4 Steps to Not Lust Visually in Public or Online
Dhamesvar Mahaprabhu das: Stop, respect, introspect, and return to purpose. This is the formula which I will share with you in this article about how to not visually lust after men and women. Sex desire is normal and very powerful. Generations are defined by it, every post-pubescent being in this world is impelled by it, and it can bring both life and death. So it is something that can and should be handled very carefully. Example: say Mr. Das is out and about doing his business. His eyes notice an attractive man or woman, but he tries not to look. Back and forth. His mind is captured by the prospect of what he saw and solely focused on it, albeit in a negative way. He feels desirous and therefore unsatisfied, frustrated, and confused what to do. He is blinded by lust. Later maybe he isolates at home and has self-behavior online, or he compromises his personal value to seek out illicit sex like Ajamila did. It starts relatively innocently, but because sex desire is so powerful, contemplation leads to suffering. Mr. Das was careless, not careful. So now, the question is: what to do?
Stop: The best way to win battles with lust is not to fight them. Krishna says “in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses” (Bg 3.41). The phrase ‘in the very beginning’ is significant because the best time to stop lust is before it attacks. That way you save your strength for the battles you cannot avoid. Then just like a materialist calculates how to adjust time, place, and circumstance for his enjoyment, you should identify and adjust manageable factors for your safety. For example, have a travel plan if that is a time when you are especially thrown off and tempted. Or use your computer in a common or public place. Precautions and boundaries are so important that they should be practiced even when everything seems safe because the senses are very strong and even the most learned people struggle.
When you see an attractive man or woman quickly divert your eyes and don’t look twice. If you have to look twice, then look at their feet. If your eyes lust despite you then turn your head or body. If you can’t disengage then relax and expand your awareness beyond what you’re triggered by. This is a good habit to develop because even if you theoretically understand that this person is part of Krishna still your hard-wired biology will be triggered to the mode of passion when you focus on him or her.
Respect: Since your attention is already focused when you lust, it is essential to purify how you think of the people you’re attracted to. You are after enjoyable objects like breasts, butts, legs, voice, hair, and so on. But people are embodied souls, not objects. To objectify people is impersonalism. So even when you are thinking, ‘I shouldn’t look at her legs…” you are still stuck in the false ego of being the enjoyer or renouncer of enjoyable objects. The result is that you feel shame and try to hide your glances. But Krishna says (BG 13.29) that you can look at others without shame by respecting the presence of the soul and God within them, and thus approach the supreme designation. Even if you are helplessly lost in lusty contemplations in public or online, you can break your absorption simply by recognizing the spirit within the men and women you are lusting after. In Vedic culture, every woman apart from one’s wife is considered one’s mother. If you wouldn’t want strangers lusting over your mother, sister, or daughter, then don’t do it to other’s relatives. Ironically enough, respect means to look again. Don’t look again if there is a risk, but still consider the personhood and relationship with Krishna of the person you saw as an object of lust.
Awareness: If your mind continues to objectify the person despite you then consider this. You will always look for what you covet within yourself, and there are different things to look for. Traditionally, men are attracted visually and women are visually attractive. But both men and women want to be the enjoyer and are capable of identifying with and lusting for the body in unlimited ways. Thus LGBTQ+. Every individual will feel different attractions and repulsions even in the same situation. The more one pays attention to his or her subjective attractions and repulsions, the more he or she develops tunnel vision. Rather than being polarized between one thing and everything else, look in yourself why you are feel this way. Every unhealthy habit has some appeal to it. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you but still millions of people choose to do it because they enjoy it. Why? Maybe it relieves stress, creates connections with others, or projects an image. Unless you are aware why you do what you do, then being negative about it doesn’t help you stop. Attraction and aversion are two interchangeable and inseparable sides of selfish obsession. But if you let go of the appeals of your unwanted habits and tolerate the discomfort and backlash that comes from not coping with lust, then you can free your mind.
Purpose: Now, you have got better things to do than spend all day trying not think about sex! Focus on your immediate purpose at work, school, the temple, or wherever you are. This is especially true of the internet. If you have a habit of mindlessly scanning social media or edging with triggering material then create boundaries for yourself and begin your computer sessions with a purpose in mind. Don’t wonder the unlimited branches of satanic desires like a lost soul, but focus on the instructions of His Divine Grace AC. Bhaktivedanta Swami Shrila Prabhupada. The purpose of human life is to turn lust into love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.
In conclusion, sex desire is normal and powerful, so it has to be handled carefully. The best way to overcome temptations is to avoid them preemptively. Some are not avoidable, and so you have to manage as far as possible. Even if you theoretically know that every being is part of Krishna you are biologically hard-wired to respond with lust when contemplating attractive bodies, so stop looking. But within your mind remember that what you saw as an object of lust is a person and part of Krishna. If you mind still drags you back to lusty objectification, then introspect why you’re attached and let go. Finally, get back on track by focusing on your immediate and ultimate purpose. A technique to install the tools and principles of this article in your habits is to keep a rubber band around your wrist, and snap it every time you find yourself checking someone out. Then say, “Stop, respect, introspect, return to purpose.” This means stop the negative behavior, respect the person, introspect in yourself, and return to what you should be doing. Pretty simple and complete. This way you can use that inevitable trigger of being attracted to others positively to see Krishna rather than being blinded by lust.