Kremlin decision-making is also susceptible to domestic political and economic pressures. It was driven above all by the need to reinforce his domestic position following large popular protests against him in several Russian cities in late and early In the process, it has persuaded many observers in the West as well as in Russia that what looks like and is tactical improvisation is the product of strategic insight and firm principle. We should not be deceived.
They also serve as a constant reminder to the Kremlin of the need for tactical flexibility in pursuing strategic goals. Paradoxically, the unpredictable nature of events is likely to strengthen existing trends in Russian foreign policy. The most compelling reason for maintaining his present course is the conviction that it has been overwhelmingly successful. This is not just the view of the Kremlin and the Russian political elite. It is also shared by some liberal critics of the regime, the public, and many commentators in the West. Russian successes are not only apparent in their own right, especially in the Middle East and the partnership with China, but are accentuated by the contrast with the failures of Western policymaking.
In the vacuum left by the abdication of US leadership, Russia has emerged as a formidable power, and Putin himself has acquired the status of a global player. Yet despite these successes, both real and apparent, there is unfinished business. The biggest challenge Russia faces is to reinvent itself as a rule-maker in a new world order.
This is self-evidently a long-term project, well beyond the time frame of the current presidential term. In practice, though, the obstacles to such a transformation are formidable. It can undermine the interests of others, most obviously the United States, but it has rarely been able to implement a positive program of its own, let alone take the lead on the big issues of global governance. The comparison with China is striking.
Under Xi Jinping, Beijing has become increasingly influential in addressing twenty-first century challenges, such as economic globalisation, free trade, and climate change. Tellingly, it is also moving into areas that were once the preserve of others: post-Soviet Eurasia, the Middle East, and the Arctic. So the first task for Putin in his fourth term is to address this policy deficit, which, crucially, is also a great power deficit. However, the latter has proved somewhat of a disappointment, too unwieldy to be credible, and hamstrung by growing strategic tensions between China and India.
Moscow will not abandon the BRICS, given its symbolic importance — Russia was the driving force behind its transformation from a Goldman Sachs idea into a structured format — but we are already seeing a shift of emphasis to Greater Eurasia. In general, Moscow will pursue a dual-track approach to global governance. It will step up engagement with multilateral mechanisms, both well established the UN Security Council P5 and emerging Greater Eurasia.
At the same time, Moscow will continue to prioritise bilateral relationships. This is consistent with its long-time belief in the primacy of state actors in international politics. Thus, the Greater Eurasia vision centres on the partnership with China. And when it comes to the West, Moscow pays far greater heed to individual countries than it does to NATO and the European Union, which it regards as mere instrumentalities of the major Western powers. Clearly, there are differences from the original nineteenth-century Concert, particularly in its composition.
They will simply mean that it will be more versatile in its methods. But above all he will be unrelenting in his efforts to promote Russia as an indispensable power, without whom there can be no geopolitical equilibrium or real security in the world. For the Kremlin, the West no longer exists as a coherent political and normative entity.
There are only individual Western countries, most of them weak, and all of them devoted to pursuing their own selfish agendas. The United States under Donald Trump presents Russia with major problems, but also significant opportunities. On the one hand, a hostile Washington has the capacity to inflict serious damage on Russian interests almost anywhere in the world.
Consequently, the ongoing crisis in their relations is of existential concern to Putin. This is most evident in the Middle East, but it is also true across the board. Putin proposed the creation of various bilateral mechanisms: an Experts Council, a US—Russia business forum, a regular dialogue between the respective national security heads, and joint working groups on counterterrorism and cybersecurity.
He also suggested a referendum in the Donbas to break the stalemate over Ukraine, as well as ideas for humanitarian relief in Syria and the return of refugees. First, they were an attempt to achieve some movement, however modest, on contentious issues in the relationship.
The development of new bilateral mechanisms, in particular, might establish a better basis for cooperation, and defuse some of the tensions with Washington. Viewed in these latter terms, the Helsinki summit could hardly have gone better for Putin. For the time being at least, Putin will reserve his options.
