Sin of the mind, depart far away! Why do you utter improper suggestions? Depart from this place! I do not want you! Go to the trees and the forests! My mind will remain here along with our homes and our cattle.
Atharva Veda 6.45.1. VE, P. 48
Controlling The Forces
There are three kinds of adultery: physical (the worst); emotional (very distressing); and mental (the secret kind). Physical adultery breaks up marriages, destroys homes and creates distraught children. Even if it is forgiven and the couple reunites, it is not forgotten. There is always wondering, “Will it happen again? Did it happen last night?” Emotional adultery is quite common. In the workaday world, husbands often become more attached to their female employees and associates than to their wives. Working wives become more emotionally attached to their boss and fellow workers than to their husbands. It is understandable. After all, she spends more waking hours with men at work than with her husband.
I was asked, “How should a Hindu man relate to women in the workplace and maintain his religious life?” Very carefully, very carefully. It’s important that you remember that you have a path to follow and you are in the workplace to do your job, be friendly to everyone equally, not having favorites nor any likes or dislikes. Behavior should be professional. Professional behavior is detached behavior yet friendly behavior. The Tirukural reminds us, “The chivalry that does not look upon another’s wife is not mere virtue — it is saintly conduct” (148).
Mental adultery — that’s the secret culprit. Who knows what anyone is thinking? But the feeling is one of drifting away into a fantasy world, of deciding to become or not become emotionally or physically involved with someone other than one’s spouse.
But most devastating, most insidiously devastating, is mental adultery through pornography. The visualizations, the fantasies, the changes in sexual habits it produces and the secrecy all bundled into one creates a distance between spouses, unless of course they are enjoying the same pornographic episodes. A verse in the Atharva Veda implores, “Sin of the mind, depart far away! Why do you utter improper suggestions? Depart from this place! I do not want you! Go to the trees and the forests! My mind will remain here along with our homes and our cattle” (6.45.1. VE, P. 489). It is hard to believe such verses were composed thousands of years ago. Human problems haven’t changed that much, have they?
The Sanatana Dharma is the oldest religion in the world. Therefore, its followers are the oldest people in the world, having fully explored sex (the Kama Sutra is the oldest known erotic text) and learned how to control it; established a system of sanctified marriages and found out how to keep interpersonal relations going unhindered. India’s culture spread all through Asia, and because of it one rarely sees any affection shown in public — kissing, hugging, hand-holding, touching or feeling. One might wonder how such a large population can be accounted for!
Hindus know that the sexual force is an energy, either under control or out of control. When controlled, it creates peace, well-being and health and provides a mental, emotional, physical balance. When out of control, just the opposite is the case: confusion, secrecy, stress, fear of discovery, lingering guilt, which creates misunderstandings and unresolvable situations.
The Psychic Ties of Intimacy
Adultery is in the news today, not only in national but also international scandals. Television plots give permission for “sneaking around.” It is not uncommon, and many don’t give it a thought, for husbands to visit “ladies of pleasure” and pay for their services during their wife’s monthly retreat or many months of pregnancy — and, of course, on business trips. Yes, those business trips!
The South Indian ethical masterpiece, Tirukural, advises, “Among those who stand outside virtue, there is no greater fool than he who stands with a lustful heart outside another’s gate. Hatred, sin, fear and disgrace — these four will never abandon one who commits adultery” (142, 146).
The adulteress has a karma to bear that affects many generations of her relatives and friends, for she is psychically connected to every man with whom she has had intercourse. A mystic could see a fog-like psychic tube connecting their astral bodies that will not disintegrate for many years. The adulteress may have many of these tubes, especially if she is a woman for hire. A man is connected in the same way to all women he has been with. It is through these psychic tubes, which are like the umbilical cord connecting a baby to its mother, that the energies flow, and the karmas as well — good, bad and mixed.
A husband and wife who were both virgins at marriage have only a singular psychic tube through which energies pass between them. If their relationship is pure and they are intellectually and emotionally compatible, they automatically control their karmas of dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Their children are lovingly raised, because they are never entangled in family feuding. There is no fight involved, because no intruder has established a new psychic umbilical cord with either spouse, which would cause disruption between them and impending havoc to the children.
Once an astral-psychic tube is established between a man and a woman through sexual encounters, it becomes a telepathic channel, conveying thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is an important connection for married couples, tying them intimately together. Those who are married and stay faithful to their life companions know that it is possible to feel the spouse’s moods and emotions and even read his or her thoughts, all of which are conveyed through this psychic laser beam or subtle astral pranic channel. For those who have had sexual encounters with several of the opposite sex, the psychic connections become confusing. Small wonder they experience stress of which the cause eludes even the best psychiatrists. It would be like watching four, five or more TV programs at the same time, all day long and especially during the night.
The Costs Of Adultery
Now imagine a married woman working with men in a hospital or an engineering firm and a husband working as a computer programmer among women. Each is attracted to someone of the opposite sex, maybe because of karmas from a past life. Their emotional pranas move out of their bodies and connect with their workmates. Compatibility is established. Talking and laughing together become easy. When the “big happening” happens, as affairs so often do, the physical-mental-emotional-pranic exchange of energies forms an astral tube (nadi) which connects the two for a period of at least twelve years.
