Becoming Free from Sex Desire
By Stephen Knapp
The greatest happiness for the soul starts with complete freedom: freedom from misery, unhappiness, suffering, freedom from the dictates of desires, and, ultimately, freedom from being trapped in a material body. But what keeps us ensnared in such a condition are the desires for sensual and mental pleasures. And the hardest freedom to attain is freedom from sex desire.
Yoga is for attaining this kind of complete freedom. However, this means freedom from material desires of all kinds. If you are still entrapped by the idea of needing your sensual, emotional, or mental desires fulfilled, then you are far from being free, mentally, intellectually, and certainly not spiritually. In other words, if you still have desires for the pursuit of sensual or mental pleasures and happiness, then you are still a servant of your mind and senses. You are still a slave to the dictates of your mental and sensual impulses. You are still bound by the golden chains of the temporary illusion of chasing after pleasing the senses. They may be golden chains, but they are chains nonetheless. So how is that freedom? And how are you ever going to attain complete spiritual freedom with such desires creeping up and trying to tell you what you should do?
It is, however, one thing to have your mind on the loose giving you all kinds of weird ideas and desires for happiness. But it is another thing to be controlled by them and act them out. Sometimes the mind just goes crazy, but the intelligence knows better than to pursue such desires or ideas. This is called controlling the lower self by the higher self. This is not real freedom, but it is also far from being a complete slave under the command of the mind and senses. But the hardest desire to be free from is the desire for sex. Complete spiritual freedom includes freedom from sexual desire.
Let me say before we go any further, that most people will probably not want to read this article. I get emails from people who ask what to do about sexual tendencies or their desires to get married. So I wanted to write something for them. However, this is not for those who are materially inclined, but for those who should realize what is necessary if they want to make serious spiritual advancement. The point is that for those who are looking for relief, there is a way out of this illusion. Remember, as I have said many times before, suffering exists only within the illusion. There is only happiness and bliss in the Reality. The doorway to that realm has been given. It is only up to us to follow the path. And that path is merely a matter of adjusting our consciousness, freeing ourselves of the very attachments that keep us bound to this world. And that attachment is epitomized by our attraction to sex. Once that is overcome, all else on our path to spiritual progress, which evolves around developing love of God, will flow much more easily. Anyone who is serious about rising above the temporary attractions of the flesh may consider keeping this article to review later to regain clarity whenever your vision becomes dark or cloudy. So for those who are serious, let us proceed.
Let’s face it, most people in this world are interested mainly in the joys of eating, sleeping, defending or keeping what is theirs, and, of course, mating. Sex life is quite high on most everyone’s list of objectives or goals. Even those who consider themselves spiritually oriented still find that sex should be included in one’s life. And why not? What’s wrong with it? Isn’t that what we are made for? And how else are we going to have families and raise children? Thus, for anyone who wants worldly happiness, sex or sexual companionship can hardly be ignored. After all, this is one of the main objectives in life. But over the long-term, we should not neglect the spiritual purpose of our existence. And to be honest about it, the more we focus on sex life, the more one remains on the bodily conception of life, which is quite to the contrary of being spiritual.
If you are in the bodily conception, the more important the comforts and bodily pleasures will be to you. While on the other hand, the more spiritual you become, the more you can live without such concerns, without the dictates of the mind and senses being an influence on you. The freer and more indifferent you will be to them. Therefore, the more interested you are in sex, the less spiritual you are.
REAL HAPPINESS MEANS FREEDOM, AND REAL FREEDOM IS FREEDOM FROM DESIRE
Most everyone thinks that attaining one’s goals is the means to attain happiness. We can certainly see that characteristic in sports, for example, wherein the winner relishes the victory or conquest over others. It may seem like a great state of mind, until, of course, the next challenge comes along, which may bring another victory or a loss. And for the loser, we have all seen the bitterness of defeat.
