3）茹阿文卓·斯瓦茹帕表示，无论一个人可能有多么好的意图，通常地，性冲动似乎强大得难以克服。他说,对于人为的压制来说，这种观察是对的，但那些修习奉爱瑜伽（Bhakti yoga）的人从他们的经验中知道，如果一个人只是开始积极的修习，尤其是吟诵奎师那的名字，以“哈瑞 奎师那曼陀罗”的形式展示的名字，“他会发现曾经看似如此可怕的障碍变得可以轻易跨越，而且你的真正的生活、超越这个生死轮回的世界，也触手可及。”所以，每个人都可以成功。通常地，成功是相对于其他人的成功而定义的，因此，每个胜利者都要有失败者。如果这定义是基于一个人昔日的辉煌壮举，那么每个人在精力水平下降的老年都会成为失败者。但是当对成功的定义是我们对超然的唱颂和聆听获得多大吸引时，每个人都可以成功。因此，唱颂“哈瑞 奎师那”可以给予每个人以快乐。
Sex is Death
Georg Orwell says, “At a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act,” and “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” I apologize in advance if I come off as dismissive with a message that means a lot to me. I share the idea not for demeaning anyone or demanding anything but to help. The idea may at first seem unpleasant but in fact contains realizations that are liberating. “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave,” says social reformer Frederick Douglass. Orwell and Douglass’s stance refer to social/political issues, whereas what I want to share is of purely spiritual nature. Still, their sayings are equally apt for what I’m about to share: thoughts that originate from Ravindra Svarupa, a Bhakti-Yogi who holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in religion and a B.A. in philosophy. They are excerpted from Immortal Longings, an essay in a compilation published as Endless Love. What I learned from there (some years before) has made a difference to my life and I believe it will make a difference to yours too.
Indeed, the illusion the author of Immortal Longings destroys is perhaps the most deeply rooted and pervasive of all human convictions: It is the idea that we can achieve happiness through the enjoyment of our senses, especially through that prototype of all pleasure, sex and sexual love. Widespread campaigns that liberated sexuality from traditional restrains have fed erroneous convictions – conviction that failed to reward happiness through sensual awakening. Still, many people have not come to understand that error. They do not understand the difference between lust and love. Think, when was it the last time that you or your girlfriend, wife, sister, child or mother dressed in ways that resembled the garb of a prostitute: clothes that barely cover the underwear; wears that aim to draw the attention to the private part. When people look lustily at that potential enjoyment, is that love? Personally I do not believe that those who regularly masturbate and watch pornography do not make the connection and do not feel sexual urges by observing half dressed people. I think it is weird that otherwise descend people do not mind to be the objects of a stranger’s lusty desires. For my part, I certainly do not like to be gobbled down by anyone. But it seems that sexual liberty produces blindness to what is evident.
Ravindra Svarupa advances this point. He further shows why seeking pleasure trough sexuality not only yields dullness and shallow happiness but also creates the unpleasant experience of death! According to his inference, “death is an illusion we have imposed upon ourselves by our desire to enjoy this world. Sex is the essence of that desire. Sex, therefore, is death.”
To put it another way, consider the possibility that our involvement in sex, and in the whole frantic enterprise of sensual life that expands from it, constitutes a kind of intoxication or stupefaction of awareness that occludes our normal consciousness of our real nature – a nature that is in fact not subject at all to death. If this is so, there is a prospect for realizing, through the excavation of that eternal self, an inherent and inalienable happiness absolutely independent of the states of the body. One can achieve this, however, only if one can remove the stupefaction of consciousness by directing his energies away from the project of material satisfaction that centers on sex.
