“It is said in the Manu-smriti that lust cannot be satisfied by any amount of sense enjoyment, just as fire is never extinguished by a constant supply of fuel. In the material world, the center of all activities is sex, and thus this material world is called maithunya-agara, or the shackles of sex life. In the ordinary prison house, criminals are kept within bars; similarly, the criminals who are disobedient to the laws of the Lord are shackled by sex life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.39 Purport)
Friend1: Are you aware of how diametrically opposed to conventional thinking the science of self-realization is?
Friend2: In what respect? Is this in terms of health, where Ayurveda has a different approach than the expensive, newly developed therapeutics that are on the market?
Friend1: Well, that is a component to it, but only a small one. I am talking bigger picture.
Friend2: Give me an example.
Friend1: If you happen to immerse yourself in pop culture, there is no way to avoid the sexual overtones.
Friend2: As in, they are promoting sexual behavior?
Friend1: Of all kinds. The movies might center around family life, but it is always about enjoying. That is the primary concern.
Friend2: If we are honest about it, the same sentiment is shared in religious circles. You approach God so that He will help you out. They rationalize the behavior by speculating that God wants everyone to enjoy, so why limit yourself?
Friend1: Limitations are necessary for vitality and proper functioning. Everyone acknowledges this, at least subtly. You can’t eat an entire pizza pie for dinner each night and expect to feel good in the aftermath. You put a limit on eating. It is a restriction.
Friend2: Okay, but that is different from advising to never eat pizza. That is probably where people get the wrong idea of scriptural provisions. They think that we are trying to eliminate the fun.
Friend1: Look at the teaching about lust. Known as kama in Sanskrit, in Bhagavad-gita we learn that lust is the great devouring enemy of this world. Shri Krishna advises that it be controlled right from the start.
Friend2: He is right, and He would certainly know, based on His standing as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend1: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is more direct in the instruction. He says that sex life is the great trap of the material world. It is like pouring gasoline on the fire, indulging the senses in that way.
Friend2: Difficult to argue against.
Friend1: For sure, and I laugh out loud whenever I come across such statements.
Friend2: Why is that?
Friend1: Not because I disagree. He is just so blunt and unafraid to go against the conventional thinking. Men like to joke that being married is like getting sent to prison, but the acharya compares sex life to the same. You won’t hear that anywhere else.
Friend2: It’s brutal honesty that we need to hear. Everyone else is steering us in the wrong direction. Better to control lust than to indulge it.
Friend1: How do you get passed the stigma of being seen as someone who is condemning everyone else?
Friend2: That is easy. We are being condemned through kama. No one is happy. At least I don’t see anyone who is. A person may be expert at indulging the senses in this way, but eventually they want something more. Not to mention the many associated problems.
Friend1: Such as?
Friend2: You look at the people who are really in trouble in life, and uncontrolled sex always seems to be at the root. A divorced man having to pay child support. Someone dropping out of school early in order to support the child that arrived unexpectedly. Drug and alcohol addiction through association with people interested only in sense gratification.
Friend1: It is fairly common to find rehabilitated addicts turning to God.
Friend2: And so the Vedas advise to make the turn prior to the problems. Prevention is better than a cure. Don’t wait for rehab. Fix yourself now. It is certainly difficult, as Arjuna asked Krishna. We’re basically trying to control the wind, but through practice and detachment we have a chance. That is why the true acharya gives the positive in addition to the negative.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: He will provide restrictions, such as avoiding meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. But he will also give the more important positive side. This is the regulative practice of connecting with the Supreme Lord. Even if done only mechanically at first, through steady progression a transformation will take place: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
A transformation to take place,
Attention on restriction to erase.
Where what not to do,
Lust and intoxication too.
Meant for higher taste finding,
Principles list daily reminding.
Otherwise like a fire raging,
This battle against kama waging.