Sex and adultery


Can you summarize Yogananda's view on sex and adultery? When the snake of desire is not satisfied in one's marriage it is difficult to simply become "non-sexual".

—Neil, USA


The difficulty you’re experiencing is a common one, and I applaud you for asking before acting.

Paramhansa Yogananda was very strong on marital fidelity. He chided Americans on their fickleness, and how quickly they would change jobs, wives, husbands, gurus.

Even within a marriage, overindulging the sex urge is a spiritual misstep, creating a major karmic knot within oneself. Indulging it outside the marriage creates even more knots, both for you and for others.

So if you are interested in living in harmony with the master’s view, then we’re talking about what to do within your marriage, not whether it’s okay to do something outside the marriage.

You didn’t say whether your sex life is zero, or simply not as abundant as you’d like. But in either case, something needs to be done. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Ultimately, the spiritual seeker must transcend sex attraction. It may not be easy, but sex energy is just energy, and as such, some or all of it can be transmuted. That’s not suppression; it is redirection. Try to channel your unfulfilled sexual desire into other creative directions. You may need to think a bit about what those directions might be, but there are many choices. One of the best is to serve others, because it gets you out of thoughts of yourself, and self-gratification is one of the primary ingredients of the sex urge.
  • There are also specific techniques for transmuting sex energy: you’ll find in The Art and Science of Raja Yoga such a technique that was taught by Yoganandaji’s guru’s guru, Lahiri Mahasaya.
  • Both you and your partner need to lay out your feelings, clearly and calmly, whether in a private heart-to-heart talk or with a marital counselor. Each must understand clearly the other’s needs, and to whatever extent possible, why those needs exist. If each thinks only in terms of his or her own needs, there will be no basis for resolution. Each also must accept that the partner’s needs are real and legitimate, because it’s all too easy to dismiss a partner’s needs as selfish, deluded or unnecessary. Each then needs to look at his or her needs in light of the partner’s needs, and decide whether s/he can bend a bit. If so, perhaps common ground can be found. And if that’s not possible, well, you’ll both have to answer the question, “Is my marriage and my vow to honor it more important to me than this sex issue?”

I pray that both of you will be able to answer, “Yes!”