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Precepts of the Gurus - 2nd Seminar Part 4

by Sangharakshita


[Tape 17]


S: So a lot of the so-called enjoyment of people, nowadays, especially in certain groups, in
certain circles, is of this nature. It's people who are really inwardly empty trying to extract
for the sake of their alienated consciousness as much 'pleasure', inverted commas, from their
unfortunate senses as possible, and in the end it becomes almost a punishment of the senses.

Manjuvajra: Those sort of the people - they really do turn into ghosts, in a sense.

S: Well, they are a bit preta-like. They have senses but no pleasure. The senses do not yield
them pleasure any more. They've sort of killed their senses.

Manjuvajra: It's a bit like over-using the senses, you kind of deaden.
S: Yes, or wilfully use them, not just allowing them to function in their natural healthy way.
I think this happens especially in connection with sex. In fact I would almost go so far as to
say, being a bit paradoxical, sex should be excluded from the pleasures.

Mangala: I don't quite follow you.

S: Well, in most people's experiences, it's as much a worry as a pleasure. It's such a complex
experience and situation that it's very, very rarely that it is experienced as simple pleasure. I
mean the emotional element comes into it more so inevitably, which it need
not do, well it certainly need not do.

Devaraja: It really feels like that sometimes, that you've been actually scarred.

S: As though the sexual situation does not contain any possibilities of pure pleasure, for
virtually all people. Because of the instinctual element, then there is the emotional element
and so on, especially the neurotic emotional element. Though by all means, as it were, I was
going to say concentrate on pleasure but that's even not quite right, but allow the senses to
function, don't get in their way. Allow them to function more. See and feel and hear more of
nature, so to speak. This is another aspect of the non-pleasurableness of much of our
existence, we are not sufficiently in contact with nature, the fact that our whole life has
become virtually urbanised. It means we are also cut off from sources of pleasure. I think
even our climate has something to do with it, because it really makes a difference when much
of the time there's brilliant blue sky and sunshine. It has an effect on the senses and through
the senses, on the mind.

Mangala: It's funny that, because I remember like at school we were told why people should
choose to settle in somewhere like the temperate regions such as here, apparently it's quite a
stimulating environment. If you go to Africa, it's just so bloody hot that you just crash out,
you can't really do anything, whereas if you go where it's too cold, you can't do much either,
but here there's a kind of balance between, you have to sort of - maybe -

S: I'm not completely convinced about that. Because in India it's pretty hot but they've done
an awful lot in India, culturally and spiritually. I personally felt very stimulated in every way
when I was in India, and in New Zealand, when it was even quite hot, even very hot
sometimes. I really worked well and happily. I felt as though - I said to somebody - all the
rheumatism had been drawn out of my system. I really was functioning physically very
smoothly as though everything had been well-oiled. This is how it felt. And a little bit like
that down at Sukhavati when I was there and it was very hot and others were tending to flop
out, not to say flake out, and I was functioning really happily and able to work really well
under those conditions. So I don't think it's invariable that when it's very hot you can't do
very much. I prefer the dry heat, the warm dry heat that enables you to function in that way,

but I believe in North Africa, for instance, it is very dry and it was a great centre of
civilisation at one time.

Padmaraja: Going back a bit, and it's quite a big subject, but we were talking about sex, and
there's that saying that sex rearing its ugly head, just thinking back to childhood and just
moments of pleasure and happiness, very simple and uncomplicated, and then round about
the time of early teens, adolescence, those things going. I'm just wondering whether there's
any correspondence there.

S: Well, what rears its ugly head at the time of adolescence, or say puberty, is genital sex.
It's as though before that - well, perhaps one is being a bit vague and speculative here, but it's
as though, and some writers have certainly maintained this, before that time your sexuality,
your, as it were, non-genital sexuality, if that is not a contradiction in terms, perhaps one
should use the term erotic rather, is more generally diffused, is diffused over your whole
body, and you enjoy your whole body. Though adults, with their own distorted ideas of
things, sometimes prevent you from enjoying certain parts of your body in an erotic way, that
is a non-genital way though, because those parts have got certain associations for them,
which they do not in fact have for you the child. Do you see what I mean? For instance,
small children are told not to play with themselves, because they are clearly getting a
pleasurable experience - well, that is not sexual in the adult sense because actual sexual
behaviour is not involved, it is merely pleasurable, maybe intensely pleasurable, you call it
erotic in involving those particular areas which later on do have that particular specifically
sexual genital reproductive function. And perhaps a lot of the damage is done around that
time.

But there is, to go back to the point rather that you were making, that at that time of puberty,
and certainly at the time of adolescence, well yes, sex does rear its ugly head in a different
sort of way. It's as though the reproductive urge comes into play, and eventually the urge to
seek out the opposite sex, which is quite a different thing that seems to be more related with a
sort of general instinctual need, biological need, and then again linked up with the need for a
sort of psychical completeness and looking for that outside of oneself. It's as though one
needs to recapture the innocence of the child and the pleasure of the child on a higher level
which is not incompatible with self-consciousness and individuality.

Mangala: What if that reproductive instinct doesn't rear its ugly head? What if you are not
attracted to people of the opposite sex?

S: Well, I take the sexual instinct as basically reproductive, let's say, and when it isn't, or
assumes any form which is not reproductive, it is a sort of deflection, though I don't sort of
assess that morally in any way. You see what I mean? I think it differs with different people,
but I think the eruption, and it really amounts to that for many people, of the sexual instinct at
the time of adolescence, when the possibility of full genital functioning develops, can be
very, very disturbing, even at the best of times, because it may be experienced, whatever it
may be in itself, as an eruption of something sort of foreign, something from outside the, as it
were, the self-contained sphere of your being, your personality, and people find it sometimes
very difficult to adjust to, and to handle, as it were, especially in our society, where that has
become a very loaded subject. Do you see what I mean? Even taboo in some places. We
seem to be going to the opposite extreme now and giving it too much attention and treating it
too sort of self-consciously, too self-consciously 'enlightened', inverted commas, with regard
to this particular area, too scientific, too manipulative, even too cold.

Mangala: Yes, a lot of adolescents are say attracted to the opposite sex, which I suppose is
largely biological or instinctual, but what about in the case of homosexuals who are attracted
to men and not women?


S: I don't think basically there's any difference. I don't really think there is any difference.
Well, there is a certain difference, obviously, the difference of the kind of object, I don't think
there's a difference in results, so to speak. I don't think there's any real difference either
biologically or psychologically.

Mangala: You think it's just as biological and instinctive as ...

S: Yes, but it is deflected, in strict reproductive terms, but the fact that it is deflected doesn't
change its basic nature. You see what I mean?

Mangala: No, I'm not quite sure that I do. I can see it's deflected but ...

S: Well, it doesn't change its nature from so to speak a subjective point of view. For
instance, supposing the sex object is a member of the same sex, well, ...

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