“The Lord Buddha advised those who are ardent on attaining Nibbana to contemplate the body with its impurities…”
Growing up, my momma was an American Buddhist. While I appreciated the community hugely, growing up, I didn’t get into Buddhism personally until I was 16. I was graduating from high school, and figured that before I left my teenage home (Karme Choling, a Buddhist meditation center in rural Vermont) I’d say goodbye to all that in proper Buddhist style: by doing a weeklong meditation retreat. Nine hours a day, including zen-style meals, of meditation.
And I finally, personally, fell in love with Buddhism. Meditation, I belatedly realized, wasn’t just some way of avoiding living life. It wasn’t boring. It was…to use a word I generally avoid…transformative. I could begin to live and enjoy life from a clear, open, sane, relaxed point of view (and as a teenager, that was one helluva discovery).
So I canceled my plans and studied and partied and meditated and worked (as a lumberjack) at Karme Choling for a year. Along the way, I learned a whole hell of a lot.
One of the funny little things that’s stuck with me is how to wake oneself from that exquisite pain that is lust or having a crush on someone. If you’re in love or in lust or intimidated or entranced by a beautiful man or woman, you have only to remember that, just like everyone else, below that alluring exterior they’re full or blood and spit and mucus and poo and pee, like everyone else. You’re actually supposed to visiualize them going to the bathroom.
It works. You remember they’re human, and stop tripping out.
How to Combat and Subdue Lust and Desire
Afflictions stemming from greed, while numerous, are all included within the defilements of the “five desires” and the “six Dusts.” From the root of greed stem other evil afflictions, such as stinginess, envy, hate, fraud, deceit … known as secondary afflictions. The “five desires” refers to the five defilements, that is, the desire for beautiful forms (sexual desire …), wealth and money, fame and power, exquisite food and elegant attire, [excessive] rest and sleep.The “six Dusts” are form, sound, scent, taste, touch and dharmas [i.e., external opinions and views].
The six Dusts encompass the five desires; however, the term “five desires was created as a separate expression to stress the five heavy defilements of human beings in the realm of the “six Dusts.” The concept “six Dusts” is used when speaking in general, while the expression “five desires” refers to specific afflictions. I employ the term “six Dusts” here to cover other defilements not included in the five desires, such as excessive fondness for music and songs as well as infatuation with romances, novels, etc …
When the five desires and six Dusts flare up, the general way to counteract them is through skillful visualization of four truths: Impurity, Suffering, Impermanence, and No-Self.
This means that the body is impure, the mind is impure and the realm is impure. Impurity of the body means that we should reflect on the fact that beneath the covering layers of skin, our bodies and those of others are composed entirely of filthy, smelly substances such as meat, bones, blood, pus, phlegm, saliva, excrement, urine, etc. Not only that, body fluids are excreted through nine apertures (mouth, ears, nose, anus, etc.). If we stop to think carefully, the physical body of sentient beings is hardly worth cherishing.