Lust de-spiritualizes the subject and dehumanizes the object
When the culture depicts lust as the expressway to enjoyment, how can we understand the Bhagavad-gita’s declaration (03.37) that lust is the enemy of the world?
Let’s consider two ways in which lust acts inimically.
Lust de-spiritualizes the subject: People who become captivated by lust misidentify with their physical body and lose all awareness of their spiritual side. Lust de-spiritualizes its subjects not just in their conceptions, but also in their actions. Being infatuated by lust, people act in anti-spiritual and even immoral if not illegal ways, that wreck their spiritual prospects. No wonder the Gita (16.21), metaphorically speaking, deems lust as the destroyer of the soul.
Lust dehumanizes the object: Lust makes its objects, the people who attract their lust-powered attention, seem not persons for reciprocation, but mere playthings for domination and gratification. Unfortunately, such dehumanization is accelerated and aggravated by abuse of technology. TV and the Internet present a parade of electronically enhanced forms that invite visual consumption and exploitation by lust-driven viewers. And in especially perverse depictions, human beings are reduced to inflated dolls that can be twisted and pierced and battered as per one’s fancies. As the mental is often the impeller of the physical, some depraved people re-enact in real life such gory perversities on hapless victims. Indeed, the regular news of reprehensible sexual abuses vindicates the Gita’s verdict about lust.
Of course, lust channelized along dharmic guidelines can be an integral part of a spiritually progressive life. But what brings the spiritualization and the progress is not lust per se, but dharma. And the dharma that can best spiritualize us and sensitize us to others is the topmost dharma of love for Krishna, for it undercuts the lure of lust by granting higher devotional happiness.