Sex more than anything else fixes our false identification of our selves with the body, rivets us into the flesh, and addicts us to material aggrandizement. Sexual desire can never be satisfied, for it grows by what it feeds on. This permanently frustrated desire causes a deep and abiding rage, which deepens our illusion. The twin delusions of desire and hate drive us on through interminable bodily incarcerations, hurtling us over and over into forms that fill us with fear, suffer the ceaseless onslaught of injury and disease, disintegrate while we still occupy them, and are destroyed. In reality none of this happens to us, but we have erroneously identified ourselves with the body and have thereby taken these torments upon us.
We should recognize that most of human culture is a complicity to sustain our vital delusion, a skillful artifice to keep ourselves unconscious. We erect and vie for artificial or symbolic goals so that we can prove to ourselves our strength and power, our endurance and invulnerability; we have thousands of ways of patting each other and ourselves on the back. But of course, nature grinds relentlessly on and pays no heed to our fine and tender feelings, our banners and our flags, our list of conquests and victories. While we keep ourselves resolutely preoccupied and distracted, absorbed in our illusory enterprises, death comes, to our great surprise. We dismiss death from our minds to be happy, but it doesn't really work. On the contrary, since in this world life and death are bound tightly together, to retreat from death is to retreat from life. One cannot become selectively unconscious.
Sex is a biological drive; it is fundamental to life itself. We cannot be free of it, and so even though it is not without difficulties, even worse are the difficulties of suppression and frustration. So what can we do? It is simply perverse to keep harping on the dark side of things, and all this bad news is pointless.
But there is, I assure you, a point. I would like you to consider the possibility that our revolt against the sentence of death imposed by the body, our intuitive consciousness that we are meant for more than casual destruction, may have a justification in dimly apprehended, obscured fact. Our developed human consciousness, which keeps us from being comfortable in an animal body, may indicate or symptomize a fundamental feature of existence.
The assertion, of course, goes quite counter to the tenet of the sexual liberation movement that through surrender to sex we can gain a new innocence and thus enter a world radiant with intense and joyous experience. But such a liberated posture ignores that the body, which is the vehicle of sexual pleasure, is also the vehicle of pain and disease and senescence and death. The initiation into sex, that experience of overwhelming subjugation to the body for pleasure, is precisely that experience which contributes most to the diminished capacity for living. This is not so hard to see. Our first sexual act precipitates a tenacious identification with the body, forges a fast bond to it. Thereafter, we are committed to the project of seeking happiness through the senses. At the same time, we awaken to a deep and abiding dread: We have sealed our pact with mortality. As sex deadens the spirit, it quickens all the senses. It becomes the center of all material enjoyment.
Yet sensual pleasures depend entirely upon the favorable arrangement of circumstances, and so the more a person is committed to pursuing these pleasures, the greater his anxiety. Most of all he needs money. Sex indentures him to ceaseless labor. Securing attractive sexual partners is at best an elaborate and troublesome pursuit, fraught with dangers to one's self-esteem. As a person becomes older, the pursuit becomes harder and depends almost entirely upon his ability to maintain his social prestige and display his opulence and generosity. There is no end to worry and to fear. On the other hand, we may try to withdraw from the anxieties of the sexual marketplace and take the advice of count-less popular songs by seeking the one we "love" and who "loves" us in return. Such a discovery is rare enough, but it hardly ends our sufferings. On the contrary, nothing can compare to our anguish when we lose the object of our love – or that one's love for us. Love is no shelter. And we have discovered that as people increasingly demand sexual fulfillment from marriage, the less durable such relationships are becoming.
Our inability to sustain relationships is at the heart of our predicament. All our happiness and our achievement depend upon our successfully perpetuating relationships, and our ultimate failure to do so is called death. Small losses prefigure the larger one. We want to live, to expand our organism, to increase the power of our being – in short, to overcome death. As sex is the act of creation of life, we turn to it to commune with the energy of life itself and to prove our vital power. This power becomes embodied in offspring. Our family becomes the nucleus of a fortification composed of real estate, money, social connections, privilege, and power. We feed our vital force by competing with enemies and destroying them. In this way we prosper and gloriously expand. Yet all these activities have a desperate and driven character. We are trying to fool ourselves. For at heart we know very well that nothing can protect us, that all our powerful friends, aristocratic relatives, and sweet-faced children are fallible soldiers in the war, and that all of us are doomed.
