Sex is the distinction between male and female. It is a mental creation. It is a Kalpana or imagination. There is no sex in the five elements of which the body is composed. The human body is nothing but a combination of the five elements. How, then, has the sex idea come? The sex idea is illusory. It is a trick of the mind. It is jugglery of Maya. It is a notion. The sex-idea is deep-rooted. Man can never think that he is a female. A female can never think that she is a male.

For a liberated sage, this world is full of Brahman only. For a passionate man, this world is full of woman. He falls in love with a wooden post if it is wrapped in a silken gown or a beautiful cloth with attractive borders and a petticoat. Passion is a terrible curse. When a man is under the influence of passion, excitement and the sex impulse or force destroy his understanding and reason, overwhelm his mind and make him utterly helpless.

A householder who has rightly understood the magnitude of the sufferings of Samsara tries to get rid of the Samsaric life. Whereas, a bachelor full of passion imagines that he is very miserable on account of the absence of a wife and children and tries to get married. This is Maya. This is a mental trick. Beware.

A passionate bachelor is ever thinking: “When can I live with a young wife?” A dispassionate householder in whom Viveka [dispassion] has dawned is ever thinking: “When can I disentangle myself from the clutches of my wife and retire into the forests for contemplation on Atman?” You must think over the difference.

Thousands of young graduates and young doctors come to me with earthen pots in their hands, attired in orange-coloured robes, in quest of caves in Uttarakashi and Gangotri for deep Meditation and practice of Pranayama [transmutation]. And some young research students in science and some Rajakumars go to Punjab and Kashmir in silk suits with stiff collars and ties in search of girls for marriage. Is there pleasure or pain in this world? If there is pleasure, why do the young educated men retire into forests? If there is pain, why do young men run after wealth, women and position? Mysterious is Maya! Mysterious is Moha [attachment]! Try to understand the riddle of life and the riddle of the universe.

Beauty is a mental concept

Maya [illusion] havocs through the imagination of the mind. Woman is not beautiful, but the imagination is beautiful. Sugar is not sweet, but the imagination is sweet. Food is not palatable, but the imagination is palatable. Man is not weak, but the imagination is weak. Understand the nature of Maya and mind and become wise. Curb this imagination of the mind by Vichara or right thinking and rest in Brahman wherein there is neither imagination nor thought.

Beauty and ugliness are false imaginations of the mind. Mind itself is a false illusory product. Conceptions of the mind also must therefore be false. They are all like a mirage in the desert. What is beautiful for you is ugly for another. Beauty and ugliness are relative terms. Beauty is only a mental concept. It is only a mental projection. It is only a civilized man who talks much of the symmetry of form, good features, graceful gait, elegance of manners and graceful form. An African Negro has no idea of all these things. Real beauty is in the Self only. Beauty resides in the mind and not in the objects. Mango is not sweet; the idea of mango is sweet. It is all Vritti [mental function]. It is all mental deception, mental conception, mental creation, mental Srishti. Destroy the Vritti; beauty vanishes. The husband stretches his own idea of beauty in his ugly wife and finds her very beautiful through passion. Shakespeare has rightly expressed this in his “Mid-summer-Night’s Dream”:

“Cupid is painted blind. It finds Helen’s beauty in the brow of Egypt”.

The Indriyas [senses] and the mind delude you at every moment. They are your real enemies. Beauty is a product of mental creation. Beauty is a product of the imagination. An ugly woman appears very beautiful only in the eyes of her husband. Where is the beauty, my dear friends, in the wrinkled skin of an old woman? Where is the beauty when your wife is bedridden? Where is the beauty when your wife gets angry? Where is the beauty in the dead body of a woman? The beauty in the face is a mere reflection. The real undecaying Beauty of beauties—the fountain of beauties—can be found in the Atman only. You have ignored the substance and caught hold of a broken piece of glass. What a serious blunder have you committed by your impure thoughts, impure mind, impure Buddhi and impure way of living! Have you realized your mistake? Will you open your eyes at least now?

A beautiful wife is very charming. She is very sweet when she is young, when she smiles, when she puts on beautiful dress, when she sings and plays on the piano or the violin, when she dances in the ballroom. But she is horrible to look at when she loses her temper, when she quarrels with her husband for not getting silk sarees and gold necklace, when she suffers from acute abdominal colic or some such disease and when she becomes old.

For a few years Nature bestows on woman her gift of special beauty, charm and elegance in order that she may capture the hearts of men. Beauty is skin-deep only. It will soon fade, the hair will become gray and the skin will soon be filled with wrinkles. The tailor, the weaver, the embroiderer, the toilet maker and the goldsmith make us beautiful for a few seconds. Man, in his excitement, infatuation and delusion, forgets this point. This is Maya [illusion]. Never trust this Maya. Beware. O man, wake up! Find out the Beauty of beauties, which is within you, which is your innermost Self. O woman! Sing like Mira and merge in Mira’s Girdhar Nagar.

