The Role of Sex in the Integral Yoga

When Sri Aurobindo states “all life is yoga”, he is speaking generally about the long, slow ‘yoga of nature’ which is taking place in the universe, leading to ever-greater stages of consciousness manifesting and transforming, successively, the previously manifested planes of awareness. This enormous process implies that all life is, indeed, part of that process and thus ‘all life is yoga’. On a more personal level, for those who are fixated at the level of the individual ego-personality, ‘all life is yoga’ in the sense that they can learn and grow from all experiences, and the maturation process of spiritual development will take place, possibly over a number of lifetimes.

At the same time, Sri Aurobindo has described what he terms the ‘integral yoga’, which is a specific yogic discipline that seeks to shift the seeker from the ego-standpoint to the divine standpoint. This is an intensive process of shifting the tuning of the consciousness away from the focus and motivations of the ego-nature and toward the unification with the Divine and the divine intention in the manifestation.

Within this context, the question of sex and sexual indulgence takes on an entirely different connotation and importance. Sexual focus stems from energies that are attuned to the first, root chakra, the Muladhara. When the individual is receptive to the energies that vibrate at that level, he becomes aware of and can manifest sexual energies. For most people, this is just a natural part of life, and due to the intensity of the experience, it becomes a fixation and essential part of the fulfillment of their life experience. It is a powerful force because Nature uses it as a means of both procreation and to bring people together in a powerful way, physically and emotionally. As an individual develops an increasing focus on spiritual growth, sexual energies and activities will naturally arise and be part of the process. Some paths of yoga even attempt to gain control over this energy and use it as part of their yogic discipline. In other cases, an attempt is made to channel the energy of the root chakra upwards to the higher chakras and the energy is thus transformed, through this channeling process, from sexual energy into various forms of higher vibrational expressions.

For the seeker practicing the integral yoga, however, eventually the shift of standpoint can and must occur that will make sex neither appealing nor relevant, as it holds the consciousness down at the level of the lower chakras, when the aim is to move the consciousness beyond the control of the energies active at those levels. This is not a matter of indulgence certainly, but also not suppression, nor even sublimation, but of simply transitioning from a state of vibratory receptivity at one level to a state of receptivity at another level.

Sri Aurobindo was asked repeatedly about the role of sex in the practice of integral Yoga by sadhaks who had dedicated themselves to the task. Due to confusion, and the role of the vital desire-soul to achieve its fulfillment through sex, he had to be quite direct and firm in his declarations for the practitioner of the integral yoga:

Sri Aurobindo observes:: “The whole principle of this yoga is to give oneself entirely to the Divine alone and to nobody and nothing else, and to bring down into ourselves by union with the Divine Mother-Power all the transcendent light, force, wideness, peace, purity, truth-consciousness and Ananda of the supramental Divine. In this yoga, therefore, there can be no place for vital relations or interchanges with others; any such relation or interchange immediately ties down the soul to the lower consciousness and its lower nature, prevents the true and full union with the Divine and hampers both the ascent to the supramental Truth-consciousness and the descent of the supramental Ishwari Shakti. Still worse would it be if this interchange took the form of a sexual relation or a sexual enjoyment, even if kept free from any outward act; therefore these things are absolutely forbidden in the sadhana. It goes without saying that any physical act of the kind is not allowed; but also any subtler form is ruled out. It is only after becoming one with the supramental Divine that we can find our true spiritual relations with others in the Divine; in that higher unity this kind of gross lower vital movement can have no place.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, Sex, pp 299-308

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