Why Watching Sexually Explicit Material Is NOT a Good Idea

Question

Hi Ananda Family,

With all your spiritual understanding, please explain me if at all watching porn is bad, how does it affect an individual’s karma?...Isn’t that state of mind a perfect one where the mind stays undisturbed even when looking at something close to porn?....The television and media is full of these things ....It is almost everywhere....how can one stay firm and controlled even in presence of these?

Many thanks for your help

—ASP, India

Answer

Dear Friend,

You ask “Isn’t that state of mind a perfect one where the mind stays undisturbed even when looking at something close to porn?” But that IS the question. Consider: Who would choose to watch such things whose mind would indeed remain undisturbed? Answer: essentially: NO ONE!

Most devotees and yogis choose to avoid watching media that emphasizes and provides gratuitous sexuality or violence for the simple reason that such images impress themselves upon the mind. Elemental lusts derive from a consciousness whose power is far greater than that of an individual ego. The soul, struggling to win the battle of life over material desires, must not imagine the power of maya is easily dismissed. Why grovel in the mud of enticing vibrations of delusion and the false allure of pleasure (which the wise know give rise eventually only to suffering, mental or physical)?

There may be circumstances where one is exposed to gross sexuality or violence and in such circumstances remaining inward and centered is, given no other choice, the best course of action. But no one would purposely do so: not if he is sincere, self-honest, and wisely pursuing true happiness and an expansion of consciousness toward freedom in God! To trifle with these temptations is courting spiritual disaster.

The subconscious mind and the influence of maya will suggest to you that you can be exposed to these things without being affected. That is a lie born of the hidden desire to enjoy these things.

The pleasures of the human body can never satisfy our desire for happiness. Not only this, but to indulge in the delusion (whether vicariously or physically) plants the seeds of further desires. In time, the burning flames of forever-unfulfilled desires for pleasure will eat away at your mind, your emotions, and even your physical health. Thus it is sometimes described as “going to hell” because the flames of sense desire can never be fulfilled, only temporarily sated. Like a drug addict, even when there’s no longer pleasure there is a compulsion to indulge. Self-respect is thus the first victim.

And why is this so? Because pleasure is, by necessity, a temporary experience. Repeated indulgence eventually wears down the body and nervous system and brain causing nervousness, tension, dullness and loss of vitality and memory. The only true happiness to be found lies in the Self, within: from which all things are created. In God alone is the true and lasting pleasure of Bliss. If not long before, at least eventually, illness, old-age and death bring to an end all earthly pleasures.

So while it is true that the mind should be on its guard from avidly seeking and indulging, one should not unnecessarily expose oneself to the magnetic attraction of a universal and deeply embedded delusion, lest one risk spiritual death (at least for this lifetime).

Thus it is a fact that throughout the world, society and spiritual teachers counsel that we must keep our sexual impulses in check by the boundaries of love, trust, loyalty, respect and friendship born of a committed relationship.

Don’t think for a minute that you are different and can flaunt humankind’s wisdom. Media is simply a business and sex sells. Don’t think these things are “normal” even if pervasive in the world today. It IS a delusion and it IS a powerful delusion. Just because “everybody does it” doesn’t make it appropriate for a truthseeker. The world is filled with foolish and ignorant people, most “enjoying” varying degrees of misery. The amount of suffering on this planet caused by inappropriate sexual activity and promotion of sex is beyond measure. Keep your distance, my friend!

Pray for guidance and for self-honesty!

Nayaswami Hriman