Man wishes to have children to maintain the race or line. This is the reproductive instinct. The desire to copulate proceeds from this sexual instinct. The strength of the sexual desire depends upon the sexual impulse.
According to the Gita, impulse is vegam or force. Lord Krishna says, “He who is able to endure here on earth, before he is liberated from the body, the force born of desire and passion, he is harmonized, he is a happy man.”
Impulse is a mighty force. It exerts influence on the mind. It is a force suddenly communicated to the mind.
Just as petrol or steam moves the engine, the instincts and impulses move this body. The instincts are the prime movers of all human activities. They give a push to the body and move the indriyas to action. The instincts create habits. The instinctive impulses supply the driving power by which all mental activities are kept up. These impulses are mental forces. They operate through the mind and the intellect. They mould the life of a man. The mystery of life lies in them.
The attraction towards women in men is born of rajas. That unknown attraction and happiness in their company is the seed of the sex impulse. This attraction, which is like a bubble in the beginning, later on assumes the form of a formidable, uncontrollable wave of strong passion or sexual appetite. Beware. Generate the spiritual wave of devotion through japa, satsanga, meditation and vichara and kill this attraction in the bud.
You must understand the psychological working of the sex impulse. When there are itches on the body, mere scratching of them is a pleasure. The sex impulse is only a nervous itching. The satisfaction of this impulse begets a delusive pleasure, but it has a disastrous effect on the spiritual well-being of the person.
The flowery bow of Cupid
Lust is powerful. It carries a flowery bow equipped with five arrows, namely, Mohana, Stambhana, Unmadana, Soshana and Tapana–fascination, stupefaction, intoxication, emaciation and burning. One arrow causes fascination in young men when they see a beautiful form. Another arrests their attention. The third intoxicates them. The fourth arrow causes intense attraction towards the form. The fifth arrow inflames and burns their heart. It pierces their cardiac chambers deeply. No one on this earth, nay, in all the three worlds, has the power to resist the potential influence of these arrows. These arrows pierced even the heart of Lord Shiva and many rishis of yore. Cupid directly shoots an arrow through the bewitching eyebrows and piercing glances of a young lady. Moonlit night, scents and perfumes, flowers and garlands, sandal-paste, meat and liquor, theaters and novels are his mighty weapons to delude the passionate young men. Reason and discrimination take to their heels the moment their hearts are filled with burning passion. They all become absolutely blind. Cupid makes intellectual persons, great orators, ministers and research scholars, doctors and barristers, as pleasure deer or pet dogs in the laps of young ladies. Cupid knows his strength. Cupid reigns supreme everywhere. He penetrates the hearts of all. He knows how to tickle their nerves. Within the twinkling of an eye he destroys reason, discrimination and understanding by simply inflaming the passion of young men.
The Samskaras in the subconscious mind
A sexual act produces a samskara or impression in the subconscious mind or chitta. This samskara raises a vritti or thought-wave in the mind and the vritti again causes a samskara. Enjoyment thickens the vasanas. Through memory and imagination, a revival of the sexual desire comes in.
Remembrance of the image of a woman unsettles the mind. When a tiger has once tasted human blood, it always runs to kill human beings. It becomes a man-eater. Even so, when the mind has once tasted sexual pleasures, it always runs after women.
From the bed of samskaras and vasanas in the mind emanates kalpana or imagination through smriti or memory. Then comes attachment. Along with imagination, emotion and impulse manifest. Emotion and impulse exist side by side. Then comes sexual irritation–craving and burning in the mind and throughout the body. The irritation and burning in the mind percolate into the physical body, just as the water inside a pot percolates into the surface of the pot. If you are very vigilant, you can drive off the bad imagination in the very beginning itself and avert the impending danger. Even if you allow the thief imagination to enter the first gate, keep a careful watch at the second gate when the sexual irritation manifests. You can stop the burning now. You can stop also, easily, the strong sexual impulse from being transmitted to the indriya itself. Draw the sex energy up towards the brain. Divert the mind. Chant ‘Om’ or any other mantra with concentration. Pray, meditate. If you still find it difficult to control the mind, immediately seek satsanga and do not remain alone. When the strong impulse manifests suddenly and is transmitted to the organ, you forget everything and become blind. You become a prey to lust. Later on you repent.
Even in a blind man who is a celibate who has not seen the face of a woman, the sexual impulse is very strong. Why? This is due to the force of samskaras or impressions of previous births that are embedded in the subconscious mind. Whatever you do, whatever you think, are all lodged or printed or indelibly impressed in the layers of the chitta or subconscious mind. These impressions can be burnt or obliterated only by the dawn of knowledge of the atman or the Supreme Self. When the sexual vasana fills the whole mind and body, the samskaras assume the form of big vrittis or waves and torment the poor blind man.