This is the same way with sex. Some people may want to have sex simply because they are lusty and they want the release or gratification. Others think that it’s the way to find love, a deep communication with another being with the hope that it is a mutually satisfying experience for the other person. Sometimes it works out that way and many times it does not, as can be seen from the high divorce rate and extra-marital affairs that go on in the pursuit of mutual pleasure and satisfaction. And if one engages in extra affairs while married, it usually means the other person in the marriage is left with disappointment and devastation and divorce when what had been happening becomes apparent. So what is the cause of this discontent?
We have to understand that sex is the greatest of all frauds. Nature promises us a wonderful event, the height of joy, yet through such an act she also robs us of our powers, both physical and mental, and when we believe we have reached the limits of fulfillment, we fall lower than ever before. We lose a tremendous amount of energy through this process both in the pursuit for attaining it, and in the act of trying for sexual fulfillment. An old Latin proverb mentions that both humans and animals feel depressed after physical union.
After all, what is left of sex pleasure in the morning? Great fatigue. And this will repeat itself so many times. It is merely a continuous struggle for unattainable unison. A certain force, the power of attraction brought two beings together in search of each other. Later, this force is appeased through the act of sex, which may provide a release, like scratching an itch. But later all that remains is emptiness, and being alone, whether this takes place in days, months or years. Sex can satisfy only the body and even that is most temporary, but never pleases the soul. Those who do think the soul is involved remain in the depths of maya, illusion.
People who live only for sex live in continued unrest and dissatisfaction. They are never fully happy, and the gratification they feel from sex never lasts for long. The problem is that, as it is explained, unrestricted sex is most sinful, even to think about it. One’s duration of life, blessings, opulence, etc., are all decreased by such sinful acts, and the most dangerous type of sinful act is unrestricted sex life. (Bhagavatam 3.12.33 pur.) The lust of sex desire itself is a type of sinful contamination. (Bhag. 3.14.16) In this way, unrestricted sex is most dangerous because it is the most difficult to give up, and keeps one on the bodily platform practically more than any other attachment. Most other material attractions can usually be given up or outgrown, but the fascination for sex can hinder and remain with a person for many lifetimes. Thus, one cannot become free from the continuous rounds of birth and death, which is an elementary goal for anyone who is truly spiritually motivated.
Furthermore, the desire for sex means to identify yourself as a man or a woman and separate from that which you think you need to feel fulfilled, such as another material body for sensual gratification and happiness. The Self has no desire for sex, and is without sex. Therefore, the desire and act of sex is all an illusion because it has no relevance to reality, which is in connection with the soul. The Self is a complete whole, not half of something seeking its complimentary half. The whole idea of seeking one’s better half or soul mate is but another materialistic conception to justify what is but an illusion.
Union in spirit is possible, but union of the body is not, two individual bodies cannot occupy the same space. Because of the longing for unity and for expressing care and love, people try to unite their bodies, and “touch each other’s heart” as the saying goes, and therefore slide down into sexuality. Nature exploits this longing for union, the yearning for the long lost paradisiacal state of belonging, in order to beget new generations of people. Therefore, this yearning manifests in the material act of sex in order to maintain the process of procreation of the species, human or otherwise. The great disappointment is that sexuality cannot create real union, and, thus, the soul remains unsatisfied. Therefore, we see people which, regardless of how much sex or how many lovers they may have, remain feeling empty, incomplete, unfulfilled.
The higher, universal, spiritual love is on a completely different plane than the lower “love” of the animal plane, which is a manifestation of animal instincts, and which is the urge nature uses to propagate the species. Such love is a desire for gratification, possession, and always seeks the body of another. It forces a person to come close to the loved one, and embrace, kiss, hug, or to want to possess, which is nothing but lust, and which forces one to be more focused on the material platform of life. Thus, as one caters to this desire, one becomes increasingly bound to this worldly existence.
Whoever is subject to this kind of love is still living in a mental state of dividedness and separation, and tries to find a complimentary physical partner in order to find satisfaction. This love always seeks to take, to have, to possess. Spiritual love does not come from the condition of division, or to have, to hold or own, but from divine unity. Hence such spiritual love is always giving, never taking, and needs no physical manifestation or expression, but always radiates from the consciousness of divine all-unity. People who are conscious on this plane do not want to possess anybody; they feel themselves one with the Infinite All, the Supreme Being. That is our real goal. Thus, they do not burn with desire, but only shine with the love reflected from the Supreme. This leads to real wholeness and unity, real bliss and happiness, complete in one’s Self.
