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Celibacy
Jan 4

Written by: selfdef
1/4/2009 10:59 AM

After practicing celibacy on and off for about 35 years, I decided to make this new year, my last year of celibacy. Over those 35 years celibacy has been the cornerstone of my spiritual path. There were times when celibacy was the only discipline of my spiritual path. I remained celibate because I knew the benefits that I gained from it. I was stronger both physically and mentally. I thought that Celibacy made me into better man and I enjoyed feeling that way. I could usually remain celibate for several months to a little over a year, but sooner or later forces of adversity would want their share of the energy built up, and I would eventually succumb.

So I decided to make a deal. Allow me to remain celibate for 2009. After that I will give up celibacy and find a mate. I honestly don’t know if this will work because the forces of adversity know that they are stronger than my will. But I also know that there are forces working with me and I am counting on those forces to help me see this out.

One can argue that I’m delusional to think that there are unseen forces working for and against me in this spiritual quest, but if I learned anything over these years, it's that this “I” has very little control over my life. That this “I” is largely mechanical with the possible exception of self-observation where it may be semi-mechanical.

Mystics and philosophers have said that the Truth will make you free. Well, I see some of my chains. I notice how little I’m self- aware throughout the day, how I’m on automatic most of the time and how this path I’ve been on doesn’t seem to be doing anything other than making me think I’m getting closer to the Truth. I find that I feel closer to finding the Truth after I’ve been celibate for a while. Am I fooling myself? Am I thinking that because I seem to be able to function better in a celibate state of mind that I’m closer to the truth? After all these years I believe I can safely say that I have been fooling myself to think that.

Rose talks about tension being a catalyst in the search. Maybe the tension which invariably happens between a man and a woman will serve as a catalyst. Or maybe it’s just another trick by the forces of adversity. Either way, I’ve decided to see it through.

So this blog will focus primarily on the upcoming year, my final year of celibacy. Don’t quite know what I will be writing about but my intentions are to post something at least once a month. It will likely be a journal of sorts; thoughts, feelings, recollections and experiences of the upcoming year as well as the past 35 years of my association with Rose and TAT.

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12 comments so far...

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

selfdef:

Your comments on celibacy are greatly appreciated, as I have been, like yourself, a TAT member for almost 35 years. Like you, I've been grappling with issues related to celibacy thoughout this time. Admittedly, I have had only sporadic success over the years. But this past year I have had more success than I ever did in all my previous years with TAT. Certainly, the fact that I'm now middle-aged and closer to death has made me more desperate. Starting a group and acting as monitor, as well as preparing topics every week, has forced me to be more honest with myself. And now, writing for this webpage is doing the same. Active ladder-work has been the catalyst for tension I needed to succeed with celibacy. Mind you, I still have problems with it, but I've had more control this past year than ever. I plan to keep the momentum going. Yet I'm facing the same problems you are: little self-awareness during the day; asking whether I'm fooling myself.

For myself, I can't say that making a deal to be celibate for a year and then finding a mate would be the thing to do right now. I know I still have some of the old obsessions, so I need to clear my mind up some more. Today, I heard a Rose CD of a talk in Cleveland during 1977, where he gave an introduction to the Albigen System. In the talk, Rose said that the "pursuit of happiness" is programmed in us; that we are "baited" to want it. He further said that it is a fictitious reward, because life itself is a mix of pleasure and pain in a relative dimension. To want only pleasure would create hell for yourself; if you go for pleasure, you'll want a comparison. When I heard this, I thought of my own problems with celibacy.

It just so happens that early last year, I wrote an article entitled "Self-Definition - The Only Real Problem." I wrote this to be placed in the TAT Forum, but so far it hasn't been put online. My problems with celibacy were in mind as I wrote it, so perhaps it is approprate, as this blog is named "Self-Definition" and much of what I discuss in the article relates to my celibacy issues, to place it here:

