Sexual Attraction and the Flowering of Love

Dr B. Ramamurthy, Madras

A quotation from a Tamil verse tells us "The ten flee in the face of hunger". When one is very hungry the ten feelings of shame, creed, education, reasoning, charity, austerity, effort, capacity to suffer, and passion go out of the window. This is the theme of this particular Tamil verse. But I feel that passion or sexual attraction is more overpowering than even hunger. When the stomach is half empty, this feeling can still surface. In a poor country like India where people have little or no education, and not enough food, this feeling alone is responsible for the uncontrolled increase in population. Perhaps when a man is totally starved for food, it is difficult for his passion to be astir.

Sexual attraction and sexual drive are natural not only to man but to all living species. It is responsible for propagation. Therefore, in every species, sexual passion has been provided by nature as a very powerful drive. In salmon fish, and some insects, the male dies soon after copulation. The male of these species enjoys sex only once in his life. In spite of this, their species continue to multiply, which shows that the sexual drive is very powerful indeed.

The five parts responsible for sex drive

The brain is the source of this sexual drive. The control of sexual activity depends on your brain monitoring capacity. It is really dependent on a small part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is about the size of one's thumbnail. Although it is so small, the hypothalamus controls very important feelings and sensations. So far, research has shown that the hypothalamus controls seven important feelings: thirst, hunger, sexual passion, bodily heat and cold, anger and allied passions, body growth, etc.

Below the part of the hypothalamus controlling the sexual drive, there is a link half an inch in length, which connects it to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is in the central part of the head. The link that connects this part of the hypothalamus to the pituitary can be termed the 'time clock mechanism'. This link has an important function similar to an alarm clock. In this time clock mechanism, many different hormones circulate between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. An increase in hormonal activity here is responsible for increased sexual drive.

The pituitary gland is linked through the bloodstream with the testicles or the ovaries. The hypothalamus, time clock mechanism, pituitary gland, testicles and ovaries are the five parts responsible for sexual drive. The feelings aroused in the part of the hypothalamus responsible for passion, move forcefully like a wave to the genital organs.

Role of the time clock mechanism

All species that reproduce themselves have glands and organs concerned with reproduction. Mankind has these same organs, but there is a big difference between man and other living species. In animals, sexual arousal takes place according to their life expectancy. Besides they do not have the sexual drive at all times. It is seasonal. We call it heat in animals. Take the rat for example, its life expectancy is about one year. Therefore sexual passion is aroused when it is about 2 months old. The elephant's life expectancy is 100 years. Therefore sexual arousal is experienced very late. But in man sexual feelings are aroused at the time of puberty and continue throughout life. Even at the age of 13 some males feel sexually attracted. Increase in the hormones of the time clock mechanism, is responsible for this.

The time clock mechanism is responsible for boys and girls attaining puberty. It arouses feelings of sex at the appropriate age. If this part is injured or if a tumour develops here increasing tension, sexual instinct will be non-existent. The same thing applies to the part of the hypothalamus concerned with sex. Such complaints, however, can be cured easily these days through surgery.

The motivating factor

From the time of puberty, women are subject to menstrual periods every month. Sexual drive increases from the beginning of menses, for 18 days. Then it decreases a little until the end of the cycle and increases again at the next menses. Even after menopause, sexual drive will be there, but conception does not take place.

Needless to say, men have this sexual drive at all times. When a man looks at a woman, he is sexually attracted. A certain attachment and pleasure in living exists only on account of sexual attraction. Nature has made the male and the female different. The female is usually more alluring in order to attract the male. This is because in nature reproduction is dependent on the female. In human beings only one ova is produced during the monthly cycle. If it is not fertilised then the process has to wait until the next month and so on. Nature has created this instinct so that reproduction takes place continuously.

We speak of sexual attraction when a man and woman fall in love. This same instinct is the motivating factor behind it, but sex alone is not love. Love is bliss attained by selfless action, by sacrifice. When we are happy to give up our lives for the sake of loved ones, then this feeling may be compared to love. Maternal love, which expects nothing, but which is always ready for sacrifice, is one of the highest forms of love known to us. Greater than this is the love that treats all others as brothers and sisters. This higher love is achieved only through constant self-sacrifice, control of the senses, and austere living. The mind has to be brought under control, so that it becomes one-pointed. Then the higher forms of love can manifest.

The possibility of transcendence

In order to gain control over the mind, we should first learn to rise above the instincts. The energy lost through the sexual act can be conserved and sublimated through yogic exercises and control of the senses. This is explained in our sastras. The nervous system is toned up and strengthened when the sexual instinct is brought under control. There are many yogis who have thus sublimated their sexual energy and utilised it for transformation of consciousness.

In man the reproductive system has been created with the most wonderful links to the brain. Relationships brought about through this instinct make for love and attachment. On the worldly level, family ties and social obligations arise from this basic instinct. On the spiritual level, however, this is the source of kundalini shakti and when united with Shiva, the consciousness principle in the brain, it brings about the flowering of all the higher human potentialities.

When we try to analyse the wonders of nature it is a truly endless process. To understand nature's secrets, we should live like the yogis and rishis of ancient times. We should strengthen the mind through yoga and meditation. It is a sadhana requiring many years of practice. There are mahatmas who have transcended the lower mind and risen above the instincts to a higher level of consciousness. Even in this modern age of hurry and haste, it is still possible to fit some sadhana into the daily schedule. Regular practice of yoga and meditation brings balance into our lives and helps us to be moderate in everything. It is the means of transmuting man's awareness from the instinctive level to the godhead.

Culture grows when we try to grow in awareness. Discrimination which is natural to man, should be used to the highest purpose. Then one's speech and action grow in culture too. With the growth of each individual, the society becomes highly endowed with aspiring souls who are able to live in the world fulfilling their duties and yet still attain the supreme goal of spiritual illumination.