It is easy to control the conscious mind. But it is very difficult to control the subconscious mind. You may be a sannyasi. You may be a moral man. Mark how the mind behaves or conducts itself in dreams. You begin to steal in dreams. You commit adultery in dreams. The sex impulses, ambitions and low desires are all ingrained in you and deep-rooted in the subconscious mind. Destroy the subconscious mind and its samskaras through vichara, Brahmabhavana and meditation on ‘Om’ and its meaning. A man who is established in mental brahmacharya can never have even a single thought of evil in dreams. He can never have a bad dream. There is a lack of vichara or viveka in dream. That is the reason why you get bad dreams, even though you are pure in the jagrat state through the power of viveka and vichara.
An aspirant complains: “As I continue meditation, layer after layer of impurities keep rising from the subconscious mind. Sometimes they are so strong and formidable that I am bewildered as to how to check them. I am not perfectly established in truth and in brahmacharya. The old habits of lust and of speaking lies are still lurking in me. Lust is troubling me vigorously. The very idea of women agitates my mind. My mind is so sensitive that I am not able to hear or think of them. As soon as the thought comes in the mind, my sadhana gets disturbed, and also, the peace of the whole day is spoiled. I advise my mind, coax it, frighten it, but it is of no avail. My mind revolts. I do not know how to control this passion. Irritability, egoism, anger, greed, hatred and attachment are still lurking in me. Lust is my chief enemy and it is a very strong one too. I request you to be kind enough to advise me as to how to destroy it.”
When the impurities emerge from the subconscious mind and come to the surface of the conscious mind with formidable force, do not try to resist them. Instead repeat a mantra vigorously, thinking of nothing else. Do not think of your defects or evil qualities much. It is enough if you introspect and find out your defects. Do not try to attack the evil qualities. Then they will show their long faces. Develop positive virtues. Do not worry yourself by often thinking: “I have got so many defects and weaknesses.” Cultivate sattwic virtues. Through meditation, and by the development of positive qualities, through the pratipaksha bhavana method, all the negative qualities will die by themselves. This is the right method.
You may become old, your hair may turn gray, but your mind is ever young. The capacity may vanish, but the craving remains even when you have reached advanced senility. Cravings are the real seeds of birth. These craving-seeds give rise to sankalpa and action. The wheel of samsara is kept revolving by these cravings. Nip them in the bud. Then only will you be safe. You will get moksha. Brahmabhavana, Brahmachintana, meditation on ‘Om’ and devotion will root out these craving-seeds which are laid deep. You will have to dig them out properly in various corners and burn them beyond resurrection. Then only will your efforts bear the fruit of nirvikalpa samadhi.
One student writes to me: “The impure flesh and skin appear to me as very pure and good. I am very lustful. I try to develop mentally the bhava of seeing the Mother in all women. I prostrate before a lady mentally, thinking that she is an image of Goddess Kali, and yet my mind is extremely lustful. What shall I do now? I desire again and again to have a glimpse of a beautiful lady.” Obviously, vairagya and discrimination have not dawned in his mind even a bit. The old vicious samskaras and vasanas are very powerful.
Even a pure brahmachari will be troubled in the beginning by curiosity. He will be curious to know and feel what sort of happiness sexual enjoyment will give. He thinks sometimes: “Let me have the carnal knowledge of a woman once. Then I will be able to root out this sexual impulse and desire completely. This sexual curiosity is troubling me very much.” Mind wants to delude this brahmachari. Maya havocs through curiosity. Curiosity is transmuted into a strong desire. Enjoyment cannot bring satisfaction of a desire. The wise way is to kill the strong wave of curiosity by vichara or enquiry about the pure sexless atman, by totally eradicating the sexual desire through constant meditation, and by thinking over the glory of brahmacharya and the defects of an impure life.
How to gauge your own mental purity
The sight of a young beautiful girl produces in a passionate young man attraction and agitation in the mind, piercing of the heart and serious intoxication. If these symptoms are absent in a man, then it is a sign to denote that he is established in brahmacharya. The sight of the pairing or mating of birds and animals, or the sight of the bare body of a lady, should not produce the least agitation in the mind.
If a feeling arises in the mind of a brahmachari for the company of a woman during times of ailment, if there is a strong desire to be in her company, if there is a desire to talk, play and joke with her, if there is a desire to look at young beautiful girls, if the look is unholy and unchaste, and if there is a desire in the mind when there is pain in the body for touch by the hands of females, remember that lust is still lurking in his mind. There is deep sexual craving. This should be destroyed. The old thief is still hiding. Such a brahmachari must be very careful. He is still within the danger zone. He has not attained the state of purity. Even in dreams there should not arise in the mind any craving for the touch of a female and the company of a woman. One’s purity can be gauged by one’s experiences in dream. If one is entirely free from any sexual thought in dreams, he has reached the climax of purity. Self-analysis and introspection are indispensable requisites to determine the state of one’s mind.