He will look to maintain a personal rapport with Trump, in the hope rather than the expectation that the US president will rein in the hawks in his own administration and Congress. This relative equilibrium, however, is fragile. Much will depend on political developments in the United States. If, for example, the Republican Party retains control of both houses in the US Congressional mid-term elections in November, the Kremlin will no doubt sustain its efforts to establish a functional relationship with Washington. The evaporation of any last hopes in the Trump factor could also see a sharp escalation in Russian cyberattacks and other forms of informational warfare, including direct interference in future US elections.
In Europe , Putin will portray Russia as a pragmatic and hitherto misunderstood partner. He has already taken some steps in this direction, moving from overt support for far-right and far-left parties to re-engaging with the political mainstream in Paris and Berlin. And the Kremlin has intensified its lobbying of the German Government to ensure early completion of the Nordstream II gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea. In both cases, changing external circumstances foreshadow new possibilities.
Although a return to business as usual is said to be unlikely, there are signs that German elite opinion is already wobbling towards a softer stance on Russia. Either way we can expect it to persevere with a customised approach to the West, even in the face of setbacks. For example, it reacted relatively mildly to French participation in retaliatory air strikes against the Assad regime in April  — perhaps because it sees France, with its tradition of realpolitik, as the most reasonable of the Western powers.
The goal here is not peace for its own sake, but a Ukraine that is weak, susceptible to Russian pressure, and increasingly unattractive to Western partners. A post-Brexit Britain is seen as both irremediably hostile and of diminishing relevance. To sum up, Putin will not resile from core Russian foreign policy positions, and there will be few if any concessions to Western governments. There are, however, two major imponderables that could lead to a further and potentially catastrophic deterioration in Russia—West relations.
Given the possibility of confrontation, Putin may well choose to face down Western leaders, fortified by the belief that he is tougher, smarter, and more committed than anyone else. Russia will significantly expand its presence in Asia over the next few years. This is partly because Putin sees the Asia-Pacific region as the crucible of twenty-first century international politics and economics. Fully-fledged engagement with Asian countries and organisations may still be counter-intuitive to sections of the elite.
Putin will continue to give particular attention to the Sino-Russian partnership. There are a multitude of reasons why this should be so, including authoritarian empathy, shared threat perceptions, economic complementarities, and personal rapport between the two presidents. Globally, that means preserving close economic ties with Europe and some level of functional stability with the United States. Underpinning all these moves is the principle that an independent Russian foreign policy is predicated on strategic flexibility — being beholden to no one, but instead disposing of multiple options.
Of course, that is easier said than done. Russian influence in Asia is largely limited to the post-Soviet space and the Near East, and the vision of a revived Kissingerian triangle between the United States, China, and Russia remains a fantasy. Putin will be anxious to avoid the spectre of a new bipolarity in Asia, with China and Russia on one side, and the United States and leading Asian powers on the other. This is not only geopolitically unpalatable, but would incur the risk of dangerous entanglements in East Asia, and of Russia being caught in the middle of a potential confrontation between the United States and China.
Moscow will strive to expand the Greater Eurasia idea from a de facto Sino-Russian condominium into something larger and more inclusive in which Chinese influence would be mitigated by other major players. Issues of food and water security will become more prominent, as Russia seeks to position itself as the strategic supplier of choice.
All this will be pursued, not in the expectation that Russia will become a real force in the Asia-Pacific imminently, but because a strengthened presence there is critical to its self-identification as a resurgent global power. Putin has enjoyed some of his greatest foreign policy successes in the Middle East. After decades on the outer, Russia has once again become a central player. In Syria, it has realised its principal aims while exposing the feebleness of Western decision-making. Strikingly, it has managed to do so while maintaining good or reasonable relations with the main regional players — Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
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It has re-established its influence in Libya and Egypt. And it has worked with the Saudis and other oil-producing countries to push up global energy prices. In the first instance, that means completing military operations, in particular the elimination of the last significant anti-Assad enclave in the northern province of Idlib. Longer term, consolidation implies a comprehensive political settlement and large-scale economic reconstruction, the latter to be mainly financed by others.