Have you ever paused and considered what constitutes the basic’ ladies who excite lust in you? A bundle of bones, flesh, blood, urine, faecal matter, pus, perspiration, phlegm and other dirt! Will you allow such a bundle to become the master of your thoughts? Will you exchange your birthright of eternal peace and happiness for such a fleeting, filthy mess of pottage? Shame on you! Were your will, your reason and your discrimination given to you only for such an inglorious end? Have you not heard and seen that physical beauty is only skin-deep and at the mercy of every passing accident, illness and year?

Misleading descriptions of a woman’s beauty

Poets have exaggerated the beauty of ladies. They are misguided persons who put young men on the wrong path. Descriptions like “damsels with bewitching eyes”, “face like the moon”, “rosy cheeks and honeyed lips” are false and imaginary. Where is the beauty in the dead body, in old women, in sick ladies? Where is the beauty when a lady is infuriated? You are aware of this and yet you cling to their bodies! Are you not confirmed fools! This is due to the force of Maya [illusion]. How mysterious is the power of Maya and Moha [attachment; infatuated love]! The beauty of a woman is false, artificial and decaying. Real beauty is undecaying and eternal. The Atman [Innermost] is the source of all beauties. His beauty is everlasting and undecaying. It is ornaments, silken clothing with fanciful borders, dressing of the hair with golden hairpins, flowers, application of powder to their faces, lipstick to the lips and unguent to their eyes that lend a temporary decoration and artificial glittering to the women. Deprive them of their face powders, their ornaments and gaudy dress, and ask them to wear a simple white cloth without any border. Where is the beauty now? The beauty of the skin is a delusion only.

Poets describe in their fanciful, passionate moods that honey flows from the lips of a young, beautiful lady. Is this really true? What do you actually see? The stinking pus from the sockets of the teeth that are affected with dreadful pyorrhoea, the nasty and abdominal sputum from the throat, and foul saliva dribbling on the lips at night—do you call all this as honey and nectar? And yet, the passionate, lustful and sex-intoxicated man swallows these filthy excretions when he is under the sway of excitement! Is there anything more revolting than this? Are not these poets culpable, when they have given such a false description, when they have caused great havoc and damage to passionate young men?

Behind the shining skin there is the raw flesh. Behind the smiles of a young lady are hidden frown and anger. Behind the rosy lips lie germs of diseases. Behind the gentleness and kind words are hidden harsh words and abuses. Life is fleeting and uncertain, O passionate man! Realize the beauty of the Atman [the Innermost] in the heart. The body is the abode for diseases. The net of affection in this world is strengthened by long indulgence. It has entwined its thick knotted twine around your neck.

Minus skin, minus dress, minus ornaments, woman is nothing. Just imagine for a moment that her skin is removed. You will have to stand by her side with a long stick to drive away crows and vultures. Physical beauty is superficial, illusory and fading. It is skin-deep. Do not be deluded by external appearances. It is the jugglery of Maya [illusion]. Go to the source, Atman [the Innermost], the beauty of beauties, the everlasting beauty.

Passion blinds the intellect

Sexual pleasure is an illusion. It is Bhranti Sukha. It is no real happiness at all. It is mere nerve tickling. All worldly pleasures appear as nectar in the beginning. They become poison in the end. Reflect well, O Saumya, my beloved son! Do not be led away by impulses and passion. Nobody has been benefited in this world by this Maya [illusion]. People weep in the end. Ask any grown-up householder whether he finds even an iota of happiness in this world.

The fly runs towards the fire or lamp thinking that it is a flower and gets burnt up. Even so, the passionate man runs towards a false beautiful form thinking that he can get there the real happiness and gets himself burnt up in the fire of lust.

Just as the silkworm entangles itself in its self-woven cocoon, so also, you have entangled yourself in the meshes of your own desires. Tear the meshes by the knife of dispassion and soar high in the realm of eternal peace on the wings of devotion and knowledge.

A passionate man is a real blind man. Though he may be an intellectual man, he becomes blind when he is under the sway of sexual excitement. His intellect proves to be of no use when he suffers from this kind of blindness. Pitiable is his lot! Satsanga [association with spiritual people], prayer, Japa [mantra repetition], enquiry and Meditation will eradicate this dire disease and bestow on him the eye of wisdom.

There is no sex in the elements. There is mind in the body, which is made up of these elements. There is Kalpana [imagination] in the mind. And that Kalpana or desire for lust is sex desire. If you kill this mind, which is a bundle of desires, you kill lust and everything. Kill that Kalpana. You will have no lust then. You have killed lust.

The sex idea is a mental creation. The whole Maya [illusion] or Avidya [ignorance] is nothing but the body-idea or the sex idea. The whole spiritual Sadhana [practice] is calculated to destroy this one idea. The extinction of this one idea alone is Moksha [liberation]!

Quoted from Brahmacharya by Swami Sivananda (1934, published by the Divine Life Society)

Quote of the Day

"The student is not ready until he seeks truth and honesty in all things."