Must One Not Commit Adultery in Order to Achieve the Ultimate?


I have read a quote on Ananda website: "Patanjali says, is to follow the negative rules postulated by all religions: Don’t steal; don’t kill; don’t commit adultery. Don’t commit any evil." Does that mean one must not commit adultery in order to achieve the ultimate?

—Pradeep Laveti, Canada


Dear Pradeep,

Billions of people will never commit adultery, but few are going to “achieve the ultimate” as a result! Nonetheless, the consciousness of greed or lust is inimical to the consciousness of purity, self-offering, and ego-transcendence into the love and joy of God. A life of frequent sense self-indulgence for its own sake does not support love for God but rather love of self.

Yet a study of the lives of many saints reveals that they often characterize their younger years as a time of indulgence. Whether in the same life or many past lives, who has not sought self-aggrandizement in countless ways? I wouldn’t single out adultery as anything special. To quote Yogananda-ji, “God doesn’t mind our faults. He seeks our love.” The world is perpetuated by and characterized by the temptation to affirm the little self and its endless desires and preoccupations. We, as the little self, did not create this maya. Thus those who seek to transcend its innate unsatisfactoriness (i.e. soul-suffering disappointments), can and should expect help “from above: from He who created it.”

“A saint is a sinner who never gave up” is another expression commonly relied upon to encourage us. We must try to be good, honest, pure, and devotional. We must try to engage in meditation and prayer and selfless acts of charity and generosity. But let our “salvation” (“ultimate” state) be the concern and project of Divine Mother. As Lahiri Mahasaya would counsel disciples (who were perhaps impatient or discouraged), “Banat, banat, ban jai!” (“Doing, doing, soon finished!”).

We must “chop the wood” of our mindfulness and self-control and “carry the water” of our devotion to the well of the heart, wherein resides the Divine Self. To the degree of your perseverance and devotion, you will find the two hands of God reaching down to lift you up into the Oneness of Bliss.

Blessings and joy to you!
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA