[In 1936 Encyclopaedia Sexualis was published under the auspices of the Medical Review of Reviews with the subtitle "A Comprehensive Encyclopaedia-Dictionary of the Sexual Sciences." Editor-in-Chief was Victor Robinson, M.D., Professor of History of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Among more than a hundred distinguished contributors were the Nobel Laureate Thomas Hunt Morgan, F. R. Lillie, President of the National Academy of Sciences, and Gottfried de Purucker, leader of the international Theosophical Society (then of Point Loma, now of Pasadena, California).
In his letter of invitation to Dr. de Purucker Dr. Robinson explained, "While considerable attention is naturally devoted to the medical and biological aspects, the psychological, philosophical, theological, legal and literary aspects likewise receive adequate attention." We take pleasure in sharing with our readers Dr. de Purucker's contribution. — Ed.]
Matters connected with sex and the abuse of the so-called procreative function have attained an entirely unmerited prominence or notoriety in the modern world for the simple reason that any philosophical knowledge on the subject is largely based in our time upon medical experimentation and the shaky foundation furnished by certain branches of modern psychological study.
It would not seem too much to say that there is no real sex problem in so far as nature herself is concerned and her normal functioning regarding man's being, but that the problems — and they seem to be all too numerous in our modern world — arise, as above hinted, entirely out of the fact that the modern West no longer believes in the controlling sanctions of its one-time religion; and because it has no widely accepted philosophy of life there are, of course, no controlling or inhibitory factors of a philosophical character.
Modern man looks upon the function of sex, or rather the procreative act, only incidentally as a matter of racial importance — i.e., for the propagation of the human species — and almost entirely as an avenue for sensuous if not actually sensual indulgence.
In the religion-philosophy of the ancient wisdom which in modern times is called Theosophy the present division of the human race into two sexes is looked upon as — stated in brief — an evolutionary phase in the steady unfolding in growth of humankind. Humanity was not created as man and woman, but was in the beginning of the history of the human race asexual or sexless, if the word be preferred; and it was only during the slow progress of the development of the human characteristics now so familiar to us all, that the asexual condition slowly merged into the androgynous state, which, after long millions of years, in its turn gave place to an unfolding into the condition of the two sexes which now prevails and has prevailed for some six or seven million years past.
The Esoteric Philosophy teaches a slow and gradual evolutionary unfolding, from within outwards, of the human race from the first appearance of the human protoplasts on this globe as parthenogenetic beings propagating their kind after a virginal manner, through — at a much later stage in geologic time — the hermaphroditic or rather androgynous condition, which again, after long ages, slowly merged into and finally became the man and woman of opposite sex of the present day and of millions of years past, as stated above.
It needs but a glance of the observant botanical and zoological mind into the different creatures of the lower orders and classes and genera which exist on earth today to see that even among these early, although specifically evolved, forms, both parthenogenesis and hermaphroditism are as well established, even at present, as is the sexual method of racial propagation. Both in the kingdom of the plants as well as in the kingdom of the animals are still to be noticed these primeval forms of propagation which now survive as holdovers; and it is curious that in either kingdom — i.e., in both kingdoms — may be found examples of all three methods of reproduction, in each kingdom the highest being the sexual, then on a somewhat lower scale the hermaphroditic with probably far fewer individuals, and last the virginal or parthenogenetic.
In man himself there still survive both zoologic and physiologic remnants or holdovers, as, for instance, the imperfectly developed mammae in man as also the equally imperfectly unfolded uterus; and, mutatis mutandis, the same observation applies to woman. All too little importance has been ascribed to these still surviving but persistent if imperfectly developed vestigial organs and, if they proclaim anything at all, they point with some violence to a past condition, the androgynous, when the human race was, as individuals, double-sexed, or bisexual.
It is to be remembered that the true human individual is not his physical body, which is but the vehicle or gross material integument in which the real man works and through which he manifests himself; for it should be obvious to any thinking person that the real man is neither legs nor arms, skin nor hair, bones nor tissues, but (a) mind, (b) the delicately balanced emotional apparatus commonly called the psychological nature, and (c) the lofty spiritual and high ethical instincts, all which, in their aggregate union, form the true human being. In other words, man is not merely an animate "robot," but a thinking, self-conscious, morally conscientious and feeling, being.
From the foregoing statement, however, it should not be misunderstood that the theosophical teaching is based on the philosophical dichotomy first formally introduced into European philosophical and scientific thought by Rene Descartes: i.e., that the "soul" is one thing, and the body in which it manifests or lives is something else and disjunct and of different essential nature from the indwelling consciousness.
Quite to the contrary of this, the Esoteric Philosophy, Theosophy, teaches that the physical body of man is but the expression in the material world of the characteristic and strongly defined inner powers or energies alluded to above as composing the real man. It is this real man, the inner and invisible being composed of thought and feeling and consciousness, which evolves through the ages by unfolding from within itself the latent powers, attributes, faculties, characteristics, which it draws from the spiritual part of the man's high essential nature, much as the rays streaming from the sun draw their raison d'être and their characteristics from the solar heart. In other words, man is not separate from the universe in which he lives and moves and has his being, as Paul of the Christians put it, but is an integral and inseparable part of the cosmic source from which he draws all that he is.
From this prime philosophical fact, which is today so accordant and concordant with the statements of the foremost men of ultramodern science, such as Eddington, Jeans, Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and others — to the effect that the essential "stuff" or fundamental thing in the universe is "mind" or "consciousness" — the reason of the statement made in the preceding paragraph starts instantly into clear outline, and it is seen that as the essence of man is therefore "mind" or "consciousness" derivative from the universe, man is substantially and fundamentally consciousness or mind throughout all his being, both in those invisible element-principles above alluded to and in their very partial expression as his body in the material physical world. Just as a plant in the springtime throws out from within itself the characteristics of its inner life expressing itself in verdure or foliage, flower, bud, and fruit, or as the germinating egg unfolds from within its own substance the being, be it chick or man, which later is to become the evolving entity in this physical world — all coming from within — just so is man the invisible the real being and his body is merely his material expression on the physical plane.
Thus it is that evolution proceeds from within outwards, it being the inner or real man who evolves, and his body, irresponsibly and as it were automatically, through the cycling ages expresses in partial measure in the physical world the manifestations of the unfolding or evolving attributes and powers within. Thus man at one time was asexual because his inner and partially unfolded characteristics were asexual, so to speak; in a subsequent geological age he was hermaphroditic or rather androgynous, because the inner or real man had unfolded this aspect of latent attributes; and in a still later age appeared sex in its two present and opposite forms in the human body, being the evolutionary expression on the physical plane of the bifurcated lower psychology of the inner or real human being.
Sex, therefore, as stated above, is a passing evolutionary phase, a phase of the unrolling of inner characteristics, which the human race in its present evolutionary development is passing through, but which phase, in its turn, in future ages, will be succeeded by some condition as yet scarcely to be defined.
The consequence of this philosophical and scientific postulate is that sex per se, outside of any opinions that individuals may hold about it, is a perfectly natural, normal, and it may be said even necessary, stage or step in the evolutionary growth of the human race. Therefore, in itself, sex has nothing evil about it, nor is it a necessary sign of a present degraded condition of being.
Sex is an evolutionary fact. In itself it is neither wicked nor unnatural, nor was it brought into function because the two supposititious distant ancestors of the human race ate of a forbidden apple. Any problems connected with sex, therefore, arise not out of sex itself, or the sexual function itself, but solely out of its abuse, which is equivalent to saying its use in a manner contrary to the clean and unsoiled following of this one of nature's processes, the sole right purpose of which is the propagation of the human race.
All the "problems" of sex, therefore, as just shown, arise from abuses of a perfectly natural function, innocent in itself, and necessary for the continuance of the human species. Such abuses spring almost universally from ignorance — ignorance of natural law, and that particular and perhaps worst kind of ignorance arising in lack of reflective thought. In our modern day, the sanctions of religion, as stated above, have largely lost their hold over men and women with respect to this wholly natural and proper function, when not abused and when used solely for the purposes for which nature destined it; and also — and there is no need to mince words in the matter — the so-called problems have arisen largely on account of the wholly erroneous, because mistaken, teaching and consequent mistaken deductions of a former generation or two of scientific men who, being entirely of materialistic bias, believed and taught that man was his body and nought else.
If a man is taught that he is but a more evolved beast, a higher species of ape, and that when he dies that is the total end of him and of all of him, he naturally says to himself: "Why not enjoy life while I have it? Why not use every function that nature has given to me in the manner that is most pleasing to emotion and passion?" There are here no inhibitions of a moral kind; there are here no illuminating spiritual insights; there is here no philosophy upon which a decent-minded man can lean; and the result is that it is now common in the world to look upon the sexual function either as something disgraceful, or, on the other hand, as something not to be used solely according to natural law, but as a means of sensual gratification.
From the standpoint of Theosophy, the Esoteric Philosophy or the ancient wisdom of all past ages and of all races of men, the sexual function is nature's provision for the continuance of the human race, and in consequence its only permissible use is that, and that alone. Anything more than this is as much an abuse and therefore is apt to bring about disease, both psychological and physical, as would be the case of the abuse of any other of the functions of the body. If a man drink himself to death, or gluttonize himself into disease, or womanize himself into imbecility, everyone can see that the unfortunate practicer of these immoral perversions of nature's provisions for health or propagation is a victim of ignorance or of lack of ordinary reflection.
