“Actually, the conditioned souls, in ignorance in this material world, are simply guided by sex life, and as soon as they get the opportunity for sex life, they become attached to so-called home, motherland, children, wealth and opulence. As these attachments increase, moha, or the illusion of the bodily concept of life, also increases. Thus the idea that ‘I am this body, and everything belonging to this body is mine’ also increases, and as the whole world is put into moha, sectarian societies, families and nationalities are created, and they fight with one another.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.20.18 Purport)
Inquisitive Mind: So, what is your view on sex? Is it to be restricted? Is it to be enjoyed? I know that Hindus are famous for the kama-sutra, which is the essential book of love. So I’m thinking the viewpoint must be a little different than what we are used to.
Helpful Friend: Actually, it depends on which level you are on. There is religion for every person, including the least intelligent who has ill intentions. The thief even gets some type of religion provided for them.
IM: Is the religion assigned to the thief the same as that to the saint?
HF: As the mindsets are different, the recommendations are different as well. Think of it like different kinds of therapy. The person in a drug rehabilitation center is closed off from the world and also offered some drugs with very harsh side effects. Perhaps they get nausea, sickness in the stomach, and loss of appetite from taking these medications. This therapy is necessary to cure them of their addiction, whereas the healthy person doesn’t have to follow the same system. They have something different assigned to them that might not work so well for the diseased person.
IM: So what are the different views on sex? What is it for the saint and what is it for the lower person?
HF: The lower and higher are determined by consciousness, or put more simply: the clarity in vision. The lower person identifies with their body. They think that their hands, legs, eyes and ears completely identify them. What comes next is only natural. If you think that your body is everything, you will do whatever it takes to make that body happy. If the stomach wants to eat, the individual will eat. If the eyes are attracted to another person’s body, the individual will move in that direction.
IM: What about the saint? They don’t think that they are their body?
HF: The saint knows that they are spirit soul. This is an elevation in consciousness. They know that their body is always changing, from boyhood to youth, to old age. The body similarly changes at death, and since they are dhira, or sober or self-realized, they are not bewildered by such a change. This is said in the Bhagavad-gita [2.13]. Thus the saint acts a little differently. Their behavior maintains their clarity in vision, where they can see themselves as spirit and others in the same light as well.
IM: How does the lower person view sex life?
HF: Interestingly, studying the different ways that sex are viewed is a good way to assess the clarity in vision, the purity of the consciousness. When discussing religion, often times there are only extremes. On one side you have to go to church every Sunday, avoid premarital sex, and accept so and so as the savior. If you fail to do any of these things, you are condemned to hell. The other side is complete rejection of these things. As you don’t want to be compelled to do anything, you are naturally rebellious of every principle you hear of. In this mindset sex life is extremely important, so much so that its improvement is the sole focus. The individual finds ways to have sex even when the wife is pregnant.
IM: And this is a bad thing?
HF: The Vedas give an analytical study more than a straight doctrinal presentation. It is said that sex life of this kind is based on illusion, for the feelings come from the vision of the temporary body. And from that illusion, so many attachments form. The individual is tied down to family, community, nation and so forth. It is said that wars and the like can all be attributed to this illusion.
IM: So sex life is prohibited then?
HF: Illicit sex life is what is prohibited. Man has potency to give seeds and woman has potency to nurture these seeds. These potencies are not without purpose. We have the ability to speak, walk and move. If we use them incorrectly, obviously we will not meet good ends. On the other hand, if we use them properly we can reach the ultimate destination. So sex life fits in with all this. Use your potency only for generating offspring. The responsibility doesn’t end there; the offspring are to be elevated to the higher consciousness through following regulative principles throughout life.
IM: What about sex life for the person who is not a saint?
HF: The principles apply all the same, but if one is very materially driven, they will not follow what is ultimately good for them. Kama-sutra and other such things are meant to increase the chances that sex life will be fruitful. There are recommendations for enhancing wealth, staying physically fit, and finding an ideal spouse as well. Such knowledge and procedures are not necessary by any means, but if you can follow some Vedic process, the hope is that eventually you will be open to the higher truths that will help you break free of the bodily designation. Like taking medicine when you’re young because your dad promises you candy afterwards, eventually the reward of transcendental knowledge will help you give up the desire to eat the candy of illusion.
IM: What is that ultimate destination you mentioned previously?
HF: Union with God. He is ultimately a personality, though for those who are very materially driven and attached to so many things in illusion, this point is very difficult to realize. Therefore not every religious tradition reveals that God is ultimately a person. Whether it is revealed or not makes no impact on the factual situation. The Supreme Lord is full of bliss and knowledge, and lives eternally in His transcendental form. One who is conscious of Him at the time of death attains His abode, where there is endless play. Reaching His abode is the real objective for everyone. It brings the transcendental happiness that each person inherently seeks.
Truth from Vedas an interesting one,
That all conflict from sex desire comes.
In using God-given potency in way that is wrong,
To find difficult situations, painful and long.
Instead transcendental knowledge humbly take,
And from the illusion of ignorance gradually break.
Though many religions, objective the same,
Union with God, man’s goal to attain.