You might be asking yourself what such a question as self-destructive behavior has to do with Homoerotic Tantra. And I’d have to reply that it’s a damn good question. But it has a lot to do with Homoerotic Tantra because tantra has everything to do with awareness, awakening, finding truth, living in the moment, being present, and being in touch with and communicating with one’s true self. Self-deceiving, self-defeating or self-destructive behavior does none of that; in fact, it’s the antithesis of Homoerotic Tantra, and I hope this article helps you to understand that fact, and that you will enjoy an awakening of the spirit in virtue of that understanding. Namasté, brothers!
An Age of Addictions
We live in an age of dehumanization, of materialism, consumerism, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. We have more addictions today than anyone would have imagined a generation ago: gaming, shopping, drugs, sex, spectator sports, work, there’s even a psychiatrically recognized Internet Addiction Disorder or IAD, which has its own set of symptoms and subcategories, Facebook Addiction Syndrome, Gaming Addiction Syndrome! We live in an age of isolation and control.
The 3-Ds: Deception, Defeat, Destruction, have nothing to do with dimension or depth.
But the isolation is a disorder in its own right, and the control is coming from the outside, the media, your smartphone, social media, and it’s everywhere but cleverly concealed. The anxiety and other signs of the times are expressed in a particular way: the self-deception, self- defeating, self-destructive behaviors (cumulatively referred to as “SDB” below). We observe the SDBs all around us. They follow a trajectory running from the innocuous to the deceptive to the defeating to the destructive behavior that can even result in suicide. SDB can represent all or any of these three stages at any given time — the 3-Ds: deception, defeat, destruction, have nothing to do with dimension or depth. Sounds like a military war strategy, doesn’t it? Well, my friends, we are at war: internally with ourselves and externally with those who want to control us, the “controllers.”
SDB is one of the manifestations of the conflict. SDB is manifested physically in deterioration of one’s health or even suicide. Mentally in becoming obsessive and compulsive thoughts or beliefs that manifest in SDB. Socially by interfering with normal personal and social interactions. Spiritually by altering one’s perception of reality, appreciations of core values, altered self- awareness, deterioration of awareness, obstruction of awakening, altered perception of truth. SDB may be deliberate and intentional, uncontrolled or impulsive, or the SDB may develop over time as a habit or even as an identity. Yes, you can become your SDB.
We all have met people who do self-destructive things, knowing that what they’re doing is wrong or dangerous at any level of their being: mind, body or spirit. But they keep doing it. The behaviors arise from every aspect of life: our work, friends, family, dating, our self image, etc. The sad result of SDB is that it causes the person suffering, disappointment, rejection and failure, making the person miserable and freakish. Part of their suffering comes from the fact that they are aware of their SDB; they know and admit to engaging in the behavior and they acknowledge the suffering it causes them. But they continue doing it! We cant explain it off by simplistically saying that they want to suffer or that they are perverts acting out their perverse desire to harm themselves or to punish themselves. That’s not an explanation why the person continues to engage in the SDB and continues to suffer from the consequences.
I can’t avoid the observation that there are some SDBs that initially cause pleasure; the person feels good during the behavior, sometimes really good, and is able to overlook the misery or the suffering that is certain to follow. Taking drugs is a good example of this. Casual, promiscuous, or unprotected sex is another example. In either case, the individual feels “driven” to engage in the SDB and, against their better judgment, “do it” because it feels good. Other examples of SDB might include gaming, gambling, shoplifting, over-eating, smoking, pornography (with or without masturbation). Short-term suspension of reality as in play, gaming, role playing, cosplay is healthy but when it comes to long- term substitution for reality it becomes SDB. Those of us with some experience in social media like Facebook or Messaging have experience with a great deal of SDB. On Facebook, for example, we are bombarded with “friends” who want to send us fake profile pictures, tell any lie that will attract your ear, send you pictures of their genitals or of them having sex, or they ask you for pictures of your penis, ass, or having sex. What is the sense of this behavior? There is none; it’s totally depraved. These individuals are involved in SDB. Why? Because they are engaging in behavior that gives them some sort of pleasure but the long-term consequences will be negative.