The so-called sex problems, therefore, do not arise in any innate wickedness in the human race but solely out of ignorance and because the ancient teaching, so simple and easily understood, has been forgotten. Any abuse of the body will bring about its corresponding degenerative disease, or, in the least evil cases, decay and premature senility. It may be as well to state clearly that the body is so amazingly and beautifully balanced that the abuse of any of its functions will bring about disharmony in the physical structure, or equivalently imperfect response of all other organs of the human frame.
Sex in the present human physical vehicle really serves two purposes: (a) first and most important, the continuance of the human family; (b) second, the strengthening and building up of the human body as a whole, and of all its tissues and organs as particulars, by the retention therein of the vital sex-essences.
Sex problems, so-called, which so afflict and harass modern men and women really originate in childhood. Parents themselves are wofully ignorant of the simplest facts of even their own physical frame. Teach a child from the time that it is able to understand words, something, in a cleanly, decent manner, of the nature of the sexual organs and their proper function; teach it that any abuse whatsoever of the functions of sex brings about sooner or later degenerative consequences not only as regards general health, but as regards all the organs of the body, including those of the sexual nature; and the child will learn to have respect not only for the function but for himself as an intelligent unit of the human race.
It is perhaps too much to hope in these days of nervous tension and moral slackness that the sexual function will be used solely for the purposes for which nature has evolved it, as above stated; so that possibly for ages hence the function will be misused even in marriage for purposes of merely sensuous gratification; but let it once become clearly understood among men and women of normal character that any use whatsoever of the function entails consequences, and that abuse of the function entails disastrous consequences leading to degeneration, and ordinary good sense and the instincts of self-protection and self-preservation will in time attain increasing influences in these human relations.
At least, an enormous amount of good could be done in the world and a great deal of human misery in many walks of life be avoided, and probably some of the most horrible diseases known to medical science could be stamped out, if human beings once were to grasp and have their imaginations captured by the simple natural facts outlined or hinted at in preceding paragraphs.
Furthermore, it is sheer stupidity to imagine that the human race, so obviously as individuals inseparable and integral portions of nature herself, can separate themselves from nature, whether in act or in thought; and if this primal verity were once grasped it would be seen that many diseases, and at least certain forms of insanity, and the widespread because thoughtless sexual immorality in the world, are largely the results or consequences of ignorance of the need of following nature's monitory warnings in the use of the function of sex.
The meaning is: the procreative act is not solely brought about by the union of two beings of opposite sex; this is but the physical mechanism; conception and the consequent growth of the embryo are to a certain large extent dependent upon cosmic and meteorological factors, concerning which, alas, modern science in all its branches is in Cimmerian darkness; but with the amazingly rapid strides forwards that scientific research and investigation are making, it is earnestly to be hoped that this utter darkness may before long be enlightened by some rays of a larger acquaintance with nature's interlocked and interblending laws, energies, and substances.
To particularize: no marriage, provided the best health of the child-to-be is hoped for, should ever be consummated during the fortnight comprised between the full moon and the new moon; furthermore, no procreative act should ever take place when the mother-to-be is either unwilling or physiologically in a non-receptive condition; in other words, the periodic menstrual function should enter into consideration.
Furthermore, in view of the cyclically annual risings of the generative forces of nature, it would be extremely wise to have all procreative acts take place during the early spring when the forces of nature are unfolding after the winter sleep, when vegetation is burgeoning, and when all life feels the new and rising impulse of the vital flow. So well was this known in ancient times that the month corresponding to late January and early February among the Attic Greeks was called Gamelian, from the Greek word gameo, to marry, and Gamelion was the fashionable month for marriages. One may well ask oneself: Why?
To summarize: the remedy for all sex problems, so-called, is, as hereinbefore stated, instruction, beginning with little children, in the nature of sex and its function, and the proper uses thereof as contrasted with its abuse and the consequent penalties inevitably following upon nature's violated laws. Indeed, the only original "sex problem" that the present writer is cognizant of is the curious compound of human ignorance of natural laws and consequent abuse thereof.
Here, then, is the true problem and the only real one that the present writer sees, because it is the fundamental cause of all the social misery, of the immoral conditions, and of the common and heartless indifference to the pitiful spectacle afforded us by overcrowded insane asylums and overburdened hospitals — the problem is, as said, ignorance and stupidity. Correct these by proper instruction about simple facts of the human body and the penalties of abuse of natural law, and ninety-nine percent of the so-called "sex problems" will before long vanish.
There will then remain a relatively minor "problem" to be dealt with by the individual: that already stated as being the mutual or social self-indulgence to the detriment of health, under the marriage vow. Even this last perversion of one of nature's important and innocent functions will largely disappear when increasing consciousness of the dangers attendant upon its abuse grows greater.
(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 1987. Copyright 1987 by Theosophical University Press)