Is repressing the sexual instinct harmful?

by Chaitanya Charan dasFebruary 4, 2012

From: mahadev

1.Does repression of sexual instinct is harmful in any way to mind & body. What should be a balanced view towards it ?

2.What measures you take and suggest to someone who is trying to get over it ?

3.My take on it is that unless there is some thing higher it is impossible to overcome it ? Please suggest if there are measures one can take irrespective of religion/ideologies he is following.

Thanks a lot for your guidance.

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Transcription (edited) by- Keshavgopal Das

Question- Is repression of sexual instinct harmful in any way to mind and body? What should be a balanced view towards it? What measures can one take who is trying to get over it? My take on it is that unless there is something higher it is impossible to overcome it. Please suggest measures that one can take irrespective of religion and ideologies one is following.

Answer (short)-

  • By nature, we are pleasure seeking entities and sex cannot fulfill that longing because pleasure derived from sex is temporary, illusory, and miserable.
  • Sex desire should be regulated within the sacred bonds of marriage.
  • The individual should strive for getting a higher taste through connection with God to go gradually beyond the desire. This can happen within the framework of marriage also.

Answer (long)-  The repression of sexual instinct is entirely natural and necessary for civilized human existence. Some amount of regulation, if it were not there, we could not have even a family existing if everyone started acting on any passing sexual desire that comes to mind. Then we cannot have any sanctity, for example, in relationship between son and mother, daughter and father, brother and sister or other relatives.

The idea that we can express every desire that comes in our mind is conducive to social chaos. That is why in all the religions and cultures in the world there has been a tradition of marriage which allows regulated and civilized expression for the sexual instinct.

Repression in the sense of just saying complete no-no to the desire for pleasure will constitute torture of oneself. We are pleasure seeking individuals and we need pleasure somewhere. You can read the article ‘What’s wrong with sex?’ on this website to fully understand how sexual instinct cannot satisfy our longing for pleasure because it is temporary, illusory, and miserable. Redirecting our desire for pleasure towards Krishna can help us to experience a higher happiness and thereby bring the sexual instinct purposely under control and gradually by spiritual advancement go beyond it completely.

Yes, we certainly need a higher taste to overcome sexual desire. Connection with God especially by chanting His holy name is a very practical and powerful way to prevent our mind of thoughts of sex and fix it on God by which we can experience a higher peace and pleasure.

A balanced view is that we cannot obviously express every sexual desire that comes in the mind; nobody in world can do that. Hiranyakashyipu, as described in Srimad Bhagvatam, tried to fulfill every desire that came to his mind, even then he was not satisfied. The nature of the desires is such that the more we feed them the stronger they grow. It is like putting fuel in fire. On the other hand, a total repression will make us feel tortured. In the Vedic culture those who are strongly inspired, inclined, and determined to become free from the sexual instinct, they take the path of renunciation (path of brahmacharis and sannyasis). They live in a particular kind of culture which is conducive for that and majority of others will enter into family life (path of grihasthas). In grihastha ashram the man and woman will regulate the sexual desire within sacred bonds of marriage. This regulation is not repression. Regulation if done within the bounds of marriage and it is accompanied by spiritual culture and activities that give us spiritual experience then the higher happiness will make one feel a sort of distaste and one will realize the futility and the emptiness of the promises of the sexual happiness the world bombards us with. Even within framework of marriage one can gradually go beyond the sex desire. Therefore, the balanced view is that we need to regulate the desire within the sacred bonds of marriage and get a higher taste through connection with God to go gradually beyond the desire.

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Chaitanya Charan das

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