Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Celibacy: Helpful vs. Unhelpful (cartoon)


The high or supreme life (brahmacharya) is one of study, self restraint, and a vehicle to the world of the brahmas, which are neither male nor female and without sex. These heavens were the goal of Brahmins in the Vedic Brahmanism of the Buddha's time.

Sages, mendicants, yogis, ascetics, monks, spiritual seekers, shaman wanderers (shramans), temple priests (brahmins), and magicians all found it useful to turn away from sensual indulgences. Even food became a healthy necessity taken in moderation (often combined with complete fasts).

This left a surplus of life-energy (spiritus, prana, or chi) that could be dedicated to spiritual exertions -- cultivating an open, unbiased heart, a serene and luminous mind, a receptive attention span, unswerving dedication to knowing and seeing, enlightenment, liberation, or various meditation objects to cultivate such useful qualities as:
  • mindfulness
  • loving-kindness
  • concentration (samadhi)
  • serenity
  • absorption
  • supersensual bliss
  • purification
  • intensified or higher mind
With all the benefits that come of withdrawing and secluding oneself from sensual pursuits, there are few benefits to guilt, shame [unless it guards against karmically unprofitable actions], or hypocrisy. When one eats, one should enjoy it mindfully. When and if one has sex, one should enjoy it. Since there is value to restraint, when one is practicing restraint, one should enjoy it, reflecting on the benefits.

To do otherwise makes celibacy a farce, a front, a hypocritical veil. What benefit is there to deny the body while obsessing and indulging the mouth and mind and waiting for an opportunity to act on it?