Home > The Book > 11. The Sex Issue Revisited

Chapter Eleven
The Sex Issue Revisited

Leaving aside here the survival instinct, which touches on renunciation less directly, let us discuss again how the sincere renunciate ought to deal with this second-most-basic instinct, which, for most people, is paramount in the vice-like grip it has on their consciousness: sex desire. Paramhansa Yogananda called this “the greatest delusion.”

What would one do, if he suddenly found an elephant in his bedroom? For many renunciates, that is not far from what it feels like suddenly to have sexual desire raging in their bodies like a tempest.

There are two aspects to the sex instinct. The first is plain animal lust. The second is love — selfless and self-giving. Love, obviously — for one who is seeking liberation — is the better aspect. Love alone is spiritually acceptable. Even in human love, however, there is personal involvement of some kind, which is always limiting to the ego.

The more one allows sex thoughts to enter his mind, the greater will be its hold on ego. Even without sex, however, human love is centered in attachment of some kind. And where there is attachment, there is ego-bondage. This is not, truly speaking, love at all.

I once said to a great woman saint (Ananda Moyi Ma) in India, “All of us [my fellow disciples in America and I] feel great love for you.” She replied with appreciation, but impersonally, “There is no love outside of God’s love.” And God’s love is forever impersonal. This is to say that, although God cares deeply for all of us, individually, He wants nothing from us in return, and can wait for ages, if necessary, for us to return His love selflessly and merge back in Him. Human love is particular; it is for one person, or for a limited number of people. It cannot but be to some extent selfish. Being founded on the emotions, it is circumscribed by personal feelings. And it excludes from its reckoning the needs of mankind in general.

Only divine love is completely impersonal, impartial, self-giving, and concerned for the well-being of others.

Sex affirms the ego, and thereby strengthens it. Its association with love is false. The Spanish expression for human love states it more honestly: “Yo te quiero — I want you.”

This ego-affirmation is another reason why the renunciate path is easier for single persons. To seek the easier way, moreover, is by no means cowardly! One needs every ounce of his own strength to reach the divine goal.

A married person finds it difficult, if not impossible, to feel truly impersonal love for his spouse. Always there lurks the thought, “He (or she) is mine!” Receiving love in return, he/she thinks “I — me — mine!”

“I love you! You love me!” Is that not the theme of innumerable popular songs? Where, in that thought, is the conquest of one’s own ego? The more that personal attraction and attachment enter the picture, the more difficult it is to break ego’s bonds.


Chapter 12: The Stages to Sannyas

Autobiography of a Yogi

A Renunciate Order for the New Age

Nayaswami Kriyananda

Order the book (when available)