Your First Line of Defense – Control Your Eyes
“The creator has constructed women in such a way that their beautiful voices and movements and the beautiful features of their hips, their breasts, and the other parts of their bodies attract the members of the opposite sex, both on earth and on other planets, and awaken their lusty desires. Captivated by the material movements of women, he wants to remain in this material world. Thus one’s promotion to the spiritual world is checked simply by seeing the beautiful bodily structure and movements of women.” SB 5.2.7
Men can touch, caress, undress, or rape women with their eyes. Controlling the eyes is fundamental to sexual purity (and also a symptom of it). Men are wired to look at beautiful women. Men enjoy women through their eyes (which is why porn is so popular).
It is easiest to resist temptation at the stage of contemplation – “dhyayato vishayan pumsah.” It’s more difficult to resist at the attachment stage – “sangas teshupajayate.” And when you reach the lust stage it’s usually too late – “sangat sanjayate kamah.” So we must nip it in the bud on the level of contemplation.
dhyayato vishayan pumsah
sangat sanjayate kamah
kamat krodho bhijayate
While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. Bhagavad-gita 2.62
Controlling our eyes is sometimes referred to as bouncing our eyes. In the Bible it is said that Job made a covenant with his eyes not to look at women. Jesus said, if your eye causes you to sin, cut it out. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Bilvamangala Thakura realized how much trouble his eyes got him into so he made himself blind (cut out his eyes, so to speak). Some of you may have to start with cutting out your TV or computer.
When you begin this practice, you’ll notice the pervasiveness of pictures that you need to bounce your eyes away from. You’ll start to see pictures of beautiful women on packages, ads, billboards, t-shirts, labels, etc. and realize that you often look at these pictures for longer than you should. You’ll become more conscious of the beautiful and seductive woman in magazine articles and ads, in catalogs, on TV commercials, etc. and how you’re being affected by them. You’ll begin to notice that the longer you look, the more your mind tends to fantasize about that woman. Better than complaining that sexual desires are so difficult to control, realize how much you may be fanning those sexual flames. The joke in Sexaholics Anonymous is that I was just glancing at the Victoria’s Secret catalog to make sure this is the magazine I am not supposed to look at.
When a man and his beautiful wife pass you by on the street, who are you looking at? When a beautiful girl walks by you at the post office while you are getting your mail, where do your eyes go? If you are at your friend’s house and his wife is beautiful, do you ever get distracted by her beauty? If you just learn to control your eyes, you are well on your way to success.
Maybe you don’t notice this because by definition a habit is an unconscious behavior. But when you practice bouncing your eyes you begin to notice the degree to which you have not been bouncing your eyes. The beauty of this practice is that if you seriously do this for a few months, you develop the habit of automatically turning your eyes away.
Sometimes women just appear in front of us and thus we find ourselves looking at them. Bouncing the eyes means to not take a second, third or fourth look.
“In the same way that Vishvamitra Muni was attracted by the tinkling bangles of Menaka, Prince Agnidhra, upon hearing the tinkling bangles of Purvacitti, immediately opened his eyes to see her beautiful movements as she walked. As he opened his lotus like eyes, he could immediately see that the Apsara was present by his side.” SB 5.2.5
When we allow ourselves to contemplate the features of a woman, sexual samskaras are impressed in our heart and remain there for days, months, or years – possibly even lifetimes. These contribute to the agitation that produces what we experience as above normal (or uncontrollable) sexual desire. We read how semen exists in a subtle form throughout the body, but takes on its gross form when stimulated through sexual thoughts. The eyes are the greatest stimulant for men. The eyes must be your first line of defense.
This practice is taught in the Gita 2.58
yada samharate cayam
kurmo ‘nganiva sarvashah
tasya prajna pratisthita
One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.
Visualize either a typical scenario in which you have difficulty remaining sexually pure or a scenario that is not typical but in which you would have difficulty remaining sexually pure, i.e. if you were on the road and a beautiful woman invited you to spend time with her. As you visualize this scenario(s), visualize acting in a sexually controlled way. What do you do? What do you say? What things do you do to prevent any sexual improprieties? Do this exercise as often as you wish in as many different scenarios as you wish. It trains you so that when (or if) you are in similar situations you are practiced to act in the proper way.
The Bible says flee from sexual morality. We can practice fleeing in the mental world to train ourselves to flee in the physical world.
Start practicing “bouncing your eyes.”