Sexual Purity for Men
The audios to go along with this course: Mahatma Das – Men’s Sexual Purity
- Be willing to be open and honest with yourself and others because “You are only as sick as your secret.” In the hiding of darkness, your problems grow and exposed to the light they die. “Anyone can become successful in devotional service provided he displays no duplicity. It is explained here that one must be very frank and open-minded (amāyinaḥ).” SB 4.21.33
- Keep whatever is heard today confidential. (Anything confidential we record will be edited out of the recordings.) If you find something you heard to be so valuable you would like to share it with others, it’s okay if it’s obviously not private or confidential. If you are not sure, ask the person if it’s okay to share what he said with others outside the room.
- Do not share with the group what your partner shared with you unless you ask his permission.
- We will break approximately every 1½ hours. Feel free to use the bathroom anytime, but ideally at the breaks.
- Most of the questions you have will be answered in the course of the workshop, so for expediency, I will ask for questions periodically at the end of sections. If I forget to ask, then feel free to ask.
- Commitment to attend the entire course and all sessions
- If any subject or exercise makes you feel uncomfortable, let me know.
- Be on time after the breaks and turn off your cell phones, don’t talk during class, etc.
Congratulations on your willingness to address these issues.
This workshop offers an atmosphere that allows you to talk openly about your sexual issues as well as be open and honest with yourself. It also offers insight in how to apply the philosophy of Krishna consciousness to your particular sexual issues. Today you will discover new and effective strategies to deal with your sexual issues. You will find them to be a great value in achieving greater more sexual purity.
The best time to deal with your sexual battles is now. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to deal with. If you think you will wait till you are older because it will get easier, it’s not necessarily true. Neither is it certain that will live till you are older.
“Generally a man’s tendency is to enjoy many women, and even at the very end of life the sex impulse is so strong that even though one is very old he still wants to enjoy the company of young girls. Thus because of the strong sex impulse the living entity becomes more and more involved in this material world.”
– SB 2.24.45
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”— Abraham Lincoln
The Aim of the Workshop
The aim of this workshop is for you to gain the tools, attitudes, determination and support to you need to continually increase your level of sexual purity. The workshop opens the door to improvement, not the door to immediate perfection (although that door is certainly not closed). My hope is that no matter where you are at today you will become increasingly more sexually pure throughout your life and you will remain determined to continue in your quest for sexual purity despite any setbacks you face.
What Is Sexual Purity?
The highest stage of sexual purity, as defined by scripture, is to not think about, talk about, plan to, or have sex with anyone other than your wife, and to have sex with your wife only for the purpose of procreation – and only after chanting 50 rounds. Sexually purity is defined as follows
karmaëä manasä väcä
“The vow of brahmacarya is meant to help one completely abstain from sex indulgence in work, words and mind-at all times, under all circumstances, and in all places (Prabhupada said grhasthas who follow this principle are grihastha brahmacaris)
In another sastra it is stated, one should not:
- Think about women.
- Speak about sex life.
- Dally with women.
- Look lustfully at women.
- Talk intimately with women.
- Decide to engage in sexual intercourse.
- Endeavor for sex life.
- Engage in sex life.
(SB 6.1.13 Purport)
Since not everyone can not come (or may not want to come) to this platform immediately, each of us needs to define our immediate and long range goals for sexual purity.
Exercise 1 – Find a person who will be your buddy for today. Choose someone with whom you will feel comfortable sharing.
Exercise 2 – Write down your immediate and long range goals for sexual purity (they can be the same in general but you might want to be more specific). Write down why it’s important for you to achieve these goals. (You can alter these goals during the course of the workshop as you gain new insights and realizations).
Exercise 3 – With you buddy reflect on how sexual impurity is harming you and how that makes you feel. Explain the area(s) in which you would most like to see improvement and why this is important to you. Explain how you will feel if you make improvements in those areas.
SECTION ONE- FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES OF SEXUAL PURITY
Principle One – Don’t Underestimate the Enemy
If you are fighting a serious disease, a disease that you rate a 9 on a scale of 10, your cure must be at a
level 10. Yet if we look at the strategies and efforts we employ to deal with sexual desires, often our efforts are insufficient to deal with the severity of the problem. In other words, the remedy must be sufficient to cure (or at least subdue) the disease. The goal of this section is that we take our efforts for sexual purity more seriously by acknowledging the incredible power of sexual attraction and thus the degree of effort that’s required to control sexual desires.
“Prabhupada: This sex life in this material world is so strong, even in the heavenly planets. Big, big rsis. Sex life with animals also there is… Sex life is so strong. Man cohabiting with animal. It makes blind. Vyasadeva made one of her (his) students pregnant, what to speak of ourselves. Vyasadeva was born, Satyavati. She was low class. Although she was born by a king, but her mother was a low-class fisherwoman. And the fisherman raised her as daughter. And Parasara Muni became attracted. And Vyasadeva was born. Sex affairs, just see, in the highest circle. Brhaspati, the spiritual master of the devatas, he became so much mad for his brother’s wife who was pregnant, and forcibly they had sex. Just see. These are examples. Brahma became attracted with his daughter. Lord Siva became attracted with the beauty of Mohini-murti, even in the presence of his wife. So this sex life can be controlled only by becoming Krsna conscious. Otherwise, there is no… The Bhagavata has discussed all this because in this material world there is no escape unless we become Krsna conscious, from the sex impulse. It is not possible. Yad-avadhi mama cetah krsna… When one is fully Krsna conscious, then he’ll reject all this nonsense: “What is this?” Bhavati mukha-vikarah susthu. He’ll spite (spit): “Eh! Get out. Is that enjoyment?” It is possible for a Krsna conscious… No other can do it.”
– Room Conversation January 7, 1977, Bombay
“However great a hero one may be in the material world, he can be immediately conquered by the lumps of flesh and blood known as the breasts of women.”
– SB 4.24.26
It is said the average man thinks of sex every 20 seconds. When a teenage boy was told this by his father, he replied, “Well Dad, what I am supposed to think of for the other 19 seconds?”
Let’s look at the sexual problem in our society today.
- 50% percent of men who claim to be good Christians view pornography at least once a month. 50% of the men attending a Promise Keepers event admitted to having looked at pornography within the last month.
- 65% of the men in Promise Keepers admit to a pornography addiction 100 percent of all rapes are committed by men.
- 50% of married men and 42% of married women will have an affair at some point in their marriage.
- Of all the websites on the internet, 60% are pornographic.
- 67% of 18 year old girls have had sex (it’s higher for boys).
- Of 30,000 women interviewed, 95% said they were sexually involved before marriage. It’s not much different in religious groups.
- 20,000 women (and children) prostitutes are coming into the US every year (sex slave industry).
- 1/3 of all divorce litigations are caused by online affairs.
- Most men don’t consider online affairs adultery.
- 1 out of 5 kids receive sexual solicitation online every year.
- Every second $3000 is spent on pornography in US.
- In 1960 5 % of babies were born out of wedlock. In 2000 over 30% are born out of wedlock.
- There are 55,000 cases of STD daily.
- In 2008, 750,000 women got pregnant and 1/3 had abortions.
Proverbs say: “For the lips of a forbidden women drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil. But in the end she is bitter as worm wood, sharp as a two edge sword and her feet go down to death. Keep far from her. Don’t go near her house.” The Bible says that when we are tempted sexually we should run.
Krishna joked with the Pandavas that your mother is the most beautiful woman and even in her old age she is attractive and you are probably also attracted to her. Prabhupada said we may see a woman as attractive, but we have nothing to do with her. It may be many years before we are not overly attracted to the form of a woman, but still today we can and must properly deal with that attraction.
“To pursue the transcendental path is more or less to declare war on the illusory energy. Consequently, whenever a person tries to escape the clutches of the illusory energy, she tries to defeat the practitioner by various allurements. A conditioned soul is already allured by the modes of material energy, and there is every chance of being allured again, even while performing transcendental disciplines.”
– Bhagavad-gita 6.37 Purport
“In the material world, the center of all activities is sex, and thus this material world is called maithunya-āgāra, or the shackles of sex life. In the ordinary prison house, criminals are kept within bars; similarly, the criminals who are disobedient to the laws of the Lord are shackled by sex life. Advancement of material civilization on the basis of sense gratification means increasing the duration of the material existence of a living entity. Therefore, this lust is the symbol of ignorance by which the living entity is kept within the material world. While one enjoys sense gratification, it may be that there is some feeling of happiness, but actually that so-called feeling of happiness is the ultimate enemy of the sense enjoyer.
– Bhagavad-gita 3.39 Purport
“Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura remarks that Mohinī-mūrti dragged Lord Śiva to so many places, especially to where the great sages lived, to instruct the sages that their Lord Śiva had become mad for a beautiful woman. Thus although they were all great sages and saintly persons, they should not think themselves free, but should remain extremely cautious about beautiful women. No one should think himself liberated in the presence of a beautiful woman.”
– SB 8.12.34
Most of our problems with sex desire stem from not taking sufficient precaution to protect ourselves. The story of Mohini murti is a message for us to not take things lightly. As mentioned in the beginning of this section, the purpose of our discussing the power of sexual desire is for us to acknowledge that if we are to deal with our sexual issues successfully, we cannot take them lightly.
Principle Two – Commitment. The Difference Between “I Want” and “I Will”
What you learn in this workshop will obviously not help you if you don’t apply it. The degree to which you apply what you learn will largely depend on the degree to which you are committed to sexual purity. The purpose of this section is to understand the absolute importance of commitment in achieving success in sexual purity and to increase our personal level of commitment.
There is a world of difference between the consciousness of “I want it” and “I am committed to get it”. The last section was meant to bring deeper awareness to the reality that the sexual battle is so great that you can’t win if you just want it or are just going to try to achieve it. Your endeavor has to have a greater level of commitment than this. Of course, this is true in all areas of life, but this is especially true in this area because here you are challenging the essence of material attraction, the attraction that even great sages fall prey to. Prabhupada said maya has two weapons, the breasts of women, by which men are victimized. As you know, these can be deadly weapons.
