What’s the challenge with Sex?” | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Quest for peace, Sunday

What’s the challenge with Sex?”

Posted: Jul 26, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

quest for peace

(Response to a letter)

Real freedom comes not by becoming free for sex, but by becoming free of sex.

When the media assault our eyes with images of half-naked bodies, lawmakers fight back with anti-obscenity laws, and the media complain that the government is policing personal morality.

“Who are you to restrict our sexual liberties?” They cry.

“Ubiquitous sexuality,” say the cultural conservatives, “degrades society.”

Everyone cherishes the right to enjoy life, and libertines, to defend themselves, appeal to this right.

But could they be defeating the very purpose they claim to champion? Could moral restrictions on sexuality uphold, rather than impede, our right to enjoy life?

This indeed is the daring and disarming proposition of the Vedic scriptures: We can best enjoy life by rediscovering our spiritual nature, and this rediscovery requires sexual restraint.

Let’s investigate the Vedic perspective on the correlation between sexuality, spirituality, and the quest for happiness.

 Vedic Insights

A Vedic seer would tell us that the roots of the present moral imbroglio lie in spiritual ignorance.

Today, people addicted to material enjoyment are left to decide their goals for themselves.

Ignorant of spiritual reality, modern man has no foundation upon which to build objective morality. The stormy winds of changing social trends shake and shatter moral standards that have no roots in spiritual knowledge.

Because sexual pleasure is temporary, the Bhagavatam describes it as insignificant.

Illusory: Like a car and its driver, the soul and the body have different needs. Fuelling the car can never nourish the driver; material gratification can never bring about spiritual fulfillment.

Then why does sex appear to give so much pleasure? The Bhagavatam’s analogy of scratching an itch gives us the answer. Scratching an itch seems to give pleasure, but actually gives nothing more than temporary relief.

Similarly, the so-called pleasure of sex is nothing but short-lived relief from sexual agitation.

Not only that, but lack of spiritual fulfillment haunts every soul in the material world, resulting in chronic dissatisfaction. The false conviction that this dissatisfaction stems from insufficient material gratification is the bane of the soul and the cause of the soul’s futile struggle for happiness.

 The Science of Sex

Through this philosophical window, let’s see how Vedic culture rescues the soul. The Vedic social order helps every soul in a human body revert to its original pristine state.

To this end, Vedic education, apart from teaching commercial, technical, and physical skills, focuses on imparting a deep philosophical understanding of our intrinsic spiritual identity.

Such education protects students from victimization by the binding and blinding passions of sex.

The Vedic texts remind us that real freedom comes not by becoming free for sex, but free from sex. Knowing the complications and miseries resulting from sexual indulgence, some people take to lifelong celibacy.

Still, most people won’t or can’t choose this path, so the Vedic scriptures prescribe marriage to regulate the sexual drive in a religious way.

Protected by Marriage

When philosophically educated couples marry, they soon realize, by virtue of the spiritual disciplines they follow, the futility of bodily enjoyment. Then they base their relationship on assisting each other in advancing on the journey back to Krishna Christ or Allah. Srila Prabhupada writes, “Marriage is meant to regulate the human mind so that it becomes peaceful for spiritual advancement.” Thus in Vedic culture the primary goal of marriage is not bodily gratification but spiritual purification. Therefore even in marriage, sex is regulated.

Sexual regulations are not intended to deprive people of enjoyment and force them to live a torturous life of abnegation. Rather, they create a springboard to help catapult the soul to the transcendental platform to gain unlimited spiritual happiness, the soul’s constitutional right.

The Vedic attitude is that material enjoyment rivets the consciousness of the soul to flesh and, while offering only a drop of pleasure, cheats us of our rightful oceanic spiritual happiness. Thus restriction, not its absence, deprives the soul of happiness.

The Historical Degradation

The goal of Vedic culture, as well as other traditional religious cultures, is to awaken our dormant love for God and thus attain eternal happiness. But with the gradual decline of spirituality over the centuries, that goal has been obscured and forgotten.

People once followed regulations for self-restraint out of deference for social and religious tradition, but with the spread of Western science and its reductionist, non-spiritual worldview, people started seeing these regulations as pointless.