Cooperation here might also offer an additional path to normalising relations with France and Germany. Putin will back Assad for the time being, and will certainly not give him up in response to Western pressure. However, Russian support for Assad is not unconditional, and there are circumstances in which this could be reduced or even withdrawn — for example, if he became too beholden to the Iranians, provoked Israel into a major military intervention, or simply stopped listening to Russian advice. More broadly, Putin will aim to expand Russian influence across the Middle East, but cautiously and as cheaply as possible.
We are likely to see a policy of flexible game management rather than an attempt to implement a grand vision. Moscow will try to avoid being sucked into wider and long-term conflicts in the region. It will seek to exploit commercial and security opportunities as they arise, notably in arms sales and the development of energy infrastructure. Most importantly, it will strive to maintain good relations with all state parties while being careful not to overcommit to any one side.
However, there is little evidence of any desire to replace the United States as the leading power in the Middle East, given the costs of such an enterprise and the risks of overextension. The disasters of American decision-making over the past 15 years stand as a salutary lesson. But amid the white noise, several themes emerge very clearly. The first is that the supreme foreign policy goal of the Putin regime is domestic, namely its own self-preservation.
This goal is timeless and all-encompassing, and comes with its own iconology. For Putin, international relations, good or bad, are ultimately an extension and a subset of domestic politics and his personal interest. Putin is the incarnation of this mindset, at once its symbol and its messenger. Third, the much-discussed notion of a Putin legacy is problematic. It implies that Putin is preparing to leave, when there is no sign of this at all.
Tellingly, the cult of personality surrounding him has become more pronounced in recent years. True, there are still tasks to be completed. Yet the evidence indicates that Putin believes he has little to prove, at least in foreign policy. Measured by his own standards, he has been hugely successful. Russia has become an increasingly prominent and influential international actor. It has seized the initiative in its dealings with the West. A renascent nationalism has become one of the pillars of regime legitimacy.
And the liberal world order has self-detonated, opening the way to a new international system more favourable to Moscow. In short, as far as Putin is concerned, Russia has made it. The fundamentals are sound. The achievements are obvious. All that remains is to build on them, polish them, safeguard them, and ensure that others recognise them.
Russian foreign policy is an organic phenomenon, requiring constant attention and frequent modifications. But for Putin and the political elite, these are matters of detail, not of principle or strategic direction. Over the next few years, then, the chances of substantive change in Russian foreign policy are minimal. At times Moscow will appear relatively accommodating and pragmatic.
At other times it will be assertive and confrontational, employing an array of instruments, traditional nuclear and conventional military power and new such as cyber capabilities and social media. Putin will indulge his penchant for tactical surprises, both to realise specific objectives and as a matter of sound operating practice. And he will project himself as an international statesman, a voice of moderation and wisdom in a world lacking in either.
Yet such fluctuations should always be seen in the context of a world view that regards Russian actions as invariably justified. But this will not happen as long as Putin remains the dominant political figure in Russia, and certainly not during the current presidential term.
But for those who cannot arrive at this admittedly difficult condition, there should be periods of temporary withdrawal from sex activity ranging from a few weeks to a few years. For single persons and dedicated married ones it is a voluntary inner self-discipline. If a man wishes to become truly adult he should cultivate the needful qualities. It is paid in unwanted children, unhappy castaways, unpleasant diseases, lost health, and premature ageing.
Lawrence to Brother Lawrence is the passage from a mysticism that exaggerates sexual desire to a mysticism that ignores it. Either attitude is ill-balanced. A philosophical mysticism must revolt against both Lawrences, for it cannot risk the madness which shadows the modern one, nor be satisfied with the incompleteness of the medieval one. With the eyes so widely out of focus, nature achieves her purpose with ease. The animal is honourable; it has no higher duty than to be itself, its natural self. So far as man has a body too, he shares this same search for repeated but fleeting physical and pleasurable sensations.
But he alone has the faculty of higher abstract and metaphysical thought, with the sensitivity to feel intuitively the presence of a divine soul. Their development is his duty too. In the end they become too irresponsible. When they marry the relationship is more likely to fall apart, the children to feel insecure and to become problem cases. Yet it is saddening only so long as they fail to understand and master the sex forces involved; so soon as this poise is established and balance found within the self, there will be peace too.