The goal of this section is to become more committed to sexual purity. We will do this by looking at the reasons we should become sexually pure with the understanding that we will not fully commit to something just because it’s the right thing to do, but we will fully commit when it’s something that we truly want. So we will look at the wonderful benefits of sexual purity with the goal of increasing our desire for it and also discuss the difference between wanting something and being committed to achieving it so we can see where we exist on this continuum.
Commitment means to entertain no other possibility than achieving your goal, just as when you make a marriage vow you eliminate the option of having an intimate relationship with any other woman. As you practice increasing your level of sexual purity, you will realize more and more how your commitment is fundamental to your success. This is because sexual attractions, desires and impulses are so strong that we can become overwhelmed by them at any time. It is our commitment to sexual purity that keeps us focused on the goal. It is often the only thing that protects us when sexual desire is “out of control.”
Let’s look at some of the benefits of sexual purity. According to yogic and ayurvedic texts there are enormous benefits to retaining semen. Some of these include:
The creation of Ojas sakti from retained semen.
Lucidness even in old age
Athletes know the health benefits of celibacy and refrain from sex before a game or match.
Exercise 1 – Write down the benefits that greater sexual purity would bring to your life. Write down the problems that sexual impurity has brought to your life and/or would bring to your life (this can include internal effects such as satisfaction/dissatisfaction, peacefulness/mental disturbance, happiness/distress).
Exercise 2 – Visualize a life free of sexual attractions. One way to increase the desire for sexual purity is to visualize what your life would be like without sexual distractions. Imagine for a moment that you see every woman as mother, you relate to women with tremendous respect, you do not entertain thoughts of enjoying women, you do nothing to impress them, and you are not distracted by their physical beauty. Think about how your life would be better, different, more fulfilling and happier if you were in this consciousness.
Now consider how this would affect your home life. How much better would your marriage be? How much better a parent and mentor to your kids would you be?
Now think how this would affect your Krishna consciousness. How much better would your spiritual life be if sexual attraction was no longer an obstacle for you?
Principle Three – I Can’t Do This On My Own
In this section we see how commitment and empowerment go together, and how sexual purity is impossible unless we turn our sexual challenges over to Krishna and depend on him to help us.
“Whatever a living entity desires, however insignificant he may be, is noted by the Lord, who gives him a chance to fulfill his desires. If the desires of the non-devotees are fulfilled, why not those of the devotee? A pure devotee simply wants to engage in the service of the Lord without material desire, and if he wants this within the core of his heart, where the Lord is situated, and if he is without ulterior motive, why should the Lord not understand? If a sincere devotee renders service to the Lord or to the arcā-vigraha, the form of the Lord, all his activities prove successful because the Lord is present within his heart and understands his sincerity. Thus if a devotee, with all confidence, goes on discharging the prescribed duties of devotional service, he will ultimately attain success.”
“As householder even there is some flaws in following the rules and regulations, it doesn’t matter. You should try your best and with Krishna’s help–Krishna will help you. If you keep your heart in that attitude, that you want to become a pure and sincere devotee, you must be a sincere devotee. And Krishna will help you. You have to keep your heart in that way, that is your business.
– Prabhupada’s Letters, 1971
You cannot achieve sexual purity without Krishna’s mercy. You require a power greater than your own to help you control your sexual urges. That power, of course, is Krishna. But you don’t become a conduit to that power unless you are committed to conquering your lust. That’s because Krishna guides your intelligence and transforms your consciousness according to what you want to achieve. If you want to achieve sexual purity, you will start to find women less interesting sexually. You will start to notice more of their nurturing qualities. You will have more respect for them as individuals and not see them as objects of your sexual gratification. This consciousness will come to you, like a conscious altering drug, because this is what you sincerely want and Krishna is reciprocating with that desire. You will find that sexual purity is possible.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Without a strong desire and commitment to sexual purity, Krishna reciprocates with you and thus women will appear especially attractive. The weaker the desire for purity, the more attractive women become.
To allow Krishna to work through you to achieve sexual purity, you must sincerely express your helplessness in achieving purity. You must pray that you can’t do it on your own and that you desperately need His help.
It’s obvious from studying sastra and from our own experience that everyone in the universe is captivated by sex desire, and thus it’s natural to feel helpless in our efforts to achieve sexual purity. Our prayer should be, “Krishna, I can’t do this on my own. If you don’t help me, if you don’t empower me, I will fail. I require a power greater than my own to control my sexual urges. I give up and turn myself over to You to help me control myself.”
Still, we don’t just sit back once we do this. Act like it all depends on you and pray like it all depends on Krishna. You don’t become a conduit to Krishna’s power unless you show Krishna, through your actions, how much you are committed.
