(continued from previous)
So is Freud relevant?
Nowadays it has become the accepted wisdom that Freudianism is dead. But so many of his ideas are now considered commonsensical that it is almost a joke to reject him by name without knowing which of his ideas are still current and on what level of discourse.
I could go into this in some depth, and I think that especially for devotees it would be salutary to consider these points.
The relations of sexuality to love and to spirituality are the complexes that need to be decoded. I tend to accept Freud's monistic view of psychic energy, or consciousness, and not make a radical distinction between material sexuality and spirituality at all. Now this will seem counterintuitive for those people who do make such a radical distinction. Kama andha-tama, prema nirmala bhaskara and all that. But if we say that they are generic opposites, that is erroneous. They are simply different ends of one continuum or spectrum, that of desire.
Lust is fundamentally a desire, integral to consciousness, for love or union, but one that is misdirected through ignorance. Prema is that same desire, refined and properly directed. In both cases, the object of the desire for a kind of transcendent union, reminiscent of the union one had with the mother in the womb, or even, one might say, of the experience of the transcendent love the mother and father had at the time of conception. The immediate causes of the perversions of love arise in some disruption of this ideal at a very early age. The distant causes are based in our samskaras.
One who is in a perverted state of knowledge thinks of love in self-centered terms and only through identification with the body. This is what Freud calls the Id, the animal instincts. Through sublimation, the psychic energy of the Id is channeled into creativity and acts of a higher order. Such sublimation thus, practically speaking, defines the human being.
This concept of sublimation is universal in all human cultures and religions. For Freud, it is what sets the human apart from the animal. It has been especially mapped in Tantric psycho-physiology as the chakra system, through which the consciousness is elevated until it rises the cerebral region. Such sublimation, however, may also be a misdirection of these energies. In such cases, we subconsciously substitute indirect goals for the direct goal of love.
The special feature of the Tantric conception is that it recognizes that it is the sexual energies that are being channeled. They do not seek to cut one off from those energies artificially. Because in fact, the sexual energies are not sexual energies at all, but psychic ones, spiritual ones that are only identified as sexual when one is completely in bodily consciousness.
The Sahajiya concept recognizes something more in all this than the simple play of energies. It recognizes that the goal of these energies is the finding of love. But that requires an understanding of the two levels or two kinds of Rasa-lila. For the Sahajiya, mere pessimism about the nature of material sexual relations is an inadequate response to the problem of love.