We have learned quite a bit about the sexual impulse. Young children are basically asexual, and it is only with the coming of puberty and the flooding of mood-creating chemicals in the system (hormones), that we become susceptible to responding to the sexual energy when it arises. Not everything is, however, driven by biochemistry. There is a very large component made up of peer pressure, cultural expectations, and societal manipulation of attention and awakening of desire through marketing and advertising that is based on sexual allusions. The entire process of sex in modern-day society has been removed from the pure biological forces through this influence of society and its pressures. Someone once said that the mind is the most important sex-organ! To the extent that an individual has been immersed in the sexual imagery, expectations and cultural demands, their minds and thus, the focus of their attention have been directed toward acceptance of and fulfillment of the sexual energy.
As a result, there are innumerable instances of sexual energy being freely expressed and released into the society at large, whether in social settings or in clubs or bars or nowadays, through availability on the internet. Everything has been sexualised to a high degree, and thus, it is difficult, if not virtually impossible, for anyone living in the modern world to avoid all sexual references, images or energies that are at play in the society.
It is not, then, a question of being able to shut oneself away and avoid all access to any sexual pressures from outside; indeed, there are instances where individuals who have been cloistered for many years fall prey to sexual forces when they come into contact with them, as they have not actually learned how to deal with them when they arise. The issue is more how to face the onslaught of these energies, but not be receptive to them, not to dwell on them, and not to accept them into one’s being.
Some have relied on dietary or chemical means to dampen the sexual energy, but these have a serious disadvantage of being dependent on chemistry rather than a change in consciousness, and thus, are at best temporary and somewhat unreliable measures, subject to failure when the measures are either removed or the impulse from outside is greatly increased.
Some say that the sexual impulse naturally declines with age. While this is somewhat true, particularly when specific health issues intervene, it is neither certain, complete, nor a solution to the lifetime and focus during prime active years that precede old age.
Through a process of refocusing and retuning the awareness, the practitioner can successfully shift the consciousness away from the energies of the lower chakras and channel into directions that express elsewhere in the being. We can see that when an individual is immersed in something that engages the full attention, the attraction and interest in sex is absent or declines greatly. When one channels this new focus into the psychic and spiritual transformations, there is a responsive power that actually can aid the endeavour, thus making the change far more effective than any attempt by pure mental or emotional control can accomplish.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “To think too much of sex even for suppressing it makes it worse. You have to open more to positive experience. To spend all the time struggling with the lower vital is a very slow method.”
“The idea that by fully indulging the sex-hunger it will be finished and disappear for ever is a deceptive pretence held out by the vital to the mind in order to get a sanction for its desire; it has no other raison d’etre or truth or justification. If an occasional indulgence keeps the sex-desire simmering, a full indulgence would only sink you in its mire. This hunger like other hungers does not cease by temporary satiation; it revives itself after a temporary abeyance and wants again indulgence. Neither sops nor gorgings are the right treatment for it. It can only go by a radical psychic rejection or a full spiritual opening with the increasing descent of a consciousness that does not want it and has the truer Ananda.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, Sex, pp 299-308