Theosophy on Sex and Sex Magic: Suffering, Desire, and Liberation
Originally “Sex in Occult Philosophy,” I wanted to reflect upon and grapple with sex in relation to my life, relationships, and suffering. Rather, this will be mostly about Theosophy and a little reflection on sex in relation to suffering, desire, and spiritual liberation. This is not written as a rule for the general public, but pertains to Theosophy, the school or brotherhood originally connected to it and its rules for discipleship, including a staunch stance against ill intent and sexual abuse in any group or by any individual, as was the case with C.W. Leadbeater within the Theosophical Society. Hence, the intent is not to be self-righteous, or a prude on the topic of sex. As to my own views, sex magic relates to the sensual, to psychical and physiological nature. All I can state as to my personal view, is that I do not believe sex magic can lead to enlightenment, or spiritual liberation. It is used to establish connection with one’s partner(s), and it is only related to physical and physiological action, and as it is understood to be, to psychic and astral planes and phenomena.
Keeping in mind that there do exist deeper aspects and scientifically-proven beneficial aspects of sex for our bodies and mental state.
TRIALS & CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP IN EARLY HISTORY OF THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
There is a history of “occult-decadent” milieu in the last century, that becomes characteristic of what modern occultism is seen as by contemporary magic practitioners, that discourage the value of ethics and morality. Aleister Crowley (Satariel’s Shround: Sex, Power and Ethics in Contemporary Thelema) is one, that was at the head of this literary milieu. There are practitioners, that dislike H.P. Blavatsky, because in times when people had sought liberation from religious orthodoxy and Christianity, Blavatsky’s introduction and emphasis on two oppositional forces of magic (White or Yellow versus Black or Red) ran counter to the attitudes, that led to the rise of sexual magic in the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth century. One might believe the opinion towards her would be different, because she is a woman, but it is not the case.
Theosophy in some minds represented an emergent organized esotericism, which was grounded in philosophy and an ethical approach to magic, even discouraging ceremonial magic in the Theosophical Society to hide and reserve the occultism for those genuinely interested and prepared for the required discipline. Blavatsky had argued, that Western notions of magic were folly, because limited to [must be in accordance with] Biblical literature and doctrine; and because the great Mysteries in Europe had been lost and forgotten. Blavatsky implored that, the majority of Western occultists were heading straight into black magic, whether consciously or not. If occultism was to be more disseminated among the public, it was understood, they ought to become acquainted with the real implications of its study and its pitfalls.
“It is impossible to worship both sides, – the male and female of nature, – at once; one or the other must predominate. Only by following the absolute, sexless Unity, can the white path be trodden. Hence the necessity for chastity. The occult and the physical must never be mixed up. It is absolutely necessary to concentrate on one or the other. The tendency naturally is to Black Magic, and that is why several years of training are necessary to cut away every sort of prejudice before power can be entrusted to you. Before you can become an occultist you have to give up every prejudice, every liking, every feeling of preference for one thing or another. The adept must entirely separate himself from his personality. He must say, I am a power! It is easy to fall into Black Magic.” (K.H., Some Commentaries on H.P.B.’s Esoteric Instructions I and II, pg. 10, Par. 2, last line)
The importance of this pertains to consequences resulting in mental and physical illness, or psychic and spiritual debilitation, and general degradation of the quality of life as a result of ignorance, abuse and selfishness. The early Theosophists were intent on demonstrating the existence of preserved sacred knowledge and literature on the Occult Sciences since the most ancient times of Egypt. The Spiritualist fascination with the dead had been put into question on fundamental points of disagreement, regarding the phenomena of necromancy. This was an obstacle to theurgy, and the higher Mysteries of the “Secret Science.” The idea was to discourage widespread interest in occultism, as it is not meant for the public.
Ethics was considered more important, to curtail lust for power and delusions of grandeur. In this philosophy, magia sexualis is an earthly delight. Hence, the different ideas about the connection between yoga, occultism, and Buddhism. The “explosion of sexualities” in modern industrial societies involves the history of sexual magic in Western Occultism. Contemporaries have often tried to use ancient mythology and traditions to critique the history of suppressed sexuality, or to find views in the past, that aligned with the new emerging discourse on sexuality and queerness.
