Further remarks on sexuality

These are some general observations by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa on topics related to sexuality: sex education; touching; whether indulgence, starving the flesh or mixing freely can alleviate sexual difficulties encountered in spiritual practice. This article follows on the previous articles on this subject: Should women dress modestly?, Sublimation of the sexual urge through Yoga and The transmutation of sexual energy.

On mixing freely

Nagin Doshi (1917-1998) joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1931 as a fourteen year old boy.  As he recalls in the preface of his book Guidance from Sri Aurobindo, he had to rely on his Gurus for guidance in every minute aspect of life:

I came to Pondicherry in 1931 when I was about fourteen years old.  In those days the Mother did not admit youngsters into the Ashram. It was only out of her kindness that she made an exception in the case of four children: Bala, Romen, Shanti and myself. We did not have a school here at that time, nor were there regular study classes. Before coming, my mind was occupied with only two things – study and cricket: they were my life and my world. I had almost decided to go to Europe and become a “big” doctor. I first visited the Ashram during my school vacation just for the sake of making a nice long journey, certainly not for taking up Yoga. I stayed for a month and returned in time for the reopening of my school. During that stay, what the Mother did within my being I could hardly fathom. But the result was that I returned home to stay for only two days. I hurried back here with the full realisation that I could not possibly live, either happily or unhappily, without the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Till 1933 I did not know what this strange thing called Yoga was. Hence the Mother and Sri Aurobindo were to me just like my own human mother and father. When the correspondence with Sri Aurobindo started, he had to teach me everything, not only what was meant by Yoga but also what culture, religion, philosophy and morality were. He used to correct my English, too, for quite a long time. Whatever I have gained in any way is a growth from the seeds he and the Mother sowed in me during those boyhood days [1].

The following exchange of letters between Nagin and Sri Aurobindo occurred in 1936-37 when the former was a nineteen year old teenager.

Nagin: Dr. R says that I get sex-imaginations because I do not mix freely with women.

Sri Aurobindo: Men mix freely with women in Europe – it doesn’t prevent them from having sex impulses, thoughts or imaginations.

Nagin: He says Europeans don’t get so many sexual thoughts, impulses etc. like shy Indians.

Sri Aurobindo:  That is not true – they have quite as many and they indulge them more freely.

Europe and America are full of free sex indulgence – they do not nowadays consider it a thing to be avoided but rather welcomed. But this is an Ashram and people are supposed to be doing a sadhana(practice) in which sex has to be surmounted. In the Ashram there are many who mix freely with all the sadhikas(women disciples) – they are certainly not free from sex. Avoiding also is not a panacea. One can avoid and have sex imaginations and desires. But it is absurd to say that avoiding is the cause of sex-imaginations and impulses or that mixing is a panacea for it.

It may be true that ordinarily mixing with women removes shyness etc., – though it is not always so, for many people are sex-timid by nature – but that is a means for ordinary life, not Yoga, and in ordinary life marriage is the direct means for getting rid of sex-uneasiness; marriage or else having love-affairs with women and satisfying the sex. But that is not the proper means for an Ashram and Yoga. In Yoga the proper means is to train the mind and vital to meet women without thought of sex, to look on them as sadhaks(i.e. practitioners) and human beings only, not as objects of sexual possession and enjoyment.

What is best for everyone is to be able to meet women without seeking out their company, to meet without being preoccupied with the sex. Shyness and uneasiness are usually signs of the sex-preoccupation unless they are constitutional, when they will be there for other  things also, not for women only [1].

Can indulgence eliminate sexual desire?

Sri Aurobindo: The Mother has already told you the truth about this idea. The idea that by fully indulging the sex-hunger it will be finished and disappear forever is a deceptive pretence held out by the vital to the mind in order to get a sanction for its desire; it has no other raison d’être or truth or justification. If an occasional indulgence keeps the sex-desire simmering, a full indulgence would only sink you in its mire. This hunger like other hungers does not cease by temporary satiation; it revives itself after a temporary abeyance and wants again indulgence. Neither sops nor gorgings are the right treatment for it. It can only go by a radical psychic rejection or a full spiritual opening with the increasing descent of a consciousness that does not want it and has the truer Ananda(bliss) [2].