What is difficult to do becomes easy if you remember Krishna. What is easy becomes difficult if you forget Him. A lame man can climb mountains, a dumb man can recite poetry, and a blind man can see stars in the sky. So the point is not to make it difficult on yourself by thinking, praying and living in a way that Krishna empowers you to control your sexual desires. Something as difficult as this can become easy by His grace.
“Krishna’s Mercy is always bestowed upon one who is sincerely serving Him. Our only shelter is Krishna. Stick to this principle and success is sure for you.”
– Prabhupada Letters, 1969
“Material entanglement is no problem; if Krishna was not so powerful that He can easily undo our material entanglement then there would be no need to follow the path of Krishna Consciousness. If you are sincere of purpose, there is no problem.”
– Prabhupada Letters, 1969
“Of course, Maya is very strong, there is a chance of our falling down at any moment, but if we are able to catch hold of Krishna’s lotus feet by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, then Krishna gives us all protection from the onslaught attack by Maya.”
– Prabhupada Letters, 1971
A godbrother of mine who has been struggling with sexual purity most of his life, gave us this advice. “Never give up. Always keep your goal in site and use failures as learning experiences that will take you closer to your goals of sexual purity. If you are sincere, you will improve over time. Your success is that you are moving towards your goal. As long as you are moving towards your goal, you are successful.”
Exercise 1 – Let us take a moment to pray to Krishna to help us and work through us today in this workshop and for the rest of our lives. Let us give ourselves over to Him and His will. Let us acknowledge that we can only be successful by connecting to a power that is greater than our own and greater than our problems.
Exercise 2 – Let us also pray for all the men here today that they can become more sexually pure.
Principle Four – Practice Tolerance
Prabhupada said the real sign of advancement is not your external position but how humble and tolerant you are. He simplified the entire sexual matter by saying just tolerate the itch. It is often helpful to see this huge problem is such a simplistic way. Seen in this way, we are having an entire workshop to learn how to tolerate the itch (of course, it’s a big itch). As crazy as it sounds, success in Krishna consciousness is largely dependent on tolerating this itch.
Every man who is or wants to be sexually pure must practice a high level of tolerance every day of his life. If we think I’ll become sexually pure when the itch calms down, we are deluding ourselves. Prabhupada said sex desire continues to the end of life, so we must be prepared to spend a life of sexual tolerance. It is difficult, but the alternative is more difficult to live with.
Principle Five – Your Sexual Challenges Are Normal
Unless you were raised from birth as a brahmacari and never lost semen except to procreate, or unless you are highly elevated in Krishna consciousness, it is totally natural for you to be attracted by the beauty of a woman. So you should not lament over how attracted you might be to a woman’s form, but rather lament if you are not properly managing how you deal with this attraction. For the vast majority of men, sexual purity means managing the attraction so it doesn’t become a stumbling block on our path to Krishna.
In many places Prabhupada said this attraction is natural, that everyone who has a body has sexual desire. One impersonalist proudly told Prabhupada he had no sex desires and Prabhupada said, “You should see a doctor.”
It is a fact that most men believe that their sexual challenges are greater than others, that their sexual obstacles are unique, and that nobody is as bad as they are. The fact that most men think this way proves the pervasiveness of sexual attractions. Don’t feel awkward or sick that you have this attraction. Rather take shelter of the processes of bhakti with increased enthusiasm as the best way to manage the problem. Remember, this is the same problem that all living entities face, from Brahma down to a germ.
Principle Six – An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
This theme underlies every principle taught in this workshop. Swami Sivananda in his book titled Brahmacarya writes:
“According to Yogic science, semen exists in a subtle form throughout the whole body. It is found in a subtle state in all the cells of the body. It is withdrawn and elaborated into a gross form in the sexual organ under the influence of the sexual will and sexual excitement. An Urdhvareta Yogi not only converts the semen into Ojas, but checks through his Yogic power, through purity in thought, word and deed, the very formation of semen by the secretary cells of the testes or seeds. This is a great secret. Allopaths believe that even in an Urdhvareta Yogi, the formation of semen goes on incessantly and that the fluid is reabsorbed into the blood. This is a mistake. They do not understand the inner Yogic secrets and mysteries. They are in the dark. Their Drishti or vision is concerned with the gross things of the universe. The Yogi penetrates into the subtle hidden nature of things through Yogic Chakshu or the inner vision of wisdom. The Yogi gets control over the astral nature of semen and thereby prevents the formation of the very fluid itself.”
When a man becomes sexually agitated, drops of semen are found in his urine. We hear in the Bhagavatam of men who discharged semen upon seeing an extraordinarily beautiful woman. So the more we can do to protect ourselves from doing and thinking of anything sexually stimulating, the easier our battle to achieve sexual purity will be. In other words, we often make it difficult on ourselves to be sexual pure by allowing sexual stimulus into our lives. You are not only what you eat, you are what you see, hear, feel, smell and ultimately you are what you think.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SEXUAL PURITY AND WHY WE SHOULD STRIVE FOR IT
What’s Good About the Sex Urge?
We are all faced with a series of opportunities disguised as unsolvable problems. Let’s look at how sexual desires are helping us become more Krishna conscious.
