What is Lust?

Although originally referring to any sort of pleasure, and then later to unruly or very eager behavior, with the spread of fundamentalism the word lust became associated only with strong, self-indulgent, sexual desire. Lust is also known as lechery, sensuality, licentiousness, carnality, the hots (slang), libido, lewdness, wantonness, salaciousness, lasciviousness, concupiscence, randiness (informal), chiefly Brit. pruriency.

Lust is differentiated from sexual energy or sexual activity. Lust is egotistical and selfish and is driven by craving for sensation. Natural or normal sexual activity — without lust — occurs in levels, and corresponds to the quality of consciousness.

Sexual energy is divided into three distinct types.

  1. First: the energy having to do with the reproduction of the race and the health of the physical body in general.
  2. Second: the energy having to do with the spheres of thought, feeling and will.
  3. Third: the energy that is found related with the Divine Spirit of man. —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony (1950)

Lust is not driven by or beholden to these three types of sexual energy. Instead, it steals them for its own purposes.

Lust is a psychological phenomenon, not a physical one. The effects are felt physically but caused psychologically. This means that the cause of lust — which is psychological — can be conquered and removed, as demonstrated by all the great masters of the great religions: Jesus, Moses, Buddha, etc. When lust is removed, what remains is the natural sexual force, in harmony, and without suffering.

All religions teach how lust is at the root of suffering.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the innocent, naked Adam and Eve were tempted to eat the "fruit" of "knowledge." Throughout the scriptures, knowledge (Hebrew da'ath) represents sexual knowledge. After eating that forbidden fruit — lust, the orgasm — they first encounter suffering: they become afraid, ashamed, attempt to cover their bodies, and are then cast out of Eden (Hebrew,  bliss) to suffer in the wilderness. Thus, the way to return to bliss (Eden) is to undo that mistake: to conquer lust, and restore primeval innocence. This is what is called chastity, tantra, brahmacharya, etc. Learn more: Kabbalah of Genesis

In Hinduism, the whole of the great epic The Mahabharata occurs because of the failure of King Pandu to control his lustMahabharata: Pandu and His Sons

Quotes about Lust

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man; but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren." —Christianity: James 2

"...desire and lust are what make people foolish and deluded... Those who harbor desire and lust cannot see the Way. When our hands disturb clear water, none who gather beside it can see their reflections. Similarly, when people are aroused by desires, their minds are so muddled they cannot see the Way. You shramanas should renounce desire. When desire and lust are purged, the Way will manifest itself... How dare one be reckless and indulge in passion and lust! Although they are as dangerous as the tiger’s jaws, people yield willingly, throwing themselves into the mire and drown. That is why they are called ordinary beings. Those who break free from this prison can transcend all defilements to become arhats.”” —Buddha, Sutra of 42 Chapters

The Buddha said: "Ananda, you have always heard me teach about discipline (vinaya) which consists in the practice of three decisive steps, the control of mind, called sila which leads to stillness (dhyana) and thence to wisdom (prajna). This is called the threefold study of the supramundane way. Ananda, why is control of mind called sila? If all living beings in the six worlds of existence abstain from sexual desire (orgasm) , they will not be subject to the continual round of births and deaths. Your practice of Samadhi should free you from defilements but they cannot be eliminated if your lustful mind is not wiped out. Even after you have acquired such wisdom, if you fail to kill sensuality, then when dhyana manifests, you will fall into the way of demons..." —The Surangama Sutra

"Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresisted became necessity." —St. Augustine

"By Lust I mean that affection of the mind that aims at the enjoyment of one's self and one's neighbor without reference to God." —St. Augustine

"The source of your arrogance and anger is your lust and the rootedness of that is in your habits." —Islamic Sufism: Jalal al-Din Rumi

"Lustful people do not enter the path of liberation." —Padmasambhava, from oral instructions to Lady Tsogyal

"Moses saw there [in Hell] men tortured by the angels of destruction. Some of the sinners were hanged by their eyelids, some by their ears, some by their hands, and others by their tongues, and they cried bitterly. And he saw women hanging by their hair and by their breasts and in such like ways, all were hanging by chains of fire. And Moses asked the Lord of Hell, and said "Why are these hanged by their eyes and by their tongues and are so fearfully tortured and so sorely punished?" And the master of Hell answered: "Because they looked with an evil [lustful] eye at fair women, and at married women, and at the money of their friends and neighbours, and gave false witness against their neighbours." Judaism: Gedulath Mosheh, Beth-hammidrash

"This momentary joy breeds months of pain;
This hot desire converts to cold disdain."
—Shakespeare, Lucrece 690-1

"Love comforteth like sunshine after rain,
But Lust's effect is tempest after sun;
Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain,
Lust's winter comes ere summer half be done;
Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies;
Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies."
—Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis 799-804, Adonis

"Worse than killing, lust." —Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus 2.2.175, Lavinia to Tamora

"Without knowledge [ gnosis, da'ath], without asceticism [renunciation], and without the Yoga practices, lust and other passions can never be destroyed." —Hinduism: S'rîmad Devî Bhâgawatam, Sixth book

"It is easy to tame a wild tiger or a lion or an elephant. It is easy to play with the cobra. It is easy to walk over the fire. It is easy to devour fire and drink the waters of ocean. It is easy to uproot the Himalayas. It is easy to get victory in the battlefield. But it is difficult to eradicate lust. But you need not despair even a bit. Have faith in God, in His Name and in His grace. Lust cannot be completely rooted out of the mind except by the grace of the Lord. You are bound to succeed if you have faith in Him. You can destroy lust in the twinkling of an eye. The Lord makes a dumb man to speak and a lame man to ascend a steep hill. Mere human effort alone will not suffice. The Divine Grace is needed. God helps those who help themselves. If you do total self-surrender, Mother Herself does the Sadhana. Regular meditation and Japa of Mantra, Sattvic diet, Satsanga, practice of Pranayama, Sirsha and Sarvanga Asanas, study of religious books, Vichara or enquiry into the nature of Atman or ‘who am I,’ seclusion for three months on the banks of any holy river, will entirely annihilate lust, however powerful the old Samskaras and Vasanas may be. Positive always overcomes negative. You need not be discouraged at any rate. Plunge yourself seriously in meditation, kill Mara and come out victorious in the struggle. Shine as a brilliant Yogi. Thou art ever pure Atman. Feel this, O Visvaranjan!" —Swami Sivananda

"A man plagued with incessant lust wished to castrate himself. The Buddha told him, “Rather than castrate yourself, you should curb your mind (through meditation) . The mind is like a commander; when the commander halts, so will his subordinates. If you cannot cut off lascivious thoughts, what is the use of castrating yourself?” The Buddha recited the following verse:
"Desire arises from thinking, Thinking arises from conception and discernment.
When both aspects of the mind  are still,
There is neither form nor action.
The Buddha said, “This verse was spoken by Kashyapa Buddha.” —Sutra of 42 Chapters

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