Sex, the Evolution of Consciousness and the Spiritual Seeker, Part 1

Sex seems to dominate much of the life of people in today’s world. The activity of sex is just a small part of the much larger focus and concentration on sex and sexual gratification. Not only the instincts and energies of the physical body and life energy, but the mind is also inundated with sexual imagery, sexual allures and sexual fantasies. The power of the sexual force represents a great distraction for anyone trying to achieve something higher, and we thus see modern psychology acknowledging that great art and achievements of the higher mind require a sublimation of the sexual energy. The extreme emphasis on sex also distorts the relationship between people and the functioning of the society. It thus permeates every aspect of human life and endeavour.

Spiritual seekers also have found that sexual impulses and desires tend to distract from their concentration, and across the world, through many millennia in a wide variety of religious and spiritual traditions and disciplines, we see spiritual teachers recommending the shifting of the focus away from the sexual impulses in order to achieve spiritual realisation. In India, the subtle energy flow and the nexus points of the chakras provides a basis for understanding and explaining the need to redirect the energy that is active in the lower chakras to move upwards to open and manifest through the higher chakras, and this involves the redirection of the sexual energy.

There is, of course, a universal spiritual principle of “male” and “female” and their interaction, so first and foremost, the emphasis on doing away with sexual focus for the spiritual seeker is a practical consideration. The eventual integration of the male/female dichotomy in the spiritual evolution must wait for the spiritual liberation that requires the refocus of the energies and direction of the consciousness. The time, energy, and mental focus that goes into all the ways that sex permeates daily life clearly need to be moved into a new direction and the over-emphasis on sex in life is clearly an area of imbalance that needs to be, at the very least, reviewed to find its appropriate place in the entire spectrum of human existence.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The difficulty is dual, psychological and corporeal: the first is the effect of the unregenerated animality upon the life, especially by the insistence of the body’s gross instincts, impulses, desires; the second is the outcome of our corporeal structure and organic instrumentation imposing its restrictions on the dynamism of the higher divine nature. The first of these two difficulties is easier to deal with and conquer; for here the will can intervene and impose on the body the power of the higher nature. Certain of these impulses and instincts of the body have been found especially harmful by the spiritual aspirant and weighed considerably in favour of an ascetic rejection of the body. Sex and sexuality and all that springs from sex and testifies to its existence had to be banned and discarded from the spiritual life, and this, though difficult, is not at all impossible and can be made a cardinal condition for the spiritual seeker. This is natural and unescapable in all ascetic practice and the satisfaction of this condition, though not easy at first to fulfill, becomes after a time quite feasible; the overcoming of the sex instinct and impulse is indeed binding on all who would attain to self-mastery and lead the spiritual life. A total mastery over it is essential for all spiritual seekers, the eradication of it for the complete ascetic. This much has to be recognised and not diminished in its obligatory importance and its principle.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pg. 49

1 thought on “Sex, the Evolution of Consciousness and the Spiritual Seeker, Part 1

  1. It’s a confusion between the archetypal and the physical that is largely responsible for this “over-emphasis.” (That’s putting it mildly, don’t you think?)

    This, too, has a proper place in Hindu tradition, however, which has frankly been — let’s say, corrupted — and not only in the West.

    Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater here. ‘Tantra’ is an esoteric tradition and, as such, just as vulnerable to co-optation as any other esoteric teaching. That certainly doesn’t mean it has no value. We simply must be aware and vigilant against its usurpation.

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