First some theoretical premises: Spiritually, the term fulfillment refers to (the fulfillment of) karma. Fulfillment is the realization of karmic effects (coming from the near or distant past) in the present and in the future, without creating new karma through the associated actions and deeds. As such, the path of the fulfillment is very close to Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga. Fulfillment — that is the actual and conscious experience of karma — without renunciation of the fruits of the related actions and deeds — creates new karma. This is karmicly—spiritually very uneconomical because it doesn‘t reduce the karmic account, but keeps it even or may even increase it.
The path of fulfillment is therefore a way which somehow stands apart from the spiritual quest for enlightenment and — at the same time — is directly connected to it. One must realize it parallel to ones spiritual exercises. It rather is a path which intends directly, and in the most effective manner, liberation; the escape from samsara. It is especially widespread in Tantra since including sexuality in the spiritual sadhana in itself includes a great karmic challenge. In his Aghora—trilogy Svoboda‘s teacher Vitalananda says analogously that sex is always Rhnanubandhana (personal, karmic debt, joining two people together). Sex, therefore always produces a deep compensation of energy, which relates to the karmic account unconcerned by the quality of the experiences or the erotic skills involved. It is rather the nature of the debt, which connects the two partners with each other. In this light Tantra is a method which allows the Sadhaka and the Sadhvini to manage an energy balance within a single sexual act, which would alternatively require a fifty—year marriage. But since such enormous energy transfers also can generate new rhnanubandhana/karma very easily — the tantric risks by attempting to reduce a mild debt that his/her karma grows immeasurably. All sex is instinctively motivated by the creative act of giving life (even if this is not consciously intended). Therefore the energies one deals with are profound. This makes tantra — karmicly speaking — a tricky if not dangerous endeavor.
Therefore there has always been a dispute between spiritual schools which affirm and reject desire, lust, sensuality and sexuality.
The ascetic states that engaging in sexual activity reduces not only the spiritual energy, but in addition also generates attachment that creates new karma. In this manner an exit from Samsara is impossible. The (left—handed) tantric says that the loss of sexual energy does not originate from sex in and of itself, but from the discharge during orgasm. This also creates the most of the attachment. Sexuality without this discharge is, however, extremely advantageous for the seeker as it also mines untapped energy reserves and can even increase them by resonance with cosmic sources.
This dispute between tantrics and non—tantrics also continues within the tantra — in modified form. This is being portrait in the contrast between the path of fulfillment and the path of renunciation. Renunciation is actually a yogic—vedic thing, which is characterized by celibacy (brahmacharya). However, it can be practiced also within tantra. Then it refers not so much to sex in itself but on the purity of the actions that one performs. Explained by an example this means the following: Eating with pleasure to nourish the body is pure, eating out of greed is unclean. Purity produces ultimately enlightenment and liberation (kriya yoga). Greed creates karma (because it takes in more energy than your body needs for the performance of its functions}.
However, the teachings of the tantrics who walk the path of fulfillment are based on assumptions that are hardly bound by general rules. Karma is always connected with dharma. Dharma is on the one hand, the law about how karma is created or avoided and offered by life.
On the other hand it includes the way how to reduce karma. A renouncing tantric or yogi/ni bases his/her actions on a collective dharmic law. A ‘fulfillment’ seeker experiences dharma as well as karma as an individual matter. Greed may therefore be unclean … but the fulfillment of greed may be not!
