened have limitless imagination and yet they are never distracted from direct perception--
The image within the eye that enflames the imagination and leads the body to action and reaction—see with pure perception that has no deception that leads to endless transformation.
The sound within the ear that causes the mind to echo with fear—to worry, to hurry, or to become caught by a thought—as silence is required for every sound, awareness for every conception--in the stillness of the heart everything lost is found and everything far away is near. The whole universe is your home. You are never alone. Every being is your friend.
The sensation within touch that craves for gratification--to caress, to grasp, and to lust: here is found the source of fear in the opposition of separation and connection, abandonment and union, love and despair—though skin, muscle, tendon, and bone are the body’s home, the limitations of touch are overcome when you sense love is everywhere—it is in the air, in breath, in the heartbeat, it is in heat that flows to the cold, it is passion that seeks to be released. What the body confines, the heart that loves overcomes.
The scent in smell, I know it well. The fragrance of the flower used to disguise the odor of death and dying, the opposites cannot be denied--for every attraction, a repulsion, for every pleasure, a pain, for every birth and a new beginning, a death and an ending. For every inhalation, an exhalation. As with breath, the wisdom is in the flow, in the acceptance and letting go. The truth is that when something is gone it is gone. There is no need to hold on. Each moment is a flower unfolding, a blossom opening. In this fragrance is the soul’s deliverance.
The taste on the tongue—with it you can taste love, immediate, palpable, and utterly satisfying. To hunger and to thirst, to be parched or starving, under or malnourished in body, soul, mind, or spirit—the carving alone can turn one bitter, numb, or cold. But the tongue is an organ of the heart that seeks to heal and to make whole. As with the lips, the tongue can taste bliss, an elixir that rejuvenates body and soul. Yet there is a bliss that nothing can resist—it answers every question; it overcomes every opposition. It is called compassion but its taste is the freedom that is arises from the One Light that no darkness can enfold. Such Light encompasses the universe and all that is within it.
In the history of Ubarim, it is recorded how the priests in the Temple of Saturn moved quickly to recognize Kamhia’s enlightenment. Though there were intense debates and great resistance the first few days because of the extensive controversy already surrounding Kamhia, the more experienced and wiser priests realized that Kamhia was a sure thing. What better miracle to pounce upon, to put in a bottle with a label that celebrates the validity of your doctrines about wrong and right than that of a sinner who has returned to the light.
The Temple of Saturn, three days later, made Kamhia an honorary priest and granted him official recognition as being enlightened. The temple began immediately codifying Kamhia’s sayings and to this end appointed an official scribe to record whatever words he spoke or actions he performed. All of this Kamhia found to be very funny. For Kamhia, ecclesiastical declarations were an endless source of laughter.