Vanity thought #710. The principle

If regulated sex in marriage is an application of the principle, then what is the principle itself?

In two words: “No sex”

Do not be confused by “sex in marriage for begetting children” wording. It’s not what “sex” means in modern English. Sex means pleasure while procreation has been relegated somewhere to the very back of society’s mind when you start discussing rules of sexual behavior, and the past couple of years the concept of marriage as means to procreation has been successfully challenged by gay and lesbian community. It has become an old and antiquated notion while sex for pleasure has become the sign of enlightenment and liberation.

So that “sex” everyone is talking about is not “sex” that is mentioned in our fourth principle. We do not have any concessions on sex for pleasure, forget about it.

That’s why when devotee discuss sex they get confused – for us sex still means pleasure and we talk about regulative principle we think we are talking about regulating enjoyment. Things like “once a month on certain days” and so on. We don’t even acknowledge it verbally but this is what it means to us – permission to enjoy.

The overriding principle, however, is that devotees do not do anything for their own pleasure, only for Krishna’s. This will never change, this is the definition of devotion – service without any personal interest, anyabhilashita shunyam. You can’t be a devotee and maintain interest in sense enjoyment.

This is why proper grihastha life in Krishna consciousness is the same as brahmacharya and there are plenty of Prabhupada quotes stating just that.

Does that mean that we are not devotees? Who will accept such a verdict? It will be very unpopular. True, but remember the days when you decided to surrender to Krishna? There was no demand for sex pleasure then, at least not consciously. You knew that surrender required giving up sex, everybody knew that, they just can’t acknowledge it now because it would hurt their perception of themselves – who wants to admit being a failure?

I also don’t believe that householder devotees of old were as interested in sex as we are now. In Lord Chaitanya’s time sex meant procreation, not pleasure, it was a different culture and so examples of Srivasa Thakura or even Bhaktivinoda Thakura are not applicable now.

“No sex” principle is the same as eating only prasadam. We are not supposed to eat for our own pleasure and only honor prasadam as a service to the Lord. We, of course, keep stuffing our faces but we also know what proper tongue control is – take only what is necessary for body maintenance and only in the spirit of devotion. It’s not so difficult and pretty soon one would learn to see when he is eating as a service to Krishna and when he is eating as as service to his taste buds.

What about Lord Chaitanya’s mercy then? Isn’t it supposed to be powerful enough to override our sense-enjoying propensities? I’m afraid we can’t rely on Mahaprabhu to grant us love for Krishna while we can’t renounce sex.

There are two ways to understand it. One is that in Vedic and even Indian culture austerity is nothing, there are renunciates on every corner but that does not guarantee anything in spiritual life. Mahaprabhu’s mercy is in giving love of God that is otherwise unavailable regardless of one’s level of austerities.

Another way to look at it is that by Lord Chaitanya’s mercy the spirit of sense enjoyment goes away. Being His devotee means having no interest neither in sex nor in eating. He guarantees that as long as we remain committed to sankirtana we’ll be protected from material attractions and will be filled with spiritual bliss instead.

What we do instead is ask how can we maintain our attachments and be devotees at the same time. This is not possible by definition and it’s not what Mahaprabhu’s mercy is for.

This is also an offense against the Holy Name and so as long as we think that sex in marriage is a means of enjoyment the Holy Name won’t reveal itself to us. This means we can get stuck in this loop forever – desiring sex hides the Holy Name and without Holy Name sex urges become only stronger which obscures the Name even further.

To sum it up – we should completely renounce the desire to enjoy sex and start with this goal in mind. It will be a long way towards this goal but that’s the only way to get there, and, on the other hand, if we pursue any other goals, any other arrangements, the desire to enjoy will never leave our hearts and we’ll never become devotees.

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