On the path of fulfillment karma is not the same as it is for the ascetic: something that stands in the way of liberation. On the contrary! Karma is like the thread of Ariadne, which — when followed to its beginning — leads ‘ME‘ directly to the primal unity where everything started … exactly on the way which I took to get to the point where I am now. Just as Hänsel, who finds the way home again, because he sees the disseminated pebbles glistening in the moonlight. He picks them up again and finds his way home. Since (despite partial, collective structures) karma is always realized individually, the collective standardization of dharma always leaves personal meanings and effects of karma open. Therefore, the tantric on the path of fulfillment considers dharma always as an individual structure that is dynamic and interactive. In this way it changes (!) with each resolved and newly obtained karma! Of course there are certain ground rules. So are e.g. murder, rape, lies and fraud generally actions, which can be difficult to justify with the individual karma. But concerning the consumption of meat, alcohol and other drugs, the situation is already different. To use a very naive example: If one had spent many lives as cattle and through the nurturing of people by one‘s own death one would have obtained the right to a human incarnation. It may be that this person also would have obtained the right (for a while) to consume those who have eaten him/her in former life’s and therefore are incarnated as cattle now. This comparison is of course flawed. It should however, only clarify that even things that actually apply to be unclean or contaminated may be valid within an individual’s karma and dharma. One person passes on the way to unity by a mountain, the other by a lake. But this does not in any case mean that the lake or the mountain is ‘right‘ or ‘wrong‘ in general! It all depends on the individual path.
The way how to handle karma on the path of renunciation is the so called ‘burning of the karma’. One does penance. In yoga these penances are usually given in the form of a ‘tapasia‘ or ‘tapas’ by the teacher or guru. As soon as one notices a blockage in the flow of energy at certain stages of development, one cleans them by performing increased Sadhana. The blockage is attributed to a karmic effect, if it is not obviously coming from a current misconduct. The exercise — which should not be too easy — dissolves the accumulated energy in the blockage. This energy is either expelled or sublimated. The cathartic emotions that can come with it are largely ignored. As far as psychological aspects are taken into account they relate exclusively to the dharmic system of the yamas and niyamas (moral and ethical prohibitions and rules).
On the path of fulfillment the approach is completely different. Again, it may be that one applies a tapas at the same point as above. Its purpose is to get to the karmic core of the blockade. This center usually includes a desire or an ambition … or the opposite: a fear or aversion. When feelings are negative one looks for the positive flip side, which is hidden underneath. (For example, jealousy could be the result of an unfulfilled desire for closeness.) Such a blockage is usually accompanied by an appropriate living situation … or it awakens a wish, a desire or an ambition when in the cathartic process of Tapasia its core is being touched. At this point one starts practicing the method of fulfillment. Without further delay one should fulfill the desire. It is of utmost importance that we constantly check that there are no negative motivations sneaking secretly into our performance. The glass should always be half full, never half empty. Because if it is half empty one has to drink it to the (bitter) end. However, if it is half full one can (ful—) fill it completely. This opposes the usual meaning of ‘fate‘ in the common (Christian) sense of the word. One really searches for one’s fate, but instead of suffering it (passively), and one (actively) takes a positive attitude towards it and makes it one’s destiny. Thus one moulds one’s consciousness through experience. E.g. if the desire for meat is fulfilled vegetarianism is the logical next step which doesn’t need an additional decision.
Both methods, the burning and the fulfilling, however, are justified … and next to their respective advantages they have their weaknesses and traps! The path of fulfillment is especially advisable for so—called ‘old souls‘. ‘Young souls‘ should prefer the burning. The reason for this lies in the law of resonance and the degree of development of intuition. Old souls, especially those who have spent many lives in spiritual quest, are connected with their wishes by a strong resonance. Over and over again they encounter situations in which they are confronted with them. Young souls, however, could acquire a certain resonance by experiencing (new’) sensations to which they easily could fall prey to. Intuition which is bordering on certainty is only possible after a long experience (of the soul). Although a pure, unspoiled intuition is present in particular in young souls, in situations that are situated in ethical zones of grey they lack the necessary (self—critical) discernment. Therefore, for a young soul burning the karma (mostly) is the safer way to liberation. For the old soul burning the karma is not only very tedious (since the energy involved must be enormous) but also inefficient. Burning always means that there is a remainder of ashes. These ashes contain — quiet similar to demonic mythical creatures like vampires — always the essence of the thing — and this essence calls for the blood of life. If for example one has an extreme desire to have children, but one does not pursue it, because in one‘s current incarnation one wants to devote all time fully to meditation, this creative impulse may be sublimated to a higher level. But the rhnanubandhana/karma with the relevant soul which asks for incarnation remains. So one might be very enlightened, and yet one has to return, because the doors to liberation stay closed only due to this debt. Souls want to be fathered/conceived and born despite enlightenment. As already said, burning the karma only dissolves the energy from the essence. The latter remains as a shell, as a form of impotent karma like a flat car tire which one always has to carry around. Fulfilling the karma however, can conceal other traps. If the seeker penetrates the core not fast enough or takes a side aspect for the core, it can lead her/him to an increasing state of entanglement. Addiction mostly is the result. Then we confuse an uncompromising attitude with greed, which only reinforces the karma. The burning always leaves a residue. Fulfillment can avoid this, but it can easily give rise to new attachment.