The project of uncovering the eternal self that I am proposing should not be confused with the repressive programs that have been propagated in the name of religion. The project of self-realization does not call for enduring a bleak life of frustration and deprivation to attain a future heavenly enjoyment. Nor does it propose that we seek happiness as a neutral "peace," the mere absence of pain, through atrophy of the affections. On the contrary, I propose that our desire to possess an unending existence of uninterrupted, every-intensifying bliss is legitimate, and that there is a practical way we can fulfill it immediately, a way so natural, powerful, and attractive that all other engagements lose their allure.
You may be thinking, however, that if there were anything to this, it would have already been accepted by our intellectual and political leaders and embedded in educational policy. The problem is that a person's knowledge is relative to his situation. When a person is habituated to sensual enjoyment and to sex, his instruments of perception malfunction, and so he is unable to comprehend or experience his own eternal nature, no matter how outstanding he may otherwise be. Such people are sunk in ignorance so profound, so fundamental, that even their greatest knowledge is really a kind of advancement in ignorance. In spite of repeated failures, they perpetually put forward hopeless and quixotic schemes to bring happiness, and they seem to have an animal-like obliviousness to the essential character of the world. Even though they mislead others, however, they are ultimately not worthy of anger or scorn: they suffer like everyone else.
It is only right that we struggle against the sentence of death. It is only proper that we seek a life of uninterrupted and unending pleasure uncompromised by shame or fear. It is only natural that we want to be whole and at one with ourselves, uncompromised by duality. The most deadly delusion is that sex is a way to these goals, for in fact it is the greatest single impediment. It is the cause of our disease, which we embrace as the cure. The restrictions upon sexual activity enjoined by religions were originally meant to assist in overcoming this greatest block to human happiness. Unfortunately, now only the restrictions and negations survive, while the real reason for them has been forgotten.
The erotic drive is indeed part of our essential makeup. But it is a transformation of what is in fact our love for Krishna, God. Desire, therefore, cannot possibly be annihilated, nor can it be successfully repressed or suppressed. However, it can be reverted to its original state. Yet as long as we are impelled by the erotic drive, we take on a succession of bodies of matter. We move up the hierarchy of beings; in the lower stages of our evolution, in plant and then animal bodies, our consciousness is heavily covered. We are only dimly and fitfully sentient. When at last we acquire human bodies, our consciousness, that effulgence of the eternal self, becomes uniquely uncovered. This fuller manifestation of the eternal self in beings that still inhabit material bodies creates a problematical situation, full of the tensions of a divided nature, and provides a kind of suffering that ignorant animals do not experience. The gift of uncovered consciousness causes us to wonder: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why must I die? Such questions lead us toward self-realization. If we do not at least begin upon this course, then we must take another. The revelation of our spiritually conscious nature shows us the incongruities of our position in matter, and the proper response is to seek freedom from material entanglement and thus resolve the sufferings that arise from duality.
The essence of the program to return the self to its pure state consists of bringing that self into direct contact with Krishna. The simplest and most effective way of doing this is through sound. The sounds that name or describe Krishna are of a totally different nature from sounds that name or describe material things. This is because Krishna is absolute, or non-dual. The duality of the material world entails that a substance and its name have nothing intrinsic in common. If, for example, I say "water, water, water," my thirst is not slaked. On the other hand, if I say "Krishna, Krishna, Krishna," or any other personal name of the supreme self, I come directly into contact with Him. By thus using our tongue to utter and ear to hear the names and glorification of the supreme, we are united with Him. That contact is potent. Krishna is the supreme pure, and His association is purifying. We are qualitatively one with Krishna, and His association revives that original character, reawakens our native consciousness. Quickly, then, we begin to experience our eternal nature and to taste the remarkable flavor of our natural love, and as we do so we lose interest in the material substitutes that used to attract us. Our lust begins to be transformed back into love again. Thus, the revival of pure consciousness is based not on the repression or suppression of desire, but on its re-spiritualization.
