The Transformation of the Sex Centre and Its Energy

For the practitioner of the integral Yoga, energy is utilized to redirect and shift the standpoint away from the ego-personality into the divine standpoint, and then to effectuate actions to carry out the divine manifestation in the world. Energy dedicated to the enhancement or satisfactions of the ego-personality is therefore ‘wasted’ for this purpose, although it may be, for those not actively engaged in the yoga, a positive effort and activity that they carry out. It is in this context that Sri Aurobindo speaks to sadhaks of the integral yoga when he counsels that the energy that flows through the sex-centre needs to be transformed in order to provide the basic energy needed for these tasks.

While the sadhak can provide the aspiration, and the rejection of movements which spill this energy in vital enjoyment or physical acts, it is only when the higher Force becomes fully active that a complete transformation can be expected. Until that time, the seeker remains within the framework of the ego and its reliance on the usual methods and actions of the physical, vital and mental beings of man.

Sri Aurobindo also clarifies that the supramental transformation is not an enhancement of the ego-personality, a la Nietzsche, but an entirely new action that is not concerned with the small needs, desire, wants, satisfactions, likings and dislikings, enjoyments of the individual personality. ,

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The transformation of the sex-centre and its energy is needed for the physical siddhi; for this is the support in the body of all the mental, vital and physical forces of the nature. It has to be changed into a mass and a movement of intimate Light, creative Power, pure divine Ananda. It is only the bringing down of the supramental Light, Power and Bliss into the centre that can change it. As to the working afterwards, it is the supramental Truth and the creative vision and will of the Divine Mother that will determine it. But it will be a working of the conscious Truth, not of the Darkness and Ignorance to which sexual desire and enjoyment belong; it will be a power of preservation and free desireless radiation of the life-forces and not of their throwing out and waste. Avoid the imagination that the supramental life will be only a heightened satisfaction of the desires of the vital and the body; nothing can be a greater obstacle to the Truth in its descent than this hope of glorification of the animal in the human nature. Mind wants the supramental state to be a confirmation of its own cherished ideas and preconceptions; the vital wants it to be a glorification of its own desires; the physical wants it to be a rich prolongation of its own comforts and pleasures and habits. If it were to be that. it would be only an exaggerated and highly magnified consummation of the animal and the human nature, not a transition from the human into the Divine.”

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

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

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