Impact of Lust and Nudity on Spiritual Growth
Some modern philosophers have argued that sexual pleasures, beyond those necessary for procreation, of the appropriate kind are a useful part of the human experience and therefore worth pursuing. What exactly is considered appropriate varies with thinkers but in no case does it involve compulsion, inducement or force by one human on another. Sexual indulgence, if any, must only be between adults and from mutual interest and agreement.
However, spiritual literature and saints across diverse traditions of the planet have advised humans to overcome urges of lust and described that along with two other emotions - greed and anger – it is a cause of driving humans to hell. The Bhagvat Gita, a revered scripture of the Hindus, describes these as the three gates to hell. It only lauds limited sexual desire i.e. that associated with procreation as divine. The new testament of the Christians warns not just against lustful activity but even lustful thoughts. However sexual desire within marriage is not considered bad.
Some have argued that lust leads to romance and love. Love is one of the most beautiful emotions that a human can experience and few thinkers contest that. While sexual indulgence as a part of love may rank closely with sexual desire within marriage, it is by no means same as the English language implies by equating sexual indulgence with making love. The Saint Kabir of South Asia in fact went on to say that, where there is love, there is no lust and where there is lust there is no love. This in fact is the experience of many good humans who have experience of true romantic love. Then sex becomes unnecessary.
Much sexual indulgence can lead to physical weakness, disability and even physical harm. Promiscuity can lead a human to disgraceful behavior, disease and becoming a victim of crime. The Devilish or Satanic use temptation to entrap humans and sexual temptation is their primary weapon next to that of false promises of wealth and power. Uncontrolled desires have led to fall of kingdoms and impeachment of a President of the strongest country on the planet in modern times.
The difficulty with not avoiding lust is that if not checked it tends to become a major preoccupation with humans. It then prevents them from experiencing other more durable pleasures the universe has to offer such as beauty in nature. It can also lead to diversion of attention from other pursuits that would have led a human to attain material progress in the world if not a spiritual one. As regards spiritual progress, that becomes a distant dream for the one preoccupied with lust. Therefore as Patanjali, the father of yoga has said at the outset of his text on yoga, a human must overcome lust just as much as things like violence, lies, stealing and greed in order to progress on the evolutionary path, become a more evolved being and ultimately attain union with the Infinite source from which all emerged.
When a desire is strong, merely suppressing it may have an adverse impact and limited, careful observant exposure then seems better. Spiritual texts recognize that giving up lust is not a simple matter and it is something that has to be worked on gradually, easily without forceful suppression through experience, wisdom and learning. The Bhagvat Gita goes on to state that when one gives up urges of lust, one indeed becomes a yogi. It is something that may not be achieved in a single life time. Several lives may be required for most but the very first step for any wise human is to recognize that lust is not a good thing. It is a major weakness that they must works towards eradicating. If they do not do that, there are all the chances that matters will become worse rather than better. The best approach is to gently push away thoughts of lust from mind soon as they arrive and replace them with other thoughts. In case one continues to think in that direction, the thought will become progressively more difficult to control. Such thoughts sponsor sexual biological reactions within the body, something Nature created to assist procreation, that in turn sponsor more such thoughts until the only escape remains indulgence. Once the mind discovers other thoughts of worthy pleasures and joy, the power of lust over it will weaken. Eventually a soul shall be freed to make progress in this world and the hereafter to godly states of being and joy.
Since the previous discussion may have been found too serious by some, let us return to a bit of humor on the topic. Recently a major social media website censored a post containing a statue of the nude Greek god Neptune. There was no obvious suggestion of lust in the image since the god was not having an erection. However, many modern humans not used to such a display tend to get excited or shocked by it nevertheless. The website said it led to too much focus on body parts. What in fact may have happened is that it led them to focus much on a part of the body that ancient Greeks apparently did not. With ancient Greeks nude statues of gods and other nudity was common place.
Concealing something may go to increase curiosity and fascination with what has been hidden. Much covering may play the opposite role of becoming a sponsor of lust rather than eradicating it depending on culture. Those in Athens, some of the most evolved humans the planet has seen for a brief period in their history seem realized this, hence the nudity. The Christian Bible illustrates the point by describing Adam and Eve as nude in a heavenly garden but feeling a sense of shame and need to cover the moment they were exposed to knowledge, seems of lust. There are religious sects in South Asia since ancient times such as the Naga sadhus and Digambar Jains where full nudity is commonplace. A highly revered spiritual mentor of this author often meditated for hours nude in his Himalayan abode.
Therefore while lust is regarded as a debilitating emotion the avoidance of nudity is regarded by some as not an aid but a hindrance towards this goal. It may merely suppress and reinforce such thoughts leading a human to repressed and an unhealthy unnatural behavior, not an evolved one as those in ancient Athens seem to have. This author has tried to illustrate the point in a lighter vein in his Novel – Nude besides the Lake – an extraordinary story of beauty and human goodness. The novel can be found through a simple search on google or at Amazon and other retailers.
Evolved beings neither suffer from urges of lust nor the shame of nudity