Through this nadi, the information conveyed is as subtle as: she sneezes and he coughs; he gets angry and she becomes pensive and sulks for no reason. Certainly no high-minded telepathic communication is happening as it maybe once did when the pranas were just forming a connection. Now, because they are psychically attached and pulling on each other in their secret affair, they become antagonistic toward each other. That’s why they say sexual intercourse outside wedlock ruins a relationship. They still have to work in the same office together and attend the same meetings, which were quite different when the flirting first began. Then when one, or both, turns a roving eye toward someone else, a feeling of jealousy comes up, and rejection. A good TV script, perhaps, but a disaster in real life.
Now let’s think of the adulterer’s wife, at home doing her daily chores, taking care of the children. How does she begin to feel? She becomes listless, uninspired, as he draws on her energies to feed the adulteress. The home becomes an empty place. She and the children are alone in a barracks, between walls that do not hold in love and compassion and kindness.
Indeed, adultery is one of the great wreckers of human relationships. Don’t dismiss it as irrelevant on the spiritual path, the path to liberation, or at least to getting a better birth in the next life. What is the healing when adultery has happened? It is necessary to perform some kind of penance that will sever the psychic tubes: maybe walking on fire or sleeping on a bed of nails for three days and nights, or performing kavadi with fifteen spears pierced through the flesh — three well-known public penances. One of Hinduism’s ancient lawbooks, the Manu Dharma Shastra, prescribes intense fasting, which in modern times would be fifteen to thirty-one days, under professional care. In the absence of true reconciliation, the best resolution is to live with the spouse like brother and sister under vows of celibacy. Those who don’t do something to mitigate the kukarmas and break the astral ties of adultery will suffer through the lives of their children, who will follow the patterns that they secretly set.
Adultery can be stopped on the mental plane. In fact, if it is not stopped there, watch out. It can be stopped on the emotional plane. Husbands, beware of secretaries more beautiful than your wife. Wives, beware of employers who may be more exciting than your husband. Pornography adulterers, you can turn off that computer and stop the pornography on the mental plane.
Finally, beware of the siren, the professional seducer, who is there, always there, when the wife is incapacitated or when the husband is on a business trip. They appear in many forms. There is always a price to pay. They may break up the marriage. Children may lose their mother or father. Guilt supersedes and far outlasts all temporary pleasure. Fidelity and infidelity are part of the human experience. The choice is yours which part of the human experience you want to experience
The Abyss of Pornography
Live and learn, live and learn. We learn something every day, and it is not always what we want to learn. Sometimes it is good for us to know, and other times not so good. It is difficult for us to speak of certain subjects. They are too sensitive, taboo, delicate and private, and so we avoid them. But it is necessary to understand and cope with these matters; and if father and grandmother are not speaking about them, then others must. Pornography is one. Not that it is bad in the sinful sense. Hinduism is too tolerant of sexuality to make such pronouncements. We can say it is neither good nor bad, but we can also say it does place big obstacles in relationships, including unexplainable misunderstandings leading to arguments. And it certainly can and does interfere with serious spiritual effort and progress. Those on the path of sadhana are admonished not to indulge in graphic, explicit sexual imagery, and if they are involved already, to give it up, just give it up. The porno path is a downhill path to be avoided. It is ever enticing but never fulfilling. I recently was told that pornography is addictive. I always understood that alcohol, tobacco and certain drugs are addictive, but to find out that pornography is addictive, that was something new for me.
Veterans on the porno path say it is more fun, more stimulating, more exciting and more satisfying than the wife waiting in the other room. This lonely life of low self-esteem centered around pornography slowly becomes habitual, an addiction that is difficult to overcome. Looking at the results in a porno addict’s life, we can see that sex on the Internet is engrossing, all consuming. They become reclusive, tight lipped, secretive, drawing away from humanity. After a cybersex session and expenditure of energies, the voyeur becomes sharp, even demanding, with his wife and the children. Guilt manifests in numerous ways. It has been my observation that addicts develop chronic lower back problems that cannot be cured by chiropractors or even be rightly diagnosed. When the lust, which is sex without love, takes over, the lower nature is unnaturally stimulated, not unlike a plague that has fallen upon us. I am told that one-third of those who use the Internet do so to view pornography, have phone sex and visit lewd chat rooms. “What is this world coming to?” elders exclaim. Well, cybersex has arrived for adults, young adults, children and, yes, some elders, too.
An even more serious problem is with sons and daughters who become addicted to this kind of vicarious stimulation. Most parents in the modern Hindu community work and get two paychecks every payday. They have little or no time at all to give to their children. The duty of watching after the children is often delegated to a baby-sitter, and the older children baby-sit when they are able. What goes on behind those closed doors, when the shades are down and the computer is on, nobody knows, and nobody is telling. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” seems to be the policy in most homes. Pornography is a secret thing, but all that is seen is carried forward in the mind as vivid images and then recreated in dreams and daytime fantasies long after the computer has been turned off.
