Procreation vs Recreation: What’s the difference?

Since time immemorial, sex has been seen as an act for reproduction, thanks to religious and social priests. That sex is a natural instinct, which needs to be enjoyed, may be tough to digest but it is a fact

Is Sex for Procreation or Recreation?

All problems relating to sex arise due to one basic blunder committed by humanity down the ages — treating sex as a moral issue. Ancient Indians never looked upon it as an ethical value though; for them, it was a natural instinct, needed for procreation as well as recreation. We cannot forget that the great sexologist Vyatsayana was born in India and that Tantra, the most mature way of dealing with sex, is the greatest gift of India to the world.

Procreation vs Recreation

The procreation vs recreation debate is ancient. Sex for procreation came under social and religious domain and there were rituals built around it by priests. The procreative aspect of sex was accepted so naturally that when the husband died childless, his elder brother or a trusted sage was asked to have intercourse with the woman and produce children. Manusmruti called this process Niyoga. This act was a religious ritual and the couple was not supposed to enjoy it! They used to apply oil on their bodies so that they remain detached during the act.

However, the human being is not only a body; he/she also has emotions and intelligence. So his higher sensibilities motivated him to seek pleasure out of sex. The Indian name for sex is Kama which is expansive and all-inclusive. Kama means desire, the lust for life. Lust is yet again a condemned word; in fact, all that allows people to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh and the senses is condemned by moral custodians because they are afraid that people will get lost in sensuous delights. Kama is the libido, the life energy, not necessarily sexual. All creativity is motivated by Kama, it is the desire to create as well as procreate.

Sex as a Natural Instinct

If we want sex to be accepted as a natural instinct, we have to drop the moral firewall built around it. In this nuclear age, sex can be understood as pure energy because we have developed scientific understanding. Once we acknowledge that sex is the bio energy, we can make efforts to transform it. Just as water when boiled becomes vapour, and the vapour travels upwards and becomes clouds, sexual energy can be transformed into higher states. The higher forms of sex energy are love, compassion and enlightened consciousness.

Tantra’s greatest contribution to humanity is that it has created many devices to sublimate the sexual energy and turn it into an experience of higher consciousness.

The Disaster of Repressed Sexuality

Osho is the first master who saw the disaster of repressed sexuality. And the disaster is that human sex has become cerebral. The distorted and perverted humanity of today is the end result of repression. No animal rapes its females like man does. No animal needs artificial stimulants like viagra. Have you ever seen any clinic of sexologists for animals or birds? The whole porno literature is a sign of a sick attitude towards sex.

Sex used for reproduction is biological, and sex as recreation belongs to the human world alone because it has arisen out of the human need for love, sensuality, aesthetics, relating, pleasure and ecstasy. This has always been the case. The art of sex developed due to this need. Men always had two kinds of mates: the housewife and the mistress. The roles of these women were clearly marked. We can divide them into procreation and recreation. Those women who could procreate were usually not so good at recreating their husbands because their total focus was on rearing children. Their bodies changed after the childbirth.

Sex as recreation is a special art, and women were trained to master it. The word is self-explanatory: re-creation: creating again. Recreation is not entertainment, which is the conventional meaning of the word. The flowering of physical sex becomes love which is re-creative. When love is fulfilled, its fragrance is creativity. It is observed that a sexually fulfilled person becomes extremely creative.

Pleasure and Pain Are a Package Deal

If people only seek pleasure out of sex, they are bound to be frustrated sooner or later. Because every pleasure has its opposite: the pain. Sex can really recreate and rejuvenate people, if experienced with consciousness.

Now, women can participate in sex without fear, as contraceptives have dissociated intercourse with pregnancy. Modern women can enjoy the intricacies of lovemaking and transmit their joy to their partners. But the question is: are there sensitive, sexually-trained men who are expert partners of the evolved women?

Normally, girls and boys are conditioned to be husbands and wives, which involves procreative sex. Sex as recreation needs sharpened sensitivity and refined sensuality; it is a skilled job. Just as a trained musician plays on the musical instrument with love and care, a skilled lover has to play on the body of his beloved sensitively, and vice versa.

