Sexuality & Spiritual Growth
Q. But is seeking pleasures a me-centric activity? There’s this widespread belief that through sexual abstinence or celibacy, one can raise the Kundalini? From what I have read, that’s how priests, monks, and sages channel the energy in the upward direction to attain liberation. Isn’t it? What do you think?
Ans: The pleasure in and of itself is not egoic. We experience it as a vertical impersonal thought that does not result in thinking in linear time.
However, when pleasure combines with a sense of doership – it becomes egoic. For example, when you produce a piece of art like a painting, writing, or any artistic performance, two things happen: some people will appreciate your work, while others will criticize it.
With a claim of ownership that “I am the maker or performer,” you create a strong identification with the object (your work).
Even before doing the work, the ego attaches itself to a preferred outcome, “this is my work, and I expect others to appreciate it.” See how easily it creates this sense of separation.
Naturally, with this sense of doership, you will feel unsettled when people find fault in your work. However, when you work with a sense of non-doership, you know that the work is being done by the mind-body organism, and it is only an expression of the divine energy.
Therefore, there is no one here to take ownership of the pleasure – it arises. It neither leads to the pride of success nor the guilt of failure.
Similarly, while performing sexual activity, when you climax, is there an individual experiencing it? There’s no one. The “me” arises later to take ownership of the experience. And after that, it craves the same experience again.
There’s a popular idea in some traditions that sexual abstinence or celibacy can help an individual rise above the mundane and achieve enlightenment, liberation, freedom, and whatnot.
This idea excites a significant chunk of the population cause it’s a trick of the mind to fill the inner void, which never exists in the first place, with a self-created purpose. The thought that “my” effort can lead to “me” being enlightened appeals to the ego.
It has been an ongoing debate in multiple cultures for ages, especially in religious circles, without concrete evidence or conclusion.
When you forcefully deny pleasure through suppression, it’s your ego at play. It deactivates the sacral energy, which creates perverted thoughts. You’re well aware of multiple cases of sexual abuse of women and children by preachers, monks, and spiritual gurus worldwide.
It happens to this day. Abstinence may not directly cause such obnoxious behavior, but it can be a contributing factor. I’m not trying to taint any person, group, or organization in a bad light, but we can’t deny that such things happen even in so-called “holy” places.
Sexual energy is an essential component of the overall energetic system. The idea that “you” can transmute the energy to achieve higher states of consciousness is unconscious. The transmutation happens when the energy wills it and not the individual.
Therefore, I don’t see any harm in enjoying healthy sex life. In fact, denying sexual pleasure to your partner for a personal fascination of liberation is highly egoic.
There are two aspects to this: first, controlling or suppressing sexual energy in many cases leads to psychological ailments, which is a scientifically documented fact. The second aspect is that overindulgence in sexual activity (just like any other activity) is also problematic.
All the shame and guilt associated with sexual activities are a part of environmental conditioning and religious beliefs.
As far as I know, most of the sages of the early Vedic period in Hindu tradition were householders. Sometime later, this concept of attaining the higher self by denying oneself worldly pleasures came into existence. Denial is as much a part of the ego-mind as is indulgence.
Sexual denial is again a ploy of the ego (another story) to cover up the inner discomfort.
The most disturbing aspect of this is that young people (especially men) feel drawn to the idea of celibacy or abstinence when the sexual energy is at its peak. They do it for a couple of years and end up frustrated with psychological stress.
The most common underlying story we tell ourselves is, “I struggled, and hence, I achieved.” The mind attaches itself to a fancy idea and begins chasing it, hoping to ” get” somewhere.
True liberation happens when all concepts and teachings fall apart, including this unconscious urge to “become” something by “doing” something.
Q. But what to do when sexual frustration builds up in the body? I’m asking in the context where one does not have a sexual partner.
Ans: It is a genuine concern as sexual frustration can lead to aggression. First, look where the frustration comes from. In many religions, it is taught that self-pleasure is a sin.
So when we engage in a sexual act, the guilt arises afterward. It is mainly the conditioning that brings about shame and guilt. And the immediate a thought comes up that I should not do this.
There are many theories regarding the preservation of semen. They equate the life force entirely to sexual energy, whereas sexual energy is just a component of the life force.
The idea is that when the sexual energy is not dispensed through sexual acts, it rises vertically, stimulating the chakras, and the individual experiencing the rising energy becomes spiritual.
Many traditions practice celibacy as a means to achieve union with God. The ego with its doership fancies this idea. It sees sexual desire as evil and the root of all suffering.
Such beliefs lead to frustration because the ego loves the idea of control and achievement through sacrifice and penance. It loves torturing the body. That’s how it sustains.
Eventually, such people fail miserably. The sense of failure leads to guilt, and they seek to compensate for their failure unconsciously. It leads to sexual perversions and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
I read an article where a Buddhist monk was caught masturbating while traveling on a bus in Bangkok, staring at a women’s legs. You can search it on Google. It’s still there.
The more the ego tries to control or suppress sexual thoughts, the more they spring up and create tension. And it has a lot to do with one’s environment. We live in times where we have easy access to pornographic material.
Many young people use porn to relieve tension. It is unhealthy. When you stimulate your body by watching porn, your brain creates new neural pathways linking the sensations and feeling with the act.
People dismiss pornography saying that it’s harmless and something everyone watches, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
You’re altering your brain to seek happiness through an unrealistic and artificial source of stimulation. Even if this habit doesn’t become an addiction, it is bound to create an empty feeling afterward. It is painful.
Frustration comes from identification with the craving ego-mind. The ego-mind continuously strives to expand by fulfilling desires. It is not limited to sex. It can be food, shopping, gambling, substance abuse, etc.
Once the ego-mind is seen for what it is, the knots of such identifications become loose, and the frustration drops away over time.
We live in a self-absorbed world where “my” priorities come before others. We see a separation between the “me” and the “other.” This separation itself is suffering.
Either I don’t want to be like the others, or I want to compete with them and become better. But when I realize there’s no separation and the consciousness behind appearance is the same, the mind undergoes a radical shift in perception.
It creates the attitude of selflessly serving others, which leads to the highest fulfillment that is not of the ego-mind. Then there cannot be any frustration. The frustration only happens when there’s doership – the attachment to an outcome or expectation.
Be generous and giving from the heart without expecting anything in return, and your Kundalini will awaken by itself.
You will become a high-vibrational energy magnet and attract similar people in your life without “doing” anything. Your sexuality is sacred. It is a gift from nature. Use it for physical and spiritual communion with your partner and not for seeking temporary relief from frustration.