The celibate monks were to avoid all thoughts of sex. Imaginary or real sex was strictly forbidden.
By my mid-twenties I’d dated and been heartbroken with women. The usual, garden variety issues–I got attached, cheated on, or dumped. In a word, disappointment–such is the lot of idealism of romantic relationships. A convenient solution–celibacy, giving up sex, avoided emotional hurt and could make me spiritual–in one fell swoop!
The seeds of desire for controlling sex energy were planted during my teens. I’d discovered a book in my Dad’s library, Think and Grow Rich1. This is not the place to discuss the impact this influential text had on my life. We are interested in only a single detail, the chapter on “The Mystery of Sex Transmutation”1. Controlling the sex force would, I thought, fuel my intuition, my sixth sense, and bring me success as a creative artist. I was a musician in the years before I became a monk.
The seeds of sex transmutation eventually grew into my vow of celibacy. The ordained monks were required to abstain in thought and deed. But, no one knew my thoughts–or did they? I feared the advanced monks (siddhas) or the guru would read my mind and discover I had dirty thoughts! Sometimes I’d be rudely awakened from deep sleep to discover my hands on my genitals or shaken awake from nocturnal emissions. Pleasure and shame were simultaneous, humiliating. After realizing my “sins”, I’d sit up in bed to meditate on forgiveness or go down to my bedroom floor on my hands and knees. Prostrate in front of my dresser-top photo of gurus, I’d utter over and over:
Sex Was Death
The fellow monks and yoga students of Self-Realization Fellowship were “trained”:
“Evil thoughts are the most powerful of man’s interior enemies. Remember that control of the sex impulse should begin with its spiritual transmutation within.
Everyone who finds his self-control waning should remember that yielding will hasten his flight toward the pitfalls of disease, premature old age, mental dissatisfaction, loss of ambition, boredom, unhappiness, and premature unhappy death”.2 [emphasis mine]
The above memories of my celibate days were triggered when I read this below in Men’s Health magazine:
“A UK study found that folks who have frequent orgasms from sex also have greater resting-heart-rate variability, which is linked to longer life. Sex strengthens your parasympathetic nervous system (the brakes on your heart rate), allowing it to better counter your sympathetic nervous system (the gas pedal)”.3
Contrary to Hindu traditions and yogi mythology, sexual activity can lead to health and long-life3,4.
- The Mystery of Sex Transmutation, Think And Grow Rich. Hill, N. Ballentine. NY: NY. 1960. Ch 11. Print.
- Transmutation of Creative Energy Into Spiritual Energy, Self-Realization Fellowship Lesson #71. Self-Realization Fellowship. Los Angeles, CA. 1991. Print.
- How To Live To Be 100: Break the Bed. Men’s Health (Jul/Aug 2014), 24. Print.
- Smith, G. D. et al, (1997) Sex and death: are they related? Findings from the Caerphilly cohort study. BMJ (British Medical Journal). Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/content/315/7123/1641