Among the Yogis, the highest condition is liberation from the illusory-nature of matter on this plane, but this requires a sacrifice under a tremendous process many ordinary day-to-day people cannot devote themselves to, nor begin to fathom. Many people would believe rules on sex and the concept of sins and transgressions in such an order or spiritual culture with such aims are just restrictions, and that it is merely built on outdated notions of repressive sexuality and regulated perversity in society since the late seventeenth-century.
The truth is that, if we are speaking about these particular esoteric teachings, then sexual activity and pleasure must be sacrificed in order to prepare the mental state, and gradually in time liberate profound hidden strength and magic. The Adept is the Over-Man, but that real adept is the “inner essence,” and discipleship draws the adept out. The belief, that it liberates one from the “World’s Illusion” makes it a salvific doctrine, but does not solely imply transcendence outside of the World.
In The Theosophist, July, 1883, Blavatsky states concerning an occult law in Nature that never fails to come into effect, that the very inward desire and pull towards the occult path, practical theurgy, communion with celestials and the great elements arouses dormant vices — the passions of our animal nature, or the faults in our emotional states and the inability to control and manage them. Thus the disciple had to make a choice. The aspirant is thrown into a moral and psychological battle between their two natures of celestial and animal origin and constitution. Every single hidden blemish is brought out, and tempting passions could lead to psychic debasement:
“…do what he may, it shall and will be brought to light (…) He is now in an atmosphere of illusions — maya. Vice puts on its most alluring face, and the tempting passions try to lure the inexperienced aspirant to the depths of psychic debasement. “If the candidate has the latent lust for money, or political chicanery, or materialistic scepticism, or vain display, or false speaking, or cruelty, or sensual gratification of any kind, the germ is almost sure to sprout; and so, on the other hand, as regards the noble qualities of human nature. The real man comes out. Is it not the height of folly, then, for anyone to leave the smooth path of commonplace life to scale the crags of Chelaship without some reasonable feeling of certainty that he has the right stuff in him? Well says the Bible: ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall’ — a test that would-be Chelas should consider well before they rush headlong into the fray!”
Eros and Sexual Passion
The Greek Eros is translated passion, or “god of passion” but érōs is also one of the old “primordial gods” in Greek mythology, and does not solely refer to sexual lust, or physiological love. Eros primarily represents the divine will in creation and desire in the gods till it reaches the act of procreation between living creatures. Desire is regarded as a natural and psychic element connected with the world’s creation, and its desire to manifest as the creation.
The esotericism and cosmogony details the cosmos coming into birth under the luminous propelling action (or force) of Eros, who is the vital force of “life” or “universal electricity” (Electra). In humanity, our real spiritual nature lies highly dormant, while the physiological element of our generative powers are active.
So, I have explained thus far, that sex magic is connected to the astral, or psychic and physical aspect of nature.
The Kaivalya Upanishad reads, that
“Purusha, not larger than a thumb, dwelling within, always dwelling in the heart of man, is perceived by the heart, the thought, the mind; they who know it become immortal.”
Many Western thinkers in this area have taught doctrines and ideas that are not true, if they say, sexual magic can lead to enlightenment. It cannot possibly do so. It brings about visualizations, results and impressions upon the psychic and astral plane, but reaches no further. There are many states of consciousness, and while it may even heighten your senses into the invisible world, it has its limits. Knowing this crucial matter might help you choose to avoid situations of sexual abuse in any attempt to exploit you.
Therapists of present-day will not recommend practicing sex magic to a patient, but do not discourage it either. This is for the individual to decide.
On another note, in terms of ordinary life, let us be mature about sex.
Humans shouldn’t be ashamed of discussing sex and their desires, just as they should not be ashamed of their own nude bodies. So, we do need to individually reflect on sex in our lives. There is, and we see it everyday, an over-saturation of sexual images in our society, yet we accept it, on the idea, that it is in contradiction to centuries of suppressed sexuality and sexual activity. In ordinary life, sex is an extremely pervasive function of human life.
