Humanity has the sexual impulse in a way altogether natural, spontaneous and, I would say, legitimate. This impulse will naturally and spontaneously disappear with animality. To make it a centre of conflict and struggle is ridiculous. It is only when the consciousness ceases to be human that it drops off quite naturally.
-The Mother

Sexual and gender identity is fluid and superficial
The conscious sense that I'm male or I'm female, I'm heterosexual, I'm a lesbian, I'm gay, I'm transsexual is a transitory phenomenon that can change within the same or across different lifetimes. As we go deeper into our subconscious mind, we find that different gender and sexual tendencies- masculine and feminine, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual coexist within the same person. The internal experience of any individual tends to be a highly personalized and rich mixture of masculinity and femininity and heterosexuality and homosexuality. But, from a spiritual perspective, the conscious and the subconscious mind are just a small fragment of our total being.

There are many more layers of higher consciousness that ultimately lead to the deeper self. The deeper self is not affected by sexual processes or social constructions, it is beyond these superficial layers. It is asexual and without any gender. However, most of us are not in touch with this deeper self and end up giving too much importance to our gender roles and sexual identity. While gender and sexuality are important aspects of our personality, but, an excessive focus on them thwarts our self-growth.

Sexual oppression and sexual liberation
Till some decades ago, many societies and cultures thought that uncontrolled sexuality was a threat to civilization and came up with different ethics, rules and laws to suppress it. This led to sexual oppression, discrimination and psychological disorders. With time and greater awareness about the pitfalls of sexual repression, societies and cultures sanctioned sexual freedom. This has posed a new set of challenges as the world seems to have gone to the other extreme. The thirst for sensual pleasure has intensified due to increased sexual liberation and a preoccupation around gratification. Consequently, people end up identifying themselves as a 'physical body' with a certain set of sexual needs and tendencies and feel that they need other physical bodies for fulfillment.

The problem with this identification is that it keeps us confined to a lower level of consciousness and we suffer relentlessly. The excitement that one derives from sexual indulgence is short-lived. Whether someone is male, female or queer, when they put sexuality at the center stage of their self, they get bound by a false identity and a vicious cycle of pleasure and pain. Even after enjoying the intense sexual gratification in fantasy and reality with multiple partners, there is emptiness and sadness within.

Nowadays, explicit sexual material is easily available to cater to every possible fantasy. People expose their senses to different types of portrayal of sexual act in order to feel aroused. There are others who simulate sexual acts in virtual space through different communication channels. It is commonly believed that these are healthy and innocuous forms of sexual gratification. However, individuals who derive satisfaction from pornography or virtual sex develop peculiar difficulties. Due to repeated exposure to intense stimuli, they always need an exaggerated sensory input to feel aroused. When they don't get that in real life, there is boredom and frustration. As a result, many people develop an addiction to pornography and virtual sex and lose interest in real relationships.

Converting sexual energy into cosmic energy
You have not to repress it. You have to think over it, you have to sublimate it, and you have to drop it consciously, overcome it consciously. So repression is a curse. If you suppress it, you put in the unconscious mind, some day it will create a lot a trouble for you.
-Siddheshwar Baba

The sacred energy that created the universe and sustains it pervades our being. At the gross physical and vital level, this energy becomes sexual instinct and as we move into the higher layers of consciousness, the same energy is transmuted into kundalini, the spiritual force. Those who aspire for an evolved existence must devote attention and effort to channelize and sublimate sexual energy into its progressively evolved counterparts. However, one must not suppress sexual needs and desires because it leads to physical and psychological disorders. Repression of the sexual instinct is as problematic as sexual overindulgence, because in both the cases the mind is obsessed with sexuality and cannot delve deeper into the psyche.

When people manifest sexual energy in a crude form, it becomes a mechanical, perverted and addictive activity. These individuals consider the other person a need-satisfying object that can be used and disposed of at will. The sexual act lacks intimacy, connection and fulfillment. Therefore, for many people, the first step in transmuting sexual energy is to experience and express it in the context of a loving and caring relationship. We then realize that sexuality is not about enjoying someone's body and achieving a catharsis, but it is about developing a sacred contact with the other person. People who have a strong spiritual calling must take care to develop a relationship that is not based on physical and sexual needs. The bedrock of such a bond can be a deeper meaning and purpose that both the partners are trying to find in life.

Because the nature wants procreation to go on, it is difficult for several spiritual aspirants to convert their sexual energy into cosmic energy. Often one finds that despite best of efforts, the sexual impulse gains momentum one fine day and disrupts what had been achieved. The best way to transmute sexual energy into its divine counterpart is through an immersion in devotion. As one develops intense love for the divine and repeatedly longs for only the divine, slowly the sexual impulse transforms into cosmic energy. Rather than dispersing itself and seeking objects and fulfillment in the external world, this energy concentrates and seeks to merge with the source. When it unites with the source, there is eternal bliss.

pulkit sharmaPulkit Sharma is a clinical psychologist and spiritual therapist in Pondicherry (Puducherry) near Auroville, Tamil Nadu. He works with individuals suffering from sexual problems, dysfunctions and disorders from a spiritual perspective. Pulkit has helped people with different sexual orientations and conflicts find clarity and meaning in their lives.