So how can one — in both cases — ever cherish the hope to reach the goal? The answer is grace. In both cases trust in the divine is necessary. The certainty or at least the hope that the essence of all things approaches us three steps, if we take only one in his/her direction.
This paper is mostly very theoretical. This is due to the effort to say the most important things concerning the issue in as few words as possible. The path of fulfillment itself is anything but abstract! It is about life itself. Above I mentioned energy blockages as a starting point for the burning or the fulfilling of karma. But mostly the seeker after fulfillment encounters her/his karma by living and experiencing. One can, for example, be sure to have to deal with a karma yearning for fulfillment, if a thought, a wish or a desire turns into an obsession. Everything obsessive (This is not meant in the pathological sense), which dominates the thoughts in a way that there is no escape is almost certainly solvable by fulfillment. An obsession is like a hole in the ground that is overlooked again and again and again and in which one constantly falls into. If one (ful—)fills it, one explores its depth, diameter and the substance that is missing (and that‘s the most important thing!). Then you can start to (ful—) fill it by acting out and actually experiencing the obsession. Constant awareness and confidence in one‘s own (higher) self are absolutely necessary. If one has explored it thoroughly to its depths and then completely (ful-)filled it there actually remains … nothing. The path is flat again and if you look back, you can only see with difficulty, where the hole used to be.
If one looks at the path of fulfillment as a concept, one easily has the impression of a Sisyphus work. But it only appears this way since the concept of karma is primarily associated with negative connotations. For the most part, however, the opposite is the case: Once one has recognized the corresponding karma, once its center has been reached, which almost happens by itself due to the gravity of the fate involved, the fulfillment is (not completely but almost) accompanied by an enormous lust (for life) that gives great energy and effective power. On the other hand it is very debilitating if the involvement is not a 100% and uncompromising for the time one engages in such an enterprise . Then there comes the point at which costs and benefits are no longer in an economic relation and the dream becomes a nightmare. Life — and especially the life of a tantric — takes always place in social integration and in relationships. So it is quite possible that the greatest love has to be committed to the pyre, on which at last we have to hand over our desires to the flames. Personally, I believe that this happens to most seekers after fulfillment at some time. But especially in this it becomes visible if one is willing to really walk this path completely. Because fulfillment is at a certain point also the fulfillment of pain, sorrow, jealousy and so on. But this just rings in a new phase in the alchemy of fulfillment. To accept the unfulfilled with all my heart, identifies the phases of real transformation. Pain then becomes pleasure, sorrow becomes joy, jealousy becomes compassion … This has nothing to do with masochistic perversion. It is the fulfillment of the reversal, the reality as transcendence, the light that is born out of the darkness.
Per obscuram ad obscuram. Through the hidden towards the hidden. That’s the journey the path of fulfillment is sending us on. And whenever one thinks to know, one can be sure to be wrong. It is the miraculous one has to surrender oneself to over and over. And the wonderful always wears the garment of the unexpected. That is its nature.
“I searched for God … and all I found was myself
I searched for myself … and all I found was God”
Johannes Ganesh Bönig
This text contains many statements that come along as generalizations and sweeping judgments. For this I apologize. I used it only to explain principles, issues and effects, not to present them as truths. The path to fulfillment has no dogma. This would be a contradiction. To meet the theme, one would have to write a book … or more … no, to really meet it, one has to live it!