There is no Western equivalent of the Kama Sutra, and perhaps for this reason, sex as an art form has yet to mature in the West. Social repression and internalized guilt have prevented Westerners from a frank and joyous exploration of sexuality, today's "liberated attitudes" notwithstanding. Practically all that the Occident offers in this area is pornography, or clinical sex manuals, so filled with anatomical details and "techniques" that they would be sufficient to put a person off sex for life. One result of this repression is inhuman sexual perversion, a subject we will treat in more detail later. The sexual act is rarely tastefully portrayed in Western art or literature. We either reject sex altogether as a subject proper to art or, in lieu of better, accept mediocre treatment of it.
The Orient did not consider sex apart from, or opposed to, spirituality or religion. The sex act was given a place of honor and was intimately connected with the other arts. Men and women alike studied the Kama Sutra and similar texts. In the temples, all variations of sexual postures were openly portrayed and venerated as ideals. In the privacy of the home, the entire range of erotic art and literature was considered a normal and respectable subject of study. The parameters of sexual behavior in the East extend way beyond the West's narrow spectrum of normalcy, without the least debasement of the sexual function. Celibacy, monogamy, polygamy and polyandry all had a place in Oriental culture. The Sixty-four Arts should be conceived as the Paths of Creative Energy. They are the emanations of the goddess Saraswati, the "anima" of Jungian psychology. They can be likened to the flames of an inner sun, blazing from the solar plexus. Burning up all negativity, these flames of the creative attitude purify the psyche and bring about an inner transformation. As practical skills of the outer world, they delight others and fulfill the talented practitioner.
The Kama Sutra, the classical Indian treatise on the Art of Love, enumerates the Sixty-four Arts. The text advises that these should be studied along with the Kama Sutra, preferably under the guidance of a teacher. These arts and sciences (for no distinction between them was then made) include singing, music, dancing, writing, drawing, painting, sewing, reading, recitation, poetry, sculpture, gymnastics, games, flower arranging, cooking, decoration, perfumery, gardening, mimicry, mental exercises, languages, etiquette, carpentry, magic, chemistry, mineralogy, gambling, architecture, logic, charm-making, religious rites, household management, disguise, physical sports, and martial arts plus many specialized activities related to the culture and time. The accomplishments expected of young women in Victorian times echoed this idea. To update this, the arts related to more recent technical innovations, such as photography, could be added.
The Indian treatises on love suggest that both men and women should be well versed in as many of the Sixty-four Arts as possible. Two arguments as to why these arts should be studied are presented in the texts. First, a person who is accomplished in them is automatically given an honorable place in society. Second, through the application of these arts one can more easily win over the object of desire, be it husband, wife or lover, and provide more fulfillment. Easily be self supporting by the application of these skills. Even a bare knowledge of these arts adds to the charm and interest of a person. In the West today, over-specialization is a problem, which tends to inhibit the minds capacity to intuitively express the many facets of knowledge. Yet the Art of Love relies on the other arts for its support. Without these modes of expression our existence would be boring and restrictive. Humanity depends upon these arts as a means of communication and self-expression.