Suffering Sells

Atmananda Dasa - April 19, 2009 4:43 pm

I recently saw a television show at work, Oprah Winfrey. There was a young couple, boy and girl, 14 years old. They were discussing with a sex therapist about their intentions to initiate a sexual relationship. The therapist asked some penetrating questions of the couple. She asked, "How long do you expect your relationship to continue?". They both agreed that they hadn't assigned an expiration date to the relationship. The therapist pressed further and asked the boy if he could give an estimate. The boy replied, "I don't know, a long time." The therapist then asked, "How long is a long time?". The boy replied, "I don't know, six months or a year". The girl looked at him. She was shocked but trying to hide it. Her eyes widened slightly. Then the therapist asked the girl how long she was thinking when she said no expiration. She replied, "forever". The therapist then asked if they had considered what their relationship would be like after they had engaged in sex. She explained that especially for girls, it causes a really deep emotional impression. They then discussed birth control. Then the therapist asked the couple if they had considered the possibility of pregnancy. They replied that they had discussed it. The boy said that they had agreed that they would consider adoption or abortion if the girl got pregnant. The girl said that she couldn't even think of it because it would too overwhelming. The therapist replied that 1/3 of girls in the United States are pregnant by the time they reach age 20. She told the couple that at their age the hormones in the body are pushing them very intensely to engage in sex, yet their minds are not yet developed enough to consider the long term effects.


After I saw this, I was considering our plight as humans. It is a difficult one for most. The body, the mind, our culture, drives us ,from a young age, to think about, pursue and engage in sex. Yet, if we were to pursue that impulse, the natural consequences, emotional, physical, financial, would be more than we can sustain. Sex is promoted as natural, fun, pleasurable, exciting, etc., yet its full natural consequences are burdensome social ills, emotional problems, disease, the burden of raising children. In short, it is suffering. To hanker for it, is a kind of suffering. To engage in it, is a fleeting thrill, a relief from the relentless pushing of the hormones. To live with its consequences, involves suffering for most.


It is often said that sex sells. The images of beautiful human bodies are endlessly paraded before humanity to entice them to buy, consume, indulge, splurge, etc. If we would only consider more objective view, it can be understood, that it is all suffering; that suffering sells.

Yamuna Dasi - May 2, 2009 1:52 pm

I liked a lot what you wrote, thank you. I would not say that suffering sells, but rather that suffering disguised as happiness sells.


More and more in Bulgaria different meat products get promoted with advertising campaigns which are based on images of the happy animal which meat they are selling - i.e. "Gallina Blanca" selling chicken soups advertises with a happy chicken as their emblem, pig meat sellers advertising with the image of a sweet funny smiling pinky piglet, lamb sellers advertising with 3 happy lambs as their logo which are "funnily" all of a sudden disappearing in their advertising add film. This is how maya sells to us - by hiding real suffering through presenting it as joyful, pretty, sweet and funny. It's a different point of view at the reality, which hides the suffering by covering it with illusory happiness. People "buy" this suffering because they accept the false presentation as true, because they don't want to dive deeper and see the reality. This is their lack of sincerity. No one can say "they cheated me, I am not guilty!" If we accept an obvious lie as truth then we are hypocrites and we are guilty for lack of sincerity. We cannot blame it only on those who cheated us - we also wanted to be cheated.


Something like 15 years ago I read a small book from Schopenhauer, named "About Love". It was a small book with selected quotes from Schopenhauer on love.

Basically, the philosopher says that love is just a clever way of the nature to trick the human individuals into multiplying and therefore, contributing to the species' survival.


He writes:

"The only true purpose, the real purpose of every communion in love is the procreation, the birth of a child, although people who are in love are unable to conceive the nature's treacherous way, casting over the actual act a shining veil ".


"The pleasure, the voluptuousness of mutual sexual possession, is nothing but a trap. Nature is filling the gaps with new individuals. Examine two beings who are seeking to satisfy this imperative instinct called love. One could see in their eyes, filled with lust, a new being taking shape; in their sexual joining, after which they crave, is the union of two beings into one."


Schopenhauer concludes: "Love is only the species' will for survival, the need to propagate de species and it's detrimental to illusions and passing joys the human feels ".


I found at that time Schopenhauer's vision about love completely false and disgusting.


Fifteen years later when reading the same book I found many of his insights quite valid. His conclusion that procreation is the real goal of sex is the same as Kama Sutra's conclusion about the goal of kama. Principally he is right that what people usually name "love" is actually passion or lust.


