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Aversion, Death, Rebirth, Vanity                        
   

 

 

 

THE CELIBACY QUESTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22. Celia Roberts BSc
Yoga Therapy, Meditation, Ayurveda.

Celia Roberts is an accredited and experienced yoga and meditation teacher, with a degree in Biomedical science, majoring in anatomy and physiology. Celia has had world-wide teaching experience, and over 14 years of experience in the complementary health education system.

Celia is a complementary health practitioner, with a Masters in Psychosomatic therapy and a strong education in Ayurvedic Medicine. With wisdom in both Western Medical Science and Eastern Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine, Celia always gives you a holistic framework for natural healing.

Celia has been fortunate to receive her education from some of the best teachers around the globe through her travels, and has been to India many times to further her understanding of the culture and medicinal system that has offered her so much. Celia has enthusiastically practiced yoga and meditation for the last 14 years and has formally taught for the past 8 years. She uses her deep kinaesthetic awareness and heightened sensitivity developed through these practices to assist others.

Celia Roberts offers comprehensive Yoga Teacher Training, Yoga Therapy programs, Ayurvedic Training and Meditation Teacher Training through the Yoga and Integrative Medicine Institute she has co-founded. This Institute has been inspired by the idea of furthering yoga and complementary health education to its highest possible standards, in conjunction with allopathic medicine. With an amazing team of Senior teachers and expertise, Yimi, the Yoga and Integrative Medicine Institute aims to expand the awareness of yoga within the community, and provide the highest possible standards of education in the field.

Celia has helped many people from different backgrounds and professions to bring health, stillness, and purpose into their lives. Celia loves to share what she daily cultivates in her own life: the values of mindfulness, compassion, and simplicity.  Celia lives in Australia, at her retreat residence with her young family. They live in a simply stated farmhouse home, set amongst beautiful bush acreage of Brisbane, Australia, servicing the world-wide community with retreats and training programs.

http://celiaroberts.com.au/

 

 

 

INTERVIEW

 

 

NDM:  Patanjali said "When one is confirmed in celibacy, spiritual vigor is gained.” What did he mean by this and does this teaching still apply today?

 

Celia Roberts: I feel that the desire for a sexual connection can dissipate to some degree through spiritual practice, namely classical yoga in this reference.

 

When a lack of desire for sexual union is naturally attained without force or will, then it seems that the lesser the attachment, the lesser the suffering. There are less thwarted beliefs and expectations.

 

Celibacy for women in the tradition of yoga is not condoned. In the Indian culture of the not too distant past, women were traditionally expected to marry and reproduce, as that was their role, and to some degree not even try and attain spiritual liberation. It was commonly understood that they had more of an ability to attain liberation through their natural emotional connection and compassion towards others, and so practice was not as relevant for them. One of my Indian teachers claims that women have an extraordinary quality of devotion within them that makes it easier to surrender and follow the path of yoga. They are often respected for the qualities of love, patience, and forbearance, and compassion. It may be assumed that their love is given freely without expectation. Child rearing can be helpful to develop this love (Matru Bhavam) and these qualities.

 

I also firmly believe that some women do not have these tendencies as much as some men do (a great generalization) but it does seem generally that women have their brains are more wired to function more emotionally, with right side brain dominance.

 

Having said that, there are definitely ancient references to women practicing yoga for liberation in the ancient text, the Rg Veda: Gargi- wife of sage Yajnavalkya-practised to achieve liberation.

 

In recent times, with more women in yoga than ever before, also men practicing as householders, it raises the question, of whether celibacy in spiritual practice is actually necessary. To know the state of yoga- a state of "deep tranquility and sublime peace"- I feel celibacy is not necessary. If people commit to the life of a householder, then sexual activity to raise children may be necessary to fulfill ones kama (enlivened desires from latent conditionings) and dharma (to be in accord with the natural flow of life). Without our deep latent desires (samskaras) there would be no incarnation. Whilst this may stop the endless cycle of death and birth, and suffering, it is not considered completely necessary by yoga traditions in recent times. This stands for men who choose the path of householder as well, particularly when considering the four clearly distinct stages of life laid out in the texts, namely the ashramas as seen below:

 

Brahmacarya

 

In this stage, one does academic learning, usually under a guru. His education is specialised based on his interest and performance. This is a stage of learning and celibacy happens at 5-16 years of age, before taking on the next stage.

 

Grhastha

Grhastha ashrama is the phase where a person contributes to society, with strict guidelines for this stage of life outlined in an entire book for the householder, the Grihya Sutras. At this stage, the sustenance of society, finances and family is important, and usually one is not permitted to bypass this stage.

Pursuits are based on Dharma, and fulfillment of desires. Both kama (enlivened desires from latent conditionings) and dharma (to be in accord with the natural flow of life), are to be served here, based on Dharma. This ensures Moksha (liberation).

 

Having lived half on one’s life by now, one should take up vanaprastha ashrama.