A jnani will have no wet dreams. He who is established in brahmacharya will not get even a single bad dream. Dream serves as a criterion to judge our mental state or the degree of our mental purity. If you do not get impure dreams, you are growing in purity.
The very idea of sex should vanish from the mind. Sukhadeva had this experience. Sukha did not marry. He left his home and roamed about the world at large, stark naked. The separation was very painful for his father, Vyasa. Vyasa went out in search of his son. While he passed by a pond, the apsaras, who were freely indulging in play, felt ashamed and put on their clothes hastily. Vyasa said, “Very strange indeed! I am old. I am putting on clothes. But when my son passed this way naked, you kept quiet, you remained unmoved.” The Apsaras replied, “O venerable sage, your son knows not man and woman, but you know.”
Eradication of lust is no easy task
You will have to search out carefully this dire enemy, lust that lies hidden in the various corners of your heart. Just as the fox hides itself within the bush, so also, this lust hides itself in the substratum and corners of the mind. You can detect its presence only if you are vigilant. Intense self-examination is very necessary. Just as powerful enemies can be conquered only if you attack them from all sides, so also, you can keep the powerful senses under control only if you attack them from all sides, from within and from without, from above and from beneath. The senses are very turbulent, so they must be controlled by various methods such as fasting, restriction in diet, japa, meditation, vichara, self-restraint, thought-control and destruction of vasanas.
Safeguard yourself against the error of foolishly imagining that you have succeeded in getting rid of lust by the mere fact of having lived a single life for a number of years or experiencing a little feeling of serenity or purity. You must not labor under the delusion that you have eradicated lust completely by adjusting the diet a bit, by doing a little japa and meditation, and that you have nothing more to do. Temptation or Mara may overcome you at any moment. Eternal vigilance and rigorous sadhana are very essential. You cannot attain perfect brahmacharya by limited effort. Just as a machine gun is necessary to kill a powerful enemy, so also, constant, vigorous, powerful sadhana is necessary to annihilate this powerful enemy, lust. You must not be puffed up with pride for your little achievement in celibacy. If you are put to the test, you will hopelessly fail. You must be ever conscious of your shortcomings and you must constantly strive to get rid of them. The highest effort is necessary. Then only will you have sanguine success in this direction.
It is easy to tame a wild tiger or a lion or an elephant. It is easy to play with a cobra. It is easy to walk over fire. It is easy to devour fire and drink the waters of the ocean. It is easy to uproot the Himalayas. It is easy to get victory in the battlefield. But it is difficult to eradicate lust. Right from the earlier stages of evolution through the ages, the instinctive urge for reproduction and multiplication has been kept up only by the power of lust. Therefore, despite all efforts at controlling and subduing it, the power tries to manifest itself forcibly and overwhelm the sadhaka or aspirant.
All the same, you need not despair even a bit. Have faith in God, in His Name and His grace. Lust cannot be completely rooted out of the mind except by the grace of the Lord. You are bound to succeed if you have faith in Him. You can destroy lust in the twinkling of an eye. The Lord makes a dumb man speak and a lame man ascend a steep hill. Mere human effort alone will not suffice. The divine grace is needed. God helps those who help themselves. If you do total self-surrender, Mother Herself does the sadhana.
Regular meditation and japa of a mantra, sattwic diet, satsanga, study of religious books, vichara and seclusion for as much as practical will entirely annihilate lust, however powerful the old samskaras and vasanas may be. The positive always overcomes the negative. You need not be discouraged at any rate. Plunge yourself seriously into meditation, kill this Mara and come out victorious in the struggle. Shine as a brilliant yogi. You are the ever-pure atman. Feel this!
Sexual impulses can, with difficulty, be controlled. A rebellion of the sexual impulses takes place when you attempt to control them. Constant japa and meditation for a long period are necessary to direct the sex energy into the spiritual channel. Complete sublimation of the sexual energy into ojas shakti is necessary. Then only are you perfectly safe. Then only will you be established in samadhi. Extreme patience, constant vigilance, perseverance and rigorous sadhana are necessary to eradicate the sexual impulses and attain perfect purity in thought, word and deed.
Brahmacharya or purity can be attained only through constant striving. It cannot be achieved in a day or a week. Lust is doubtless very powerful. It is your deadly enemy. But your most powerful friend is the Name of the Lord. It will destroy lust from its very root. So, always recite and sing His Name.
Yogic practices, meditation and so on will attenuate or thin out the sexual desire to a very great extent. But, Self-realization alone can completely destroy or burn the sexual desire and the samskaras in toto. As the Bhagavad Gita rightly points out, “The objects of the senses turn away from the abstinent man leaving the longing behind, but this longing also turns away after he attains Self-realization.”
The sex urge is a creative force. Unless you are inspired by spiritual ideals, it is difficult to keep the sexual instinct in check. Direct the sex energy to the higher spiritual channels. It will be sublimated. It will be transformed into divine energy. Complete eradication of lust, however, needs both personal effort and God’s grace.