A Life of Celibacy—Revelation, Suffering or Gateway to Higher Experience?

Via on Sep 21, 2012
Flickr: Jennysteam

I’ve been celibate (and single) for most of my life.

I don’t claim to be different from other people. Yet, perhaps I am? I can’t seem to avoid that thought.

It’s not that I feel I’ve completely missed out. I’ve felt love and friendship…even lust.

Romantic love has multiple levels. Once you surrender to it, it’s amazing where you can go with it. Love doesn’t require a partner. Something deep and intrinsic to life is the yearning to commune with the Divine. It’s the mystic’s ultimate devotion to God that keeps him from attaining sexual liberation. He is tasked with being liberated from his sexual drive by cleaving to God.

There are two opposites of spiritual experience—those spiritual ecstasies reached via excess and those via deprivation—sometimes including extremes of suffering, as experienced famously by John of God and Theresa of Avila. The unbearable can take us as far away from God as we can imagine, and yet somehow it takes us closer to the flickering flame of God that burns. Not that celibacy is ever that intense.

James Walsh

What could be more purifying than devoting oneself to God in a life of prayer and devotion? John of God famously went through the experience of spiritual desolation and feeling rejected by God (as he was relentlessly tortured) even whilse devoting himself to God. Yet, his faith remained undimmed.

Naturally, most people are not saints; they are emotional beings who get caught up in the material world.

Madonna so famously put it; “I’m a material girl living in a material world.”  

Where we experience the contrasts and potentiality of life being intensified, is in the melting pot of relationships. Sex is a big part of that.

(Most) people yearn to feel warmth, love, passion, pleasure, feeling received or met, and an unquenchable desire to be completed by another—to feel all these feelings, tightly wrapped within one orgasmic expression.

So why am I celibate?

The thought of sex excites me. However, beyond the veils of sexual illusion, there is something deeper going on, and that is what intrigues me and yearns for liberation. On the other side of sex is the spiritual warrior or prisoner. Within sex is the soul seeking another in orgasmic communion. Both are richly rewarding paths, which can be liberating too.

I did experience some years of religious devotion to a Jewish orthodox God, which I came to reject. In that context, spilling “seed” was unacceptable outside of the confines of marriage, and since I never came close to that, I was actually in an “uncomfortable” comfort zone of chastity.

Before I found God, I was celibate too. And what was my excuse? I found many people hide behind religion and use it as a crutch. It protects them from experiencing their true fears and vulnerabilities. Some defer responsibility…God becomes omnipotent in their lives. Or, they find a religious leader to follow.

Celibacy has been my crutch. When I left the religious world, the only thing I didn’t leave behind was my self-denial. I held on to that tightly. Safely.

Then I had an experience. One night, I met a crazy girl. She seduced me with wine. Then she seduced me with her body.

Although she could never meet my soul, or share my spiritual depths, she offered me her pussy. This was the first (and only) time this has happened to me.

I indulged for a time, felt a lingering and perpetual guilt that I couldn’t share myself with her, and a continual sexual longing for her, that almost broke me in half. I compartmentalized. I tried to escape my desire. I tried to control or sublimate my sexual urges. I tried to avoid her every way I could. I came to understand the addictive nature of sex and the cords of attachments that sex creates, and I was clinical too.

Eventually I managed to break away from her, feeling like I had liberated myself from a very draining experience, and feeling unconscionably guilty for not having loved her, for not having given her more of myself.

Yet, how could I? She was exhaustingly needy, seemed to crave drama and had an addictive personality. I came to see her as a gift from God, an invitation to explore my physical desires.

Did we both steal from each other? I went to energy healers, and therapists to “cleanse” myself of her. God knows, perhaps she needed to be cleansed of me too.

I’ve had difficulty reconciling my sexual urges with my experiences of the world. I’ve felt more comfortable being celibate. I’ve craved companionship, and not been able to go out and get it. I’ve protected myself, shielded myself. I’ve felt safer in the realms of spirit than in sex.

Photo: h.koppdelaney

Truthfully, it seems that most people don’t have such challenges.

Yet, in my day-to-life I often find myself being too serious and intense. Sex may have given me a sense of “relief”—grounded me in this material reality.

In admitting celibacy, am I revealing too much?

If sex is a human need, then is it needy to admit to craving it? Is it indulgent to wonder what happens to people who don’t get it? In a world crazy on sex, could celibacy be the new sexy?

In denial of sex, do we learn something different about ourselves and perhaps suppress our true selves? Or, is the world within (introversion) an excuse for getting outside of ourselves through the “discomfort” of sex?

I’ve grappled with many paradoxes and illusions, and ultimately, I’ll tell you this. Celibacy is safe; sex is messy. There are times for both. Summer. Spring. Winter. Autumn.

Surely, if we deny any part of ourselves, then we are denying God.

