Interviews on the question of celibacy in the various eastern and western spiritual traditions.
1st of 7
- a 7
Vedanta, Taoism, Buddhism, Judeo-Christian Gnosticism, Mystical Sufism, all laud
transcendence of duality and desire, verified by transcendence of sexual
activity, from the Buddha to the Dalai Lama and millions of others in India over
the millennia. Has modern non-dualism created something new where sex and desire
are not transcended? And is this a higher state than what Buddha and founder of
Advaita Vedanta, Adi Shankara, taught to monks and lay people and lived
Bart: It seems that what we are actually talking
about here, is the illusion of separation. This is an illusion which will
manifest in the monastery, the convent, the domestic kitchen and in every place
where there is human living.
Today, at this time, humanity seems to be experiencing a crisis of the
individual within unity. This is based on the belief that there is a polarity
between unity and individuality. This is just a belief.
Unity is found at the heart of the individual. Individuality, with its unique,
exclusive and miraculous difference, is an enrichment and affirmation of unity.
In unity, there is no exclusion.
Unity actually has no polarity, yet it contains the dualism of separation and
togetherness, or to say it differently, loneliness and belonging. Unity is never
lost, it is always here.
The mere thought that we are not part of the universe including even the most
intimate experiences of how it is to be here now, is an illusion.
In the area of sexuality - the very engine out of which we are created - there
is an enormous amount of fear, shame, and vulnerability.
So much so, that often we believe that sexual purity is something that needs to
be attained, through a process of segregation and isolation. This is not the
case. Sexual purity is always here. Our loss of connection with this inner
purity and innate innocence can occur as easily within a monastery or convent as
within a marriage.
Celibacy can have a value for some time and in some form as a means of
purification in order to reconnect with the inherent purity which is always
here. It is also of service in order to relativize and realize emotional
entanglements. As such, it can bring us to a deeper clarity and authenticity.
This deeper authenticity is found when celibacy is based on individual response
to need and not necessarily when it is based on the dictates of an external
authority. Here, there is quite a difference between a form born from authentic
need, and a form based on something else, such as a transient lust for spiritual
A motivation based on inner authenticity and loyalty to deeper need, will lead
to inner truth. A motivation based on lust or fear of authority will lead to
more lust and fear of authority. The content and attitudes of each moment will
birth the content and attitudes of each coming moment, irrespective of form.
We share far more in unity than we are able to contain or allow. At one level,
we share our consciousness in the form of collective consciousness, with a lot
of its mental content. We share our awareness, collective atmospheres or
vibrations moving through us as one.
We also share whole fields of emotions and feelings, of which sexuality is
perceived as one of the most threatening to the boundaries of society and the
individual. As such, the crisis of the individual in unity comes forward in the
area of sexuality with a vengeance.
To put it simply, we become incredibly insecure in the field of sexuality -
about where we begin and where we end, or about what is ours and what belongs to
the “other”. This is swaddled in fear, rage, jealousy, shame and collective
At the same time, sexuality is also the plain through which the longing for
togetherness and unity is playing out the strongest.
Sexuality at source is not defined by any activity. It is coming from a shared
source which is an integral part of creation. It is also connected with
sensuality - the experience of being physically alive. It is also connected with
love - through which we move towards unity through the dissolution of
“otherness”; and it is also connected with the passion to live and the lust
within that. It is part of who we are as human beings.
As such, sexuality is at the very cutting edge of being authentically human; and
there is a need for inner vigilance and loyalty to our innate sexual
authenticity, purity and freedom.
Freedom is what non-duality is all about. The opposite of slavery is liberation.
Freedom has no opposite, it is always here. It is really important to reconnect
to this inner freedom. This includes the freedom to be celibate if and when this
is needed. It also includes the freedom to be sexually a physical part of the
whole. More than anything, it embraces the freedom to experience to the depths
whatever is manifesting within the here and now, and to give it form.
END OF INTERVIEW