The Sublimation and Transformation of the Sexual Energy

Western psychology has been fixated on the idea of sexual energy being at the root of all creativity. Beginning with Freud they have discussed the sublimation of sexual energy into creative pathways of art, and intellectual effort. The sexual energy stems from the root chakra and provides a powerful and basic force however it gets applied. Sublimation, if we examine the concept carefully, represents the shutting down or constricting of the expression of this energy in its original native form at the base of the being as direct sexual expression. Instead, the energy gets forced upwards into one of the higher chakras and wherever it manifests, it exhibits characteristic actions associated with that higher chakra. If it is able to be successively channeled all the way to the highest chakra, it can manifest spiritual force, converting physical sexual energy into spiritual energy. The process by which this is done is well-known in the ancient traditions of India and it is for this reason that the practice of control of the sexual energy, Brahmacharya, has been recommended for spiritual seekers.

Free expression of the sexual energy at the root chakra can lead to a very rough and difficult result, as it can take over and preoccupy the being, radiate a force that is disturbing to others and when unfulfilled, can lead to violence, rape and deterioration of the entire atmosphere around the being who is radiating such a force in its native form. In societies where we see a large imbalance, due to cultural habits or traditions, between males and females, the combination of the sexual energy in high expression with a lack of societally sanctioned outlets leads to wars, and violence against women in many cases. Sex does not differentiate between male and female in the ultimate sense, so there may also be a rise in homosexual expression and in homophobia that can result when there is a mismatch between the sexual energy and the ability to find a suitable and agreeable outlet for it in ordinary society.

Sri Aurobindo’s focus is on the spiritual practitioner and here another set of standards must apply. As the goal is the transition from the human ego-based focus to the divine standpoint, the free expression of the sexual energy is not generally helpful and needs to be channeled into the higher chakras and eventually to the highest, converting physical base energy into spiritual force.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The sex-energy utilised by Nature for the purpose of reproduction is in its real nature a fundamental energy of Life. It can be used not for the heightening but for a certain intensification of the vital-emotional life; it can be controlled and diverted from the sex-purpose and used for aesthetic and artistic or other creation and productiveness or preserved for heightening of the intellectual or other energies. Entirely controlled it can be turned into a force of spiritual energy also. This was well known in ancient India and was described as the conversion of retas into ojas by Brahmacharya. Sex-energy misused turns to disorder and disintegration of the life-energy and its powers.”

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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