[Editor’s aside: Yes, people, there are Facebook addicts, grandma’s and very nice people, who spend a lot of time on social media. But they use the excuse that they are staying in touch with family, keeping up with the kids’ activities. They natter, gossip, send idiotic memes, plague us with invitations to stupid games, etc. but they are naïve, have nothing better to do, and they think they’re enjoying themselves. Truth is, they’re lonely, and they’re trying to fill their lonely-space with the deception that they are “keeping in touch.” Sorry, try another excuse!]
The photo is not the real person and the profile is not true.
Take as an example the man who created a Facebook presence, posts a photo and creates a profile. The photo is a very attractive man and the profile is interesting as well. But the photo is not the real person and the profile is not true. He starts sending out “friend” requests and starts receiving “friending” requests from people who like what they see and read about him. He starts to feel real good about the many “friends” he now has and loses sight of the fact that they do not like him, the real him, but his fiction he has created. Over time, he becomes that fiction, the lies become habit, and he is first self-deceiving and then becomes self-defeating/self-destructive; in fact, he has already destroyed his “self” and replaced it with his fictional alter ego. It doesn’t stop there because in many instances this person may actually fall for someone, sometimes again and again, but the lies prevent him from appearing in reality. It’s become a self-reinforcing death spiral. The result is suffering and misery. or worse.
How often does this happen? Who knows? There’s very little we can verify on social media, especially Facebook. In SDB the pleasurable easily and quickly turns into the miserable. As I mentioned above, the list of SDBs is a long one and not all of the behaviors are pleasurable; some bring immediate suffering. One common behavior is clinging to an unrealistic attraction or to a lost love. Neither of these is pleasurable but the individual still persists until it becomes criminal stalking or harassment. We don’t have to look far for other examples in our lives, either: whining and complaining, defensiveness, narcissism., voyeurism, exhibitionism, etc. It is sometimes very difficult or even impossible to convince the self-destructive individual that they don’t need the behavior to get noticed or to maintain self-respect or a sense of worth; he can be appreciated without being provocative, and it’s possible to achieve growth, purpose and meaning without total change or creating a fictional you.
The false self, the ego, is very frequently at the root of SDB.
When considering SDB we cannot overlook the fact that the SDB may be motivated by a feeling of anxiety or fear. The anxiety or fear may be fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of the truth. The SDB may have started innocuously as a way of avoiding some painful or unpleasant situation but over time has changed into a habit. Once a habit, it is now exceedingly difficult to change. The false self, the ego, is very frequently at the root of SDB. The ego is constantly comparing, constantly finding ways to survive and avoid any challenge or threat to itself, even if that challenge or threat is reality and truth. This characteristic of the ego is essential to the deception that we find on social media, and the fact that we have no physical or tangible resources at our disposal to verify what we see, facilitates the deception.
Instant gratification. Misery around the corner.
The deceiver, the individual engaging in SDB, has an ego working hard to make itself “acceptable,” “desirable,” “ideal,” “lovable,” etc. and goes to any length to achieve that end. Who’s going to know? he assures himself. “Look at all these ‘friends.'” Would I have all of these “friends,” admirers, cyberlovers if I were not beautiful? They are [convinced] therefore I am [beautiful]. Piece of cake. Instant gratification. Misery around the corner. I am in a helping profession and, because of my education, training, and professional activities, and because empathy, compassion, listening are essential parts of my activities, I was taught how to recognize the warning signs of SDB, how to be aware of the signs, why self-care is essential, and why self-examination is critical. We are taught to foster authenticity and to be aware of the importance of boundaries and limits. But this is not true on social media. One of the most annoying questions we hear on social media is, “How old are you?” It wouldn’t be so annoying if the question were popped after a substantial time of sharing but when it’s one of the first things someone asks you, it’s a conversation stopper. Why?
The individual asking the question is superficial…
First of all, it expresses a certain limited worldview of the asker. Asked early in the conversation, the asker’s concern with age assumes a disproportional importance in the conversation, and shows that the individual asking the question is superficial. Being who I am, I am very open and I have little desire to waste my time on superficiality. Each of us is or should be more than the time we have been on this earth, and I expect any conversation partner to appreciate that there’s more to a person than age. What I expect isn’t going to change the asker’s attitude. The real question here is this: What happens to that person who makes that question such an important issue in his relationships? When the answer to that question either makes or breaks the conversation, or stymies the experience of the other person, how much does the asker lose before he loses all sense of what relationship is all about. When the question assumes such importance, how soon does the asker start to suffer in the awareness of his own aging, or does he ignore that little fact and turn into a deceiver? Every firm twink ass will sag some day; and life has a 100% mortality rate.