 

Vanaprastha

At this stage one gives away financial securities to family or donates it, goes into semi seclusion, and prepares for reflection. Contribution to society is still required through advising and teaching.  Wisdom and experience are imparted to the younger generation in this way.  Having fulfilled desires in the previous ashrama, one is expected have less desire for sensuous pleasures. The work is dispassionate and detached, as there is no specific result from sought the work.

 

Though one is supposed to celibate, one is not required to renounce or live alone. One is also encouraged to earn a livelihood, but not encouraged to acquire or accumulate. Without any specific need, one does not enter the city - usually people needing his/her advice come to seek it from the wiser person.

 

Sanyasa

In this stage one renounces the world and detaches from social and family relations to a greater degree. One should not earn in this stage, or have material possession, or social ambition. All work is purely for moksha (liberation). Technically, a sanyasi has no debts, and lives freely until his death.

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In conclusion, being a Mother myself with an incredibly compassionate and loving husband, I do not feel that the texts and traditions always ring true for each of us. The scriptures provide us with the best guidelines, but we must take their relevance into our own situation and into the context of our lives. If sexual activity is part of our lives, then include it as a part of the path to liberation, like Tantra does, encompassing all.

 

No doubt the desire may cease as spiritual awareness is heightened when insight into the nature of suffering takes hold, and we see through our thwarted beliefs and expectations.  At this stage, all our energies must be used for attaining higher consciousness and sexual union may be part of this path for some of us.

 

The demand of celibacy we place upon ourselves and enormous spiritual discipline may at times  produce equal amounts of suffering, internal struggle and confusion when choosing to follow a path.

 

Of course, there are energetic benefits to celibacy that are well recorded, but also there are equal benefits to sacred union as well.

“Choose the path of least resistance” is the best advice I have ever received.

 

NDM: You mentioned the Rg Veda: Gargi- wife of sage Yajnavalkya-practised to achieve liberation but it seems that at that time, they didn’t use sex as a hedonistic pursuit, or for sense pleasures, it was only for reproduction. I recently spoke with Ramesam about this. He says, “It was undertaken as a holy pious ritual done on select auspicious days after reciting special mantras exclusively for the purpose of getting an offspring.”

 

www.nondualitymagazine.org/nonduality_magazine.celibacyproject.ramesamvemuri.htm

 

Do you think it’s possible in this day and age to for most westerners to go back to practicing in that sort of way?

 

Celia Roberts: It seems a very common restraint in all religious practices and a common form of ascetism that is practiced in many philosophies to free desire for practice of liberation.

 

Interestingly, it is commonly practiced In Ayurveda to undertake copulation on specific days with sacred chants to receive a healthy child, and have the child's sex determined by intention. A boy was traditionally welcomed in the culture as we know.

 

If we did come back to such practices perhaps we would see a positive effect. Any discipline has virtuous cycles and effects when practiced with the right intention. As previously mentioned many people who become involved in spiritual practice, have their normal desires naturally fall away to some degree, and yet a loving intention can pose a very effective union between two people, both liberating and dissolving the boundaries of self.

 

NDM: What are your thoughts on some people who seem to bypass these various stages, and leap to the very last stage of seeking moksha, but without taking sanyasa? Is this a realistic option to be in the world but not of it? Not to get polluted by it?

 

Celia Roberts: It can happen where one can leap to the last stage of seeking moksha without taking sanyasa. It is often documented in the texts, but it is claimed to be very rare, and only suitable for certain individuals. People do move away from society and try and live on the outskirts to bypass this stage and I am sure it is successful for some.

 

Those who choose to leave society and join a monastery or ashram still have their duties to perform.

 

We can all justify where we sit in the grand scheme of things according to our own karma, and how we choose to live according to that position we have taken in life.  It is personally very easy for me to say that “being of the world” still provides me with enough material to find clarity and freedom within. So I choose that way of looking at it all….I am of the world and I use it to see through my “self”. Suffering is always a perception.

 

NDM: What about tantra, how does this enter the equation?

 

Celia Roberts: I know little about tantra, as it is not my formal training, but from what I do know, I admire its ability as a way of life to encompass all as a spiritual discipline. Nothing is separate from the totality, and all is an opportunity for awakening.

 

NDM: Can one still have sex and attain moksha, exit samsara, or will this sexual drive keep going at the point of death into some other realm?

 

Celia Roberts: Having not have entered another realm at the point of death or exited samsara, I feel unable to comment from experience. However, the yogic tradition states we carry our sanskaras over into our next life. Sanskaras are the imprints left on the subconscious by experiences in past lives, so if these are not cleared before death and you believe in re-incarnation, then we must carry them on. Sanskaras are said to determine and condition one’s desires and actions in the present.

 

If one clears all the sanskaras and latent desires then it may be possible to exit samsara.  If one sees with insight they can exit samsara and still attain moksha through sacred sexual union, then I don’t see why this could not take place as well.

 

Tantra again is our finest example, not from the common misinterpretation of it being all about the sexual act, but more so its ability to encompass the totality of life as a spiritual discipline.

 

 

 

END OF INTERVIEW