Is Sexual Activity A Hindrance In The Path of 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?

A. 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 artist performance, two things happen: some people will appreciate your work, while the 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. Neither does it lead to the pride of success nor the guilt of failure.

Similarly, while performing a 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 for the same experience again.

There’s a popular idea floating around 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 many 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 in women and children by preachers, monks, and spiritual gurus all across the world. It happens to this day.

Abstinence may not directly cause such obnoxious behavior, but it certainly is 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, you denying sexual pleasure to your partner for a personal fascination of liberation is highly egoic.

There are two aspects to this: first, trying to control or suppress sexual energy in many cases leads to psychological ailments, and this 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 in frustration with psychological stress.

The most common underlying story that we tell ourselves is, “I struggled, and hence, I achieved.” The mind attaches itself to a fancy idea and begins chasing it in the hope of “getting” somewhere.

True liberation happens when all concepts and teachings fall apart, including this unconscious urge to “become” something by “doing” something.