Recently I wrote an essay "The Sex, the Nature and the Packet Offers". I was for long time meditating how could the ideas of our scriptures and acharyas be presented to the broad public in a way so that people can see the deep reason and wisdom in them. If one would just say: "Sex life is for procreation" nearly everybody would just jump against because will feel that this is not fair. So I thought how could I present the complete fairness in the interaction between nature and humans and who is the real cheater. As a result of this meditation of mine came this article. Here I will quote only a part of it:


"Nature has an offer to all living beings – it offers sexual pleasure and procreation together. Sexual act is for procreation but nature attaches a lot of pleasure to it in order to convince living beings to participate. It’s a packet offer by nature – procreation and pleasure in a single packet named “sexual act”. The feature of the packet offer is that you take it as it is or you refuse it. You cannot take a part of it but disregard other part. We humans are the only existing species which is trying to cheat the nature in this regards. We are trying to take the pleasure part but to escape the procreation part with its cares, self-sacrifices and responsibilities. Thus we are very unnatural in our approach to nature and very tricky as well. What we are trying to do actually is to cheat the nature – take the pleasure part and at any cost avoid the rest. But no matter how advanced in medicine, chemistry, biology and technology we are, we cannot cheat the nature with our mechanical, chemical or hormonal contraceptives. Condoms get broken and also to many men they seriously decrease the level of pleasure derived in sexual act. Women who are taking regularly contraceptives still get pregnant and the risk that the child will have physical and mental problems if the mother was taking contraceptives is very high. Women, trying to protect themselves by using the calendar method still get pregnant even if having sex during their period. In brief nature is not letting herself to be cheated so easily in long term. Even if sometimes it seems that we have succeeded to cheat her, later on we can understand that it was us who were cheated.


Contraceptive pills decrease the women's libido over long periods of time, of up to one year. It's like nature says: "Ok, do you want to mock me and trick me with the new inventions that prevent conception, no problem. Then what good is the sexual intercourse if nothing comes out of it, not a single individual? How about if you didn't feel a thing during the process? Perhaps you'll change your mind about those pills."


Another aspect of the hormonal pills is that they are very harmful for woman’s body. What they do is again cheating – they cheat the body by creating a constant state of illusory pregnancy, but that is connected with constant higher temperature and wrong hormonal balance and this leads to its natural sequences like gaining weight and feeling overexcited and tired. The nature says: “OK, you are “pregnant”, then you should eat more my dear because the “baby” in you needs to grow. The “baby” in you needs you to relax so that it can better grow, this is why you will feel constantly tired, to make you relax for the good of the “baby”. The hormones are raising your bodily temperature so naturally this is also exhausting, but don’t worry, this is OK.”


The nature outwardly starts “playing our game” in order to show us that finally we shall not like that very game of cheating and hiding which we have created. If we examine deeper ourselves and search WHY don’t we like that game which we have invented, if we are sincere enough we shall find out that the reason is because this is NOT A FAIR GAME. In this game we actually want to apply double standards and measures – we want to have rights which we are not giving to the other participant in this game, the nature, and thus we are breaking the first law of ethics – offering to others what we what to be offered and not offering to others what we don’t want to be offered. But a basic aspect of each and every game even if it’s a role game is some kind of EQALITY of rights – for example starting at the same time the run, or starting with equal score, or if it’s a role game if first we are chasing and the other party is running then it should come the moment of changing the roles and we shall run and the other party will chase us. This is the basis of EVERY GAME - EQALITY of rights. But the truth is that in this game of nature called “sex” we want to cheat. Nature makes us a packet offer, but we cheat by pretending that we take the packet offer, but we actually don’t. And when the nature in its turn cheats us by reestablishing the original packet offer, then we scream to heaven that she had “cheated” us and that it is “not fair”! The cheater shouting “catch the cheater” and if nobody comes to help then playing the role of the victim and concluding “it is not fair”!


Is it fair when we are trying to cheat the nature? Should the nature let us cheat her so that we can consider it “fair” or it’s us who have to reconsider our very ideas about what is fairness. Pleasure and procreation are coming to as in a packet offer by nature, not as two separate offers. All our modern life is filled with so many “packet offers” – we take a free last model cell phone but we sign a long term contract with the provider of mobile services which had given us the free cell phone, or we take a loan but we sign of contract that we shall pay it with interest. We accept all these packet offers, we are happy that they exist and we follow the rules of the contracts we sign. But when it comes to nature and to her natural packet offers to us, all of a sudden we become cheaters or rebels, fighters for “human rights”. We agree to commit to a written contract and its conditions for having the pleasure to acquire a new cell phone or a loan, but we rise against if the nature offers us sexual pleasure but we are expected to commit to our partner in a marriage, to live together and together to raise our kids. Why for the sake of acquiring a cell phone or a loan we are ready to follow the rules of the packet offer and to be happy by the existence of such an offer, but when the same is valid for the sex, marriage and continuation of the human race, it seems to us brutally “unfair”? The reason for this is not in the nature, but in our double standards of thinking and evaluation. The unjust ones are us and not the nature. The mobile services operators make us offers for services and promotions and we accept them and “play their game” happily, but when the nature gives us our bodies, the sex and the pleasure of it and the procreation, but they are in a packet offer, we grab the packet, but refuse to sign the contract blaming the nature for being unfair and even cruel. Why don’t we blame the mobile services operators for their packet offers? Why don’t we see our own double standards? Nature is not unfair when making the packet offer because it makes the same offer for all living beings and they accept it while we the humans are the only species who revoke or try to cheat. We want to dictate the rules of the game and everybody to follow our rules and to play our game. But we are not in the position to dictate the rules of the game because we are not the provider of this game – we did not provide neither our bodies nor the sexual union. If they are given by the nature, then it is nature’s game and the rules for it will be dictated exclusively by her. We can either accept the game or reject to play it, but we cannot change its rules one-sidedly or to cheat, because if we do so it is absolutely fair the same to happen to us – the nature to change us the rules and to be cheated in our expectations and plans."