Eroticisms of the sex-less life

Rules play so large a role in the ancient Indian texts on sex that one can’t help wondering whether the popular speculation that Vatsayan, the author of the Kama Sutra, was a grammarian by profession stems from the highly codified, rule-reminiscent style of the Kama Sutra.

While it sounds paradoxical, one of the rules of the Kama Sutra is the limitation on pleasure. Yoga tree reviews The book makes two major arguments in favour of limiting sex. Basic yoga poses chart The first, a nod to Manu, the symbolic representative of social rules, is the argument that Kama be kept in balance with the three other aims of human life, that is Artha, Dharma and Moksha. Charlotte yoga club Too much sex, suggests the Kama Sutra, will result in an overstretch whose opportunity cost is the other aims of life; an excess of drive focused on sex will lead to a reduced drive in making money or a compromise in good governance.


The second argument that the Kama Sutra makes for limiting sex is not to protect the other aims of life, but to protect sex itself. Isha yoga tennessee Listen to the closing lines of the book: “The man who is well-taught and expert in this text (the Kama Sutra)/pays attention to religion and power;/he does not indulge himself too much in passion/and so he succeeds when he plays the part of the lover”.

Here we recognise a version of the classic economics law of diminishing marginal utility: sex—much like ice-cream—must not be overindulged, in this way its pleasure and excitement can be drawn out, continued and enjoyed.

Each of the above two arguments on limiting sex is taken to its maximum extent in the state that is without sex, the state known as celibacy.

Perhaps because of its seeming difficulty, celibacy worldwide is either admired or reviled. Prenatal yoga first trimester Indian culture tends towards the side of admiration, as with almost any show of self-discipline or tapas. Yoga pregnancy When it comes to celibacy, our classical modes of thought subscribe to what psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar calls “the hermeneutics of idealisation”.

Modernity, however, rejects the hermeneutics of idealisation, in favour of an alternative popularised by Freud and Nietzsche among others, the “hermeneutics of suspicion”: a balance between recognition and perception, a place between explanation, and understanding based on the notion that not everything is as it seems on the surface, and that idealisation might foreclose deeper inquiry. Yoga styles list In celibacy, the delicate juggle between natural impulses and social rules are thrown into an alternate configuration, with results that fly in a surprising heterogeneity of directions.

Likewise, the poetry of Kannada bhakti poet Mahadeviyakka, also famously celibate, begs the question of whether sex has been transcended or imaginatively transformed, or whether the process of transcending sex might in fact involve imaginative transforming and healing.

“Other men are thorn under the smooth leaf,” writes Mahadeviakka. Yoga tips for weight loss in hindi video “I cannot touch them, go near them, nor trust them, nor speak to them confidences…I cannot take any man in my arms but my Lord white as jasmine”. Dahn yoga buckhead A Lord-as-lover has the immense advantage over a mere mortal lover. Morning yoga poses for beginners at home A celibate who choses such a lover while he or she gives up the pleasures of physical sex, gains instead in the inner world, a balm for all disappointment with a lover who can be imbued with any desirable quality, giving full reign to the creative fantasies of the self. Yoga tropics west encinitas Making a rule that involves curtailing sex then, ironically, allows a creation of a lover—the Lord—who is bound to no rules and can break them all.

In A Pleasant Kind of Heavy and Other Erotic Stories, I wrote a short story about a man who choose celibacy, much to his wife’s chagrin. Yoga for menstruation Initially driven mad by her anxious husband’s health-based Ayurvedic arguments for celibacy, the woman is finally able to make a successful counter argument, also using ancient texts.

Like the sex texts, Ayurveda, in fact, advocates sex in moderation. How to do yoga The holy trinity of ancient Ayurvedic doctors, Sushruta, Charaka and Vaghbata all agree, in their major works, that suppressing sexual urges causes an imbalance in the doshas or humours that govern bodily health. Ananda yoga studio This thought, which implies that health is founded upon some expression of sexuality, is held in common by all medicine, from Chinese to Indian, and from ancient and modern. Bikram yoga brighton michigan Likewise, the Ayurvedic evidence in favour of limiting sexuality is also ample: ancient texts such as the Ashtangahridayam indicate that excessive sex is tiring and depleting to the human body system.

While the emphasis that Ayurveda places on a healthy sex life is often lost in practise and translation, the dangers of sexual indulgence are underscored ad nauseum by Ayurvedic proverbs that appear both literally and figuratively excessive. Balance yoga frankfurt city A popular example is Maranam bindu-patanat jeevanam bindurakshanat—Falling of the semen brings death; preservation of the semen brings life. Dhyana yoga west philadelphia Because the ancient Ayurvedic texts are a combination of scientific treatise and religious narrative, contra-sex statements depart from agreement with modern medicine and from Ayurveda’s own injunction that sex is healthy. Sun yoga friedrichshain kursplan They appear less an elaboration of scientific realities and more an appeal to the health conscious rea­der—aided by relentless pseudo-scientific metaphor—of the benefits of limiting sex. Ananda yoga lander “One drop of semen is manufactured from forty drops of blood”, says the Ashtrangahridayam elsewhere, implying that each sexual experience—at least for men—drains the body of life giving blood.

Statements like these can be read as reflective of an acute anxiety—common to all cultures—of the destabilising force that sex can play. How to learn yoga fast To understand why the message of sexual moderation was perpetuated in such a fear-mongering, part-medical, part-Brahmanical way, the modern reader must see Ayurvedic texts in the context of their history. Yoga symbols om Ayurvedic texts flourished in the pre-Descartian, patriarchal state. My yoga room The need of that patriarchal state was governance, and since science, religion and culture were not yet parsed into separate subjects, all these disciplines were exerted together to ensure that men were available for governance, for which they could not become overly embroiled in—or exhausted by—the affairs of Kama.

While ascetic celibacy declines sexual­ity outside the self, its practice nevertheless transforms the self itself into a highly eroticised state. Moksha yoga markham schedule Another kind of celibacy refuses the self and eroticises the state. Yoga breathing exercises for sleep apnea In this other kind of celibacy, erotic longing is not experienced in any form, rather, in an extension of the argument that over-involvement in Kama leads to under-involvement in the other three aims, power celibacy suggests that a negation of Kama can lead to unique contributions in the other aims.

From a psychoanalytic perspective, power celibacy has far more defensive elements than ascetic celibacy because of how it treats erotic longing. Mantra yoga definition In asce­tic celibacy, erotic longing is valued but kept circulating within the person: internal objects—including jasmine white Gods—replace external lovers. Yoga paris 18 In power celibacy, the state of erotic longing is devalued as being less helpful both to the celibate as well as to human kind; Kama is therefore best avoided so that Artha, Dharma (and sometimes) Moksha can be better pursued.

Since power celibacy negates and renders valueless the erotic states of yearning or longing, in it is implicit a defensive element that is not shared by ascetic celibacy. Sahaja yoga meditation music youtube ‘Sex and longing are of lower value to society’, the power celibate appears to say, ‘therefore I eschew it and have decided—with great self-discipline and inordinate effort—to master it’. Yoga poses for quick weight loss The self-abn­egating celibacy of Mahatma Gandhi is perhaps the most celebrated example of power celibacy, beset with supporting fallacies that maternalise and idealise women in order to diminish their temptation as sexual objects. Yoga readings for relaxation The hermeneutics of idealism would of course praise such a decision, fuelled by the noble fire of tapas. Yoga fitness first The hermeneutics of suspicion would ask further questions: what are the fears and discomforts that fuel such an outwardly ‘noble’ choice for a given individual? Why can’t that individual bear the normal disappointments and chaos of sexual relationships?

These worthwhile questions can only be held, not answered: the clues lie in the early-life experiences of the individual often unknowable to the outside observer. Purple yoga long beach What we can say is that if our sex lives serve as a canvas for our rules, power and pleasure, then the unsexed life of the celibate seems to also, in its own way, serve these ends.

For celibacy has in-built an element of compensation, for the loss of relationships and the pleasures of a sexual life. Charm city yoga midtown The power celibate receives compensation for his or her loss via the narcissistic pleasures of control and mastery over the body; the claim of a totalising triumph over nature; an unswerving dedication to political activities; a particular energy that comes from the adulation of an apotheotic section of society that appreciates such ultimate discipline; the eroticisation of virtue. Yoga adelaide south The ascetic celibate has as compensation a rich inner world replete with pleasurable sensual states and divine fantasies. About yoga day in hindi Unspoilt by the reality of sex, which includes the chaos and disappointments of human relationship, each of the kinds of celibacy presents, in its peculiar way, a kind of apotheosised, eroticised, perfection.

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