It allows us to give up something for Krishna that we are attached to.
It serves as an obstacle that is so strong that to cross over it we are forced to become fully determined and self-disciplined.
It forces us to realize our helplessness and thus to pray to Krishna for strength.
It forces us to realize our helplessness and that we can only overcome this obstacle through surrender.
It serves as a built in barometer of our Krishna consciousness.
If it didn’t exist, many men would not want to marry and thus take care of women.
If it didn’t exist, there would be no continuation of the species.
Krishna makes us suffer, or at least leaves us empty, when we try to enjoy sex in order to teach us that the highest enjoyment comes from serving Him not from competing with Him. He is the supreme enjoyer, and the highest enjoyment he exhibits is with the gopis.
It forces us to take this problem in a positive way. “I am happy to face problems in Krishna’s service.”
Sexual desire is always there when Krishna is absent.
Exercise – In what ways is or can your sexual desires help you become more Krishna conscious?
THE PRACTICES OF SEXUAL PURITY
Your First Line of Defense – Control Your Eyes
“The creator has constructed women in such a way that their beautiful voices and movements and the beautiful features of their hips, their breasts, and the other parts of their bodies attract the members of the opposite sex, both on earth and on other planets, and awaken their lusty desires. Captivated by the material movements of women, he wants to remain in this material world. Thus one’s promotion to the spiritual world is checked simply by seeing the beautiful bodily structure and movements of women.”
– SB 5.2.6
We touch, caress, undress, or rape women with our eyes. Controlling the eyes is fundamental to sexual purity (and also a symptom of it). Men are wired to look at beautiful women. Men enjoy women through their eyes (which is why porn is popular).
It easiest to resist temptation at the stage of contemplation – “dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ.” It’s more difficult to resist at the attachment stage.- “saṅgas teṣūpajāyate.” And when you reach the lust stage it’s usually too late – “saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ.” So we must nip it in the bud on the level of contemplation.
dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ
kāmāt krodho ’bhijāyate
While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
– Bhagavad-gita 2.62
Controlling your eyes is sometimes referred to as bouncing your eyes. In the Bible it is said that Job made a covenant with his eyes not to look at women. Jesus said, if your eye causes you to sin, cut it out. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
Bilvamangala Thakura realized how much trouble his eyes got him into so he cut them out. Some of you may have to cut out your TV or computer.
When you begin this practice, you’ll notice the pervasiveness of pictures that you need to bounce your eyes away from. You’ll start to see pictures of beautiful women on packages of this and that and realize that you often look at these pictures for longer than you should. You’ll become more conscious of the beautiful and seductive womae in magazine articles and ads, in catalogs, on TV commercials, etc. and how you’re being affected by them. You’ll begin to notice that the longer you look, the more your mind tends to fantasize about that woman. Better than complaining that sexual desires are so difficult to control, realize how much you unknowingly fan those sexual flames. The joke in Sexaholics Anonymous is that I was just glancing at the Victoria’s Secret catalog to make sure this is the magazine I am not supposed to look at.
When a man and his beautiful wife pass you by on the street, who are you looking at? When a beautiful girl walks by you at the post office while you are getting your mail, where do your eyes go? If you are at your friend’s house and his wife is beautiful, do you ever get distracted by her beauty? If you just learn to control your eyes, you are well on your way to success.
Maybe you don’t notice this because by definition a habit is an unconscious behavior. But when you practice bouncing your eyes you begin to notice the degree to which you have not been bouncing your eyes. The beauty of this practice is that if you seriously do this for a few months, you develop the habit of automatically turning your eyes away.
Sometimes women just appear in front of us and thus we find ourselves looking at them. Bouncing the eyes means to not take a second, third or fourth look.
“In the same way that Viśvāmitra Muni was attracted by the tinkling bangles of Menakā, Prince Āgnīdhra, upon hearing the tinkling bangles of Pūrvacitti, immediately opened his eyes to see her beautiful movements as she walked. As he opened his lotus like eyes, he could immediately see that the Apsarā was present by his side.”
– SB 5.2.5
When we allow ourselves to contemplate the features of a woman, sexual samskaras are impressed in our heart and remain there for days, months, or years – possibly even lifetimes. These contribute to the agitation that produces what we experience as above normal (or uncontrollable) sexual desire. We read how semen exists in a subtle form throughout the body, but takes on its gross form when stimulated through sexual thoughts. The eyes are the greatest stimulant for men. The eyes must be your fist line of defense.
This practice is taught in the Gita 2.58
yadā saṁharate cāyaṁ
kūrmo ’ṅgānīva sarvaśaḥ
tasya prajñā pratiṣṭhitā
One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.