Starving the flesh as a remedy?

Sri Aurobindo: Hurting the flesh is no remedy for the sex-impulse, though it may be a temporary diversion. It is the vital and mostly the vital-physical that takes the sense-perception as pleasure or otherwise.

Reduction of diet has not usually a permanent effect. It may give a greater sense of physical or vital-physical purity, lighten the system and reduce certain kinds of tamas. But the sex-impulse can very well accommodate itself to a reduced diet. It is not by physical means but by a change in the consciousness that these things can be surmounted [2].

Touching and personal space

Sri Aurobindo: In ordinary society people touch each other more or less freely according to the manners of the society. That is quite a different matter because there the sex-impulse is allowed within certain more or less wide or narrow limits and even the secret indulgence is common, although people try to avoid discovery. In Bengal when there is purdah(curtain), touching between men and women is confined to the family, in Europe there is not such restriction so long as there is no excessive familiarity or indecency; but in Europe sex is now practically free. Here all sex-indulgence inner or outer is considered undesirable as an obstacle to the sadhana (spiritual practice)— as it very evidently is. For that reason any excessive familiarity of touch between men and women has to be avoided, anything also in the nature of caressing, as it creates or tends to create sex-tendency or even the strong sex-impulse. Casual touching has to be avoided also if it actually creates the sex-impulse. These are commonsense rules if the premiss is granted that sex has not to have any indulgence [2].

On sex education

The question of sex education came up because the Sri Aurobindo Ashram had a school where boys and girls were educated together.  This conversation was recorded on 1st February, 1972 and is even more relevant today given the over-sexualization evident in society as a result of globalization.

Question: Sweet Mother, Nowadays in schools elsewhere, especially in the West, much importance is given to “sex-education”.

Mother Mirra Alfassa: What is “sex-education”? What do they teach?

For myself, I don’t like people to be preoccupied with these things. In my time we were never preoccupied with these things. Now children talk about them all the time—it is in their minds, in their feelings. It is disgusting. It is difficult, very difficult.

But if they talk about it elsewhere, we have to talk about it here too. They should be told the consequences of these things.  Especially the girls ought to be told that the consequences can be disastrous. When I was young, in those days, people never spoke about all that, they never paid attention to these things. In those days, people did not talk about all that. Here, I did not want this subject to be discussed. That is why we do physical culture. In that way the energies are used to develop strength, beauty, skill and all that; and one is more capable of control. You will see, the ones who do a lot of physical culture, they are much more capable of mastering their impulse.

(After meditation ) The energies that human beings use for reproduction, which take such a predominant place in their lives, should instead be sublimated and used for progress and higher development, to prepare the advent of the new race. But first the vital and the physical must be freed from all desire; otherwise there is a great risk of disaster [3].

This was another conversation recorded on 16 February, 1966.

Question: A complete lack of knowledge about sex can produce serious trouble. I want to give some information to children whom I know.

Mother: A simple notion of medical knowledge may be useful in taking away this silly old harmful feeling of shame which brings perversion [4].

The following statement was issued by the Mother on 16 August, 1960 regarding the school children:

As girls and boys are educated together here we have always insisted on the relations between them to be those of simple comradeship without any mixture of sex feeling and sensuality; and to avoid all temptation they are forbidden to go in one another’s room and to meet anywhere privately. This has been made clear to everybody. And if these rules are strictly followed, nothing unpleasant can happen [4].

References

  1. Nagin Doshi. Guidance from Sri Aurobindo, vol. 3 (Pondicherry: SABDA, 1987), p 124
  2. Sri Aurobindo.   Letters on Yoga, SABCL vol. 24, Physical Transformation.
  3. Tara Jauhar. Growing up with the Mother, (New Delhi: Sri Aurobindo Ashram — Delhi Branch Trust, 1999), p 75.
  4. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 12. (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1979), pp. 157-158.