SELF-DEFINITION: THE ONLY REAL PROBLEM

"The only real problem in life is the problem of self-definition. According to several well-known esoteric teachers, if one realizes this with one’s whole being—body, mind, and heart—spiritual progress will be made. Regrettably, most spiritual seekers do not feel this problem with their whole being and will flounder about for years without result. In a moment of clarity, the seeker will make an initial commitment to find self-definition. But then gravity will set in. Let’s cite a hypothetical example: A youthful seeker will make a lifelong commitment to find self-definition when in a particular mood. While in this mood, he realizes the need to reverse his vector. But later, in a different mood, the commitment will wane as perceived personal problems become an obstacle to his spiritual search. For instance, he will have feelings of failure and inferiority, and will want to compensate for this by achieving certain goals that prove his self-worth. He may feel deprived over being denied the gratifications life has to offer: career achievement; business success; financial security; relationships; travel; fame; good food and wine; etc. Various forms of rationalization will be employed, impeding the seeker’s ability and willingness to reverse his vector and conserve energy for the spiritual search. Such a seeker may spend years in a quandary, swaying, on one hand, between moods of enthusiasm, and on the other, hopelessness or failure. Before he knows it, he finds himself in advanced middle age or beyond. Such a seeker was not honest with himself. He spent many years chasing after unreal problems formed by his rationalizations.

What went wrong with this young seeker? His commitment was followed by feelings of failure, inferiority, and deprivation, which became the dominant forms of rationalization. How did these feelings affect his body, mind, and heart? His body sought various forms of gratification to alleviate the feelings, instead of making a concerted effort to reverse the vector by consciously delaying or eliminating the need to fulfill those gratifications, by going within. Not doing so resulted in a lack of bodily attention, adversely affecting the mind. Here, the seeker could have read about and studied esoteric philosophy extensively, but to no avail. He did not make his body the “laboratory” that Richard Rose talked about. For all his reading and studying, he put none of it into practice. Consequently, he did not develop his intuition. Instead, the seeker’s mind followed the wayward body in spite of his extensive readings and studies, and so his heart was not really on an authentic spiritual search. The seeker was fooling himself. Now, in his middle age, he is confronted with his lack of honesty.

It was Richard Rose who said that the only real problem was that of self-definition. He said so during a discussion in which I was a participant, after reading his poem “The Three Books of the Absolute.” During that discussion many years ago Rose stated: “We bounce from one illusion to another—one obsession to another.” This is the story of humanity—a never ending bouncing about from illusion and obsession to more illusions and obsessions. To realize we bounce from illusion and obsession, and then to feel with our whole being that our only problem, and solution, lies in our need for self-definition, is what I believe to be the key to making genuine spiritual effort. The seeker as a young man did not grasp the fact that he was not a failure, not inferior, and not deprived. Those issues were the “problems” he was dealing with; they were not the problem of self-definition. His feelings of failure, inferiority, and deprivation propelled him into an endless round of illusion and obsession. Indeed, you could say this seeker was addicted or “hooked” on his illusions and obsessions. If he attempted to reverse his vector and develop intuition early on, perhaps he could have seen that even if he was not deprived of what he wanted or aspired to, he was traveling on a dead-end road. All of his wants and aspirations were of a transient nature. Instead, he could have spent considerable time and refection asking himself the questions: “What is the real problem in life?” and “What is the only real problem?”

To be sure, in the course of our lives we will face many unavoidable problems requiring our attention. There are basic survival needs. We need to feed, shelter, and clothe ourselves and our families. And, for a period of time, we need to have an ego that will motivate us to fulfill those needs. Our ego has legitimate aspirations towards maintaining our bodily survival, success in our livelihood, and providing for our loved ones. Life will also bring problems such as sickness, catastrophe, and many other uncertainties that are part of everyday existence. These cannot be avoided, and we must face those circumstances as they come. But ultimately, our body and our ego do not survive after death—at least as far as we know. There’s been speculation to the contrary, as some metaphysical systems postulate an afterlife, reincarnation, etc. But even assuming there is merit to these speculations, there remains the problem of defining the self who experiences such an afterlife state. So then, all the problems of everyday life, and those of a possible afterlife, pale before the only real problem—that of self-definition.

