The Scarlet Letter
Volume IV, Number 1 | March 1997
The Lust of Result
by Sr. Nephthys
For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect. —Liber AL, I:44
Allrighty then! Being a Thelemite, I attain to that Perfect Will every day of my life. However, Perfect Will and Human Folly are two things that don't always mix, and it is hard to fight an enemy that has no solid definition and whose very nature is to plague the soul, it seems. So what IS the Lust of Result? I have my own speculations.
Expectation? Desire? Where does one end and the other begin? Surely there is a dividing line or else we would never get anything we wished for. And just as surely, Lust of Result is real since we've all experienced the disappointment of high hopes. Yet I always return to that crossroads of my soul: where does Will meet Desire? Where does Desire meet Lust? And where does Lust meet Will?
The Hindu faith teaches that one's soul does not attain enlightenment by the accumulation of “good” karma like many Westerners believe. Rather, the soul must return to Earth time and time again to learn the lessons that didn't get learned the first time around, and the more lessons you have yet to learn, the more karma you've got to get rid of. The typical Western concept of “good” and “bad” karma does not apply to classic Vedic Hinduism: all karma is undesirable to the attainment of “enlightenment.” To be able to truly pass to the next world after death, the soul must find its dharma: the unadulterated pursuit of the divine. Accumulation of karma comes from not following one's dharma, and the key concept of dharma is “no desire.”
Those who choose to lead their lives in the pursuit of perfect dharma are called renunciators; these are the wandering nomads of Hindu India who have shunned all aspects of their material life. They own only the clothes they wear and possibly a few holy books. They rely on the Hindu populous to feed them and put them up since their mission in life is of the holiest. The wailing chants and music of India are attributed to these renunciators who wander the land. Material accumulation represents desire, or imperfect dharma, to these people. To have physical accumulation, and therefore desire, is to live as though you expect the material plane to offer something better than the enlightenment dharma offers.
Obviously this kind of lifestyle isn't very practical here in 1997 e.v. America: renunciators are called homeless and are not considered pious or holy. Chanting and singing in the street is likely to get you incarcerated. It's a shame, but it's true, a sad lesson my lover and I discovered while traveling.
This seems to present a paradox to the outside observer: how can one achieve dharma/perfect enlightenment, which is by nature free of desire, if one desires to achieve dharma? And how can one live in pursuit of one's dharma without some physical sustenance for the body? Perhaps out of convenience, perhaps as a result of the true Vedic writings transmitted to the Brahmin by the Gods, Hinduism considers any mental desire or physical accumulation in the cause of pursuing one's dharma to be essentially religiously exempt: it is understood that, as a human existing in the physical plane, our bodies require a few things to maintain existence. And since you're devoting your life to following your dharma, your earthly expectations and needs are translated into vehicles for your enlightenment. Sound familiar? Perhaps a ring of “Great Work?”
So, in my pondering about Lust of Result, I realized that the same philosophy that governs dharma also governs Lust of Result, here in my reality anyway. I am a human with a physical body and emotional mind: there are things I need to sustain myself here in Malkuth. Lust of Result seems to be the reminder not to get greedy, and it is as personal to each of us as our fingerprints. What bites one person as bitter disappointment may be the glorious fruits of labor for another. Or to say it another way, if our individual Wills are separate and distinct from each other, so must our individual Lusts of Result be separate and distinct. These are the two sides of the coin by which I live my life, yet another representation of the eternal balance of the Universe. Not only is Lust of Result a barrier to attainment, it is also a reminder to ground and prioritize.
We all chase our Wills in different ways, so each of us must discover what constitutes a violation of our Will, or perhaps what causes an accumulation of karma. For me, this required the formation of a personal ethical code, which in turn required me to re-examine what I thought of as being “right” and “wrong:” what gets me closer to dharma/Great Work could be construed as right, and whatever pulls me further way could be construed as wrong. This, of course, just like Will and Lust of Result, is individual to each and every person. It seems that the more one thinks about what helps or hinders one's Great Work, the more individual one becomes, just from the mere construction of a value system that works for the individual Will.
Sounds so easy, right? Man, my head hurts ...