Related Articles

  1. Why spiritual experiences do not repeat?
  2. Why does Yoga give you a “high”?
  3. Identifying the signs of spiritual progress
  4. Ill-effects of television on Yoga
  5. Food : How to eat like a Yogi
  6. Food : The rationale behind vegetarianism
  7. Conversation : Self-control over speech
  8. Significance of places of worship, relics and prayer rooms
  9. How to read holy books
  10. Towards more conscious sleep and dreams
  11. How to awaken the soul (psychic being)
  12. Four Austerities and Four Liberations

21 thoughts on “Further remarks on sexuality

  1. Pingback: Integral Yoga Blog: Sri Aurobindo speaks against sex-indulgence, excessive touching, and caressing

  2. Sandeep Post author

    Nagin: Dr. R says that I get sex-imaginations because I do not mix freely with women.
    Sri Aurobindo: Men mix freely with women in Europe – it doesn’t prevent them from having sex impulses, thoughts or imaginations.
    Nagin: He says Europeans don’t get so many sexual thoughts, impulses etc. like shy Indians.
    Sri Aurobindo: That is not true – they have quite as many and they indulge them more freely.

    Swami Vivekananda also had to deal with such sex-related questions. Here is one such incident:

    He (i.e. Swami) held purity to be for the householder as well as for the monk and laid great stress on the point. He told of a Hindu boy who had been in America for some time and was suffering from ill-health. The boy had told Swamiji that American doctors had told him that the Indian theory of chastity (brahmacharya) must be wrong, being against nature, and had advised him against it. Swamiji said, ” I advised him to go back to India and listen to the teachings of his ancestors who had practised chastity for thousands of years. Then turning a face puckered into an expression of unutterable disgust, he thundered, ” You doctors in this country who held that chastity is against the law of nature, don’t know what you are talking about. You don’t know the meaning of the word purity. You are beasts! beasts! I say, with the morals of a tomcat, if that is the best that you have to say on the subject.” No voice was raised, though several physicians were present. It may be noted that the views on chastity that Swamiji presented here were held by him throughout life. As we have said in a previous Chapter, as early as 17 February 1896, he had expressed them in a letter to Alasinga as follows: “You must not think that the Western nations have the same idea of chastity and purity as the Indians. Their equivalents are virtue and courage. Their ideas of holiness are limited to that. According to them, marriage, etc., are duties imposed on man by nature, and those who do not follow them are hypocrites.”

    (source: S.N.Dhar. A comprehensive biography of Swami Vivekananda, Madras: Vivekananda Prakashan Kendra:1975 , vol. 2, p 1270)

    Reply
  3. Pingback: What exactly is a “crush” or “love at first sight”? | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  4. Pingback: Dalai Lama on Women and Temptation | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  5. Pingback: The Transmutation of Sexual Energy « Tribulations of A Fledgling Mind

  6. Pingback: Gender differences between men and women | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  7. Pingback: What is wrong with promiscuity? | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  8. Arborescence

    I wondered if touching like when you shake hands could be sexual sensuality (even between people of the same sex) too.
    I’ve read that premature born babies that were not touched before died, that it creates occytocin an hormone that is good for health and that some people with autism lack.
    What about sexual deviances such as pedophilia, transexuality, zoophilia, etc? Did The mother and Sri Aurobindo talk about this subjects as it seems to me that nowadays more people are deviants (or that it is more accepted or developped with the pornography industry).

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Handshakes should be fine as long as they are not accompanied by a pick-up line.

      SA & M said that the sex-force is a distortion of the universal Ananda(Bliss) Force. Man desires bliss but succumbs to its degraded variety. They also said sex is an irrational Force so deviations like pedophilia, zoophilia can occur, especially in people who increasingly need intense stimulation in order to feel satiated.