Why then, do we not pursue passionately, with our whole being—body, mind, and heart—the resolution to the problem of self-definition? After all, everything we achieve in life, every pleasure indulged in, everything that gave us our identity while living, is lost at our death. Why do we place so much stock in these? We think they are us; they give us ego-gratification; they define our perceived self while we are alive. But when we ponder over our imminent death, we realize they are not our real self. Yet we are afraid of losing what has given us our identity. In our fear, we become inhibited from letting them go. To this Rose said that what we are afraid of is “losing a coward.” We must let our perceived identity die. It is a false identity. When we let this false identity die, then, according to Rose, “something magical occurs.”

What is failure? What is deprivation? What is inferiority? Do they really exist? The young seeker did not think through the answers to such questions. As a result, he identified with those feelings, seeing them as the problem, instead of self-definition. Subsequently, he was caught in their particular traps of illusion and obsession. And you, the reader, are caught in your own respective traps. No doubt you are more trapped in illusion and obsession than you realize. You have your own dominating forms of rationalization which prevent you from seeing your situation clearly and from seeing that the only real problem you have is the problem of self-definition. You are afraid of losing a coward. For most of you, it will take years of self-observation to see realize this."

By nanzo on   1/4/2009 8:57 PM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

Thanks for that very poignant post. Fear of losing a coward really rings true for me. Lately,I’ve been grappling with the topic of fear as an obstacle without actually pinpointing which of the myriad of fears have been holding me back. So now the question is how to overcome this fear?

By selfdef on   1/4/2009 8:02 PM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

Users who are members and are logged-in can read and post to the "Celibacy" thread (and find links to articles on celibacy) in the Member Forum at this Link.

By albigen on   1/4/2009 11:31 PM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

Why do people insist on bashing "the coward"? Is this a way to prove they are no longer a coward? If the coward is unreal then they’re asserting themselves by criticizing something that doesn't exist, a logical fallacy known as a straw man. Or does it really demonstrate a personal dichotomy because they're still attached to the man they claim they want to transcend?

Of course you are free to ask why I take offense at an attack on the coward and feel a need to defend him.

By Miami on   1/10/2009 3:46 PM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

Miami:

Speaking for myself, I don't think I'm insisting on bashing the coward. Rather, I'm "afraid of losing a coward," as Rose states it in PSYCHOLOGY OF THE OBSERVER. In the book, he was answering a question about being afraid to venture into the mind. Rose told the questioner it was a matter of whether he wanted to take a gamble. There were risks, such as losing your mind, or even a botched ascetic practice, but it was worth it. Let the coward die. Young people value themselves, and will question why they should pursue an ascetic path. Rose's response: They're rationalizing; talking themselves out of any real action. Though introspection, you realize you have to face the fear.

For myself, I think my fears are related to obsessions leading to the feelings of failure, deprivation, and inferiority I mentioned in my above little essay. I devised a complex system of rationalization to sustain those feelings. In all honesty, I think the issue of deprivation still persists. I'm still weighing options on the matter; still trying to determine what any possible course of action would lead to. Perhaps I'm rationalizing about my own perceived "progress." I don't know.

To answer your last question: I'd say I'm still attached to the "old man." I have not transcended him.

So, Miami, I'm curious. Why do you take offense at an attack on the coward, and feel a need to defend him?

Nanzo

By nanzo on   1/11/2009 12:51 PM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

He's my best friend.

By Miami on   1/12/2009 4:56 AM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

I think I know what you're trying to say. I came across something similar from 'I am That'
“As long as the observer, the inner self, the ‘higher’ considers himself apart from the observed, the ‘lower’ self despises it and condemns it, the situation is hopeless. It is only when the observer accepts the person as a projection or manifestation of himself, and , as to say, takes the self into the Self, the duality of ‘I’ and ‘this’ goes and in the identity of the outer and the inner the Supreme Reality manifests itself.
This union of the seer and the seen happens when the seer becomes conscious of himself as the seer; he is not merely interested in the seen, which he is anyhow, but also interested in being interested, giving attention to attention, aware of being aware. Affectionate awareness is the crucial factor that brings Reality into focus.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj,

By selfdef on   1/13/2009 8:13 PM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

Upon further reflection, I think that being "afraid to lose a coward" may be just a form of "bashing the coward." Bashing can be a reaction to fear. And when you're bashing, you're also being a bully. As the old saying goes, a bully is a coward.

A couple of years ago during a TAT meeting, an old member pointed out to me that I have a still retain a sense of regret about past actions. That sense of regret might be my bully-coward at work.