The corruption within the Catholic Church demonstrates, that not even the priests can handle their sexual proclivities and desires, so people today have suggested the Catholic Church take a liberal stance on gay priests, and should allow priests to marry.
The real foundations for rules on sex in the established religions though are fundamentally based upon many differing approaches to handling the real conflicting relationship between devotion to God and worldly living. As theosophist I.K. Taimni explained, “It is love which gradually raises our consciousness into the realm of the eternal, makes us aware of our own Divinity and is called bhakti in Sanskrit.” (Self-Realization through Love, Adyar: TPH, 1975)
Now, there is this shame we have of bodies, and the story of Adam and Eve comes to mind. There are these overly negative views we have of the physical body, or commit against the physical body, to martyrs who blow themselves up to reach paradise, or people who see no consequences in raping their victims’ bodies. The latter two easily dispose of, and kill bodies.
The lack of such a respect and solid philosophy or understanding of the value of possessing a body (a finite and base component of our nature) is part of that. Additionally, studies in behavior, intelligence, psychiatry give us an entirely different perspective about the importance of the nervous system, and therefore the body. When we go deeply into the esoteric teachings of Theosophy, we find that practical Occultism is intimately tied to psychological, neurological, and physiological matters. The occultist has to have a knowledge of human anatomy, among other things to understand what they are doing with the body in their practice in regards to internal regulations and functions, no different from a professional fitness trainer.
If this was not the case, the masters of H.P. Blavatsky wouldn’t have mentioned the Rules for disciples in their own school — qualifications, they say are mentioned in Sanskrit and Tibetan volumes. A book is referenced in ‘Book IV of Kiu-te, in the chapter on “the laws of Upasans” (disciples)’: the first only applies to temple disciples, being perfect physical health; the second, absolute mental and physical purity; the seventh, a calm indifference for, but a just appreciation of, everything that constitutes the objective and transitory world; the eighth, the blessings of both parents and their permission to become an Upasana (chela); and lastly the ninth, celibacy, and freedom from any obligatory duty.
The Secret Doctrine explains, that reproductive organs were seen as parts to protect, not abuse.
The sensual and vicious nature of humans, G. de Purucker attributes to man themselves, and its excesses, believing that the problem of sex is a key to understanding the rise and decline of civilizations. The recovery of a lost state of man is impeded, according to Blavatsky and Purucker, because we choose those elements, entirely disbelieving there is a divine-spiritual element in us.
Hence, this is not an ordinary school, and it had specific rules for moulding a specific kind of disciple — the highest there can possibly be. This ideal of course is Buddhahood.
Now, while the philosopher may openly shun sex, or rather the body, and speak of higher virtue, many yet in privacy may crave it. The sweetness of memories and after-thoughts; or that mental exploration inwardly, that delightful magical science of the nerves in action stimulates passions, nevertheless it can be directed and controlled. Throughout the world, there are many ideas about sex magic and sex, and the way religions attempt to address how to manage our sexual desire vary. There are teachings that explain, sexual desire can actually be overcome, and consider this exactly like a path. This is a sacrifice, but there is something more at its end, secret and precious.
Yoga is now globally adopted, or practiced all over the world. Will they listen then, if we are to tell them this? It is now common, that all physiological Yoga is based on centering what are called chakras, regulating the “vital breath,” and bringing out the kundalini energy from the base of the spinal cord.
There’s an aspect of the vitalforce, that becomes active from the bottom section of the spinal cord, where it is hidden and curled up, but this function involves the lower principles of our nature. Without a teacher, it is inadvisable to force or play with this energy, which can literally kill or harm another, and at that, mostly causing harm to the host.
In accordance with ancient teachings that can be gathered as supporting evidence, a great energy is taught to dwell in the heart in Helena P. Blavatsky’s translated text, “The Voice of the Silence.” She claimed that it comes from a secret esoteric Yogacharya Buddhist text referred to as The Book of the Golden Precepts.
