Karmic consequences of multiple affairs

Question

I want to ask if receiving food from others and physical relations transfer karma from one being to the other? Is having many affairs ok?

—Sunil, India

Answer

Dear Sunil,

Let’s begin by separating food from having affairs! There’s nothing particularly wrong spiritually speaking in receiving food from others. I know there is a long-standing tradition of “non-acceptance” of gifts (including foods) that renunciates affirm as an aspect of the yamas (8-Fold Path of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras).

Much depends on the attitude of one who gives food to another and, the attitude of one who receives the food. This can be very complicated. But if your wife or mother or sister gives you food, why would THAT be a spiritual issue?

If you accept food from someone who is wanting to curry favour and get in your good graces, then you may have incurred an obligation that you do not want. In such a case, do not accept the food! If you accept food from someone who does not respect you or who is of low consciousness, then you should think twice about eating it.

As to having multiple affairs (with women, I suppose?), this is forbidden by all the scriptures and saints because indulging in sex for the sake of pleasure alone is a form of adultery because “adulterating” the true purpose of sex: to have children or to express love and commitment and not merely pleasure. One disrespects soul’s true nature and that of your partner by chasing sexual pleasure for its own sake. It constitutes worship of the human body: a “false idol.”

Sexually transmitted diseases; hurt feelings; abuse; disrespect; remorse; disgust, boredom; anger; untruthfulness; crimes of passion; drunkenness; so many negative actions and emoti0ns are potentially excited by excessive and promiscuous sexual indulgence.

Wanton and indiscriminate sexual activities and multiple partners strengthen the grip of ego and the senses upon the mind. The natural place of sex in human life is in the context of love not merely pleasure.

It would be better to seek a suitable life partner whom you can love and respect. There are many yogic and traditional methods of re-directing the sex force (the gift of life itself) into positive directions: exercise; diet; music and the arts; devotion to God; service to humanity; creative activities and so on. Meditation and yoga and especially advanced mudras and kriyas are very helpful when practiced with the guidance of a teacher or guru and with devotion.

I suggest you seek the company and counsel of an acharya to guide you and perhaps a counselor, too for the conscious recognition of attitudes and behaviors that tempt you into such unfulfilling and false relationships.

I wish for you freedom from lust and the descent of pure grace!

Nayaswami Hriman

Seattle WA USA