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 not 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.