The cosmic principle of male / female is active throughout the creation. In human beings it manifests in the physical-vital body, among other things, as the sexual force. The sexual force is embedded in the physical body and vital life instincts. It is a part of life and is a basic drive to perpetuate human existence. Some societies have treated it as natural and have few taboos relating to it. Other cultures, religions, societies and spiritual paths have tried to control it through a variety of means, including making it a matter of sin and attendant guilt and weakness, threatening dire consequences for indulging in sex, and erecting taboos that make sex something illicit. This brings the natural drive into conflict with the mental and moral sense and winds up eventually increasing the focus and attention on sex. Part of this is rebellion against an authority that demonizes something that people experience as natural, but part of this is the natural reaction to a force that has been suppressed without truly resolving its power. Suppression leads to a more powerful counter-reaction, as a spring when compressed releases more power when it finally frees itself from the suppression.
The history of religious orders is littered with cases of those who tried to use guilt, suppression or even corporal self-inflicted punishment and who then wound up engaging in secret liaisons or overt cases of rape or child-assault.
Generally in our society, as sex has been made more and more a defining factor, we find the mind is inundated with sexual imagery and expectations, the vital force is encouraged to participate more and more in sexual activities and people judge themselves and others by their sexual attractiveness, sexual orientation, and accessibility. In such instances, those who are unable to fulfill the expectations of society tend to then become frustrated, fixated, or even criminally active to find outlets for this force. A number of psychologists have identified the mind as the most erotic organ. The focus and direction of the mind is a key factor therefore in gaining control over the sexual impulses. Simply suppressing the physical sexual act does not resolve the issues if the mind remains fixated. Suppression in fact tends to increase the attention on sex, not reduce it.
Some religious orders and boarding schools have used substances, such as saltpeter, known to decrease the vital sexual impulse. This also does not solve the problem for the seeker, but simply provides a short-term method of control for a closed social setting. Some pharmaceutical or recreational drugs also tend to reduce the sexual energy, but again, this does not solve the issue, but simply overpowers it temporarily. Others have noted the relationship of diet to sexual activity, and thus, propose what is called a “sattwic” diet to held modulate the pressure. Some counsel controlling the “diet” of images and thoughts that feed the mind’s sexual fantasies or fixations, and there is obviously some merit in making conscious choices about what information and imagery one “consumes”. Overcoming the heavy indoctrination of the society and peer pressures remains one of the greatest issues to be addressed by someone who seeks to move beyond slavery to the sexual pressures.
Some have tried the idea of satisfying the impulse in order to satiate and thereby reduce the sexual force active in the being. For the most part, however, there is no true mastery here and it has been found that satiation as a strategy does not in fact succeed, but rather increases the habitual focus and attention on the very force one is trying to master. While there may be those who can practice such techniques and succeed in achieving mastery, for many it is simply a justification provided to the mind by the vital being to continue in its predisposed interest in sexual experience.
Starting from the understanding of the mind’s role, one can see that what Western psychologists call “sublimation” is actually a reasonable starting approach. Wherever one fixes one’s attention and focus, the energy follows. When someone is engrossed in an interesting study or activity, the thoughts and energies go there, and not to the fulfillment of sex! The occult science of the Chakras and the rise of the coiled energy at the base of the spine (known in the science as “kundalini”), up through the higher chakras, is a redirection of the energy. The concentration, the focus is not on sex, but on mastering and directing the energy into higher levels of consciousness within each of the energy centers. Practitioners have used prayer, devotional activities opening the heart center, concentration, meditation, breathing techniques (pranayama) and mantra, among other things to gain control and redirect the energy that otherwise expresses itself in sexual force if left to its original physical basis.
With the advent of a new level of consciousness expressing itself actively, there is also the descent of the force which can redirect energies in the mind, life and body and thus, automatically aid in the mastery of the sexual impulse, needing only the support and cooperation of the seeker to accept this force and allow it to develop new focus and priorities within the being.
In the end, as with every energy at work in the material world, there must be a review, repositioning and rebalancing that finds a proper role for that energy, and in the case of sex, there will eventually be a dramatic scaling back of the focus and fixation as society learns how to move past the artificial suppression techniques of the past, the taboos, and the overwhelming attention and begins to change the natural focus of the being and the direction of the energies into new areas of development. In the full development of the supramental being at some point in the future, it is likely that the entire area of sexual reproduction may wind up being dramatically altered, but that is a discussion for a time not in our immediate future. Until then, spiritual seekers may wind up following the advice given about unwanted thoughts in the practice of Raja Yoga; namely, do not hold or pay attention to them, but let them drift in and drift out while holding the mind separate and gently redirecting the focus toward the higher purpose.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “But all recognition of the sex principle, as apart from the gross physical indulgence of the sex impulse, could not be excluded from a divine life upon earth; it is there in life, plays a large part and has to be dealt with, it cannot simply be ignored, merely suppressed or held down or put away out of sight. In the first place, it is in one of its aspects a cosmic and even a divine principle: it takes the spiritual form of the Ishwara and the Shakti and without it there could be no world-creation or manifestation of the world-principle of Purusha and Prakriti which are both necessary for the creation, necessary too in their association and interchange for the play of its psychological working and in their manifestation as soul and Nature fundamental to the whole process of the Lila. In the divine life itself an incarnation or at least in some form a presence of the two powers or their initiating influence through their embodiments or representatives would be indispensable for making the new creation possible. In its human action on the mental and vital level sex is not altogether an undivine principle; it has its nobler aspects and idealities and it has to be seen in what way and to what extent these can be admitted into the new and larger life. All gross animal indulgence of sex desire and impulse would have to be eliminated; it could only continue among those who are not ready for the higher life or not yet ready for a complete spiritual living. In all who aspired to it but could not yet take it up in its fullness sex will have to be refined, submit to the spiritual or psychic impulse and a control by the higher mind and the higher vital and shed all its lighter, frivolous or degraded forms and feel the touch of the purity of the ideal. Love would remain, all forms of the pure truth of love in higher and higher steps till it realised its highest nature, widened into universal love, merged into the love of the Divine. The love of man and woman would also undergo that elevation and consummation; for all that can feel a touch of the ideal and the spiritual must follow the way of ascent till it reaches the divine Reality. The body and its activities must be accepted as part of the divine life and pass under this law; but, as in the other evolutionary transitions, what cannot accept the law of the divine life cannot be accepted and must fall away from the ascending nature.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Divine Body, pp. 49-50