Here, Osho will be immensely helpful. If you allow me to say so, he alone can redeem humanity from sexual inhibitions. He has brought a new dimension to sexuality. His basic contention is: sex is neither moral, nor immoral, it is amoral. It is a wild, boundless, existential energy. Drop your inhibitions and go natural. Clean your mind of all the perverted ideas about sexuality.

Tips from OSHO

Some Osho tips may help clean the attitude about sex.

  • Every man and woman should meditate before getting into the intercourse — not the old fashioned repressive meditation but the dynamic, cathartic meditation created by Osho.
  • Do not use sex for stress release; this is neither procreative nor recreative. It is self- destructive.
  • Do not use your partner as a means for your pleasure. People unconsciously use each other, which is an insult to the dignity of the other. Such a relationship can never be fulfilling.
  • Recreative sex is like classical music. It develops slowly and takes long to warm up. Let your attention be on the process and not on the goal. Stay with the beginning, don’t look for the end otherwise you will be embarrassed by premature ejaculation.
  • Love and respect your own body. Unless you love and respect your own body, you cannot love the other person’s body.
  • Spend plenty of time in the foreplay as well as the afterplay. In fact, the afterplay is indicative of the success of your love-making.
  • If you want it to last longer, watch your breathing from the start. The longer the breaths, the deeper will be your experience. It will be orgasmic and will give you a glimpse of meditation.

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Amrit Sadhana
Amrit Sadhana, a long time Osho meditator, is editor Osho Times International. A member of the management team, she also writes for various magazines propagating the Osho vision, and conducts workshops and self-development courses. She lives in the Osho International Meditation Resort, Pune.


  1. Going by what sacred writings say about doing ALL things to glorify God, I believe sex is for procreation only, so if married couples don’t want any (more) children, they should not be having sex. Lust is lust, hedonism is hedonism–regardless of marital status. One proof is the reason why once women reach menopause, sexual intercourse can be extremely painful because of what naturally happens inside women’s bodies, as their vaginal walls are thinner, making sex extremely painful for many women, decreasing pleasure of sex. And as men get older, their sex drive naturally diminishes, which is why some take pills to help them during sex. So there is a natural reason as well.

    The bottom line is, one is to ALWAYS have their mind and heart on God, and Godly things. Having children is a Godly act, to continue to populate the world, as mentioned in the Bible. To have sex just to satisfy fleshly desires…where is God in this? I believe though there is nothing wrong with masturbation, HOWEVER, it is to be done only to relieve any stress within, as similar to getting a body massage, to relieve any stress from life. Masturbation is not to be used for lustful pleasure, which takes one off of God. And as long as a person does not become addicted to masturbating, and done every once in a while, as I said, just as a stress relief, I don’t see anything wrong with it It’ is massage to relax; to be against it is to be against massages. But, done without any spousal help because a person’s stress is something one should resolve on their own and not get their spouse involved to avoid possibly making demands of the other not being around more to help them with their stress (as in a similar issue with many marriages where one spouse wants to have sex with them more than the other)….issues like that. I think it’s each individual spouse’s responsibility to deal with their own stress in that way. 

    Another reason why I believe it’s wrong to have sex within marriage unless to procreate is when having fun sex, the appetite for playful sex could get so strong that the person may then be tempted to seek another person to have sex with; the person has allowed themselves to be OK with lustful sex, opening up that receational gate makes it easier to expand it to going elsewhere for similar pleasure. And this is one of the reasons why so many Godly people are having issues like being obsessed with porn.

    There are many ways to rise above the fleshy action of sex. Sex is way overblown in the world. There are lots of married couples who don’t have sex, and are happy, well-adjusted people who are busy doing other things, glorifying God like praying, meditating, hobbies, or other things with or without their spouse that they don’t even think about sex. I think at least most of us have focused on something so much, like work, or hobbies, where the time goes by so quickly, that we even sometimes forget to eat! Something we certainly need more than sex. 

    It just takes focusing, concentrating on other things in life, realizing there are many, many things in life besides sex to think about.


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