      It is possible that these sexual deviations became more widespread after the laws against obscene speech were overturned in the USA in the 1960s (See Roth vs USA) and the work of Alfred Kinsey gained popularity.

      You can find all the letters that Sri Aurobindo wrote on sexuality in the recently released Letters on Yoga, vol. 4. You can download the PDF and check out Part 3, Section Two, pages 485-545
      http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/ashram/sriauro/writings.php

      Reply
      1. Arborescence

        Very interesting, thanks Sandeep!
        What about transexuality where people feel that they are not meant to be men or women and seems to suffer about it?

      2. Sandeep Post author

        Btw, my first sentence in the previous comment was a joke 😉

        Regarding trans-sexuality, Sri Aurobindo did mention something about gender differences but not explicitly on that topic:

        Sri Aurobindo: The presence of feminine traits in a male does not necessarily indicate a past feminine birth – they may come in the general play of forces and their formations. There are besides qualities common to both sexes. Also a fragment of the psychological personality may have been associated with a birth not ones own. One can say of a certain person of the past, “that was not myself, but a fragment of my psychological personality was present in him.” Rebirth is a complex affair and not so simple in its mechanism as in the popular idea.

        For more, see another blog post on this website : “Gender differences between men and women“. Also see the comments below it for questions and clarifications.

  9. mike

    Hi, l believe pornography and perversion have always been part of human nature , and SA also said that the sex-impulse is the most difficult habit to eradicate. Even in victorian times it wäs eveywhere, just hidden behind closed doors. ln the ancient world, in certain places all sorts of perversions were committed out in plain view, in the street, from what l understand.
    l’m not sure about baby thing – l’ve never heard that before. Touching between adults is usually sex-based (if they’re attracted to the person they’re touching, that is – sex- thoughts/feelings will always be present, l think, but probably more among the young – all depends on the person really. Most are sex obsessed these days (it’s everywhere) and holding hands is just an extension of their sexuality – although so much depends on the psychological make-up of the individual.. ln older couples it becomes more of a comfort thing, l think – fortunately, not everyone is that clingy though. l think a lot use hand-holding as a control mechanism too – like he/she is my property or perhaps because they think they’re special because they happen to be a couple. lt’s also a security issue with a lot of women – they feel protected by their man lol. But, l believe we reach a certain stage through yoga or spiritual practiçe where we become immune to these sensations when touching – l’ve seen photo’s of satprem and sujata holding hands, and their relationship had nothing to do with sex. The celibate, l think, can be very sensitive for a long time. lf people dwell on sex or are fantasizing about it, then these thought-forms are constantly in their atmosphere – you don’t even have to touch such people to be reminded of sex – the general atmosphere is swarming with little vital entities that feed off people’s sexual-energy, so touching is nothing compared to that.

    “What about sexual deviances such as pedophilia, transexuality, zoophilia, etc? Did The mother and Sri Aurobindo talk about this subjects as it seems to me that nowadays more people are deviants (or that it is more accepted or developped with the pornography industry).”

    l don’t think SA and M spoke specifically about deviance. SA did speak about the dangers of sexual perversion in relation to abstinence. Obviously, all the pervérsions you mention are a deviation from the norm and are undoubtedly a sickness and a curse on humanity. But, SA said that things that need to be removed from the world will rise up like a plague (words to that effect – can’t find the quote now).
    l think your right about the increase of deviancy as a result of pornography, mainly through the invention of the internet, but also due to the population explosion, l think (population in 1800=1 billion/ population in 2014=7 billion – more people, more perversion, l suppose). Paedophilia is now being exposed on a global scale, which most people were totally unaware of before. Without the internet this vile perversion would be much less exposed – although, you could say it’s given paedophiles the perfect opportunity to peddle their filth. But, that’s the internet – a blessing and a curse, l suppose.
    Paedophiles are being exposed on a massive scale at the moment. Ever since the revelations about the serial paedophile and necrophiliac j.savile, in the UK, a tidal wave of similar crimes has come to light. Everyday, l open the paper or watch the news, only to see another paedophile behind bars. The upper echelons of society is riddled with this sickness – prince andrew is all over the front pages at the moment. lt’s been known about him for a long time though, as it was about his paedophile uncle, mountbatten – but unfortunately, there is usually a whitewash and a cover-up with the rich and powerful. lt’s a clearing out process as SA says.
    Sorry, l’ve gone on a bit lol.

