“When the male and female are united, the sex desire is further aggravated by the accumulation of buildings, children, friends, relatives and wealth. When all these are acquired, the conditioned soul becomes overwhelmed by such entanglements, and the false sense of egoism, or the sense of ‘myself’ and ‘mine,’ becomes prominent, and the sex desire expands to various political, social, altruistic, philanthropic and many other unwanted engagements, resembling the foam of the sea waves, which becomes very prominent at one time and at the next moment vanishes as quickly as a cloud in the sky. The conditioned soul is encircled by such products, as well as products of sex desire, and therefore bhakti-yoga leads to gradual evaporation of the sex desire, which is summarized in three headings, namely profit, adoration and distinction.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.2.12 Purport)
“The lay person surely has some doubts when first hearing the pitch from the acharya of the Vedic tradition. The initial approach might be due to inquisitiveness, wanting to know more about the world around them. Perhaps someone is in great distress and finally realizes that there is a higher force in control of outcomes.
“Whatever the reason, one of the first things they will learn is the importance of sense control. The teacher immediately shifts towards sex life. This must be put under control. There is no chance at real yoga if sex desire runs rampant. The comparison is to a raging fire. Every indulgence is like adding another log to the fire; there will be continuous burning instead of gradual control.
“Why is there such emphasis? People are just living their lives. They want to enjoy. They want to have some fun. Why is the spiritual leader targeting the height of enjoyment in this world? Why not focus on something else; at least at the beginning?”
“I am earning a decent salary today, but the family has demands. We have to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of goods and services. There is no way I will be able to work so deep into old age, and neither do I want to. Therefore, I must save as much as possible today, in a retirement account. Profit is everything.”
“Let’s be honest, the real reason we bought this nice house is to have people over. I could have lived in a tiny apartment, otherwise. I don’t mind either way, but this place is beautiful. I like to hear compliments. My wife casually admits that people only share such photos online in an attempt to make their friends jealous.”
“I like to be recognized for my achievements. I know it sounds petty, but I put in the hard work. I went the extra mile. It is nice to have validation, every now and then, to know that I am excelling in the field. I have full respect for my peers, but I never want to think that I am falling behind, that they are surpassing me in achievement.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada provides these three headings as the primary byproducts of sex life. That is to say the entire process is not as simple as meeting someone else and enjoying. There are consequences to every action.
The foundation of genuine spiritual life is realizing that you are not the body and that this material world is not your natural home. The emphasis is on self-realization and then eventual escape from the cycle of birth and death.
Uncontrolled desire, kama, is the sole defining factor in a material existence. As soon as kama leaves, the tight chain keeping you bound to this temporary world breaks. There is actual freedom as a result. The jiva soul can properly make the choice, through sober consideration, of where they want to go next.
Otherwise, you will be led in every which direction. Associated with sex life are profit, adoration and distinction. These must be maintained. To keep up with profit, there is no end to the work which needs to be done. You are adored today, but if you commit a mistake in public, everything can change.
You have a notable distinction in your field based on the hard work you do, but someone else can come along and surpass you. No one will remember you after that. The distinction lasted for only a brief moment.
If there is control over the senses in the engagement of genuine spiritual life, then so many concerns just go away. It is like casting aside water remaining within a cup, after you have consumed enough to your satisfaction. It is not difficult to let go after you have found a higher taste.
रस-वर्जं रसो ऽप्य् अस्य
परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते
rasa-varjaṁ raso ‘py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)
The restrictions on eating and sex life within religious systems are meant specifically for control. Otherwise, we could live like the animals. They have no dharma. They have no concept of vairagya or self-restraint. They act only on instinct.
Through control, through some sense of nivritti, we have a better opportunity to realize the self. More importantly, we can realize the source of the self, who is the Supreme. Our kama is a perverted reflection of the original bhakti spirit. In other words, loving God is natural; it is within us.
The spiritual guide provides the tools to allow that affection to return to the surface. In the process, the fire of kama diminishes, to the point that we no longer keep conscious attention on the rules and regulations. We follow them automatically in our life of devotion: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Automatically then to proceed,
Careful attention not to need.
Since higher taste having found,
Where primary focus on sound.
And routine in devotion’s way,
Then not in ignorance to stay.
Where profit and distinction ignored,
Same whether hated or adored.
Categories: the three