“Let not thy “Heaven-born,” merged in the sea of Maya, break from the Universal Parent (SOUL), but let the fiery power retire into the inmost chamber, the chamber of the Heart and the abode of the World’s Mother.”
“Then from the heart that Power shall rise into the sixth, the middle region, the place between thine eyes, when it becomes the breath of the ONE-SOUL, the voice which filleth all, thy Master’s voice.”
“‘Tis only then thou canst become a “Walker of the Sky” who treads the winds above the waves, whose step touches not the waters.”
The “Power” and the “World-mother” in the excerpts are names given to Kundalini, and is considered one of the mystic “Yogi powers,” an inert fiery-electric force, which resides in “the inner chamber of the Heart,” where “the seven scale of states of consciousness are reflected,” and not at the Muladhara Chakra (the base of the spinal cord).
She explained further:
“The Consciousness which is merely the animal Consciousness is made up of the Consciousness of all the cells in the Body, except those of the Heart. For the Heart is the organ of the Spiritual Consciousness. (…) The Heart is the centre of the Spiritual Consciousness, as the Brain is the centre of Intellectual Consciousness. But this Spiritual Consciousness cannot be guided by a person, nor can its energy be directed by him, until he is completely united with Buddhi-Manas.” (Collected Writings, XII, p. 694-695)
One of the oddest experiences I had years ago was my times spent with an old friend’s father, Ustad Mutasimbillah Mazhabi, the son of Mawlānā Muhammad Atta-ullah Faizani, an Afghan Islamic scholar, who warned of the dangers of Communism in Afghanistan. It is believed Faizani was executed after the communist Khalqis came to power in 1979. I had not read The Voice of the Silence in depth then, but here I was surrounded by enthusiastic Muslim teachers, friends and scholars showing me a diagram of the “seven chambers of the heart,” and I was admittedly baffled by the concept, as I had not only never heard of it, I knew very little about Islam and the history of Afghanistan and Sufism. So here we have esoteric teachings from an Islamic school of an Afghani religious scholar and master and a secret Yogacharya texts, and that is incredibly fascinating, because in fact, Blavatsky and other researchers say several things about the connection between Afghanistan, Sufism and Buddhism.
Now, the power, that is commonly located in the base of the spinal cord is actually seated in the nerves of the astral body in that location. However, it is also not advisable to then suddenly popularize an idea such as “Heart Yoga,” and try to devise practices to study this power and force it, that is said to reside in the heart. It is advised to leave it alone.
This energy no matter the point in the body, has the potential to be constructive or destructive, and therefore being destructive, can intensively damage the nervous system; and untrained, undisciplined and forced, could cause serious mental illness, schizophrenia, etc. This is known and warned within sex magic by practioners themselves.
CAN YOU GRATIFY SEXUAL DESIRE
Desire is not something that can be fully gratified. Such student, as expected among these traditions, has to master the senses, rather than suppress the desire. Desire is an energy, like anger, that has to be re-directed toward strengthening mental powers, and exploring connections to the inner faculties, and subsequently their use.
Vital energy and psychic forces are aspects of the universal-principle, and we must learn its functions in relation to the body. While, this seems impossible to many, and even laughable, it is basic to understand. As the writer, I am not saying to you, that because I am writing these things, I am liberated from sexual passion and the libido, but I have experienced what it was like being liberated from the common human experience of feeling tied to the body like a doll. I’ve experienced what it is like beyond mere sexual desire and passion, so I seek the real, and bonds that run deeper. There is far more to our potentiality and being.
As to Occultism, in this sense of hierarchy of its branches, it is said one cannot practice Occultism and waver between the paths. So many people are under the impression, that breathing-exercises, physical Yoga, and kundalini Yoga are spiritually developing them, but these in particular have very little to do with spiritual development.
These particular occult views do not originate in Victorian morality.
The Theosophical views are by some seen as being rooted in Victorian views on sex, but this is untrue, and also there exist several other untrue notions about how men and women of the Victorian period viewed sex. The Victorians were not puritans, and their views were fluctuating at the time.
