Sex and Spirituality

In a discussion on the Self Realization post, one commenter raised the question of celibacy and the spiritual path, suggesting abstinence and many years of continual celibacy were necessary for enlightenment.

Until recent times, there have been fewer awake and much of the old understandings had become lopsided. In many camps, it has been thought that much force of mind and concentration is necessary to control the mind. That we must give up our possessions and become monks if we are to achieve true spiritual progress. And that complete celibacy is necessary to accomplish the spiritual goals.

For example, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali mentions brahmachari as one of the Yama’s or restraints to practice. Brahmachari is a name given to many monks as their life is a practice of restraint. But the key to restraint is not the action, it is the approach we bring to it. If, for example, we take the actions of being a monk, yet inwardly the mind is not present, there is no restraint. The key is that they are 8 limbs, not stages. They are performed together. The silence of meditation, asana and pranayama lead to a loosening of attachments and thus easier observation and reduction of desires. Fewer desires means deeper meditation. Each is both a practice and consequence of practice.

Another word for brahmachari might be moderation. The middle way. Buddha’s 8 fold path is similar. Also the teachings of Jesus.

The problem with bringing effort and mind to the tools of spiritual progress is that much of that is born of ego. If we play in the field of ego, we just make it easier for ego to invest. Our spiritual journey just becomes another story. We need to transcend effort, mind and ego and experience who we really are. Then the rest will fall away naturally and in it’s time.

On the subject of sex, it is not sex itself that is the issue. It is how it is used. In moderation and balance, it is a tool for the awakening process, for the expression of love, and for surrendering to oneness. From a place of craving, attachment, self absorption and excess focus, it will pull us away from same. Again, it is not what we do, it is what we bring to what we do. How we respond to circumstances and what we dwell on.

Some suggest that the kundalini energy is limited. If we use it on sex, it’s not available to rise higher and awaken spirit. Hogwash. The energy is not limited and easily moves as we change focus. With the right partner, it is a full expression of sex, love and spirit all at once. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, it is merely transformed. But if we play extremes and exhaust the body, then we have wasted resources.

But this is equally true of spirit. If we meditate too much, we become space cadets and don’t integrate it. If we sleep too much or little, we get foggy. If we eat too much or too little, the body reduces quality.

Now, there are still some people well suited to being monks. As one famous sage once said, monks are the pillars of global consciousness. In the back of his book The Science of Being and The Art of Living, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi described 5 paths to realization. The intellectual path is one of close discrimination, seeing through the illusion of the world through understanding. This makes such a person poorly suited to the life of a householder.

Most of us tend to be on a bit of a blended path. A little heart, a little understanding, a little action and perception. At certain points on the path, the heart may be dominant. At others the intellect. The balance varies widely by person. It’s an organic process.

Above all, the spiritual path is the path of being human. Of being a physical, sexual, emotional, and mental expression to the fullest of our abilities and inclination. Be who you are. That’s all you can be.

If you are deeply enjoying, that’s a good sign it’s right.
Davidya

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27 Responses to Sex and Spirituality

  1. Kaushik says:

    The Kama Sutra, in the west and the east today, is looked upon as puerile naughtiness. In it’s day it was more about worship than sexual victory and dominance. Sex is communion, a joined meditation; it is the merging of two which already are one. I agree with you: conjoining does not deplete energy; it replenishes, seen in the right way.

  2. Davidya says:

    Yes, I was going to mention Tantra. But it’s the same. People have come to view it as a fancy form of sex. And I agree. Thanks for your thoughts, Kaushik.

  3. saishia says:

    “In moderation and balance, it is a tool for the awakening process, for the expression of love, and for surrendering to oneness”…..beautiful definition of, the role sex has in ones life….beautiful thoughts!

  4. Davidya says:

    Hi again, Saishia. Thanks for the feedback. Especially from a woman.

    It’s a curious thing. Sex and money are 2 areas of life that are important to happiness but we often carry the most garbage around about them. They are an oft-unexamined aspect of our life, to the detriment of ourselves and our relationships.

    Yet if we are to look there is also a great deal of chaff we have to sift through before we find what’s important to know. The effort is worth it though. Glad you like my results.

    PS – don’t hesitate to link to your blog. Its one of the best ways to bring quality traffic. That’s the key nature of the web – links to common material. 😉

  5. Davidya says:

    In an unrelated discussion on what makes a relationship last, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi described their traditional mating process and the low resulting divorce rate. While I would be poorly adapted to such a traditional approach, he did make a good case.

    One observation he made was particularly notable:
    “The problem with having a physical relationship while dating is that it quickly convinces you that there is a closeness between you that doesn’t really exist.”

    It’s a good point on the power of sex. Something to keep in mind.

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  11. N says:

    Hi David

    Can you speak a bit about sexual attraction and TM? As I understand it, women are typically drawn to men with a more grounded energy, while TM tend to bring energy higher in the body (even if one is still not in spiritual addiction) – what is your experience and understanding regarding that?
    Also, what can you say about attracting a partner? These days it seems that how to go about it is quite unclear. Do you have experience or knowledge that is useful to share?

  12. Davidya says:

    Hi N
    When I was young, some women went to MIU to find compatible men. But generally, I wouldn’t tie sexual attraction to spiritual practice. They don’t operate in the same field of life.

    You also want to be careful about what you’re referring to/ actually want. The brain has 3 levels of functioning (google Triune brain), each of which influence our behavior in different ways.