The man who has built a balanced nature finds such temperance a saner and safer path. But today science has put at its disposal certain devices for its satisfaction without some of its undesired consequences. The energy saved from disciplined sex strengthens the rest of the human personality, physically and mentally, but does not automatically turn itself into artistic power.
To some extent sex is one of these forces. He has not the patience to wait for a fuller mating nor the prudence to investigate to what he is really committing himself. For them the path of devotional love is more attractive than any other path. The strength of their emotional nature accounts for this. But male aspirants are generally more willing to take to the various non-devotional approaches. Their intellectual nature and their power of will are often stronger than those of women.
It is easier for them to comprehend, and also to accept, the idea of an Impersonal God. For these, and for other reasons, although there have been many successful female mystics in history, there have been few successful female philosophers. This psychical union may be harmful to the higher-bred person of the two who are engaged in the intercourse.
In fact several of them are given animal names by the author. The more people, the more problems. Today a fuss is being made about the dangers of the population explosion. But the only kind of remedy which the world considers seriously is mechanical or chemical birth control, the use of some kind of contraceptive. It does not seem to occur to most people that the root of the matter lies in their enslavement to sexual passions and that only a voluntary sex control arrived at by their own inner growth can deal with this problem without creating adverse or harmful side effects--whether personal or social--as the contraceptives are causing.
That these qualities are latent in her is shown by the numerous cases of career women who have successfully established themselves in fields of action uninvaded before the nineteenth century. For instance, positive self-reliant character and rational practical judgement traditionally belong to man while a gentle character and emotion-swayed faith are traditionally feminine. She has acquired the latter for reasons of her own physical constitution and by caring for the family and tending its home. Man must set out to cultivate these two characteristics also and yet take care not to lose his more reasonable and logical way of thought while doing so, since this is needed to correct them.
Both sexes must learn to let the impersonal intuition and impartial conscience control all the other functions and keep them in equilibrium. Neither sex is to lose those outward qualities which mark and distinguish the sexes from one another and render them attractive to each other. He is to remain manly, she to retain her femininity. The change will show itself mostly in reaction to others and in response to the world. Nevertheless, quite a number find it possible to do so.
If real effort is made, and if it is accompanied by earnest prayer for Divine assistance, the higher self will see that the way gradually becomes easier. But this is certainly not true of the philosophic mystic. The latter knows that unless an individual feels strongly impelled to discontinue physical relations, sexual abstinence may do considerably more harm--mentally and physically--than spiritual good. Therefore, the general attitude toward sex should be one of acceptance--but certain disciplines and ethical standards must, naturally, accompany it.
Marriage is permissible, but the animal nature must be controlled by the higher Will. The answer is given in The Voice of the Silence , which says: "Do not believe that lust can ever be killed out if gratified or satiated, for this is an abomination inspired by Satan. It is by feeding vice that it expands and waxes strong, like to the worm that fattens on the blossom's heart. There are more effective and safer ways. Meanwhile, meditation may help by mentally retracing premarital or even extramarital experiences of sex, but to see them this time from the ugly and repulsive side, with all the sordid little details and low principles, the risks and confusions, the futility and disappointment that mark the end, and thus get the other side of the picture.
This kind of meditation is to be analytic and reflective. It is intended to create certain associative thoughts which will immediately manifest themselves whenever the desire itself manifests.
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Some attach too much importance to physical asceticism such as fasting and not enough to following out the evil consequences of sex desire by repeated thoughts and imaginations, until they are etched into his outlook. This is so because: 1 The aspirant's karma becomes entangled with the other person's. We are to help their evolution, not their retrogression. Hence Jesus rightly explained that in heaven--the higher level of existence--there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage.
It is of course a matter for you to decide how you are to react in every case; but whether it is necessary to yield in order to get on in practical life, I would reply that many women do yield and do get on in consequence but it is not necessarily the only way to get on. It is the easier but a slippery and dangerous path and I would certainly advise you to try the harder way even though you may not get on so well in consequence.