“We have no other court of appeal. One can expect little help from medical men, psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage counselors, priests, preachers, and educators because, with, of course, a number of happy exceptions, all are infected with the virus of the “New Morality” which would have us abandon all sexual restraints and “liberate” ourselves from the “unhealthy repressions” of our puritan ancestors.” (George Cardinal Legros, Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrineon the Problem of Sex)
“The question is often asked” Blavatsky says in The Secret Doctrine (Vol. 2, 295-6), why “should celibacy and chastity be a sine qua non rule and condition of regular chelaship, or the development of psychic and occult powers? The answer is contained in the Commentary (…) During human life the greatest impediment in the way of spiritual development, and especially to the acquirement of Yoga powers, is the activity of our physiological senses. Sexual action being closely connected, by interaction, with the spinal cord and the grey matter of the brain, it is useless to give any longer explanation.”
Q. What is the Theosophical view on sex?
A. It is seen as —
- A passing phase in human evolution (and human beings will become androgynous);
- It is primarily for procreation.
As M.R. Jaqua puts it:
“While the following may not be of directly relevant to central Theosophic concerns, it contains much recent scientific evidence in support of traditional conservative attitude toward sexuality held in common by most all ancient philosophic and religious system as well as original Theosophy. Brain-mind theorizing and rationalization by many would-be sages in the current theosophic movement would hold that in our modern era sexuality has no relationship to the higher spiritual life, that the traditions of the ancient schools of yoga and soul development are outmoded. The human body and psychological constitution does not change so quickly nor hopefully in a more material direction. While major Theosophic concerns are with imbuing a new and elevating spiritual philosophy into the world-mind, sexual morality is also of grave, if secondary, concern, the Theosophic Doctrine is that man is eventually evolving from the sexual condition, but this, as everything else in evolution takes effort.” (Mark R. Jacqua, Conservation Therapy)
“There is the story about a young man who went to Socrates with the question of whether or not he should marry. “It doesn’t matter much one way or another,” said Socrates. “Whatever you do, you’ll regret it.”—George Cardinal Legros, “Messiah” Newsletter, 1987.
Regarding homosexuality, there is nothing said in all of the Theosophical literature and by the contemporaries about homosexuality, or non-conforming and non-traditional sexualities. However, generally, sexual promiscuity, sex addiction, and the excessive focus on sex is discouraged. It is considered unwise to mix sex and practical occultism.
Then again, as said numerous times, ‘not every Theosophist is an Occultist, and not every Occultist, a Theosophist.’ It is really not even a matter of being more or less conservative versus liberal about it. Also, one is most likely to be of some tradition: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Zoroastrian, etc.
In society, there is still a great problem with sex, and how people manage it with all the complications it brings. Add practical occultism in the mix, and then there are likely more problems to come about when that person have no idea what they are doing.
As to married couples, they are responsible to their family, and perhaps they have a job where they are responsible for both their family and the lives of many other people. Every person is not fit to be king or hero, though they may certainly possess the virtues and qualities of the two. Laziness is a trait absolutely disastrous for any occultist, and there can be no turning back once you have begun.
When H.P. Blavatsky, whom remained celibate herself was asked if a man must marry or remain a celibate (The Key to Theosophy, pg. 262), she replied:
THEOS: “It depends on the kind of man you mean. If you refer to one who intends to live in the world, one who, even though a good, earnest Theosophist, and an ardent worker for our cause, still has ties and wishes which bind him to the world, who, in short, does not feel that he has done for ever with what men call life, and that he desires one thing and one thing only – to know the truth, and to be able to help others — then for such a one I say there is no reason why he should not marry, if he likes to take the risks of that lottery where there are so many more blanks than prizes. Surely you cannot believe us so absurd and fanatical as to preach against marriage altogether? On the contrary, save in a few exceptional cases of practical Occultism, marriage is the only remedy against immorality.”
When G. de Purucker was asked, “Do Theosophists approve of marriage?” he replied in Questions We All Ask, pg. 137:
“Theosophists most certainly approve of marriage, decidedly so. The only trouble is that so many marriages are ‘merely farces.’ Marriage itself is beautiful. The principle is holy; and if true marriage takes place, life is sanctified for those two human hearts.”