Pornography Is Anything That Stimulates You Sexually
If hearing a woman’s voice in any way attracts your mind, that woman is a form of pornography for you. For example you might be speaking to an unknown woman on the phone and be imagining that she is beautiful or feeling some attraction to her because of her beautiful voice. If seeing a sari clad woman doing devotional service attracts you (not to service but to her beauty), that’s a form of pornography for you. Thinking of a woman in your heart as anything other than mother, sexual fantasizing, staring at a beautiful woman, staring at a picture of a beautiful woman, unnecessarily speaking to an attractive woman, hearing rock music, watching movies, being at the beach, reading a romance novel, i.e. anything that stimulates you sexually, even if only subtly, is a form of pornography for you. We feed the fire and then wonder why sexual desire is so strong. It’s already strong enough without feeding the fire, but it becomes intolerable when we feed it.
The more you become tuned into this, the more you will see what is affecting you and how deeply you are getting affected. The more you see what is affecting you, the more you can root those influences out of your life. The more you do this, the easier you will find it to be sexual pure.
And if you don’t do this, how will you help your kids or anyone else fight the battle they will eventually face.
No Cultured Man Will Look at a Naked Woman
Prabhupada said that going naked is animal life. Thus looking at pornography or imagining what a woman looks like without clothes is the mentality of animals and uncultured men. The kurus were condemned as low class men for attempting to strip Draupadi. No cultured man would allow this, what to speak of look at her if she were without clothes. Prabhupada said that we should not even see ourselves naked.
Images of every naked woman you have ever seen are burned into your consciousness. (According to vedic culture, any woman you see naked you must marry.)
Pornographic images get stamped in the mind through chemical hormones released through arousal. (These impressions are called samskaras.) Since those images may remain within us for years, we are obviously meant to reduce the amount of sexual images both external and internal that enter our hearts if we are going to be able to practice sexual purity.
“It may be argued that even while closing one’s eyes, while dreaming or while living in a solitary place, one may remember or contemplate sense gratification. Such an experience, however, is due to previous sense gratification that one repeatedly saw and heard about. When one restricts the senses from their objects, especially from intimate contact with women, the mind’s material propensity will slacken and, like a fire without fuel, eventually die.”
– SB 11.26.23 Purport
In addition, by exposing yourself to sexual stimulus and images, you are dishonoring your wife or future wife because your sexual expectations are become distorted or unreal. You are developing sexual fantasies about sex that have nothing to do with what your sexual relationship with your wife is meant to be. In other words, you carry the effects of your abnormal sexual habits into marriage (or you bring these into an existing marriage). Shouldn’t you live with your future mates or your wife in mind. Every time you are tempted to a sexual thought or vision, it’s sobering to think that you are dishonoring your wife or future wife. Plus, most women practically have nervous breakdowns when they find out their husband is looking at pornography
Pornography is saying to you, “I can get all I want from a girl without giving anything of myself. The girl exists solely for my enjoyment.” This is the very belief and mentality we are trying to give up and pornography simply reinforces it. It brings the woman down solely an impersonal position, a sexual slave. Then it leads to masturbation, and masturbation is all about me and my satisfaction and my sexual fantasies. In fact, some men prefer masturbation to sex with their wives because they prefer to live in their sexual fantasy world.
Sometimes you’ll masturbate thinking I just need to get it out of my system. But most of the time you are not getting it out of your system but are putting it in your system.
Be Brutally Honest With Yourself
To become more sexually pure, it’s essential to be more perceptive about where you are going off in your thoughts, more perceptive than you have been. What are you really thinking when you are “innocently” looking at a woman (in person, in a picture, in a movie, etc.). Usually when a man appreciates the beauty of a woman, there is a desire to enjoy that woman, even if he doesn’t recognize it (otherwise why would he look at her for more than a second). If you notice this about yourself, you can begin to control yourself sexual thoughts on the most subtle levels.
Also, notice if you are doing anything with a motive to impress a woman. At one time in Brazil the men wanted to remove all women from their temples. Hrdayananda Maharaj jokingly said, “Then who will the men perform for?”
Draw the Line (Way Before the Temptation Point)
Sexual attraction and activity are in the mode of passion. The more we live in passion, the more we battle with sexual desire. If we live a more sattvic life, sex desire will lessen. As Laksmana drew a line around Sita for protection, we need to draw lines around our life for sexual protection, lines that we know if we cross we definitely will be in trouble. Ideally those lines should keep us in the mode of goodness.
Those lines should be drawn well before the temptation point (the attachment stage of three stages of contemplation, attachment and lust). If those lines are firmly in place and you are committed to honor them, red flags will naturally pop up in your mind when you get close to your lines, red flags that might have rarely or never come up before. This allows you to fight your battle from a stronger position, a position in which your intelligence is still operating at full capacity. As you get to the attachment stage, the power of your intelligence decreases. At the lust stage intelligence is lost and thus you have no defense.
“When a beautiful man and a beautiful woman unite together and embrace one another, how within these three worlds can they check their sexual relationship?”
– SB 9.14.20
Anytime we do something we later regret, emotion, attachment or lust were so intense at the time that intelligence failed to function. Thus if we can live a life in a way that in all circumstances our intelligence functions well, we can protect ourselves from sexual impurity. In other words, if you stay within your lines, your intelligence will be able to guide you.
Don’t flirt with the line. Don’t think, “How unholy can I be without being unholy.”
