How does one practice healthy sexuality?
Q: Why do so many spiritual masters place an emphasis on celibacy? What is the way for people to practice healthy sexuality without going to the extreme of becoming celibate?
A: It is impossible (and would be foolish) for me to speak for other spiritual masters, but I can speak for myself. In all the years of my ministry, and of all the many thousands of people I have counseled, I have only suggested celibacy to three individuals—and, even at that, this was only for a set period of time. While I do not advocate celibacy as a permanent way of life, celibacy is a very powerful vehicle to attain the exalted state of Detachment. For the record, I do advocate abstaining from intercourse before marriage (which many confuse as being equal to celibacy, which it is not). There are many reasons for this, many blessings to be gained from it, while still leaving unlimited ways to express and share physical and sexual intimacy.
At the same time, I both honor and respect anyone’s choice to live a celibate lifestyle. It is not for everyone, however, and, in fact, can be very damaging (if not dangerous) when practiced without proper training or guidance. Anyone who (still experiences sexual desires, consciously or unconsciously and) chooses to practice celibacy would be wise to practice some form of pranayama (sacred breathing techniques) to move the life force energy (qi, chi, prana) up through the chakras. The very dearth of this training and practice by celibates is the sole cause of all the sexual molestation which is seen in some religions (the Catholic Church might make the headlines in the news, but this exists in other religions, too—and not just in the clergy). Some religions/churches mandate the suppression of this natural bodily function, but fail to offer training for an alternative means to move the energy. Because lava always finds the weak spot in the rock, any unhealthy type of suppression will find unhealthy expression elsewhere (in all arenas, not just the sexual one).
It is also important for me to clarify, by the way, that sex does not necessarily move energy the way pranayama does, nor is it at all times the healthiest way to move energy for a given individual in a given moment. The breath is the most powerful tool we have, and it can be used not only to transcend sexual desires, but also to heal any disease, perform many miraculous feats, and to directly experience God. (There are also other sacred techniques—like Qi Gong, T’ai Chi, and some forms of yoga—which can move the life force energy in a way that can help ones to safely and comfortably live a celibate lifestyle.)
Practicing healthy sexuality begins with regarding your own body as a temple of God, the very tabernacle which houses your soul. It is important to place your primary focus on self-love and self-worth, and making it your highest priority to increase these divine aspects of your consciousness. The sharing of your body with other(s) needs to be held as a most sacred act, an expression of love (rather than of “need”). Sexuality stemming from need only creates more dependency and unfulfillment, for desire is the cause of all suffering.
What is most important in any relationship (including ones where there is no sexual expression: family, friends, co-workers, etc.) is to develop intimacy. Second only to the primordial fear of death is the human fear of intimacy. And, believe it or not, most people engage in sex to avoid intimacy, the same way people chatter and babble and gossip to avoid intimacy. In fact, over 80% of all human speech is wasted words, “filler” used by people who fear the intimacy which naturally occurs and presents itself every time two or more people come together and have the opportunity to express their love for one another.
Seek to see and experience God in every thing, in every encounter, and you will find a richness and tapestry in/of life that you never dreamed possible. Make the effort to become vulnerable. Your true power lies in your defenselessness. God seeks to engage with us in every moment. The Beloved waits at every corner, between every breath, before every sentence. What I teach—and why I walk this Earth—is to invite everyone into The Divine Romance. Herein lies Life’s greatest treasure, greatest experience, greatest achievement, and greatest reward.