This all ties into the Nisargadatta quote. I'm sure that my "lower self" has despised my higher, inner self. The term "affectionate awareness" intrigues me. It doesn't sound like something I've done. Can anyone explain to me the meaning of this term?

By nanzo on   1/17/2009 10:05 AM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

Just for the record, because I don't want to leave a false impression, as I discussed with "SelfDef" a couple days ago, he is giving me too much credit by imputing meaning to a remark to which I should have attached a smiley-face.

By Miami on   1/22/2009 4:34 AM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

Note: this is also posted in the Celibacy forum in the members' forums.

On the subject of Celibacy one could cull a small book of quotations from Blavatsky's writings.

I sent a paper around of some of the quotes and some comments to a few people last week. Probably the best quote to give an over-view of the Blavatsky-Theosophy viewpoint is this: When H.P. Blavatsky was asked if a man must marry or remain a celibate (The Key to Theosophy, p. 262), she replied:

"It depends on the kind of man you mean. If you refer to one who intends to live in the world, one who, even though a good, earnest Theosophist, and an ardent worker for our cause, still has ties and wishes which bind him to the world, who, in short, does not feel that he has done for ever with what men call life, and that he desires one thing and one thing only - to know the truth, and to be able to help others - then for such a one I say there is no reason why he should not marry, if he likes to take the risks of that lottery where there are so many more blanks than prizes."

"Surely you cannot believe us so absurd and fanatical as to preach against marriage altogether?"

"On the contrary, save in a few exceptional cases of practical Occultism, marriage is the only remedy against immorality." (quoted from a LeGros article).

Her overall viewpoint is that celibacy is the natural state of man, but that we are chained to sexuality from past karma, from man in previous ages diving into animalism for the cheap sensation. This through effort mankind has to escape if he wants to progress. G.R.S. Mead claimed that the whole purpose of the Theosophical Society and movement was the "sexual regeneration of mankind." Blavatsky identifies Theosophy at base as identical with all levels of altruism, but is heavy on the sexual teachings. (Any attempt to combine sex practices with spirituality is black magic.)

Rose described celibacy as "no conscious sexual action" to paraphrase, and of course this includes no onanism, which in the common definition is allowed, for some bizarre reason. Rose used to make the statement that animals only breed in season, while man breeds all year 'round, and similar quotes are found in Blavatsky. There are many statements Rose made on sex issues that I've run across correlaries to in Blavatsky's writings, and think R. must have got many of his basic ideas on this from his delving into the Secret Doctrine.

Another issue I remember R. talking about a number of times was the supposed life-time celibacy of Krishnamurti. He said he couldn't believe it, he didn't think it was physically possible. He put this to physiological factors, that it was almost biologically impossible. I thought the real reason of difficulties is Psychological, not biological, and R. maybe rationalized this in himself and assigned it a physiological cause instead of the real psychological reasons.

Well, Rose was right about Krishnamurti. In an article in "Theosophical History" of about 10 years ago, it was shown that Krishnamurti had a long-time relationship with his best friend's wife, apparently with his knowledge. This is a good example and support for the above Blavatsky quote for someone Living in the World, as Krishnamurti did. A monastic environment could reap better results.

- jake j.

By jake j on   1/23/2009 11:36 PM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

Thanks Jake. Health issues was definitely one of the reasons I decided to make this my last year of celibacy, but I’m sure there have been plenty of celibate catholic priests who have lived long and healthy lives while maintaining their celibacy. In fact my neighbor who is in his late fifties is training to be a deacon for his church and was told that if his wife were to die before him, he would have to take a vow of celibacy.

By selfdef on   1/25/2009 2:04 AM

Re: Celibacy and the Spiritual Path

I met a Catholic Priest once who I'm sure was genuinely celibate, however, according to Rose's definition, most are not. In one's 50's it is easier, of course. Personally, I don't recommend "vows" to anyone (unless, tried, and Really serious perhaps), as it brings in additional influences - just determine to oneself to do the best one can. G. de Purucker - The Point Loma Theosophist, recommend to married couple-students, to go celibate after age 50.

By jake j on   1/25/2009 7:39 AM

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