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Sex and Completeness
Carl: Dear Ramji, it was a delight to be with you and Sundari for dinner last night. After I left you at the restaurant and throughout today I recalled the story that you told me about “New York Terry,” the sex addict. It’s pretty clear to me that I have a sex vasana, and even though nothing sexual happened with Mary the circumstances and actions that put she and I together were, if I am honest, due to this sex vasana.
The good news is that both she and I woke up to that fact early on – and for me that was due to an intense pain in my gut and a feeling of remorse for even moving in that direction.
James: Yes, we enjoyed your company very much, Carl. Is there a presupposition that you shouldn’t have a sex vasana? If you have a body it comes with the territority. When you see a beautiful woman, it just happens. It is Isvara. Perhaps you mean that pursuing it is inappropriate in the context of a self-inquiry seminar. If you were looking for moksa then looking for sex may be a distraction but it would only be a problem if it took your eye off the ball. But as you say below “It’s clear to me that I don’t need a relationship to fulfill me. I am content, whole and complete” so this does not apply.
Carl: I respect both you and Sundari immensely, and what I would like to know is whether or not the way that I related, or even that I related, something of my nascent relationship with Mary was offensive to either you or Sundari. If it was, I would appreciate knowing exactly how it made you feel and what, if anything, would have been appropriate.
James: It certainly wasn’t. We thought it was a sensitive and honest description of an important situation in your life and I like the idea that you were sharing it with us. Boy meets girl. It’s a classic and always of interest. In every situation the “spiritual” and the “material” are always present. It is virtually impossible to offend us, Carl.
Carl: More than that, what I realized in this brief encounter with Mary is that I have a history of sporadically adharmic behaviour in the realm of my relationships with women, and I am concerned that I don’t see clearly enough how this still is at play in my life.
James: I am not sure what you mean by “adharmic behavior” because if two people are attracted to each other physically and they agree to have sex without commitment, where is the violation of dharma? If, on the other hand, there is intent to deceive then dharma enters into it. If there are conflicting, unexamined issues hiding behind the sex vasana it may make for a mess down the road but sex would not be considered adharmic. Actually, in terms of inquiry, the issue is how sensitive you are to the unconscious issues at play, both within yourself and the other person. There are always unvoiced expectations behind the initial attraction that should be resolved before you hop in the sack. When the vasana is expressing in the beginning – it is just rajas, after all – there is a strong tendency to ignore anything but the feelings dominating the mind. The intellect is there but if it conveniently stops inquiring – thinking about possible outcomes down the road that will impact on your happiness – in order to offload the pain of the desire, it means that the vasana is binding. Binding vasanas don’t bother the self, obviously, but they bother the jiva. So if you care about Carl, which you obviously do or you would not be writing, it behooves you to look at the vasana and the situation it produced.
Things are rarely what they seem. Probably the inquiry that this incident suggests is “what is love?” Usually, sex is about love. Maybe both love and sex were happening when you met Mary and you have a difficult time sorting out which is which. It is a common problem that very few people get right. If it is about love, which it probably is, then it is about your relationship to yourself, not about your relationship to someone else. It is about your relationship to yourself because your nature is love. It is whole and complete and does not crave anything. The self is love.
Carl: In retrospect I can see how much pain this type of behaviour has caused me and, no doubt, the women with whom I have been involved in the past. And it was a real revelation that there’s such a depth of tenderness and pure love present in me when such a woman as Mary is present.
James: Pure souls like Mary invoke the self, Carl. When I think of Sundari I feel love whether she is present or absent. As you become more and more established in the self as the self in these situations you will increasingly understand that they are about the self contacting the self first and foremost and about making something of that feeling in the apparent reality second. Approaching the relationship idea sensibly requires a lot of sensitivity and patience. In this case, I think the karmic factors would probably sink anything other than the most deeply spiritual love.
Carl: It’s clear to me that I don’t need a relationship to fulfill me. I am content, whole and complete. If, however, a luminous, free, happy woman should enter my life I want to be clear and pure enough to accompany her with nobility and in freedom.
James: Now that you are clear about who you are it is much more likely to happen, I suppose. But we always have to take Isvara into account. The point, however, is to be very clear what is the difference between the rajasic/tamasic need for sex and the appreciation of yourself in the form of another.
Carl: If you can offer me some guidance with respect to this topic I would be very grateful.
James: I did my best, O Mighty Arjuna. I hope it clarifies things. Under no conditions believe that Sundari and I were offended. We are just regular people who enjoy people and their stories. Thanks much for your generous contribution and your service to ShiningWorld. And good luck in Stockholm. We look forward to seeing you again. Write any time.
Carl: As usual, your words focused my attention on the necessity for continuous inquiry and the lines along which I can conduct it. Yes, what is love? I am love. It is my very nature. When I walked out into the brilliant blue sky of a Paris morning today and was dazzled by the beauty I beheld, from where does that beauty come? It is because I shine on Paris and because I am beautiful, and the Pantheon, trussed up for repairs, shines in my splendour. And Mary? She is lovable because I am love and am lovable. And it is true that because she is pure that the thought of her invokes the self and the bliss of that vision of her is not different from my bliss. And without her my bliss remains. So my heart is full today, in love and in gratitude for being able to see and to be the truth.
About the “sex vasana” statement: I think that I was temporarily thrown back to my Catholic upbringing and somehow saw “meat rubbing against meat” as something sinister or evil. As long as there is no violation of dharma – dishonesty, force, self-injury – sex is inert, correct? Yes, it can be binding and because of this must be handled with objectivity but your clarification about what is adharmic is a big help. In that context my sexual life has not been adharmic. Whew!
All of the questions that I have ever had with respect to the nature of reality are finding answers in me. And to you I want to express my gratitude for introducing me to Myself!
~ Love, Carl