But as I’ve mentioned above, such people are hard to persuade that their SDB is going to make them miserable. I frequently have to question the asker’s intelligence, too. Here you have someone contacting another person, presumably to establish some sort of relationship, and then he asks “How old are you?” It’s clearly a stupid question because given the fact that the two are probably never going to meet physically, what does age have to do with the conversatio? Or am I missing something to the effect that there are discussion subjects that are delimited by a conversant’s age? Off hand I can’t think of any. If any of my readers can, I would appreciate receiving the information.
Out of habit — and general curiosity — when I receive a friend or chat request or a Messenger contact, I usually go to the individual’s profile to see if there’s anything I can use to help in the conversation. I frequently find the usual uninformative profile; the caller hasn’t even cared enough to share any particulars about himself. End of conversation. Don’t waste my time. I don’t need to talk to anyone on Messenger or Facebook; I have plenty of opportunity during the day to talk to real friends. Apparently, some people’s lives are so empty, they have to spend hours on chat or Messenger. People seeking relationship while revealing noting substantial about themselves. That’s SDB.
I think by this time you get my point about SDB. So I’ll go on to discuss some ways to avoid it from the tantric/Zen point of view: Presuming you have become aware, have awakened, are present in the moment, there are some things you can do to survive your addictions and the accompanying SDB. Here are a few:
Experience your pain.
Be in the moment with it. Change involves risk and it doesn’t happen on its own; you have to be motivated to change. Hearing about other people’s suffering may inspire us to change but we need our own painful place and we have to want to get out of it. My advice is to allow yourself to experience the pain, embrace it, and then decide if it’s time for change. You need to decide what is causing the pain in the first place. You then have to decide where you want to be. Then you have to admit that you can get where you want to be.
Acknowledge & Confront the problem.
Procrastination, denial and avoidance are some of the SDBs that prevent us from admitting there’s a problem. We tend to avoid thinking about the problem. When the problem gets worse, we look for distractions. The distractions have to provide pleasure because problems cause anxiety, fear and anguish. The distractions may provide some pleasure but the problem is still there and is aggravated. This fertile ground for SDB. You need to accept the reality of the problem and acknowledge the problem, you must own the problem. It is what it is and magical thinking — “What if?” “If only…”– is not going to fix it. Only the understanding that change is possible only if you acknowledge it, and acknowledge it as a problem, and it requires change.
Make small, focused change.
Making big, overwhelming change is likely to create new problems. Most problems are complex and can’t be resolved all at once. Have a critical look at the problem and why it has occurred. Then tackle each of the elements, considering how to change it. Try to envision the interrelationships of the components of the problem and how they synergize to create the problem. Try to envision how change in one factor might change how the other factors are operating or cooperating. Think of the problem as a meal. You don’t eat the meat, veggies, potatoes all in one mouthful, do you? You go for one, then the other. Each one you taste changes your relationship to the others. One bite at a time, one change at a time, and gradually your plate will be clean and you will feel satisfied, content. Commitment is key to most positive action. Even if you want your change to be small, you have to be totally committed to it.
Small change, big commitment.
Make your intention public. Be accountable to your audience. If you are really bad at sticking to your projects, create or join an Accountability Group. If procrastination is at the base of your SDB, you can agree to accept an publicly embarrassing consequence if you continue your SDB. But you have to be honest, but your dishonesty may have been the original problem, that is, your relationship to truth has to be one of the first changes. So that’s where you might have to start.
A “Can Do” mindset.
I know you all want instant gratification; that’s why you have SDB! Small changes in small steps. It will take time so take the time. Each success will persuade you that you are capable of achieving the next step. Use each success and each achievement to defeat any negative thoughts. Repeat a mantra to yourself like “I can change this.” Use each fall to prove you can get back up.
Failure is a great teaching tool.
