The Light Bulb
By Art Ticknor
I met Richard Rose in the spring of 1978, and in the fall of that year I did my first solitary retreat. It was an amazing experience. I decided to fast for the week so that I wouldn't have to be bothered about food. I'd never tried fasting before and didn't have any idea what to expect. I can't say that part was pleasant, but it had many benefits. For example, in retrospect I realized that I had never once during the week experienced what I had thought was the hunger voice. That "voice" I was familiar with was psychological, not metabolic.
Another advantage of fasting was that I slept very lightly and was consequently aware of many dreams each night. One of those dreams I still remember clearly because it struck me as so funny. In the dream I was riding down a street on a bicycle with a basket on the front. In the basket was a fresh loaf of bakery bread. I began to chew the bread ... then remembered with alarm that I was supposed to be fasting ... and awoke laughing.
I never did a solitary retreat afterward that I didn't at least begin with a period of fasting, so I don't have a control case. But solitary retreats were the only times in my life when I would find myself smiling to myself when alone. At some point in almost every retreat I would become bubbly inside ... as if joy were bubbling through my bloodstream. But I'm digressing.
During that first retreat I read Richard Rose's "Transmission Paper," the current edition of which was published by the TAT Foundation under the title Energy Transmutation, Between-ness and Transmission. In the book he made a compelling case for the need to create mental energy for the successful pursuit of Truth. And he described how mental energy is created: we assimilate food, which keeps the body functioning; an intake greater than is needed for purely metabolic functioning can then be transmuted by glandular processes into a higher level of neural functioning; but useless daydreaming, sexual reverie and sexual waste all act to return that neural energy back to the earth. As I read this transformative writing, a light bulb flashed on in my mind -- something I thought only happened in cartoons -- and the thought that followed was: The only chance I have for mental clarity is through a prolonged period of celibacy.
When that light-bulb realization formed in my mind, I was surprised to see that there was absolutely no argument with it. I think that was the first time I was ever conscious of such a nonargumentative decision or direction. Later I became convinced that the phenomenon was what people referred to as intuition.
The idea of bringing my sex drive under control had never struck me before that. I was delighted and looked forward eagerly to sharing the inspiration with my wife when the retreat was over. It turned out that I severely misjudged what her reaction would be ... but that's another story.
Celibacy descended like a gift and lasted without the least struggle on my part for nearly five years. After that grace period it took another five years to reestablish it solidly. And it was that struggle which I believe taught me about the factor of "between-ness" that's mentioned in the book's title.
Sometime I'd guess within the first year or two of that initial grace period, Mr. Rose made a remark to me at one of the four annual TAT Foundation meetings on his farm. I had said something in a group discussion, and he responded: "You're brightening up." That struck me as odd, since I'd always been "bright" mentally, picked up subtleties and innuendos easily, had a keen sense of humor, and so on. But thinking about his remark now, and remembering his great mental sensitivity, I suspect he could see that intuition light bulb in people and was sensitive to its brightening or dimming.
I know, although I can't prove it, that sexual continence was a major factor in the brightening of intuition in me. Higher intuition is a direct reception of the "message" coming into the mind from its source and is a forerunner of the direct looking that leads us to recognition of that source -- our essential being.
One of the bell-ringing statements that I heard from Richard Rose was that no man will ever stand tall in his own eyes until he brings the sex drive under conscious control. Perfect control may be elusive, but the struggle may bring unimaginably wondrous results.
Sex as an Obstacle in Your Search
by Anima Pundeer
An obstacle is when you find your energy is being spent on something other than your goal. Sex can surely be a major obstacle for a seeker. It is a strong physical desire. Especially when the body is young and nature expects you to procreate, it is hard to have a clear head and to meditate. Hormones in our body are running wild. The seeker starts to feel his topmost desire is to have a relationship. If one pays attention and simply watches, this sexual desire evaporates on its own. It is hard to be a passive observer when one gets hit by this particular appetite. Moreover, the nature of our ego is not to be passive. Pretty soon a person who had set out to find Truth may find himself feeling and falling "in love." Soon, you are on a whole new path of life and one's primary goal gets on the back burner. By the time you realize how you have become a mere peg in nature's game, decades have gone by. If you are lucky, you'll still be able to feel that yearning which had initially made you set out on path to finding Truth. Most of the time you become too busy playing the game of life to even remember that you had yearned for complete Freedom at any point in time.