This is different from sublimation. Sublimation is an artificial replacement of a gross physical urge with a more refined substitute, and the satisfaction it affords is never as intense and absorbing as the satisfaction of the original urge. But when, by contrast, our love is returned to Krishna, it gains immeasurably in intensity and in power, for it has found its proper object, and it is now free from the fear of change and death that block its investment in material things. Our love for Krishna begins to flow effortlessly, unchecked and unimpeded. It exfoliates without limit. Since Krishna includes all other selves, our love expands to encompass them also. As one begins to live and breathe the atmosphere of unconditioned and uninterrupted love for Krishna, he sees the whole world in a new light, and his former attempts to exploit it for his own pleasure seem perverse.
From the very beginning of Krishna consciousness one gains the positive taste for spiritual existence, and so the addictions of the senses become relatively easy to give up. The four greatest impediments to spiritual life – illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling – can be abandoned with surprising ease. When one has the real thing, a real life of unceasing bliss and knowledge, there is no difficulty in putting aside the counterfeits.
Unconditional love for Krishna is manifest in unconditional engagement in the service of Krishna, in service that has no desire for reward and no interruption. This is the characteristic that distinguishes love from its perverted material transformation, lust, in which personal gain is the motive. Even the sexual union of a man and a woman can be used in the service of Krishna. It is extremely good fortune for a child to be born from parents engaged in self-realization, for from his earliest moments he lives in an atmosphere uncontaminated by lust and greed and he takes in the principles of spiritual life with his mother's milk. Such children can be conceived only when the parents unite specifically for that purpose and insure the good qualities of their offspring through their own purification of consciousness. The first duty of parents is to be able to deliver their children from death, and family life dedicated to that purpose is conducive to self-realization and as such need not be artificially renounced.
1) Ravindra Svarupa’s complete essay contains a philosophical sketch based on the Bhagavad-gita that supports his arguments. For the sake of brevity I herein omitted this part. Still, to properly appreciate the ideas, a metaphysical orientation where the soul with its permanent position of union (yoga) with the Supreme soul has been established is essential. Consult the Gita that provides this orientation or check out the essay: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=4018#more-4018
2) I’m aware that sexuality as well as spirituality is the most dear and intimate aspect of our lives. Hence we are on guard from any perceived malign invasion. The problem is that we often defend views that are incorrect and harmful. Hence we hesitate to ask ourselves tough questions that break through our self-deceptions. When bereft of transcendental desires we tend to focus on “believes” that enhances licentious paybacks. We defend lies by thinking of them as truth. Furthermore, society hates the disclosure of erroneous views. They allot the biggest punishment not to those who threaten their economic condition but to those who help destroy the foundation on which they have gotten their self-respect. They get their self-respect by referring to various sorts of false heroes and devices, and if someone exposes the fallacy, they cannot tolerate it. Thus, before you object to what is expressed in this article, make sure you know well what prompts your objection.
3) Ravindra Svarupa states that whatever good intentions one may have, often the sexual drive seems too powerful to overcome. He says this is a correct observation in regard to artificial suppression, but that those who practice Bhakti Yoga know from experience that if one simply begins these positive practices, especially the reciting of the name of Krishna in the form of the Hare Krishna mantra, “one will find that what seemed so formidable a barrier becomes easy to cross and that your authentic life, beyond the world of birth and death, is at hand.” So, everyone can succeed. Ordinarily, success is defined relatively to other people’s success, hence every winner requires losers. And if the definition is based on one’s past feats, then almost everyone will become a loser in old age, when the energy level declines. But when success is defined in how much attraction we achieve for transcendental chanting and hearing, everyone can be successful. Thus chanting Hare Krishna awards happiness to everyone.