RELATIONSHIPS: ONE OF THE BIGGEST, MOST TIME CONSUMING PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD TODAY
In this day and age, we often see that the man or woman ends up not being satisfied with the other, so what to do about it? This is one of the biggest social problems in many areas around the world, not just western countries. This is not the kind of really serious issues that many people have to face, especially in developing countries, such as how they are going to have the clothes they or their children need, or how to get enough food to eat, how to find shelter from the elements, or whether they have to make a decision on spending whatever small amount of money they have on either medicine or on something to eat. But we can see that in developed areas of the world where they usually have enough of the necessities of life, one of the main sources of difficulties, however superficial this may be, is often in relationships. That is a big business in the West. It is the focus on the many ways and methods to work out the relationship, or how to end it and find a better one. This takes up much of the time, attention, and money of numerous people.
Many people are not realistically in love with another person, but are more in love with their desires of what they want in a relationship and what they expect that other person to be like. They are in love with their projected ideas of what love with another person should be. Thus, they always fluctuate between happiness and sadness. They feel sadness when they see the reality of the relationship being less than they want, or what they think it should be, or they feel happiness when there seems to be a glimpse of the fulfillment they hope to find from the relationship. This is the basis of most dysfunctional relationships, which evolves around what one wants to see in another person and not the reality of what is actually there. As the saying goes, “love is blind.” Though the relationship falls far short of being satisfactory for either party, the man may feel he has found his full outlet for his love. Or the woman feels she has found a fatherly relationship with a person who poses as an authority figure, or a means of being safe in this world, though, in actuality, he abuses and mistreats her. Of course, there are so many other scenarios that can be used as examples of why numerous relationships do not work, though such relations continue. Yet, many people keep looking for a situation that results in the same kind of troubles without realizing it and without feeling satisfied.
Sex attraction itself depends on the disposition of one’s mind. Yet the mental platform is very flickering. It is a part of the materialistic realm wherein what is here today may be gone tomorrow. Or what is attractive today may be boring or even repulsive tomorrow. The way the mind feels today may be different the next. It’s not dependable. Thus, a woman looking toward a man for love and sexual fulfillment cannot depend on that continually or steadily. The same goes for a man looking for a woman. The relationship may be ever so nice while it lasts, but it can change or dissolve at any time for any reason, thus giving way to disappointment, frustration, or worse. But this has to be expected since this is the nature of the material realm, as anyone can plainly see by analyzing from experience or by witnessing what others have gone through.
By this analysis we can understand that illusory sexual attraction actually increases one’s discomforts. This is already known, as the following quote illustrates: “Sri Prabuddha said: Accepting the roles of male and female in human society, the conditioned souls unite in sexual relationships. Thus they constantly make material endeavors to eliminate their unhappiness and unlimitedly increase their pleasure. But one should see that they inevitably achieve exactly the opposite result. In other words, their happiness inevitably vanishes, and as they grow older their material discomfort increases.” (Bhagavatam 11.3.18)
In this way, the attempt to increase one’s happiness by uniting with another often merely increases the burden of responsibilities, concerns, activities, stress, tension, the need to earn more money to meet larger overhead and maintenance bills, etc. As the Samnyasa Upanishads explain: At first one wants a wife, then a house, and then worlds. However, real freedom is to be free from all such problems by, first of all, being free from these kinds of sensual desires. Otherwise, there is no end to them, unless one becomes truly spiritualized.
In this way, we can see that a stable and deep relationship between man and woman must be based on something more than mere sexual attraction for the temporary beauty of the body.