    Reply
  10. mike

    Shaking hands isn’t going to be a problem, l think. Kissing, might be another matter – in france and the muslim world in general, they always kiss in greeting. l suppose it becomes second-nature for most people, but it’s not a habit l feel comfortable with.

    “It is possible that these sexual deviations became more widespread after the laws against obscene speech were overturned in the USA in the 1960s (See Roth vs USA) and the work of Alfred Kinsey gained popularity.”

    Yeah, kinsey and Liam Neeson have a lot to answer for.

    Reply
    1. Arborescence

      Thank you Mike for these very interesting thoughts.
      About touching the premature babies to help them survive, you can read this article: http://www.uncommon-knowledge.co.uk/touch/touch-2.html

      About pedophilia and transexuality, I have known a person which pretented that he was sexually attracted by children but knew it was horrible and never indulged in raping or touching them. After some research, it seems that a lot of people are in this case but will never touch children, they are consulting psychiatrists.
      He was feeling too that he was not a man but a woman in a man’s body since his early childhood and suffered a lot of frustration for those 2 things. He had social problems too, probably asperger’s syndrom or what we actually call “Hikikomori”.
      He looked quite sincere and was suffering about his condition, at the time found that it was disturbing and began thinking that this person might be possessed or having issues in reincarnation/bad karma or neurological issues.

      More and more I am thinking about the degeneration of our race with bad foods, pollution, stress and poisons, resulting in neurological/genetical damages at a global scale.
      I have myself some neurological problems since birth (less and less since I am into sadhana) and for example it was very hard to concentrate/poor memory (ADHD), I used to be very anxious without reason (now cured just by fasting/detoxing and taking medicinal herbs), it is hard to remember my dreams (improving a bit with working on blood circulation in my brain thanks to detoxification/hatha yoga, and it is so much easier to reach equanimity, mind silence).
      I know that SA and the M had a very subtle approach to a lot of things but I think nowadays we have to have a materialistic approach too to improve our Sadhana because we are degenerating our race and as everything is interdependant and interconnected, the light cannot grow in a degenerated body (or it is very hard) and we can be possessed/used by asuras (in fact you can physically be the seat of parasites/mushrooms if the lymphatic system is not clean) this is my experience at last but I am just at the beginning of my sadhana and very few is accomplished yet.

      Reply
  11. mikeWhe

    “I have known a person which pretented that he was sexually attracted by children but knew it was horrible and never indulged in raping or touching them. After some research, it seems that a lot of people are in this case but will never touch children, they are consulting psychiatrists.”

    Yes, that person certainly has a lot of problems. l was actually watching a UK documentary about people like this.Although, they knew they had a sexual preference for children they still had the moral sense to see that it was wrong and said they’d never molested a child – no way of verifying that of course. They aren’t really different in that sense from any normally sexed person who decides not to carry out a base act of sexual aggression against an innocent victim.. The paedphiles who carry out their atrocities without a conscience, are usually ‘psyhopathic’ by nature to begin with, apart from certain mind-control programmes that are used on children to turn them this way (l believe this goes on especially in military families, but that’s another matter).
    So many cultures through the ages have exploited children. Child marriage throughout asia (not so much in the west, l think) must have contributed enormously to the problem of paedophilia. lmagine if someone, as an adult, has been married to a child, in many past lives – that proclivity or attraction will still be prominent in their subconscious mind as they incarnate in a future life. And then they find themselves in a culture or society that detests and outlaws paēdophilia..

