Excerpts from An Indian Pilgrim by Subhas Chandra Bose
Perhaps the most bitter struggle I had with myself was in the domain of sex- instinct. It required practically no effort on my part to decide that I would not adopt a career of self-preferment, but should devote my life to some noble cause. It required some effort to school myself, physically and mentally, for a life of service and unavoidable hardship. But it required an unceasing effort, which continues till today, to suppress or sublimate the sex — instinct.
Avoidance of sexual indulgence and even control of active sex-desire is, I believe, comparatively easy to attain. But for one’s spiritual development, as understood
by Indian Yogis and Saints, that is not enough. The mental background — the life of instinct and impulse — out of which sex-desire arises has to be transformed. When this is achieved, a man or woman loses all sex-appeal and become impervious to the sex — appeal of others; he transcends sex altogether.
But is it possible or is it only midsummer madness? According to Ramakrishna, it is possible, and until one attains this level of chastity, the highest reaches of spiritual consciousness remain inaccessible to him. Ramakrishna, we
are told, was often put to the test by people who doubted his spirituality and mental purity, but on every occasion that he was thrown in the midst of attractive women, his reactions were non-sexual. In the company of women, he could feel as an innocent child feels in the presence of its mother. Ramakrishna used always to say that gold and sex are the two greatest obstacles in the path of spiritual development and I took his words as gospel truth.
In actual practice the difficulty was that the more I concentrated on the suppression or sublimation of the sex- instinct, the stronger it seemed to become, at least in the initial stages. Though I gradually made progress, the degree of purity which Ramakrishna had insisted on, seemed impossible to reach. I persisted in spite of depression and remorse, little knowing at the time how natural the sex — instinct was to the human mind.
It is now a moot question whether we should spend so much of our time and energy in trying to eradicate or sublimate an instinct which is as inherent in human nature as in animal life. Purity and continence in boyhood and in youth are of course necessary, but what Ramakrishna and Vivekananda demanded was much more than that, nothing less than complete transcending of sex-consciousness.
Our stock of physical and psychic energy is, after all, limited. Is it worthwhile expending so much of it in an endeavour to conquer sex?
If I could live my life over again, I should not in all probability give sex the exaggerated importance which I did in my boyhood and youth.
Friday, 08 March 2019 | in Devbhoomi Spiritual
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