Here’s a story that illustrates how we often take sexual purity with a nonchalant attitude and thus subject ourselves to sexual stimulus as if it’s not big deal. A father walked by the TV in his home while his teenage boys were watching and was aghast to see a sexual seen. He said what’s going on here and they said get off it, there’s hardly any sex in this movie. He decided to give them a life lesson and baked some brownies for them. The brownies tasted funny so they asked if he used Mom’s recipe. He said he did but he added just a little of one other ingredient. They asked what was that ingredient because these don’t taste good? He said that he went into the backyard and got some dog poop and put some in, but hardly any.
Exercise 1 – Draw your lines around your sexual standards. You can also mark secondary lines so if you cross the first line (the first line must be far beyond the temptation level) you’ll have another safeguard. After this is done, mark the lines that are the most dangerous or disastrous for you to cross.
Tip. Since sex desire is raja guna, draw lines around the modes of passion in your life.
Exercise 2 – How can you bring more goodness into your life? Think of areas such as cleanliness, eating, working, sadhana, etc.
Woman As Mother – You Are Your Analogies
Since any woman other than your wife is to be treated as mother, any woman other than your wife that you are having sexual attraction towards, be it to lust after her, to see her naked, to have an affair with, etc. means you are doing that with your mother.
Women other than your wife do not belong to you. Enjoying them with your eyes is stealing. Jesus said that to lust after a woman is to commit adultery.
We see life through our analogies. Woman as mother is an analogy. Women as instruments for sexual gratification is another analogy. Choose your analogies wisely because they tend to mold your consciousness.
Sexual Restraint Through Visualization
Exercise – Visualize either a typical scenario in which you have difficulty remaining sexually pure or a scenario that is not typical but in which you would have difficulty remaining sexually pure, i.e. if you were on the road and a beautiful woman invited you to spend time with her. As you visualize this scenario(s), visualize acting in a sexually pure way. What do you do? What do you say? What things do you do to prevent any sexual improprieties? Do this exercise as often as you wish in as many different scenarios as you wish. It trains you so that when (or if) you are in similar situations you are practiced to act in the proper way.
The Bible says flee from sexual morality. We can practice fleeing in the mental world to train ourselves to flee in the physical world.
Beliefs – Getting to the Root of the Problem
Beliefs are what we feel certain about, be they true or not. Beliefs make us comfortable because they justify our actions. You can understand a person’s beliefs by observing their actions (a thief believes stealing is ok, a husband who works 14 hours a day believes work is more important than family, and so on). So you can ask yourself, what must I believe about women to act the way I do towards them?
- What are your beliefs about women and how do they affect you?
- Determine which of those beliefs are helping you and which are hurting you and write them down in two columns – helpful and hurtful.
- Replace hurtful beliefs with helpful or empowering beliefs.
- Write affirmations from your helpful beliefs.
Here are examples of affirmations
I treat women with respect
I see women as servants of Krishna
I relate to women as mother and honor the motherly nature in women
I see myself as a servant of women
I am kind to women
I see women as self respecting, valuable human beings.
Respect Women and Love Yourself
The Bible says illicit sex is a sin against yourself. Sexual attraction beyond marriage (and sometimes in marriage) shows a lack of respect to both the woman and yourself. Sastra teaches to always respect women and that only bad comes to you by disrespecting them.
Of course, for initiated devotees, illicit sex also shows a lack of respect to your commitments to guru and Krishna.
Exercise – Imagine you were a woman and guys were lusting over you. How do you feel being lusted over by these men knowing that they only want your body and don’t care about you? Or you could imagine lusty women doing this to you. (Do I hear you say “yuck?”).
Any activity that moves us further from self-realization can be regarded as a reflection of a lack of self-love, as a manifestation of envy of the self, envy of our intrinsic, sublime spiritual qualities. This lack of self-love moves us to act in ways not aligned with our highest self-interest.
To increase our self-love as it relates to sexual purity, it is helpful to choose actions that are healthy for all dimensions of our being. Notice in your life what you do that is self-destructive and how you can change that into something more self-loving. Perhaps you even have beliefs about yourself that you are not worth the trouble to care for yourself well and thus give easily into self-destructive actions. Any activity that you find distressing, not satisfying, or perhaps shameful may have its roots in a lack of self-nurturing.
Exercise– Do you see your sexual impurities in any way being nourished by a lack of self care or love? (This may not be necessarily true for you.) If so, what are things you can do in your life to be more self-loving or what changes in your consciousness are needed for you to be more self-loving?
Reference: Go to my newletter titled Killer of the Soul
Meditate on the Lord’s Lilas with the Gopis
When Krishna enjoys with the gopis, we also enjoy. But when we try to enjoy our own gopis, we suffer. (Prabhupada says there is still suffering even when we try to enjoy a woman according to religious principles). So when you see a picture of Krishna with Radharani or the gopis, the mantra to remember is, “Don’t try this at home.”
Prabhupada told us to see all women as Krishna’s gopis meant for His enjoyment and to try to engage all women in Krishna’s service, not try to enjoy them.