    “I have myself some neurological problems since birth (less and less since I am into sadhana) and for example it was very hard to concentrate/poor memory (ADHD), I used to be very anxious without reason (now cured just by fasting/detoxing and taking medicinal herbs)”

    Yes, l’ve had a lot of problems like this too – still do. lf it wasn’t for the Yoga, l might have jumped off a bridge by now lol. l do take a good multi-vitamin and some supplements, and l notice the difference when l don’t.
    Rembering dreams can be helped by keeping a dream journal, or using an affirmation before sleeping, like ‘l will remember my dreams’ – it gets into the subconscious eventually.
    The stronger the Force or Shakti in us, the more conscious we become in sleep.

    “I know that SA and the M had a very subtle approach to a lot of things but I think nowadays we have to have a materialistic approach too to improve our Sadhana because we are degenerating our race and as everything is interdependant and interconnected, the light cannot grow in a degenerated body (or it is very hard) and we can be possessed/used by asuras (in fact you can physically be the seat of parasites/mushrooms if the lymphatic system is not clean) this is my experience at last but I am just at the beginning of my sadhana and very few is accomplished yet.”

    l wouldn’t be too concerned about these things too much.

    Reply
  12. mikeWhe

    Sorry my post got cut-off.

    As l was saying. These things will be dealt with by the Mother’s Force as it descends into our bodies. lt will clean out the pollution l believe.
    As for being possessed by asura’s. Unless you happen to be a feeble or depraved individual who is compatible with or vibrates at their frequency level, lt’s highly doubtful this could ever happen – it’s people like hitler who are most prone to these attacks. Of course SA and M have written a lot about how all Spiritual seekers are tested by hostile forces in order to become stronger in the sadhana.
    According to M total possession of this kind is very rare anyway. lt usually an ‘influence’, as She says below:

    “But the case of an influence—being under an influence and expressing it—this, unfortunately, is very frequent, especially with people who undertake yoga without being sufficiently purified beforehand, or otherwise with egoistic intentions; to people who begin to do yoga for reasons of ambition or vanity it happens very often that they put themselves under the influence of certain adverse forces.”

    Sandeep has a good section on this:

    https://auromere.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/on-spirit-possession-and-mental-imbalances/

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      I have not studied the origins of Khajuraho if thats what you are asking…

      The quest for spiritual Realization requires sexual restraint. The Khajuraho temple is a work of art created by someone and is not connected to this article. Artists can create poems and fables around Gods to entertain.

      Since Hinduism is not bound to a single book, it leaves room for many different creative works to represent the Universe and Creation. Our mind must be willing to accommodate these contrasts without swiftly generalizing that one symbol or book must be representative of the entire culture or civilization. People who created Khajuraho and wrote Kama Sutra can co-exist in the same civilization with sages who advocated sexual restraint and gained Self-Realization.

      Reply
  13. S

    As mentioned in your article on cosmology
    “The Overmind is the domain of the Gods, and the origin of all revelations and the highest artistic creations”
    The beings depicted look like Deities / Gods. Did the sculptors who created it draw inspiration from the Overmental realm? Is that even possible considering Gods do not engage in sexual activites? Or did these sculptors draw inspiration from lower realms? Coz some people I know are under the impression that if Gods and deities can do it, its perfectly okie for humans to do the same!

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Coz some people I know are under the impression that if Gods and deities can do it, its perfectly okie for humans to do the same!

      Gods are more like “vibrations” at different frequencies. They are not human beings and do not act like us. It is we humans who have given them human forms. They can also manifest into our consciousness and uplift us as well.

      See comments made by Sri Aurobindo here https://auromere.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/the-purpose-of-idolatry-and-its-limitations-2/

      https://auromere.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/the-purpose-of-idolatry-and-its-limitations-2/

      Reply
  14. john

    Not all gods are overmental imo. You have the greater and lesser gods – the viking gods for instance, probably belong to some astral realm – if they are gods, that is.
    Some, if not many, might not be gods at all. Most likely, few people can distinguish between a true god and a false imitation of one.

    Reply

Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s