On one lunch I met with a senior devotee who I have known for many years when he lived with his family in Mayapur. I had once taken him to Bangladesh and Nepal to encourage him to travel and preach, since his children were grown up. Then, some years ago he had a very heavy car accident where he suffered a serious brain injury. For a couple of years, he was out of action, doing rehabilitation. Now I was happy to witness that Krishna had allowed him to recover all those functions which he needed to continue his spiritual journey. Now he seemed very happy and encouraged to meet again and churn our memories of our adventures in Bangladesh and Nepal...
"When properly understood and practiced, celibacy is not a matter of self-denial. It is a question of love. Individuals who become celibate in order to dedicate their energies to God's service do not experience celibacy as a sacrifice. Their sexual energy transforms itself into selfless compassion and devotion, which they distribute widely to everyone they encounter. They view themselves first and foremost as servants of God and society, always seeking to be channels for divine energies to heal, guide, or encourage others.
Celibacy is appropriate only if we choose it freely. If we try to suppress our sexual desire without having focused it in a different direction, we may discover within ourselves a tremendous false ego, intense anger, or tendencies to be surprisingly destructive. We must learn to redirect our sexual energy instead of denying its existence or hoping it will go away. False celibacy simply becomes another unnatural distortion of our sexuality, destroying our society even further.
Celibacy should never be a matter of running away from a condition we cannot face. For example, some people deprive themselves of contact with members of the opposite sex because they are not able to cope with their own sexuality. The remedy to this situation is greater self-knowledge, not avoidance. Nor should celibacy be dictated from outside. When it is, we can develop strange, unnatural behaviours. From a practical perspective, it is easy to understand why certain religious institutions impose the practice of celibacy upon its priests. Those in positions of leadership can easily exploit the opposite sex. Without some form of restraint, a priest in frequent contact with women about confidential matters could easily succumb to sexual temptation. But unfortunately, when celibacy is externally imposed, many priests often long for sexual contact and find illicit ways to fulfil their desires.
Every action is linked to our wish for pleasure, and our desire for pleasure originates with our sexual energy. When we are not highly attuned, we seek fulfilment in the form of exploitation and selfish gratification. Therefore, if we lack the genuine desire to be celibate, which can be the case, for example, if others impose celibacy upon us; if we are impotent; or if we are afraid to express our sexuality, the practice of celibacy can be harmful. We will only experience frustration and anger, because we are depriving ourselves of pleasures that we deeply long for. By forcing ourselves to be celibate in such circumstances, we may be doing violence to ourselves and, ultimately, to others. We are not experiencing a "higher taste," but merely causing more suffering in the world.
True celibacy, then, is a form of renunciation in favour of a higher good. Instead of being a matter of denial or avoidance, renunciation is a question of how available we make ourselves for God's service."
My visit to Christchurch was indeed very inspiring - I had a great time and hope to come back in the future...! On the 14th of July I flew on to Auckland...
Your servant, Devaki dd