One of the biggest problems is that the media in most of society, especially Western civilization, indoctrinates the masses into thinking that everything that matters most in life, everything that’s important to finding fulfillment, is wrapped around the premise of sex. A person has to be either sexually attractive to achieve it, or competent enough to pursue and attain it, and get it any way and as often as you can. That is the ideal of material success.
Thus, we can see that in any media these days, the promotion for the sale of something is often based on the idea that if you want to be sexually attractive, you need this product. You cannot avoid being exposed to this kind of mindset, whether in books, magazines, television, the internet, or advertisements anywhere. And if a person becomes motivated in this way, if he loses his strength of individuality and bends to the persuasion dictated toward sex in the media, he will become a slave to his senses, and another life lost to the fleeting dictates of the mind and sensual desires. All to the temporary glee of 5th Avenue and their financial well-being. Such a person simply becomes another slave to their pervasive indoctrination.
Furthermore, sex and thoughts of it, and of anything connected with the attempt to attain sexual fulfillment, is the easiest way to keep people preoccupied and entertained in a way that prevents them from thinking too much, or from thinking too deeply about things. It can also keep the general masses from noticing the intrigues and manipulation of the politicians, or their continued economic burden that the whole financial system in America forces on the public. This is why so much entertainment includes or is based on sex. This should become obvious to anyone, of course only if they have not lost their intelligence through excess sexual indulgence, either mentally or physically.
After all of one’s energy has been used in sexual escapades or the pursuit to maintain family life, including a job, raising kids, paying bills, etc., there is little energy left for deep thinking, either philosophically, spiritually, or even socially, politically, or economically. In this way, one remains in darkness, in maya, and easily controlled and manipulated by the greater “powers that be” that promise fulfillment if you only vote for them, or abide by their wishes or orders that will be applied to society by laws that were passed when the population wasn’t watching, was sleeping, was in darkness, or merely preoccupied with the idea of attaining sexual fulfillment. Yep, you wake up only to find you have been tricked again while you were preoccupied.
In this way, relations between men and women are often another form of entanglement in material affairs, based on the initial desire for some kind of external companionship. Since we are social creatures, we long for social interactions. But if we are not aware of how to keep such interactions on a spiritual or at least higher and more sophisticated level, such relations often fall under the influence of lust. This leads to troubles and trying times in many ways.
Numerous people may spend so much time and money to seek their soulmate or “twin flame”. The twin flame, however, is not a partner outside of the Self, but is understood to be the ripeness of all that is the Self.
One of the most important things you can do is love your spiritual Self. But you forget this and keep looking for the next relationship to make you whole or complete. The media makes you feel that without a relationship you are perhaps less than an acceptable person. Then you feel lonely or incomplete. But this is merely a mental concept put there by outside indoctrination. You must learn how to be alone. By that I mean alone with your Self, how to spend time with your Self and be content. Loneliness is simply a state of mind. You are never completely alone. You have multitudes of entities around you. If you would stop feeling sorry for yourself, you would find the real you, a complete and whole individual.
When you love yourself and stop getting convoluted about the need to have someone else love you, you can easily avoid all the traps and difficulties that others get sucked into. All you have to do is vibrate in the love of the Self, honor the Self, and understand that the journey here is about Self-discovery. It is not about finding lovers or husbands and wives. The journey here is about honoring your Self and perceiving the uniqueness of the Self as you touch the lives of many. Always allow yourself to work with the Self and evolve toward Self-realization. This is the real you, and this is the real goal of this journey.
Do not be afraid of being intimate with your Selves—of being alone with the Self. Once you develop an intimacy, a silence, a Self-love, and a containment of your energy, a unity within yourself as between the soul and the Supersoul, then if you develop this fully, it can outweigh the need for an outer relationship. This is why many saintly men and women are often wholly content to remain without an external partner in life.