Every rose on the easier path has a thorn concealed beneath it. It is not that sex in itself is a sin, for at a certain evolutionary level it is a natural function, but that self-respect demands it should be an expression of something finer than mere barter. It is more satisfactory in the end to establish yourself materially through determination and courage than to yield to temptation. Another point is that promiscuous sex not infrequently leads to disagreeable entanglements of karma which have to be disentangled at the price of suffering.
That is one of the several reasons why marriage has been laid down as the normal path for humanity. Dietary changes, with which the individual may experiment, are one step in the right direction. He should strive to improve his whole general condition. All matters involving self-restraint where diet, drinking, smoking, and so on, are concerned should be watched and inner promptings carefully followed.
It is also advisable to have regular periods of complete chastity--partly to exercise and develop the will and partly to prepare oneself for the practice of higher meditation. Although a philosophic discipline rejects permanent and exaggerated forms of asceticism, it both accepts and uses occasional and intelligent ones. The reasons are obvious and have prompted many spiritual aspirants, both Asiatic and Christian, to become celibates and monks.
These reasons may not be so obvious to those who are obsessed by sex, as so many modern writers have been who have influenced the younger generations, who are stupefied by the sense-pleasure of it, who are slaves to its recurring habit-forming urges and understand nothing of the need for its discipline.
The philosophers have long known that there is a higher view of sex, and some among them know that there is even a higher practice of it which eliminates the spiritual obstacle and raises it to the level of spiritual co-operation. This is brought about by substituting stillness for passion. Such a change cannot be achieved without the practice of physical, nervous, emotional, and mental self-control.
Just as the high point of meditation provides its glorious result under the condition of a thought-free stillness, in the same way raising sex to this immeasurably higher octave requires the condition of an inward and outward immobilization. That this can be reached, that the coupling of the two sexes could possibly have any relationship with the higher development of man, may seem incredible to those who know only its passional side.
This is part of the danger in such methods and why they are held in ill repute by many Indian authorities. It may be conquered, but its strength differs at different stages of the fighter's life. Then you will find an abundance of energy. In the former case, only physical or social penalties will keep them from being unrestrainedly self-indulgent. In the latter case, only the serious decision by both parties to provide a bodily vehicle for a higher type of reincarnating ego will bring them together in the procreative act.
Children will then owe their birth to the serious act and deliberate purpose of two calm, mature persons, not to the chance union and ungoverned passion of two drifting ones. They could not be enforced on the unready. Why should it be regarded as suspect, why should it be treated as anti-spiritual? If the answer is that the passions of sex drag man down into the mud, philosophy shows how they can be sublimated so as to lift him up to heaven. They can be brought to dismiss their ancient enmity towards spiritual aspiration, to unite and work together for man's redemption, his enlightenment, and his salvation.
Those who have no desire to go to the extreme length to which his highly ascetic turn took him, may nevertheless find cycling a helpful and healthy exercise. This is known as tantrik yoga. The full teaching has usually been unavailable to the general public because of the dangers of misunderstanding and misuse should it fall into the hands of the unready or unworthy. The other systems of yoga generally favour an ascetic and stoical attitude toward sex whereas the tantrik system does not.
In this modern age when so much of the hidden teaching has been revealed so widely, there is no reason why the tantrik teaching should remain completely hidden. If properly placed in the setting of a system of self-discipline and self-development, and if properly expounded with reasons, causes, and effects made quite clear, if kept free from all the entangling symbolism which has grown around the teaching during the centuries, it may have something useful to contribute to modern knowledge and modern living. They included fasting, abstinence from alcohol and meat and cooked food, sleeping on the floor, and running until exhausted.
He ought not fall into the error of one kind of ascetic who denounces it in vituperative language or of the other kind who tries to ignore it in repressive silence. It is a perfectly natural function which becomes evil if man degrades it, noble if he elevates it, changed if he sublimates it. How far he should discipline them is entirely a matter for his personal decision. Left to run amok in savage lust it harms and degrades a man but, redeemed and transmuted, it serves his best interests. But he knows also that it creates undesired and undesirable effects in mind and character.
The one is a way of outward life; the other a state of inner life. In most men sex is the largest diversion of these energies. But it cannot be brought about without developed qualities on both sides. Like all other ideas it has to be transcended; like all other pairs of opposites, it has to be brought into equilibrium.