When you are young you have more advantages compared to when you are older. More energy, less set beliefs, less knowledge, more enthusiasm, earnestness and a belief that you can do it. As we get older, life may make us wiser but it is harder to get away from our false identifications and attachments. The knots are much harder to open.
Any obstacle can be an opportunity to know yourself a little better. To be able to admit and see that under all these special feelings that we have towards this particular person, it could simply be our need for sex, is a milestone for a seeker, in my opinion. When one finds himself having obsessive thoughts about a situation, there are two ways of dealing with it without having to act on it. Either you can try to turn your head away from it and try to distract yourself with something else, or you can try to get to the source of the problem and know its nature. The first option, in my opinion, is a temporary fix. It is sort of running away from the situation. The seeker on the path to finding the Truth has to be a like a warrior. Face the demons you encounter on the path. Once you learn to get to the bottom of an obstacle, you realize you can use the same technique to get beyond any obstacle you encounter. This further leads to a better understanding of the nature of this reality that we live in. Without an understanding of the nature of our universe and how our ego operates in it, we cannot have any detachment or non-identification with our little universe. Any expectation of pleasure or long term happiness from your self or from the world has to be relinquished. Liberation is attained only when one's head is turned away from all attachments, ego, and desires.
For a seeker who really wants to realize Truth, it is important to develop will-power and have self-control. Self-control is considered to be the very core of the vedantic discipline. Without it no progress is possible in spiritual life, nor any success in meditation. According to Shankara, self-control means the development of will-power and also the strengthening of the buddhi, or the determinative faculty, which controls all the sense organs. This helps the seeker to direct his energy and time towards his goal. There will be more than plenty of times when doubts about your goal will arise and you'll want to give it all up in pursuit of immediate pleasure and happiness. One may find himself falling and rising again. Sometimes there is a danger of getting in the habit of falling. Each time you decide this will not happen again and yet when you get hit by these particular winds, you find yourself repeating the same pattern. Self-observation helps us to see through our patterns and gives us some distance. It also helps in understanding the nature of our obstacle and how to get to its source. When we get a real perspective on our obstacle, we can feel free to act in whichever way we want.
For a seeker on a path of Self-inquiry, any obstacle is an opportunity to get close to its source. Finally you may find that source of All is That (God).
Enlightenment By Sex?
by Steven Norquist
Some people will argue strongly that sex is a powerful and viable method to enlightenment. They will argue that the tantric path is the path of bliss, that ecstasy and bliss are the very nature of what God is, and that sexual union is the method given whereby the two polarities of God i.e. male and female join and gain union once again. They will make a strong argument that in this joining is released the creative force that brings all manifestation into being and a careful control and expression of this sexual energy can bring enlightenment.
In the other camp are the celibates, the virgins, the pure. They argue that the sexual energy is something that must be redirected and focused away from physical concerns and towards the higher purpose of love and devotion to God directly. To use this energy in simple physical union is to waste it in a selfish and often degrading fashion and more often than not leads one away from God and into a dark world of physical gratification and addiction.
A quick check of the newspapers, divorce rates, booming multibillion dollar porn industry, unwed mothers and sexually transmitted diseases gives a lot of support to the celibate camp.
I have personally never met a person who either obtained enlightenment or claimed to have gained enlightenment from sex, but there are legions of people who's lives have been destroyed by the full embracing and expressing of sex.
So from a pure evidentiary analysis, taking the bulk of the history of the world into account, it seems very, very unlikely that enlightenment is ever gained through sex.