George Cardinal Legros used the story of Mary to write on love and marriage:
“What have pure animals incapable of one altruistic impulse to do with “soul mates” and spiritual affinities? One capable of spiritual affinity may find it as Christ did, by lifting the Magdalen out of the slum of sin and despair into the light of a love that is pure beneficence and crowned with beauty and blessing. Those who prate most of soul-affinities often mean, when stripped of all disguise, to drag down a pure soul to their own animal plane. The love of a true woman will redeem any man from the dominion of lust, who really desires to conquer himself. The love of a true man will elevate and glorify any woman who really feels her womanhood and aspires toward its highest realization.” (George Cardinal Legros, Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine on the Problem of Sex, pg. 8)
It is actually possible to transmute your thoughts away from the sexual and purify them, for as great a duration as can be sustained, just as when you find them to be pervasive, flooding you unsuspectingly and daily, until it becomes such a state of your very existence.
In certain states of luminosity and contemplation, sexual desires become the most faintest and weakest echoes you will ever hear in such condition of mental exuberance. You will forget about it entirely and your mind will be absorbed into another space. There exist states of perception, not induced by drugs, that transcend the temporal (or prolonged) experience of an orgasm. The orgasm to most of us is believed to be the highest culmination of pent-up energy directed toward and at someone, or an object.
For the everyday family-person with responsibilities and great duties to attend, you are aware of how much you need to think carefully about the relation of sex to your life, and for your partner.
“It will not be denied by any fairminded and intelligent person that the brotherhood of man includes also the sisterhood of woman. The same altruistic conception is applicable to both sexes. Advancement along this line means undoubtedly the real progress of the whole human race. It is not possible, however, that the two sexes should advance along parallel lines and that those lines, while tending in the same direction, should never touch each other, should never coalesce. It is not generally conceived that this one principle of brotherhood under the inspiration of altruism is also the key to the truest and highest relation of the sexes. But in his sexual life man is an unreasoning animal dominated by blind passion, and woman or wife is often his victim as is the helpless animal in the claws of a tiger. His reason is sophistry, and his apparent kindness often only a snare. The problem is by no means solved when, aware of all this, man deliberately turns his back upon woman and seeks in a life of celibacy relief from temptation. The elements of an ideal life are not to be found except in the natural and existent. In our present condition man has need of woman, and woman has need of man. Each has something to give, to receive, and to learn from the other.
When the ancient writings declare that “In heaven the human being is neither married nor given in marriage, but is as the angels,” and when mystics like Jacob Bohme represent the highest estate as sexless, these writers are seldom understood because the interpretation proceeds from the purely animal plane, while these writers speak from a different plane entirely. The average condition of the man of the world in any sexual relation is satiety for individual woman, with the annual passion still unsatisfied, though perhaps restrained by law, by fear, or by religion. In all true marriage, in any relation deserving the name of love, the condition is exactly the reverse; the animal is conquered and the true woman enthroned.” (George Cardinal Legros, Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine on the Problem of Sex, pp. 7-8)
These things we think are abstract, like desire, love, etc., are powerful agents in our lives, that affect our relations with others.
“The Blavatskian idea is basically to avoid any type of attempt at psychic or occult development, as virtually no one can live the life required. These faculties will be natural at a later stage of evolution. The Leadbeater school, in contradiction, centers their whole scheme on the psychic glamors. Blavatsky, Judge and Purucker promote philosophy and the practical results in living a high philosophy, while the Leadbeater/Besant school of “Theosophy” promotes primarily the excitement of the lower psychic realms, which appeals more to everyone’s baser and emotional being, the “lower iddhi”. Without the higher philosophy and understanding, the lower psychic is ever and absolutely undependable’.” (Mark R. Jacqua, A Comparison of C. W. Leadbeater’s The Chakras with the Writings of H. P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, and G. de Purucker)
Speaking of friendship or discovering a more matured and higher love, I try to explain the Seven Kinds of Love in These Seven Kinds of Love and the Metaphysics of Eros will Change your Attitude to Life.