 

~

Editor: Brianna Bemel

 

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About David G Arenson ND

David G Arenson ND worked in corporate South Africa, before embarking on a spiritual odyssey that took him to Jerusalem, Australia, Asia and beyond. En route, he earned degrees in complementary medicine and various professional certifications. Having worked throughout the world as a wellness specialist offering healing, speaking, teaching, soul-coaching, and consulting, he established his own retreat company, METAMORPHOSIS RETREATS, dedicated to transformational travel. As a Naturopath and Soul-Coach, David integrates spiritual journeying into grounded wisdom for everyday living, presenting powerful concepts in personal change and living on purpose. He is now available for consulting or soul-coaching sessions via skype. Or you can contact him to discuss retreat options for your company. WEB: mretreat.com BLOG: findshambhala.com EMAIL: davidgarenson@gmail.com. FACEBOOK: facebook TWITTER: twitter @davidarenson.

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9 Responses to “A Life of Celibacy—Revelation, Suffering or Gateway to Higher Experience?”

  1. Sara says:

    Thank you for putting yourself out here so openly. It is a concept I have thought a bit about…I was in a marriage where, for a nice chunk of it I was not attracted to my partner anymore, for many reasons. I have learned about some of my own boundaries through having them crossed. I think that in whatever situation we go into, our intentions play a large part. I believe that people can have some truly beautiful experiences through celibacy, and really connect with Spirit. If it is celibacy with surrender and the intention to serve…but I have also experienced Spirit through sexual intimacy. To me, sex is a beautiful, holy act. I don't feel like I necessarily need long term commitments but I have come to a point where I am cautious about who I intertwine that energy with.

  2. Katherine says:

    "Celibacy is safe; sex is messy."

    That about sums it up… When I don't feel safe, an intimate relationship is not possible.

  3. GirlInCanada says:

    You have described me own thoughts around this subject to the T. You have actually described my own experiences. Its scary how accurate and close-to-the-thruth -about-me this is. The only difference is that I am a woman. What makes this interesting for me is that this is coming from a male perspective. For some reason I never thought to think that this would be as big as an issue for men.

    This sums it up for me – "I’ve grappled with many paradoxes and illusions, and ultimately, I’ll tell you this. Celibacy is safe; sex is messy. There are times for both. Summer. Spring. Winter. Autumn.

    Surely, if we deny any part of ourselves, then we are denying God."

  4. Hellowideworld says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I have been celibate for 13 months now, and at first it certainly wasnt intentional. After a big break up, looking for understanding, and as a single woman (perhaps for the first time in my sexual life), I came across the term "codependent" and begrudgingly figured out that yes, thats what I was: I was that exhaustingly needy, drama-craving, addictive personality, who secretly hated herself. And I hated that. So I made a vow: no more sex till I kicked the codependence. I knew I could keep it because if there is one thing about me that I know, its that I am a spiritual warrior and I am relentless and have great endurance when I call on it. And what an amazing spiritual journey its been. At first the loneliness was terrible, even unbearable, (and sometimes it still is) and the temptations were great… yet I have prevailed, and now I dont miss the sex all that much, because for the first time in my life, I have no other choice but to look at who I am instead of looking at someone else to fill that bottomless hole where love was lacking. Now, every day is another day to look at myself squarely in the mirror and accept what I see, and even… yes maybe even fall in love.

    Sometimes I do think about whether or not I am using the distance celibacy creates as an excuse not to confront certain parts of myself that I am ashamed of. I have a skin condition that still largely rules my life…. but I assure myself with the fact that in the past when I have found the right person, it wasnt a problem after some trust was cultivated… so I am mindful. I trust that I will be brave enough to move through my hang-ups when the moment comes to make a choice to let someone in to my life in a meaningful way, and start working more with the karmic lessons that come when connecting to another human being.

    In the mean time, I am happy with these particular lessons that celibacy is teaching me. I am not worried about how long this is going to take anymore. I am utterly grateful for this time in my life, for the space to achieve self-sufficiency, response-ability and ultimately freedom, and all the amazing creative energy that is being released-redistributed in my chakras (does anyone else experience that by the way? I have no other way to describe it). I embrace saddened heart and find joy in its tenderness, instead of fearing it.

    Thanks for reading and many blessing on all our quests for love/the divine! <3

  5. John says:

    Being asexual (for those of you who don't know, that means I don't experience sexual desire), I find it really interesting when sexual people intentionally chose to abandon sex. Though I couldn't really relate to the experiences related in the article and in the comments, I certainly found it to be extremely interesting. Thanks for this!

  6. Hi John/ Thanks for sharing such an intimate topic.
    I wonder how common this is, and what your experience is like?
    Are you able to feel sexual desire?
    How many other people have this experience?

  7. Nicolcitaxx says:

    I think it is clear in Scripture that some are given this gift of celibacy. I bevleie for those folks it becomes a wonderful blessing and allows them to work for the Kingdom of God in a powerful way married only to Christ. The Apostle Paul however said for some it is better to marry than to burn. To me this means that marriage is perfectly legitimate for others. I bevleie to impose Celibacy on someone without this calling would be sinful. Not to mention it does not make one more spiritual or free from lust. It makes me wonder haw many disasters could have been avoided if only Catholic Priest were allowed to marry?I will look into purchasing this book if it comes in an ebook format.Thanks for sharing this resource with me.God Bless You!

  8. [...] think a lot of the shame I’ve felt around my sexuality has more to do with my lack of sexual experience than with my lack of attraction. Most people do in fact have sex, and most do it for the first time [...]

  9. [...] For the first time in years, I’m in a state of accidental and yet intentional celibacy. [...]

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