    The animal or instinctive brain looks for strong, confident men or fertile women. That can drive sexual behaviour but looks for mating opportunities, not commitment. Hopefully, most people outgrow this by their 20’s. Some don’t.

    The mammalian brain is more interested in a long term partner. For a man that means reliability, safety, and security. So a good job, friends, emotional stability, home ownership and such might be attractions. Ungroundedness would not be. If there is also a little animal attraction, bonus. This is more prominent in child-rearing years.

    The higher brain is more interested in personal qualities. What do we have in common, do they follow a similar spiritual path, are they emotionally available, have similar likes, hobbies, etc. This assumes some of the above.

    A spiritual woman is going to be more attracted to a spiritual man. But they’ll also be attracted to someone who’s relatively integrated. Once they get some experience, many women have little patience for a guy with a lot of unresolved issues. They often get more particular. They may draw on points from all 3 levels.

    It’s also useful to say again that attraction doesn’t mean relationship. You may simply find someone attractive. Period. Or it may be there is something to resolve there but it doesn’t mean a partner.

    My experience has been that the primary relationships have come about with women who I’ve known in prior lives. They show up, often out of the blue, and we’ve supported each other for a time, resolving what needed to be worked out together.

    If you’re interested in timing and a good match under the surface attraction, I’d recommend Jyotish. It can be insightful for that.

    Doing what you love to do socially helps you meet similar people. But you’re not likely to get results if it’s not a time for that. Broadly speaking, this spring and summer have not been but this fall improves things for many. 🙂

    • N says:

      Thanks, David. Very useful.

      You say you wouldn’t tie sexual attraction to spiritual growth – why is that?

      • Davidya says:

        Well – as I mention, they operate in different fields of life. Sexual attraction is associated with appearance, the instinctive brain and the 2nd chakra.

        Spiritual growth is associated with the upper chakras, the source beyond all appearances, and the higher brain.

        Many traditions that have come through the dark ages emphasize the importance of celibacy and tie the 2 together. But most people are householders. Repression has caused all kinds of problems in many religeous organizations.

        I’m not subscribing to “free love” here. More the shift into the higher brain. Then sexuality is placed in a more sensible light, as part of a mature relationship.

        • N says:

          I’ve heard that women are usually attracted to men who a very present – in other words women crave the consciousness in men. Someone who can hold a steady and grounded space, where the feminine can expand.
          Whereas men are attracted to the radiance of the feminine in women, the energy. Got it from David Deida.

          I also figured that when the lower chakras starts to get purified, then sexual energy starts to arise, causing attraction in the opposite sex (or same).

          • Davidya says:

            Well there is the Shiva-Shakti dynamic. Men lean towards the observer, women towards the observed. Seeing and being seen. So yes, women like a man who is grounded and present.

            That also relates again to feeling safe and secure. Keep in mind that women are generally more feeling aware than men.

            An amusing story there. When the awakening became well established here, it began attracting women in ways I hadn’t prior. A nice surprise until I realized I had nothing in common with them to build a relationship on. They didn’t understand the dynamics, leading to awkward conversations. (laughs)

            When the 2nd chakra opens up or the kundalini starts to rise, there can be a phase of enlivened desire. Thats not really about attraction so much as enlivenment. Hopefully the person has enough sense not to try and act out a passing phase like that.

            It’s not that sexual energy rises, its that energy rises. That expresses differently in the different chakras.

            Charisma is something else again.

            • N says:

              Hi David

              Thanks. I’ve just found that a lot of TM practioners seem a bit unintegrated or ungrounded, when I see videos with them. Not all but some. But maybe that is more a result of how they live the rest of their life and not the practice of TM itself?

              • Davidya says:

                Hi N
                Right. The vast majority of TMers simply add the technique to their life and continue.

                However, there is a small number who get into bypassing and use the practice and other programs to avoid or escape things that aren’t working. This leads to lack of integration.

                Over-using spiritual practices or not having enough activity or focus has similar effects.

                The irony is that enlightenment can’t unfold in a mushy physiology. The practices are not a waste of time but have to be grounded in activity to work. That’s a fundamental teaching in TM.

                The dying the cloth analogy is the classic version. To make a colour fast, you dip it in the dye and then hang it out in the sun to bleach. Repeat until fast. If you leave it in the dye it will rot the cloth. If you leave it in the sun, it will bleach out. You need both – dipping into source, then integrating that in daily life.

                It’s very effective if done in a balanced way, as instructed.

                • N says:

                  Right, thanks.

                  What do you mean by “focus” in this sentence “Over-using spiritual practices or not having enough activity or focus has similar effects.”

                • Davidya says:

                  I mean not having enough activity or enough focus.

                  Focus means having our attention on something else. We might not think of some things as “activity” but focus of attention is also grounding.

                  Of course, that too needs balance – physical, mental, creative, etc.

  13. N says:

    OK, interesting that focus of attention is also grounding. Thanks.

  14. N says:

    So mild effort in daily life can actually be helpful here (unless attention is on something pleasant where focus arise more naturally)?

    • Davidya says:

      hmmm – this gets into the subtlety of what we mean by effort. Yes, sometimes a little push is needed. Perhaps a push through resistance or push to get started.

      But in the west we tend to get carried away with pushing and start to strain and overdo. That kind of effort means we miss signals we’re going the wrong way, accrue stress, and so forth.

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