But, lacking esoteric knowledge, without understanding how spirit and body are interwoven, too often they suffer defeat. The ancient Greek or Roman thinker who likened their condition to a form of madness was not so far wrong as he seems. But too often also it is subject to change; the glamour goes or is transferred elsewhere or, worse, is transformed into repulsion.
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And where sex is not the hidden operative factor, one of the two is a victim of--or possessed by--some other force: ambition, economic need, vanity, the power complex. But between start and finish much of a lifetime may pass away. The Buddha suggested a philosophical way of controlling the animal passions in man.
He affirmed that if we will think often of the inevitability of our own death, if we will remember that the upshot of all our activities is the funeral-pyre, the burial grave, we will begin to realize how pitiful, how ultimately worthless, and how immediately transient are all our passions. How will the animal passions appeal to the man lying on his deathbed? The thought of death even to those who are still very much alive will thus diminish the strength of lust, greed, hate, and anger.
This same force can be sublimated by will, imagination, aspiration, prayer, and meditation. When this is done, the Overself can then instruct them for they will be able to hear its voice. The answer must be that so long as the need is felt , so long is the sex force still not sublimated and the development of the other pole within oneself still incomplete. Marriage will continue to be indicated until this completion is attained. The force of human nature would overtake them in the end. An ideal which is unrealizable is useless as a working ideal, however lofty it seems as a theoretical one.
But this does not necessarily lead to the consequence of a prohibition against marriage or to a refusal of its consummation. It leads to a discipline of marriage and to a change in its consummation. If philosophy rejects the ascetic view in this matter, it also rejects the common view and the common practice. More cannot be written in public print but let it suffice that both the finest relationship between the sexes and the highest purity in sexual ethics are attained only among the philosophical adepts.
Theirs is not only a moral achievement but a magical one. The retention of semen is a practice in such circles as also in Indian yoga and Chinese Taoism. The monastic celibates are not the only persons who live what they call a "pure" life. Any married couple can do the same, provided they limit their physical relations to reproductive purposes alone and even then limit the number of their children to what reason and intuition direct. This means that they will refuse to dissipate the generative energies for mere pleasure, but instead will deliberately seek to transmute them.
Thus marriage is redeemed by the few who can rise to this lofty ideal, as it is degraded by the many who insist on keeping to their kinship with the animals. He will experience a joyous feeling of mastery over the animal in him that weaklings never know and cannot understand. He will find his true soul-mate when he finds his inner Self, when he yields himself completely and lovingly up to it. But in its subtler form it is an expression of belief in the reality of the ego. This becomes evident, however, only when a man transcends the ego in actuality, for then the need wholly falls away because the impulse behind it falls away.
I mean a state physically free from need of passion and emotionally secure from disturbance of fantasy. Most rule them physically alone, and then only so far as a limited morality, prudence, or position requires. Few seek mental victory over them or even want such a victory. Since the battle is usually hard and long, these attitudes are understandable.
But the Quester has no other option than to fight for self-mastery here as in other passional spheres. It may of course be accompanied by higher attractions, admirations, or affections, or even covered up and masked by them. There are physical, mental, and emotional disciplines to bring it under control. But to defeat it, the constant looking away, with joy, at the divine beauty, and frequent surrender to the divine stillness must complete them.
The experience it yields is but a faint distorted echo of love. The confusion of the original sound with its echo leads to delusion about both. Love is willing to let her stay free. This is not an argument against marriage, for both sex and love can be found inside as well as outside marriage. It is an attempt to clear confusion and remove delusion.
Along with physical regimes, he must find his solution by cold reasoning, austere disciplining, trained imagining, deep meditating, and devotional aspiring--a solution which must free him from the common state of either unsatisfied or over-satisfied desires. Only by probing to the very roots of this love and these desires, can he hope to bring them into accord with the philosophic ideal. He will perceive vividly that what is happening is an invasion by an alien force--so alien that it will actually seem to be at some measurable distance from him, moving farther off as it weakens or coming closer as it strengthens.
