Do not be too familiar with anybody. Familiarity breeds contempt. Do not multiply friends. Do not court friendship with women. Do not also be very familiar with them. Familiarity with women will eventually end in your destruction. Never, never forget this point. Friends may become your real foes.
Do not mix with members of the opposite sex. Maya works through undercurrents so stealthily that you may not be aware of your actual downfall. The sexual vasana will assume an aggravated form suddenly without a moment’s notice. You will commit adultery and then repent. Then your character and fame will vanish. Dishonor is more than death. There is no crime more heinous than this. There is no rayaschitta for this. So beware. Be cautious.
Bhagavan Dattatreya has compared woman to a burning pit of fire and man to a pot of ghee. When the latter comes in contact with the former, it perishes. Therefore, abandon her.
If you happen to stay in a dharmashala or public inn, if there is a single woman in your neighboring room, leave the place at once. You do not know what will happen. It is always advisable to leave the danger zone immediately, however strong you may be through the practice of tapas and meditation. Do not expose yourself to temptation.
Do not test your spiritual strength and purity when you are a beginner on the spiritual path. Do not rush into evil associations when you are a spiritual neophyte to show that you have the courage to face sin and impurity. It will be a serious mistake. You will be running into a grave danger. You will have a quick downfall. A small fire will be very easily extinguished by a heap of dust.
Even advanced aspirants who have made great progress in yoga should be very careful. They should not freely mix with women. They should not foolishly imagine that they have become great adepts in yoga. A great saint of repute had a downfall. He freely mixed with women and made women-disciples, whom he allowed to massage his legs. As the sex energy was not completely sublimated and turned into ojas, as lust was lurking in a subtle form in his mind, he became a victim to passion. He lost his reputation. The sexual desire was only suppressed in him, and when a suitable opportunity came, it again assumed a grave form. He had no strength or will power to resist the temptation.
Another great soul, who was regarded by his disciples as an Avatar, became a yogabhrashta. He also freely mixed with ladies and committed a serious lapse. He became a prey to lust. What a sad misfortune! Aspirants climb with great difficulty by the ladder of yoga and they fall down on account of their carelessness and spiritual pride.
Havoc played by mental images
The presence of, or recollection of, a woman usually excites unholy ideas in the minds of recluses who have abandoned this world and devoted themselves to spiritual exercises and thus deprives them of the fruit of their austerity. It is very difficult to understand the presence of subtle lust in the minds of others, particularly in spiritual recluses, though the look, tone, gestures, gait and behavior may give a clue.
Note carefully how Raja Bhartrihari had cried during his sadhana stage: “O my Lord! I left my wife and my kingdom. I live on leaves, fruits and roots. The earth is my sofa. The blue sky is my canopy. The quarters are my clothes. Yet, my passion has not left me.” Such is the power of passion.
Jerome writes to the virgin Eustochium about his struggle for abstinence and the power of lust: “Oh, how many times when in the desert, in that vast solitude which, burnt by the heat of the sun, offers but a horrible dwelling to monks, I imagined I was among the delights of Rome! I was alone. My limbs were covered by a wretched sack and my skin was as black as an Ethiopian’s. Every day I wept and groaned, and if I was unwillingly overcome by sleep, my lean body lay on the bare earth. I say nothing of my food and drink, for in the desert, even invalids have no drink but cold water. Well, I who out of fear of hell had condemned myself to this prison, companion of scorpions and wild beasts, often seemed in imagination among a band of girls. My face was pale with fasting and my mind within my frigid body was burning with desire; the fire of lust would still flame up in a body that already seemed to be dead.” Such is the power of lust.
The mind is the seed of the world. It is the mind that creates this world. There is no world quite apart from the mind. The images of all objects are contained in the mind. The mind plays with these images when it cannot get the objects and does great havoc. If you constantly think of the image of the Lord, the images of objects will die by themselves.
The forbidden fruit–God’s test for the spiritual aspirant
God places some temptations before the aspirant to test his spiritual strength. He gives him also strength to conquer the temptations. The strongest temptation in this world is lust. All the saints passed through temptations. Temptations are profitable. People are instructed and strengthened.
Even Buddha was tested for his mental purity. He had to face temptations of every sort. He had to face Mara. It was only then, and not till then, that he had illumination under the bodhi tree in Gaya. Satan tempted Jesus in a variety of ways. Passion is very powerful. Many aspirants fail in the tests. One has to be very careful. The aspirant will have to develop a very high standard of mental purity. Then alone will he be able to stand the test. God will place the aspirants in very unfavorable surroundings to test them. They will be tempted by young girls. Name and fame bring the householders in close contact with the aspirants. Women begin to worship them. They become their disciples. Gradually the aspirants get a nasty downfall. Instances are many. Aspirants should hide themselves and pass for quite ordinary people. They should not show their chamatkaras.
Although Rishi Vishwamitra was practicing severe austerities, he was carried away by his turbulent senses when he came across the celestial nymph sent by Indra to disturb his tapas. If Vishwamitra and Parasara who were living on leaves, air and water were victims of lust, what should be the fate of worldly people who are living on rich food? If they can control their passion, the Vindhya mountains will float on the ocean and fire will burn downwards.
The sex instinct is most powerful. The sex urge is formidable. It may conceal itself in underground compartments in the mind and assail you when you are not vigilant. It will attack you with redoubled force. Vishwamitra fell a victim of Menaka. Another great Rishi became a prey to Rambha. Jaimini got excited by a false woman, Masa. A powerful Rishi was excited by the sight of the mating of a fish. A householder aspirant carried away even his guru’s wife. Many aspirants are not aware of this secret urge, a treacherous enemy. They think that they are quite safe and pure. When they are put to test, they become hopeless victims. Always remain alone, meditate and slay this urge.
Money and woman shine more brightly than God for an ignorant, passionate man. Maya is powerful. Adam fell on account of one loose moment. Eve was tempted on account of one desire. The forbidden fruit will ripen before the human eyes in no time. A post will look like the illustrious deva and make you bow in utter submission before it. Beware of Maya and its meshes. The chains of gold can be cut asunder, but not the silken meshes of Maya. A single unguarded moment is sufficient to capsize the whole casket of pearls down into the dark abyss of passion and lust.
The moss that is momentarily displaced in a tank resumes its original position in the twinkling of an eye. Similarly, Maya envelops even the wise if they are careless even for a minute. Therefore sleepless vigilance is necessary in the spiritual path. The proverb goes: “There is many a slip between the cup and the lip.” Before you begin to eat the fruit of wisdom, the monkey Maya will snatch it away from your hand. Even if you swallow it, it may get stuck to your throat. Therefore you will have to be ever vigilant and careful till you attain Bhuma or the highest realization. You should not stop your sadhana falsely thinking that you have reached the goal.
He who lives in seclusion is more exposed to temptations and danger. He will have to be very careful and vigilant. The mind will be tempted to do anything as there is nobody to witness its evil action. All suppressed evil vrittis will be waiting for an opportunity to attack him with redoubled force. He is just like a man who is put in a big bag with a tiger, a serpent and a bear. The enemies anger, lust and greed will take you unawares. When you walk alone in the spiritual path, they will attack you like the thieves who attack a lonely passenger in the dense forest. Therefore, be always in the company of the wise. Do not go astray.