Sex and Love in the material world and as a sadhana

After a discussion on Facebook, I posted two articles I wrote on "Sex and Bhakti Yoga" (Part I and Part II)

Prisni responded by saying that "The biggest problem is not sex, but the identification of love with sex, and the inability to feel love except through sex. Men want sex, then its over, and they can go on doing whatever they really want. Fixing cars, fighting with swords, or playing football, or becoming a celebrated scientist." This led to the following response:

You have correctly described the material situation for sex. This is why the appropriate practice is to retain the semen. Nobody in the world learns this technique and so all the anarthas related to sex arise.

It is not that retaining the semen on its own solves the problem, but it is an important ingredient in the solution. When orgasm ceases to be the goal of sex, then one's mind is freed to enter into other dimensions of meditation and awareness.

I hope you will understand that this is a difference of night and day.

Sex does not equal love. This is quite correct. Love is about pleasing the beloved which is added to the pleasure that is experienced from the mutual act of reciprocal pleasure giving. This is the definition of prīti given by Jiva Goswami in Prīti Sandarbha 61. Please see "The Natural Loves and Prema."

The complex psychological process of "falling in love" is really only the awakening of a bhāva (see UN 11.6*), which is then to be the basis of a sādhana of prema. The stage of reciprocation is prema.

But in madhura-rasa, lovemaking is integral to the love itself. This is the feature of madhura-rasa, the extra added factor that distinguishes it from the other loves. Sex without love is trying to get the reward without paying the price.

Modern society has no concept of seminal retention. People are encouraged to masturbate as much as they can. The more sex the better. This is the current philosophy that is promoted by the consumer society. Pornography, "polyamory", and so on. There is no such thing as "bad sex."

People believe that it relieves tension and so on, without knowing that what is like nectar in the beginning turns to poison in the end. And that what is somewhat poisonous in the beginning, i.e., resisting the urge to orgasm and learning to sublimate the sexual energy into the subtler regions of the body, becomes the highest nectar in the end.*

On its own, this has nothing to do with bhakti. But as a complementary practice for madhura-rasa bhakti sādhana it is indispensable, whether one follows the pravṛtti- or nivṛtti-mārgas.

With regard to masturbation, there is no absolute condemnation of it, but the current promotion of unrestrained masturbation as-often-as-you-like is totally against any idea of spirituality and disruptive of spiritual or sāttvika health.

In the progressive development of the practice, as one becomes habituated to the rising of the semen, orgasmic retention becomes more pleasurable than orgasm, which is continual without interruption. The idea of masturbation to orgasm becomes repellant, what to speak of orgasm in lovemaking.

I do not subscribe to the Chari Chand sādhana. I don't really think it is necessary, though it is commonly found in various Sahajiya and Baul lineages. I may say here that for one who wishes to control the seminal discharge, it is better to masturbate and consume one's own semen. This could be a regular practice until one has no need of it. It is quite effective, though, in helping to speed up the process of mastery.

Spilling semen wastefully, however, is an abuse of the body. The semen is the carama-dhātu, the finest product of the body. Treating it as nothing more than a waste product like urine, stool or mucus is an offense to this beautiful natural system of sublimation of the energies. Someone who does not master this will have trouble understanding anything about real spiritual life. The finer cells of the brain will never develop.

Sigmund Freud was the one who explained sublimation in the West, though I suspect that there have been no successful measures applied to test his thesis. Nevertheless, the idea of oral, anal and genital development are directly related to the process of sublimation, which is in essence nothing more than sense control. Sense control is what makes the human being capable of separating the energies born of instinctual drives and diverting them into higher functions of the mind and intelligence.

In the anal phase one learns to control the bowel movement through strengthening the sphincter muscles. In the West this is useful only for stopping the bowel movement. In yoga this function has a far wider reaching purpose in what is called the mūla-bandha. The genital phase is accompanied by controlling the muscles that stop the flow of urine. These same muscles are also those that are used for controlling the external flow of semen, but they require much stronger development. Practices like vajroli and aśvinī are added to the mūla-bandha in order to strengthen them. These practices become a habit for the yogi. They accompany his breath.

