Is celibacy required from spiritual seekers? Opinions differ, because just like anything else, it has the potential to be misused or used well. My short answer is that it’s not a requirement, but it can be useful for various reasons. The more important question is: how can you maximize the time, energy and effort spent on pursuing the spiritual path?
You see, celibacy was only partially encouraged for strictly spiritual reasons by various religious traditions. The other goal was to free up time from family life and sexual life in the pursuit of God and happiness. Even nowadays, the main problem is not with sexuality or relationships, but how much time they take away from other transcendental aspirations.
If you think about it, it’s logical. Procreation is only a secondary need compared to the primary need for survival. You can live without sex, but you die without food, water and shelter. The main means of survival in this day and age is money, and the majority of people spend more time chasing money than chasing women. To understand this connection better, watch my video titled “Money and spirituality”.
Most people spend 8 or more hours at work, then play with their children at home, and hardly have enough time to spend with their partner. Others have to raise their children with little or no help from their spouse, which is a full-time job in itself. It’s not a surprise that with such a lifestyle, it’s almost impossible to take up any hobby, not to mention a serious spiritual path.
And when you consider that compared to spirituality, everything else in life is just a distraction, the situation seems even more unfortunate. Although survival and procreation are essential needs, they cannot even compare to the importance of discovering the truth of life. It’s no surprise that many monks decided to be done with material life altogether, and concentrate all their time, effort and energy on their spiritual goals.
I’m certainly not suggesting to sacrifice your relationship for enlightenment, because they’re not mutually exclusive. I do however recommend that you create a lifestyle financially, socially and sexually that’s conducive to proper spiritual growth. Your biggest enemy is not sex, but time.
It also doesn’t help that most people remain uninterested in spirituality before the age of 28. My own spiritual journey started at the age of 26, and I was very lucky in the sense that I could rely mostly on passive income. During those 4 years of being a spiritual seeker, I only had one serious relationship, and some occasional partners. This meant that I could spend about 4-5 hours every day immersing myself in this subject. Looking back, this intensity and dedication greatly speeded up my spiritual journey.
However, there’s also a shadow side of celibacy we need to take into account. Sex is the source of all life, so by denying sex, you’re denying life. You’re denying life from your unborn children, you stop the flow of life energy, you fail to give the glowing torch of life to the next generation. If everybody became a celibate, nobody else would have a chance to experience the miracle of life.
And by denying sex, you’re also denying death. You want to forget that you’re also an animal with instinctive urges who will ultimately die. You unconsciously hope that by overcoming sex, you will also overcome death, but it doesn’t work that way. You’re just trying to put the cart before the horse, because only when you first overcome death will you then also overcome sex. It happened the same way for me. In the honeymoon phase following my enlightenment, I lost all interest in sexuality.
The biggest problem with celibacy is that it can easily backfire. If you force it on yourself, it will do more harm than good. If we consider the issue from the perspective of creating more time, energy and effort for spiritual development, we can easily see why. By repressing sexuality, you actually become more sexual than ever. You will think about sex all the time, dreaming about it, fantasizing about it nonstop. You will spend more time with sexuality in your mind than if you had a normal sexual life.
Repressed sex also distorts and perverts your otherwise natural urges. That’s how nuns become lesbians, and priests become homosexuals and even child molesters. They lose all their natural outlets, and are forced to turn towards what’s available. Although forced celibacy is an ugly phenomenon, growing into celibacy naturally is tremendously beautiful.
When it happens, it happens, you don’t do anything about it. Let the fruit grow ripe on its own accord, you just take your time watering the tree. Celibacy is a by-product of spiritual development, of a higher state of consciousness, and not the cause itself. If you take the fruit too early, it will leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
So until that doesn’t happen, accept your sexuality as a natural aspect of your being. When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re thirsty, drink. When you’re horny, have sex. It’s so simple. Don’t obsess about it, don’t indulge in it, and don’t abstain from it. Your only task is to remain aware whatever you’re doing, and this in itself will bring a total transformation into all aspects of life.
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