Also, when you have attained this level of consciousness, then you will want to make that aspect of spiritual intimacy your standard for intimacy with someone else, which is far different than sexual unity, which is but a temporary illusion anyway. Only when someone is complete in themselves can they be complete and giving or loving toward another. Otherwise, it is a relationship based on role playing, doing something for someone else with the expectation that he or she will do a certain thing or things in return for you. Similarly, when so-called love depends mainly on sexuality for its expression, then you can know it is not love but only lust. There may appear to be some caring, but there is no true love in such a relationship, and the outcome is guaranteed to be merely future disappointment. The only relationship, for those already involved with another, that can provide something more than future disappointment and separation is that which is based on spiritual completeness between two people who are on such a spiritual level within themselves.
If you can understand this, you will realize that one never finds the complimentary half outside oneself. No human being can be another’s complimentary half. No one can find one’s complimentary half anywhere except within oneself as the Supersoul, Paramatma. In the world around us it’s only possible to find projected pictures, material forms or bodies that we accept to be similar to one’s true complimentary half. It is merely a reflection of the reality that we seek. But neither person can become complete by virtue of combining with such a projection or illusory physical form. Only the divine unity of the Self can bring blissful happiness. You’ll find your complimentary half within your Self, as the Supreme.
It may take many years, even lifetimes for most people to understand this. But the fact remains that the pool of spiritual love that we are all looking and hankering for is there within you. Most of you have withheld this experience from yourselves because you conceptualize that such love must come in a certain form, package, or in a certain relationship. But you need not be in an external relationship to experience the depths of love. A relationship with someone can mirror your experience but it cannot itself take you to the depths of love. It is you who must provide the means or follow the path of leaping into the pool of deep love through the development of bhakti, devotional love for the Supreme Being, who is the Supreme Lover. In that love you will find the means to a bliss which knows no bounds, a happiness without end.
WHEN YOU ARE FREE FROM SEX DESIRES, THEN YOU ARE FREE FROM SO MANY UNNECESSARY THINGS
When a person becomes free from the desire for sexual indulgence, a person gains strength, especially mental strength, focus, clarity, and determination. He or she no longer easily succumbs to the wishes, attractions (or should we say distractions) or dictates of the senses. Then the thirst for pleasure is no longer the controller, but is controlled. He or she then uses his or her energy in more uplifting and realistic ways instead of the ephemeral and fleeting purpose for sensual stimulation and excitement.
The advantages include the elimination of purchasing any paraphernalia related to sex: magazines, videos, movies, prostitutes, Viagra, etc. Eighty percent of all internet traffic is related to pornography. With a freedom from sex desire, one is no longer a part of any of this.
Presently, every materialist wants to have sex, even when they are old. But it is natural for the body to change hormonal levels and lose interest as well as capability for sex as it ages. The necessity of sex naturally subsides and one should increasingly focus on more spiritual topics the more one enters old age and the closer one gets to death. The priorities change, and if a person’s interests don’t, then it merely reflects an immature and undeveloped consciousness. Society has enough of these kinds of people and this is not how we want to be. The more we age, and the closer we get to death, the more spiritual we should become.
Let’s face it, most activities that go on in this world are because of the desire to receive love and the desire to express love. But this is often misdirected in a way that is more properly called lust—the desire to ultimately or outrightly please one’s own mind and senses. How much money is spent to fulfill such desires is incalculable. Yet one is freed from having to spend so much time and money in this pursuit when one is freed from sex desire. This includes spending money in bars, restaurants, arranging for and entertaining your dates, the travel for such things, or learning to dance and then go to clubs to show your expertise, etc., all in the attempt to attract potential sexual partners. One can spend their life this way, or learn to raise their consciousness to go through life without being distracted by such endeavors. These are all just materialistic games that are here today but gone tomorrow anyway. And they drag a person down to lower levels of consciousness.
Most people think that sex is an essential part of life, and that they do not want to live without it at any age. But quite simply, a person should not be preoccupied by it if they expect to reach the true goal of life. As it is explained: “Those who are interested in a so-called beautiful life—namely remaining as a householder entangled by sons and a wife [sex life] and searching after wealth—think that such things are life’s ultimate goal. Such people simply wander in different types of bodies throughout this material existence without finding the ultimate goal of life.” (Bhagavatam 4.25.6)
To read this article in full, please visit Stephen Knapp’s blog on the link below: