My understanding of this sutra is totally different. “Master your senses” means become more conscious of your senses, become more sensitive. Don’t destroy them; otherwise you will be left without the doors and windows into creation, into God, into truth.
There is a story of a Hindu mystic. I don’t believe that it is true because I have been deeply impressed by that mystic’s great sayings; they are so beautiful that it is impossible for me to conceive that he could have done such a thing.
Surdas is his name. He was a blind man, not born blind; that’s how the story goes. He destroyed his eyes himself because he saw a beautiful woman and became fascinated by her. She took his fancy, he started thinking of her – and he was a monk. He destroyed his eyes because he thought it was these two eyes that had made him aware of her beauty. If these eyes were not there, he would not have been infatuated.
I don’t believe the story, but it is true of thousands of other people. My own experience is that Surdas must have been blind from the very beginning because his insight in his poetry is such that it is inconceivable that such a man will do such a stupid act.
By destroying your eyes you cannot get freedom from women or from men. You can close your eyes, that will not make much difference. In fact with closed eyes women appear more beautiful than they are!
That’s why whenever you make love to a woman she closes her eyes; you appear more beautiful. Otherwise, looking at you she will become afraid, because on your face the expression of passion and lust can’t be described as beautiful; it is ugly, it is animal. A man full of lust is nothing but an animal. Women must have learned the art of closing their eyes seeing again and again that the man turns into an animal.
I love a famous Zen anecdote:
Two monks were coming back to the monastery; they had gone into the village to preach. It was evening, the sun was setting; soon it would be night. They came across a river. A young woman, a beautiful woman, was standing there on the bank hesitating whether to enter the river or not: it may be too deep, it appears very deep.
The first monk – the older one – followed the Buddhist rule not to look at a woman. But that is a very strange rule: first you have to look, then only will you be able to see whether she is a woman or not. You can follow the rule only by breaking it! So he must have looked – of course a stolen look – and then he must have looked down. The Buddhist rule is: Don’t look more than four feet ahead. Such fear…and he must have been trembling inside. And he crossed the river.