The Power of Sadhana and the Holy Names
The sastras state that the holy name has unlimited power to deliver any living entity. Thakura Haridas set the example that he was not allured by a beautiful prostitute, or even maya herself, because of taking full shelter of the holy names.
Ultimately our goal is not to stop looking at women or porn, our goal is to become pure. We’ll naturally stop looking at these things when we become pure. If the mind is filled with sublime divine thoughts through japa, prayer, study of scriptures, deity worship, etc., sex desire will be de-energized. This is called sexual sublimation. Sexual energy is converted into higher channels, to spiritual energy, to ojas sakti.
When men ask me why I practice celibacy, I tell them just think how much energy you would conserve if you didn’t think about women. An unbiased person can see how much thoughts of women occupy his consciousness thus taking valuable time and energy from him.
“Therefore she (maya) tests very rigidly to see whether we have taken to Kṛṣṇa consciousness to disturb Kṛṣṇa or are actually serious. That is Māyā’s business. So in the beginning there will be tests by Māyā, and we shall feel so many disturbances while making progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But if we follow the rules and regulations and chant regularly as prescribed, then we shall remain steady. If we neglect these principles, Māyā will capture us immediately. Māyā is always ready. We are in the ocean, and at any moment we may be disturbed.
– Teachings of Queen Kunti
By churning the nectar of Krishna consciousness more, you will have to struggle less. Struggle is needed but sometimes struggle becomes focused so much on what you are struggling to overcome that you are constantly thinking of what you are trying to forget. What you resist persists. Sometimes intense struggle indicates the need for less struggle with the problem directly and more absorption in Krishna consciousness. A higher taste is the real solution.
Be around those who are sexually pure. You’ll get infected with their good qualities. Mahaprabhu said that to associate with men attracted to women is more contaminating than associating with women directly.
Bad company corrupts good character.
Three things affect your karma: the stars, the environment, and association. You may have strong sexual tendencies because of your karma, but proper environment and good association will weaken those tendencies.
SECTION FOUR – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
Failing to Succeed
The fact that you came to this workshop means you are willing to face your greatest battle. That in itself is success. Prabhupada knew that many of us would fail from time to time in our attempts to be sexually pure. But he was much more concerned that we would fail in our determination to continue the fight than fail to be cent per cent sexually pure all the time. He knew that sexual purity would eventually come if we remained determined to achieve it.
Failure can be discouraging. After you fall down repeatedly, you might feel that you don’t deserve to do sadhana, service, etc. But if we learn from our failures and become more determined to not make those same mistakes, failure can also encourage us and build our determination. Prabhupada said that without enthusiasm everything is finished. So maya’s fundamental weapon is discouragement, because when discouraged we give up. Remember that just because we fail doesn’t mean we are a failure.
This workshop was meant to plant a seed of desire in your heart for increased sexual purity. This will be perhaps the most difficult task you face in life, but one of the most rewarding as you win the battle. If you leave this workshop worried that you won’t be able to do it, it’s likely that’s what will happen. But if you leave this workshop with the intention to become a little more sexually pure month after month and year after year, then that’s what will happen, even if you sometimes fail. You are not going to becoming more sexually pure just because it’s the right thing to do; you’ll become more sexually pure because that’s the way you want to live your life, because it’s something that is valuable to you. So make it a priority. Also contemplate often the benefits of sexual purity as this will serve as a great impetus and thus make applying the practices and principles in this course a lot easier.
Reference – Go to my newsletter titled Failing to Succeed
Create a Buddy System
Create any kind of support system with your partner. Some examples are:
www.covenanteyes.com allows a friend of your choice to get a read out of all the websites you visit.
Talk to him daily and tell him how you are doing sexually. You know if you slip you will have to tell him, and that alone may prevent you from slipping. And if you do slip, you have someone with whom to talk.
Exercise – Discuss with your partner how you would like to support one another.
Create a Sexual Support Group
Like soldiers in a platoon, we need to be there for each other, be on the lookout for each other, remind each other about sexual purity and to support each other from the enemy’s attack.
We can do this through group meetings, teleconferences or in a variety of other ways. Let us discuss if we would like to meet again.
Also, you can create a support through existing men’s group.
And another idea is to create a temple-based support group in various areas (sex, marriage, money, etc.).
On my website mahatmadas.com I have several newsletters archived under newsletters that deal with many related topics, especially the article: If You Want to Play, You’ve Got to Pay. If you need to contact me, then you can write at mahatmadasa@gmail or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of the resources below, I have only read the Sexaholics Anonymous literature and the book titled, Every Man’s Battle, both and I found both good. I can’t personally recommend the others because I haven’t read them. They were recommended by pastors who teach sexual purity.
Sexaholics Anonymous (order the white book)
Sexual compulsive anonymous
Sex and love addicts anonymous
Internet filter: www.safeyes.com
Opendns.com. A porn filter for the internet that works through your router to protect all computers and devices that use that router.
Hedges by Jerry B. Jenkins Loving your marriage enough to protect it.