During this past year, I have been delving into the lives of those among my international congregation who are addicted to blue movies, Internet sex sites and all the artificial modern means of stimulation. To say the least, interesting discoveries were made. The most hurtful of them all is a mature and sexually experienced man, accustomed to pornography, marrying an innocent virgin girl who absolutely cannot perform the way he expects and who is then humiliated, beaten or burned, divorced and traded in for another. This crisis is often blamed on dowry. Or it’s claimed she really wasn’t a virgin, so he had to send her back to her family. One would only know the truth about his actions from an unabashed and totally honest confession by the young man. There is much to be said for early marriage, before the boy is exposed to the sexual fantasy world and all its temptations, before he develops habit patterns that absolutely cannot be broken by the seven matrimonial steps around the sacred fire. Parents should question their children’s personal life before arranging a marriage.
Psychologically, pornography is closely linked to adultery. Maybe the other woman is not warm flesh and bones, but she is an unforgettable, reoccurring image within his mind, taking up the mental real estate. She appears quite alive in his dreams — more beautiful, more accomplished, more seductive, more enchanting, more alluring than his wife.
Dad never shares his pornographic books, magazines or World Wide Web addresses with his teenager, and neither does mom. But the children are allowed to become addicted on their own, with free, unchaperoned time at the keyboard. Does this make any sense to you? It certainly doesn’t make sense to me.
Breaking the Addiction
I was told, and didn’t want to hear it, that pornography is here and there and everywhere on the Internet. Its advocates rationalize that it helps boys and girls establish their sexual identity even at a very young age. That, to say the least, is a very much debatable point. It robs them of their innocence, their childhood. That is for sure. Men and women, men and men, women with women, trois, quatre, cinq, how to kiss and how to do many other things — it’s all there. Question: do you know what your children are doing at home when you are both at work or out receiving an award for some social outreach beyond your family? Are they surfing porno sites on the Web? Even in the highly ethical families of my international congregation, this is sometimes happening.
In the old days, pornography was available in the big cities only. Separate areas with sex shops and prostitutes were called red light districts, areas decent people would never be seen in, and this alone kept pornography under control. During the First World War, soldiers were made to feel at home with posters of pin-up girls. These were girls in bathing suits, well covered up by today’s standards, but healthily endowed. In America before the turn of the century, the skirts did not show the ankles. Then they did. A big uproar! Moralists said showing ankles made women more sexually attractive to the men. Then up and up went the skirts, to way above the knees. Have you ever looked at knees? Some say they are the ugliest part of the human body.
I could go on and on. My job as satguru to so many souls in many countries is to break up addictions. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. The phenomenon of porno addiction was very new to me, and we needed a prayashchitta, penance. So, we asked Sri Sri Sri Pramukhswami’s senior sadhus the remedy to be used. His Swaminarayan Fellowship is one of the strictest orders in the world, if not the strictest. They said to look at a girl and follow her movement for five seconds as she walks would require a fast for twenty-four hours. This is a self-imposed penance among their 654 sadhus which can be applied to pornography. They well know, as our wise scriptures say, that sex manifests in eight levels, each one leading to the next: fantasy, glorification, flirtation, lustful glances, secret love talk, amorous longing, rendezvous and intercourse. So if the brothers see someone not eating breakfast, lunch and dinner for one or two days, they know he is trying to get control of the sexual forces and transmute them into tireless creativity
When your husband seems distant, preoccupied, not at home even when he is there, sits pensively in his shrine room, won’t eat his dinner, breakfast or lunch for several days while consuming a sattvic diet of fruit and yogurt, do not live under the illusion that he is going to become a sadhu. He may just be trying to break the cycle of his addiction to pornographic viewing, thinking and dreaming. Know that he still loves you, and never, ever question him about his self-imposed sadhana. Rather, choose the best of fruits. And if you find all those unspeakable pictures in the garbage can, along with a couple of X-rated videos and CDs, don’t throw your findings up in his face, even if you are perturbed and angry with him. That might become his excuse to again pursue his addiction and perverse enjoyment, possibly without you in his life.
Pornography is not only on the Internet. In hotels, we are told, four- and five-star, there are channels on cable TV that guests buy to watch hard- and soft-core pornography. Is this fun for the whole family? No, it is not. The cable channels on regular TV also bring all this into every home. It even flows through the telephone. Watch the bills. They might be telling a story of buying fantasy sex.
It may be argued that Hindus invented pornography, considering the compromising images carved in certain ancient temples. But this is out in the open. The whole family can stand and see — the six-year-old, the ten-year-old, mom and dad. Recently the Spice Girls, a famous band from the UK known for their sassy, sexy ways, planned to perform in front of India’s Khajuraho Temple, known for its erotic imagery. Hindu activists responded that this was unthinkable because “Eroticism without spirituality is nothing but pornography.”
Defenders of free expression say pornography is a disease-free diversion. There is no danger of venereal disease. We might agree, but must say that the consequences mentally are even more devastating, bringing “dis-ease” that no doctor can cure, for which there are no quick remedies, no drugs. Enough said. A word to the wise is sufficient, but a thousand to the fool is not quite enough.