The Grand Delusion:  Groveling in Primal Mud

Updated on October 23, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Politics, history, & spirituality are part of my writing interests for essays, including short biographical sketches.

William Blake's "The Temptation and Fall of Eve"


"How can sense slaves enjoy the world? Its subtle flavors escape them while they grovel in primal mud. All nice discriminations are lost to the man of elemental lusts." —Sri Yuketswar in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi

"Just as hunger, not greed, has a legitimate purpose, so the sexual instinct has been implanted by Nature solely for the propagation of the species, not for the kindling of insatiable longings." —Sri Yuketswar in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi

Why "s*x"? Not "sex"!

In the following text of my essay, "The Grand Delusion: Groveling in Primal Mud," I have spelled the subject of this essay using this form: s*x. I have done this because this site will not monetize the essay with that word expressed in its correct, three-letter spelling more than one or two times. The essay is long and requires multiple expressions of the term.

I suggest that that filtering feature of this site offers further evidence that my opinion expressed in this essay on this subject is accurate. For example: "We love it so much that we adore innuendo and filthy jokes that merely suggest it. We hate it so much that the entire word cannot expressed on this page on this Web site and many others, even though the context has nothing to do with entertainment through filth."

Establishing an Attitude

In discussions early on with my mother, I discovered that she found s*x to be a rather perverted activity. She thought the s*x act was disgusting, and she instilled in me a strong fear of pregnancy—especially pregnancy before marriage. When the daughter of a friend of my aunt's became pregnant before she married, I remember feeling shame for the girl—shame I'm sure I sensed from the conversations of my mother and aunt as they gossiped about the girl. I must have feared becoming pregnant—especially before marriage—more than anything else, besides the death of my parents or our house burning down. But that fear never developed into an obsession—well, not exactly.

However, when my mother told me at age 15 that I wasn't allowed to date, I believed her, and I didn't have a date with a boy until I was 17, when I felt it was time to put my foot down and go for it. I did not have s*x with this boy of the first date, and I had no intention of dating him again. I realize now that he had intended to have s*x with me, but I cleverly outwitted him, and for a time my virginity was preserved.

But exactly one year later I lost my virginity, and without ever having any more dates. Instead, as I began my freshman year of college, I became involved with a married man. My deflowering hurt my mother a great deal. I'm sure she had hoped to instill in me her disgust of s*x—or at least the moral standard of not having any until after marriage.

For the early part of my adult life to about age 30, I have felt I was living to prove my mother wrong, that she should not have hated s*x, that she should not have been disgusted by the s*x act. I believed she was wrong because the world seemed to shout it out that such thinking is wrong. But for me the most important aspect of her wrongness lay in the fact that I loved men. I felt an attraction to men, and I came to believe that that attraction was right, and that s*x was right, and that s*x should be free.

I now realize that it was not s*x I was after in all my relationships. I was after two things—love and to prove my mother wrong in her attitudes toward s*x. For me somewhere along my growing up, s*x and love became synonymous, entwined, entangled—hopelessly fused like two sides of coin or perhaps Siamese twins. Because s*x and love were mates, I plunged in and accepted it as a fact of life, and besides those men I loved were all so very interested in s*x. To get love from them, I had to include s*x in the relationship, so I thought.

So from my first sexual encounter at age 18 to my last at age 47, I have believed whole-heartedly that s*x is a beautiful thing when shared with a loved one.

Kindling "Insatiable Longings"

Now at age 51 I have a very different view of the nature and function of s*x. Doubters will want to locate the reasons for that view in the fact I have gone through menopause and therefore the old hormones just don't kick in anymore. Others will simplistically argue that I am a victim of my mother's hatred and disgust. But neither of these rebuttals can account for my change of heart. Just about any manual on menopause will explain that sexual pleasure after menopause is greatly heightened because of the relaxation from fear of pregnancy. If I had been merely a victim of my mother's hatred, I would not have indulged in the sexual activities that I have. My sexual proclivities became quite liberated. My mother had s*x with one man begrudgingly, and for her that was more than enough. I have had s*x with many men, and several women—my mother would have never grasped the possibility of my having s*x with women.

As I said, I have concentrated my adult life on proving her wrong, and I know now that she was, in fact, wrong—there is nothing gained by hating s*x or labeling it disgusting. However, the ultimate outcome of her attitude I wholly accept—abstinence, celibacy, chastity, virginity. I think that what happens to most young adults is this: they become sexually active before they really have a chance to decide if they want to become sexually active. And it is not that the urge for s*x becomes too strong to resist; that urge is strong but only when the mind allows itself to be overcome. At the first stirrings of the s*x urge the mind and body can easily resist the temptation. They become sexually active because of peer pressure and because they want love and acceptance. Peer pressure makes us believe that in order to be loved and accepted, we have to be attractive enough to have someone want to have s*x with us. After puberty sets in, the love of our parents no longer satisfies us. We think we need a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and we think we can only keep a boyfriend or girlfriend if we have s*x with him or her.

Because we human beings allow the s*x instinct to kindle in us "insatiable longings," we suffer more from s*x than from any other act. We are more afraid of s*x than we are of death. We are embarrassed by the physical apparatus between our legs, and we women are embarrassed by our breasts. In the world our greedy s*x-appetite has created, there is no such thing as healthy s*x. There is no satisfactory way for a young child to be introduced to s*x. No matter how a child learns about s*x, that knowledge distorts the child's thinking from the moment that child receives that information.

Some of us like to believe that s*x is a beautiful thing within marriage, with the one we love, with the one to whom we are committed for life. But we find out soon that that is a lie we tell ourselves in order to perpetuate the delusion that the enjoyment of s*x is necessary to well-adjusted adults. The cold, hard fact is that we do not enjoy s*x, and deep within our souls we know that s*x is not necessary; deep within our souls we know that "the propagation of the species" is the only reason our bodies come equipped with a sexual reproduction system. We know intuitively that indulgence in the sensations produced during the s*x act rewards us only with shame and suffering. But on the surface of our society such as the popular media, we portray s*x as a coveted goal. We take it for granted that everyone holds s*x as an inalienable right, and we fight against loss of the s*x urge and celebrate when the elderly claim the ability to still enjoy the s*x act.

The reason we are able to fool ourselves into thinking that s*x is important to us is that we have falsely connected it to love. Love and s*x have nothing in common, except in that grand delusion. Let's consider the differences between love and s*x: love is the calm, unconditional acceptance of another human being, the recognition that this person deserves the best care we can offer, the best service we can render to this individual's soul, including the possibility that what might be best for this person is our letting this person go, letting this person seek care and service from others, and none from us; that is love; if we can still feel love for the individual, even without contact, then we know the love is genuine. However, s*x is bodies manipulating each other (or one another, as the case may be) until the genitalia of each person involved violently erupts in spasms, and the heart pounds, and lungs heave to keep up with the violent action of the blood. This act is supposedly something we crave, something we hold in such high regard, something we limit to marriage, or something we claim is everybody's birthright and therefore place no limits on it. The limits are totally irrelevant: s*x is s*x no matter if the partners are same gender, opposite gender, love each other, use each other, abuse each other, or if we engage only in self-s*x, or use instruments to achieve that spasm. The result is, the desired goal is always that violent eruption, that orgasm that we covet so much.

Understanding the Hypocrisy

S*x is the biggest employer of hypocrites. We love s*x so much, we use it to sell everything from shampoo to shoes. We hate it so much, we put people in prison for selling it. We love it so much we brag about our prowess with partners half our age. We hate it so much, we call it rape if our thirty-year- olds do it with our fifteen-year-olds. We love it so much, we can happily live next to adulterous heterosexuals. We hate it so much, we can't live at all next to a monogamous homosexual couple.

Those of us who are most honest about s*x are those who recognize that s*x is most often used as a form of recreation; interestingly enough, not re-creation as in re-production, but entertainment, letting off steam, relieving stress, or just wallowing in pleasure. Those honest people realize that s*x is not a sacred rite of marriage, and they don't engage in the hypocrisy that claims that married s*x is virtuous, while unmarried s*x is sin. But even these honest people are blinded because they too believe that s*x is inevitable, and they find it impossible to believe that a healthy human being can actually desire and sustain a life of celibacy. And that is part of the great delusive power of s*x: that intelligent, open-minded people, who basically understand a wide variety of phenomena, will close their eyes to the possibility that there are those among us who have found the s*x monster devoid of the great promises of pleasure and happiness and instead have discovered that that monster is a Grand Delusion leaving its victims with pain and destruction.

Interpreting the Adam and Eve Story

When I was in graduate school at Ball State University, I wrote a paper for a seminar on John Milton that I titled "The Fall of Adam and Eve: A Yogic Interpretation of John Milton's Paradise Lost." The paper earned me an A in the course, but I had hopes of publishing it in a literary journal in order to educate the academic world about what I had learned about s*x from my study of yoga. I asked the director of the graduate program to read the paper, so I could get some extra feedback, before sending it off to a journal. Her response enlightened me; it showed me clearly the state of thought on the subject. In my paper I argue that Adam and Eve in prelapsarian Eden did not engage in s*x.

My professor, while noting that she thought my paper was "an intelligent and illuminating study, one which has a real chance of getting published," responded: "I am still not convinced that the prelapsarian love-making in PL is, as you seem to be insisting, non-sexual, though you are surely right that it is non-lustful. It seems to me that you would be on much safer ground if you simply used the yogic interpretation to explain the non-lustful-lustful distinction." While this suggestion makes an excellent observation and shows me what I'm up against in trying to support this stance, I don't think that claim of lustful vs. non-lustful would result in an accurate argument, because I don't believe that God told Adam and Eve that they could have s*x, but only for reproduction and only if they kept it non-lustful. I believe that God banned s*x, and I base my belief on the following yogic interpretation of the Adam and Eve story, found on pages 196-98 in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi. Sri Yukteswar is explaining the symbolic meaning of Adam and Eve to his disciple Paramahansa Yogananda:

Genesis is deeply symbolic, and cannot be grasped by a literal interpretation; its "tree of life" is the human body. The spinal cord is like an upturned tree, with man's hair as its roots, and afferent and efferent nerves as branches. The tree of the nervous system bears many enjoyable fruits, or sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In these, man may rightfully indulge; but he was forbidden the experience of s*x, the "apple" at the center of the body ("in the midst of the garden").

The "serpent" represents the coiled-up spinal energy that stimulates the s*x nerves. "Adam" is reason, and "Eve" is feeling. When the emotion or Eve- consciousness in any human being is overpowered by the s*x impulse, his reason or Adam also succumbs.

God created the human species by materializing the bodies of man and woman through the force of His will; He endowed the new species with the power to create children in a similar "immaculate" or divine manner. Because His manifestation in the individualized soul had hitherto been limited to animals, instinct-bound and lacking the potentialities of full reason, God made the first human bodies, symbolically called Adam and Eve. To these, for advantageous upward evolution, He transferred the souls or divine essence of two animals. In Adam or man, reason predominated; in Eve or woman, feeling was ascendant. Thus was expressed the duality or polarity that underlies the phenomenal worlds. Reason and feeling remain in the heaven of cooperative joy so long as the human mind is not tricked by the serpentine energy of animal propensities.

The human body was therefore not solely a result of evolution from beasts, but was produced through an act of special creation by God. The animal forms were too crude to express full divinity; man was uniquely given the potentially omniscient "thousand-petaled lotus" in the brain, as well as acutely awakened occult centers in the spine.

God, or the Divine Consciousness present within the first created pair, counseled them to enjoy all human sensibilities, with one exception: s*x sensations. These were banned, lest humanity enmesh itself in the inferior animal method of propagation. (my emphasis) The warning not to revive subconsciously present bestial memories was unheeded. Resuming the way of brute procreation, Adam and Eve fell from the state of heavenly joy natural to the original perfect man. When "they knew they were naked," their consciousness of immortality was lost, even as God had warned them; they had placed themselves under the physical law by which bodily birth must be followed by bodily death.

The knowledge of "good and evil," promised Eve by the "serpent" refers to the dualistic and oppositional experiences that mortals under maya must undergo. Falling into delusion through misuse of his feeling and reason, or Eve- and Adam-consciousness, man relinquishes his right to enter the heavenly garden of divine self-sufficiency. The personal responsibility of every human being is to restore his "parents" or dual nature to a unified harmony or Eden.

The reason that our original Divine Consciousness forbade the act of sexual intercourse was that that act would cause our consciousness to become identified with the physical level of being. Our consciousness would "fall" from the state of perfect harmony, if we engaged the s*x organs.

We need to remember that at the time God commanded the pair not to experience the s*x act, they were in a state of spiritual development that we, as fallen souls, have difficulty imagining. If they had the ability to create children without s*x, immaculately as God had created them, then they truly had no need to use the sexual method of reproduction. But because their bodies came equipped with the sexual organs, the desire to engage those organs caused them to respond sexually. Prelapsarian Adam and Eve represent an ideal that few of us can truly imagine: what exactly does a couple do to reproduce immaculately? We don't know the answer to this question, because we are postlapsarian Adam and Eve.

Facing the Fact

For most of us before we have a chance to decide whether we want to engage in sexual activity or not, we have already begun it, and we have already accepted that attitude I described in the opening of this essay. Therefore, the prelapsarian ideal of not indulging in s*x is one most foreign to us. We think that such an ideal is the property of monks and nun, not us ordinary mortals who are engaged in worldly endeavors. However, if, as the yogic interpretation claims, awakening of the s*x urge was responsible for our "fall" from paradise, then logically, the closing of the s*x urge would be a necessary step in rising from the fall.

I believe that we can take the first step toward that garden, by recognizing and admitting the mistake we make in continuing to behave as if sexual activity as entertainment were a necessary part of our lives; if we could acknowledge that the only purpose of sexual intercourse for our postlapsarian culture is reproduction, we would find a way to teach our children truly responsible s*x, which would eliminate the fear and embarrassment aroused by s*x, and we could quiet those "insatiable longings"; no longer would we glamorize and idealize this basic act. Love would take its proper place in relationships, and we would no longer be "sense slaves" groveling in "primal mud."

At SRF Lake Shrine, Windmill Chapel


Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The following original poem captures the tranquility of my favorite meditation place in Los Angeles, California, the Windmill Chapel at Self-Realization Fellowship's Lake Shrine.

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

Born Linda Sue Richardson on January 7, 1946, to Bert and Helen Richardson in Richmond, Indiana, Linda Sue grew up about eight miles south of Richmond in a rustic setting near the Ohio border.

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, Linda Sue Grimes completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

Currently, at Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) posts her poetry commentaries. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes. on Delishably. She posts her politically focused pieces at Soapboxie, and her commentaries focusing on music at Spinditty. Pieces on the writing process appear at Hobbylark.


Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries. Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

My Spiritual Journey: Why I Am a Self-Realization Yogi

"By ignoble whips of pain, man is driven at last into the Infinite Presence, whose beauty alone should lure him." –a wandering sadhu, quoted in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Introduction: Salvation Is a Personal Responsibility

I am a Self-Realization Yogi because the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, who in 1920 founded Self-Realization Fellowship, make sense to me. Paramahansa Yogananda teaches that we are immortal souls, already connected to the Divine Reality, but we have to "realize" that divine connection. Knowing the Great Spirit (God) is not dependent upon merely claiming to believe in a divine personage, or even merely following the precepts of a religion such as the Ten Commandments.

Knowing the Creator is dependent upon "realizing" that the soul is united with that Creator. To achieve that realization we have to develop our physical, mental, and spiritual bodies through exercise, scientific techniques, and meditation. There are many good theorists who can help us understand why proper behavior is important for our lives and society, but Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings offer definite, scientific techniques that we practice in order to realize our oneness with the Divine Power or God. It makes sense to me that my salvation should be primarily my own responsibility.

No Religious Tradition

I did not grow up with a religious tradition. My mother was a Baptist, who claimed that at one time she felt she was saved, but then she backslid. I learned some hymns from my mother. But she never connected behavior with religion. My father was forced to attend church when he was young, and he complained that his church clothes were uncomfortable as was sitting on the hard pews.

My father disbelieved in the miracles of Jesus, and he poked fun at people who claimed to have seen Jesus "in the bean rows." My mother would not have doubted that a person might see Jesus, because she saw her father after he had died. My mother characterized my father as agnostic, and she lived like an agnostic, but deep down I think she was a believer after the Baptist faith.

Here’s a little story that demonstrates how ignorant about religion I was as a child: When I was in first or second grade, I had a friend named Caroline. At recess one day at the swings, Caroline wanted to confide something to me, and she wanted me to keep it secret. She said I probably wouldn't believe it, but she still wanted to tell me. I encouraged her to tell me; it seemed exciting to be getting some kind of secret information. So she whispered in my ear, "I am a Quaker."

I had no idea what that was. I thought she was saying she was magic like a fairy or an elf or something. So I said, "Well, do something to prove it." It was Caroline's turn to be confused then. She just looked very solemn. So I asked her to do something else to prove it. I can't remember the rest of this, but the point is that I was so ignorant about religion.

The Void in My Life and My First Trauma

Looking back on my life as a child, teenager, young adult, and adult up to the age of 32, I realize that the lack of a religious tradition left a great void in my life. Although my father was on the fence regarding religion, he would listen to Billy Graham preach on TV. I hated it whenever Billy Graham was preaching on TV. His message scared me. Something like the way I felt when my father's mother would come and visit us, and when my father would let out a "Goddam" or other such swear word, she would say he was going to hell for talking that way. I was afraid for my father. And Billy Graham made me afraid for myself and all of us because we did not attend church.

I never believed that things like swearing and masturbation could send a soul to hell. But then back then I had no concept of "soul" or "hell." I believed it was wrong to kill, steal, and to lie. But I'm not sure how these proscripts were taught to me. I guess by example. It seems that I had no real need for God and spirituality until I was around thirty years old.

My life went fairly smoothly except for two major traumas before age thirty. The first trauma was experiencing a broken heart at age eighteen and then undergoing a failed marriage, after which I thought I would never find a mate to love me. But I did meet a wonderful soulmate when I was 27.

Heretofore I had thought finding the proper marriage partner would solve all my problems, but I learned that my difficulties were very personal and at the level where we are all totally alone, despite any outward relationships.

The Second Trauma

A second trauma that added to my confusion was being fired twice from the same job at ages 22 and 27. At age 27 things started to make no sense. And it started to bother me intensely that things made no sense. I had always been a good student in grade school and high school, and I was fairly good in college, graduating from Miami University with a 3.0 average. That grade point average bothered me, because I thought I was better than that.

But then not being able to keep my teaching job and not being able to find another one after I had lost it very much confused me. It seemed that I had lost touch with the world. School had been my world, and my teachers and professors had expected great things from me. But there I was at age 27 and couldn't get connected to school again.

Feminism and Zen

I began reading feminist literature starting with Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, continuing with Ms. Magazine, and many others. The result of taking in the feminist creed led me to believe that I had someone to blame for my failure—men; men had caused the world to be arranged so that women cannot succeed outside the home. I began writing again, an endeavor I have sporadically engaged in most of my life from about age sixteen. I decided to apply for a graduate assistantship in English at Ball State University, feeling that I was ready to get out in the man’s world and show it what a woman could do. I felt confident that I could succeed now that I knew what the problem was. But that didn’t work out either. I finished the year without a master’s degree in English, and then there I was, confused again, and still searching for something that made sense.

I had heard about the Eastern philosophy known as "Zen" at Ball State, and I started reading a lot about that philosophy. Zen helped me realize that men were not the problem, attitude was. I kept on writing, accumulating many poems, some of which I still admire. And I kept reading Zen, especially Alan Watts, but after a while the same ideas just kept reappearing with no real resolution, that is, even though the Zen philosophy did help me understand the world better, it was not really enough. I got the sense that only I could control my life, but just how to control it was still pretty much a mystery.

Autobiography of a Yogi

Then in late 1977 on one of our book shopping trips, I spied a book, Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, and I recommended it to my husband, because he liked biographies. I purchased poetry books, and we purchased the autobiography for him. He did not get around to reading it right away, but I did, and I was totally amazed at what I read. It all made sense to me; it was such a scholarly book, clear and compelling. There was not one claim made in the entire 500 plus pages that made me scratch me hand and say "what?" or even feel an uncertainty that this writer knew exactly whereof he spoke.

Paramahansa Yogananda was speaking directly to me, at my level, where I was in my life, and he was connecting with my mind in a way that no writer had ever done. For example, the book offers copious notes, references, and scientific evidence that academics will recognize as thorough research. This period of time was before I had written a PhD dissertation, but all of my years of schooling had taught me that making claims and backing them up with explanation, analysis, evidence, and authoritative sources were necessary for competent, persuasive, and legitimate exposition.

Paramahansa Yogananda's autobiography contained all that could appeal to an academic and much more because of the topic he was addressing. As the great spiritual leader recounted his own journey to self-realization, he was able to elucidate the meanings of ancient texts whose ideas have remained misunderstood for many decades and even centuries.

The book contained a postcard that invited the reader to send for lessons that teach the techniques for becoming self-realized. I sent for them, studied them, and I have been practicing them since 1978. They do, indeed, hold the answer to every human problem.

I know it is difficult for most educated people to believe that all human problems can be solved, but that’s because they get stuck in the thought that they cannot. If you believe that you can never really know something, then you can’t, because if you believe that you can never really know something, you won’t try to know it.

Yogananda gives a map with directions to reaching God, and realizing that one’s soul is united with God brings about the end of all sorrow and the beginning of all joy. Just knowing the precepts intellectually does not cause this realization, but it goes a long way toward eliminating much suffering. The faith that we can overcome all suffering is a great comfort, even if we are not there yet. I realize that God is knowable, but most important is that I know I am the only one who can connect my soul to God—and that is the spiritual journey I am on.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


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