In the past year the Grihastha Vision Team has been jointly working on a book, Heart and Soul Connection, a Vaisnava Guide to Marriage, Service and Love, which deals will all aspects of family life. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread so I volunteered to write the complex and delicate chapter on affection and intimacy, which also deals with the issue of $ex.
Several years ago, I began to notice that advertisements began to appear on my computer that were related to the subject matter of my emails. The first time I noticed this I had been corresponding about funeral arrangements for my mother and advertisements began to appear for tombstones and memorials. I wrote a letter that mentioned incense and there were links for Ramakrishna Incense. There is no privacy on the internet.
About a year ago I started some correspondence with the GVT members about our book chapter on affection and intimacy and I started getting all kinds of links to singles dating sites. For Pete’s sake I have been happily married for 49 years, why wouldn’t they go away and leave me alone? Next, links started appearing like one that said “View Russian Brides.” I started to think of it as an inescapable nuisance, like the mosquitoes at Saranagati Village.
In June my wife and I were in Trinidad doing seminars. One evening I was doing some research for our book from a GBC Wiki site looking for a resolution they had passed about the no illicit $ex principle. After about 10 minutes of unsuccessful searches I closed the window. Behind it I was rather surprised to see a Google aerial photo of the area I was in that had the name and address of every prostitute within a five mile radius. Where the heck did that come from!!?? I started to feel like if I made one wrong mouse click a land mine would go off.
If you ever enter for the “s” word you are marked man. If you are actually looking at that stuff you must get a tsunami.
Since that experience I started using $ when I have to refer to the issue of $ex. Gradually the links and ads that appear have become a lot more benign, like trips to ski resorts and cheap flights to Cuba. Although I am worried that US Homeland Security might be watching the latter.
Well, I will confess that when I was 14, in 1964, I walked about 2 miles from home where no one would recognize me and bought a girlie magazine in a Chinese store. I was totally paranoid the whole time that one of my many aunts or uncles might drive up for a loaf of bread and catch me. It was such an anxiety, guilt filled experience that I threw the magazine in a garbage can about a mile from home.
Fast forward 40 years to the 21st century and porn is everywhere, in the privacy of your home computer and even your office cubicle. What was in a girlie magazine in the 60’s is in the Sears catalogs today. Nudity and sex are portrayed in movies and TV and I don’t even want to think about what might be on the internet.
Here are some stats from Healthyminds.com that throw light on the i$$ue:
• 12 percent of all Websites are porn • 25 percent of all search engine requests are for porn • 35 percent of all Internet downloads are pornographic • 260 new porn sites go online daily • 20% of men admit accessing pornography at work • 13% of women admit accessing pornography at work • 10% of adults admit having internet sexual addiction
Porn and porn addiction are a serious social issue which can also affect aspiring vaishnavas. In our work the GVT encounters couples struggling with this issue. It is not a benign recreational activity as promoted by the porn industry. It creates a huge violation of trust which destroys intimacy in marriage. If you have viewed porn or are tempted, ask yourself if you would want your spouse or friends to know.
“guhyam akhyati prcchati. And you disclose your mind; there is no secrecy between the lover and the beloved. And the other party also discloses. In this way, love becomes manifest.” Srila Prabhupada lecture July 6, 1976 Madhya-lila 20.101
If you have to keep a part of your life hidden it will block you from having a heart to heart connection.
For renunciates it is also extremely devastating.
Our GVT associates Krishnanandini dasi and Tariq Prabhu have just written a very compassionate, frank and detailed article on the issue of porn and porn addiction.
They describe what can be done to prevent its snare from undermining your values, your spiritual life and destroying your marriage.
Adapted from their article is a list of symptoms of addiction:
• Your behavior causes you to act against your underlying values and spiritual beliefs. • Your behaviors create negative legal, relationship, career, emotional or physical consequences, yet you persist in engaging in those behaviors anyway. • Your activities hurt the ones you love but you still do them. • Your activities take up more time, energy, thought and focus than they should or than you would like. • You frequently tell yourself: “after this, I’m not going to ever do this again. This is the last time that I am going to watch it or read it.” But you still return to the same or similar situations, as if by compulsion, in spite previous agreements (to yourself or your spouse).
If you see any of these symptoms in yourself, admission of the problem is the first step to recovery. If you have a problem with this issue or know someone who does refer them to the above mentioned article.
Pornography is a poor substitute for the love and affection we wish to receive from Krishna and our Vaisnava families.