The mūla-bandha is enhanced by other breathing practices which all have the purpose of awakening the kuṇḍalinī and sending it to the thousand-petalled lotus in the cranium. The bodily system is like a lotus flower, hence the love for the lotus symbol in yoga and puranic literature. The lotus draws its energy from the ground of the mūlādhāra and svādhiṣṭhāna, and sends those energies via the yoni-sthāna through the lotus stem, the spinal chord, the suṣumnā channel, and then progressively through the evolutionary stages associated with the genital, navel, heart, throat and forehead.

This should not be thought of as something esoteric or foreign to the ordinary man and woman. It is beneficial for all human beings, something that should be natural to everyone, but especially for the spiritualist. It has no sampradāya: you can belong to any religion or belief system, what to speak of madhura-rasa Vaishnavism, for which it is practically speaking the eternal consort of the external bhakti practices.

Freud recognized the necessity of control for attaining maturity, but feared that repression, especially in the name of God and religion vitiated the process and prevented one from satisfying natural desires, leading to neuroses and other psychological problems. One overly disturbed by desires cannot devote psychic attention to "finer" matters. Indeed, the Gita (3.33) agrees.

However, the solution is becoming a bigger problem than the original problem. Society has become degraded to the point that allowing free rein to one's desires so that everything is permissible has the direct result of brutalizing human beings. The philosophy of the Marquis de Sade is victorious.

Though the philosophy of seminal retention goes against the current popular wisdom, it is yet something that must be learned by serious spiritualists, especially those on the path of love, who wish to be able to distinguish between love and lust.

Vivarta-vilāsa states plainly that kāma means to spill the semen, prema means to retain it. That may seem like a gross generalization on a very mundane level to those who have read the refined texts about prema such as the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, but without this principle, I don't believe that the brain will ever become refined enough to understand Radha-Krishna lila, what to speak of understanding prema in madhura-rasa.

Kaniṣṭha devotees who have never progressed to deha-sādhana or the advanced culture of relationships in bhakti repeatedly "fall down" because they foolishly think that sexual desire can be controlled by repression rather than conscious sublimation. Or they have a mistaken idea that boredom with sex is the same thing as freedom from sexual desire. And there are other misconceptions as well.

Without this training, and if one does not meditate on the pure loves of Radha and Krishna, then one's mind will eventually be led to pornography of the disruptive, degrading type that is so common and widespread throughout the world today.

Pornography -- from soft to hard -- is the fundamental tool of the consumer society to control the masses. Better you should make love to your exclusive sādhana partner in consciousness of the Divine Couple, in an act that is dominated by the sattva-guṇa.

yat tad-agre viṣam iva pariṇāme’mṛtopamam
tat sukhaṁ sāttvikaṁ proktam ātma-buddhi-prasādajam
viṣayendriya-saṁyogād yat tadagre’mṛtopamam |
pariṇāme viṣam iva tat sukhaṁ rājasaṁ smṛtam ||

Happiness in the mode of goodness may in the beginning seem like poison, but at the end is just like nectar, for it is born out of the peace of self-understanding. That happiness is rajasika which arises from the contact of the sense objects and is like ambrosia in the beginning, but is later transformed into something like poison. [Gītā 18.38-39]

Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi 11.6:

prādurbhāvaṁ vrajaty eva raty-ākhye bhāva ujjvale |
nirvikārātmake citte bhāvaḥ prathama-vikriyā ||

When the sthāyi bhāva [Jiva: which is necessary for the culture of] madhura-rasa known as rati, the first transformation in the previously unperturbed mind is called bhāva.
It should be noted that this latter bhāva is one of the anubhāvas, not another category.


Anonymous said…

In total agreement with you Jagadananda Das, sublimation is the prerequisite in the Kaula tradition also (one must have plenty of oil to light the lamp).


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