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kama: making things happen

Nov 18, 1993 04:42 PM
by eldon

After manas, at which the sense of ego, of distinct, separate self is
acquired, comes the principle of kama, of desire. We live in a sea of
desire, and if we were to give in to it with abandon, it would not just
be deluding, it would be consuming, and end up in our destruction.

Kama is not just desire, but *will* as well, and is the sense of
volition, of creative energy. In itself, it is colorless, and takes on
the nature of the thoughts and actions that it is applied against.

It its aspect as will, kama is the volition, the choice to take certain
actions, the directing of our life. In its aspect as desire, it is
cravings, complusion, a force that attracts and draws us. The will
aspect involves self-consciousness, action initiated from within.
The desire aspect is instinctual, action drawn from without. It is
the energy that brings about action, driving or impelling us into live
and activity.

Kama is needed to take manas from self-contemplation and a devachanic
state, and bring one into activity in the world. Choosing to build a
bridge, to climb Mt. Everest, to write a book, to help tutor a child
in mathematics, to eat a dinner--all are examples of the action of kama.

Kama takes us from the general nature of thought and engages us in the
activities of life. When inactive, we become disengaged from the world,
lacking in initiative, lacking in purpose, not knowing what to do and
not caring. Kama draws us into outer life, and when fully active,
provides us with so many things to do that there's simply not enought
time for them all! We become fully engaged in life and are never
without things to so.

When se speak of killing out desire, reducing it to nothing, doing
away with it, we have a similar situation to the killing out of karma,
to freeing ourselves from the chains of karma. We *never do it,* in
an absolute sense, because as it is killed out at one level, in one
part of ourselves, on one plane, it is at the same time being unfolded,
developed, expanded on the next.

Kama is an essential element of a fully-conscious, manifest being.
We seek out certain kinds of experience because of attachments we have,
because of desired that we've acquired, and we want to reexperience
those things again and again. We derive enjoyment in life from going
through them. It is the same on a larger scale, as *tanha*, the
desire that continually draws us into rebirth into the world, the
desire for existence in the personality drawing us into repeated
experiences as a person, as a Globe D human ego.

We choose to *be* a particular person *by* doing certain things, or
expressing ourselves in a certain way. The key term is *by*. With
Atman, we say that I am, there is no me, not a particular here nor
there. With Buddhi, we say that I am, still no me, just this particular
situation. With Manas, we say I am me, apart from others, an
individual self. And now with Kama, we finally say I am me, a
separate self, expressed in the world *by* these habits, by these
activities, by these expressions. At Kama, we seek to give expression
to, we interact, whereas before, at Manas, we are only separate selves,
but with no activity, no interaction. Kama follows Manas because we
need others to act on, to influence, to change, touch, inspire; there
must be separate selves before action can happen.

The term *by* is an aspect of the self where the object of desire,
the activities of life, are a further qualification of *self* or a
further limiting or more-concrete expression our consciousness takes on.

Our desires and the resultant activites further define us. We are what
we want. We do and become what we desire. We need the desires for our
outer existence in a world. When we kill them out, we loosen our ties
with living in a world; when we intensify them, we strengthen our ties
with that world.

Taking our point of view, our desires lead us into activity, we
experience things and express ourselves, we make and create things,
we've been active in the world and fashioned and shaped it. These
individual acts of self-expression, the personal creations, are
experiences by others as *influences*.

An influence has a life of its own, but is not a manifest being per
se, but rather the object of contemplation of an elemental, a passive
sort of being. The elemental watches existing things but does not make
them happen, it does not yet have forms or direct embodiment of its
own, it gives awareness to something happening, like to the shape of
a cloud or the flow of water in a stream, but does not have any
active control over what it does.

There are different aspects to kama, different subprinciples. We can
crave physical experiences like eating. We can want to experience
certain feelings, and put on music of a certain type. We can want
mental experiences, and are drawn to read a particular book or perhaps
work of fiction. We can be drawn to enlightenment and the Path, as well.

Kama is needed and very important to have. It is the will to live that
keeps an injured man alive in the hospital. It is the driving will that
keeps a mother going through her long, exhausting day. It is the
desire or will to know that keeps a student at the books late into
the night.

Kama is *not* a place, not a plane, not an astral body. It is an
element of consciousness, a part of our nature on any plane of
existence. We have to take care, when saying this, because theosophical
terms are used in many ways--a blind--because we can also say that there
is a desire plane. But the desire plane is where the base quality of
consciousness, the unique flavor of atman there, the characteristic
nature of the place is that the seat of consciousness is in kama.
The laws of nature and activities of life on that plane readily *arise
out of* the kama principle. It would be wrong to say that everything
there is *made out of kama.*

We are centered in kama if it is the prime motivator in the arising of
experiences. It is not inferior to the higher principles, each is an
ingredient of full consciousness. The quality of kama, though, makes
one an evil-doer or a worker of good. It is very personal, selfish,
evil, without the light of the higher principles.

Our Kama is drawn from surrounding energies of life, from Fohat,
in much the same way as we fill our minds with Mahat, the universal
intelligence. We can contain only so much desire. It is deluding if
it is allowed to be the driving force in life, if we let it control
us. It is available in all qualities, a whole spectrum of types, from
the most base to the most sublimely spiritual. And we personalize it
as we take it in, contain it, and express it in our lives.

Our actions are compulsive until we attain self-consciousness in it,
until we desire from choice rather than from instinct, until we choose
what we will do rather than be driven by the attractions of our

Kama is basically the will. One says that *this* is what I choose
to create, to do, to be, to make happen. It is different than the
seat of consciousness, which could be in any of the seven (or ten)
principles. All the principles, though, act as a living, organic
whole, and we must understand and make the best use of each of

There are deep mysteries associated with the sevenfold (tenfold)
nature of man. The principles of consciousness provide one key to
understanding them. Turing the key, let us see what we can behold.
As part of that key, Kama shows us how the immaterial consciousness,
the sense of selfhood, applies itself to the material world and
creation happens. It is a significant doctrine, worthy of a deep study.

                                 Eldon Tucker (

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