Therefore he will realize that the choice of accepting it as his own or rejecting it as not his own, is presented him. By refusing to identify himself with it, he quickly robs it of its power over him. The Buddha indeed gave an exercise to his disciples to defend themselves against such invasions by asking them to declare repeatedly, "This is not I. This is not mine. Every man is loath to part with the sex relation and enter into the monastic state.
Only sufficiently weighty counterbalancing forces will make him do so.
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We ought, therefore, to respect that state even if we feel no personal inclination to take the vow of chastity or see no theoretical necessity to do so. But whereas this glimpse merely torments him by its brevity and tantalizes him by its limited, faulty character, that higher impersonal love is eternal, unlimited, and supremely satisfying: it is indeed perfect love.
Both directions lead to ecstasy yet how rare and ethereal the one, how common and gross the other! It takes what is worthy from both--not by arithmetical computation to arrive at equal balance but by wise insight to arrive at harmonious living. It respects the creative vitality of man as something to be brought under control, and thereafter used conservatively or consciously sublimated. In this way the extreme points of view associated with fanaticism are rejected. The ridiculous results of such fanaticism can be heard in the nonsense talked equally by those who measure a man's spirituality by his monastic celibacy as well as by those who consider all celibacy unnecessary.
The sexual instinct, particularly, is of paramount importance. He need not be ashamed of it nor hesitate to preserve it because of contrary counsel. It will do him no harm but can provide him with the power to sustain his highest endeavours. Not many can do this, it is true, and those whose physical continence is continually sapped by mental and emotional unchastity, might do better to follow Saint Paul's advice and marry rather than burn.
The male component is the active, the outgoing, that which aggressively drives out for release from its tensions. That we could be perfectly pure in mind without being perfectly chaste in body--that is, while yet remaining married--is not a conventional view. Every such expenditure of semen, which is the concentrated essence of physical life, is a wasting one.
A deliberate attempt to transmute these forces, made along mental, emotional, and spiritual directions, is also needed for more durable results. Why should the passionless celibate be put on the highest grade of spirituality and the married man denied any entry if both are judged not by sexual activity or inactivity but by capacity to immolate the ego upon its funeral pyre?
Although this is but a poor echo of the other and higher discovery, muted and distorted and raucous by comparison, still it is in deepest meaning the union of self with Overself. In this lies its perpetual lure. But because it is a substitution, it is beset with miseries, frustrations, perils, and repulsions.
And however often it is satisfied, neither the man nor the woman ever feels really fulfilled.
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This is because the inner need is ignored, the higher purpose not even thought of. In India this term is usually taken to mean "abstinence from sexual intercourse; chastity," and is so translated into English. But the original esoteric and philosophic meaning is "restraint of the sexual forces. He may find other and useful channels for it. He may build a business or invent a machine, write a poem or help nature grow food or flowers.
On the contrary, he will feel the gain of freedom, strength, and mastery. Buddha said: "Of all longings and desires none is stronger than sex. Sex as a desire has no equal. Rely on the universal Oneness. No one is able to become a follower of the Way if he accepts dualism. Sex is an extreme example of the negation of this theory, since it depends entirely upon the attraction between opposites.
Buddha said: "To put a stop to these evil actions [unceasing indulgence of sexual passion] will not be so good as to put a stop to [the root] in your mind. If the mind desists, its followers will stop also. There are chaste persons who need to remain so. There are unchaste ones who need to become chaste. The sublimation of sex energy is the best ideal for both these classes. The first is set apart for this purpose by nature. The second must become strong enough to set themselves apart by deliberate decision.
But the deep inner voice must be their counsel in this matter. For there are others who need the experience of married life, the subjection to its disciplines and temptations, the chance it offers to move away from egoism or to fall deeper into it. But they are only phases of the quest, only means to an end.
If they are overdone, or their place magnified and misunderstood, they create new blockages, attachments, and new cages from which the ascetic will later need to seek liberation. To condemn the human satisfactions, to reject pleasures, to brush aside the arts as irrelevant, is too sweeping, goes too far, and makes for unreasonableness.
For beginning as far back as The Spiritual Crisis of Man , I had stopped looking at the subject with the youthful rebellious eyes with which I had also looked at conventional society and religion. If Freud contributed to the earlier phase, it need not be thought that puritanism has done so to the later one.
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