In today’s culture we have stigmatized failure. That’s wrong! The SDB, the habit is evidence that you can do something destructive, you can use the same process to do something constructive. The SDB is not proof that you are capable of failure it is evidence that you can do what you set out to do, if you want to do it. Use the SDB as an opportunity to learn: learn about how the SDB caused you suffering and what you learned from that. Now use that intelligence to change the painful behavior into growth behavior. You already know about how bad habits work, how negative self-talk and urges can become SDB. You have learned about obstacles and challenges, which are unavoidable, and how to confront and use them for positive growth. The beauty of being human is that we make mistakes, and each mistake becomes an amazing opportunity to learn more about ourselves, to improve ourselves, to grow, and to awaken to our fullest positive potential. Failure isn’t a dead end — it’s a source of revelation, of new information about how we function and about alternative behaviors. Negative self-talk is nonproductive chatter. Change causes anxiety; status quo is comfortable. Change requires work; status quo is easy; all you have to do is nothing. The voices in your head, your ego, will encourage you to quit. Hear them for what they are: noise. Silence them! Acknowledge them for what they are: destructive. Lazy ego. Lying ego. Destructive ego. You have better counterarguments: I can do this. I want this. I will achieve this. I will be happier when I get there.
Seek a support system and resources.
If you don’t have a partner ask a good friend to support your efforts. Family or an online support group can also be helpful, and can be available to support you. Read the positive & negative feedback. You should learn how to create a new feedback cycle that supports your change. You do this by removing all of the things that caused you the SDB in the first place. You may want to stop using social media and actually get out an socialize with real people. You might avoid going to bars or clubs and start volunteering or joining a recreational group with people of similar interests. There are many ways of replacing the negative environments in your life with positive growth environments.
Make yourself accountable.
Using the Facebook SDB as an example, our example above the individual could do anything he wanted on Facebook because he wasn’t accountable to anyone. That was the first step to oblivion. Accountability to yourself and to others is your safeguard. Previously, you had only to deal with the consequences from your SDB because you avoided accountability. Now add accountability to the consequences; think about avoiding the negative behaviors and the shame and guilt it caused you (negative feedback) and concentrate on how good you feel about yourself and how good you look by doing right (positive feedback). Think of it this way: Your environment will affect your outcomes. If you are a recovering alcoholic you don’t go to the bars.
Now, for those of you asking yourself, what has this to do with Homoerotic Tantra. My answer would be: Everything. You see, whether you are self-deceiving, self-defeating or self-destructive, or all of these, you are incapable of being present and sharing with another individual in a self-forgetful relationship of surrender. You are incapable of experiencing the experience. That’s what total sharing is with your partner, that is, the man you happen to be with in that moment. Don’t waste your energies; don’t cast your gifts to the winds.
Peace and Blessings to You
William a.k.a. Gay Karuna
 I am using the term “controllers” in a general sense to describe environmental factors as opposed to internal factors that instrumentally aim to control our behavior. Controllers might include government, the media, advertisers and marketers, educators, neighbors, relatives and parents, as well as the person you meet on Facebook. While keeping in mind that controllers are everywhere, for the purposes of this article I am referring specifically to individuals you might meet on social media, particularly on Facebook, some online dating services, etc.
Glennon and Brené* have identified what they call “offloading devices,” the easy buttons we push instead of acknowledging we’re in pain, and which may be indicators of SDB. You can ask yourself a couple of questions to help you think about which ones you’ve acturally engaged or are engaging in and how it worked out or more likely didn’t work out. I’m providing these as examples but they’re good for starters:
Is it easier for you to get mad and lash out than to say “I’m hurt”? Does your anger interfere with your capacity to be vulnerable?
When a challenging situation arises, do you jump right to faultfinding, payback, or pointing the finger at anyone in your path instead of looking within? Do you point to the cause of the conflict outside yourself but feel the confusion inside, not really believing it’s really “their” fault?
When your emotions start to bubble up in a conflict, is your reflex to respond, “Whatever. I’m fine. No big deal”? Have you perfected the art of cool, pretending all’s well when it’s really not? Do you make excuses for others’ bad behavior?
Do you regularly take the edge off emotional pain with social media, sex, pornography, alcohol, food, drugs, gaming, shopping, perfectionism? Do you simply zone out?
* Brown, Brené. Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Random House Inc, 2017. Print.