So this has been decently hard to write about. As much as it’s been on my mind for months… it’s still a yucky and complex thing to start to articulate.
Warning. The following discusses sexual abuse.
So I have argued, in Brahmacharya [Part 1] that I don’t believe Brahmacharya as a life goal or guiding light post should relate to sexual energy at all. Mostly I argue this because of the translations of brahma + charya. But also, as I will discuss further… because suppressing sex and sexuality is not only unnatural, it is dangerous.
When you suppress sex and sexuality, you create a dangerous space within yourself and for those around you.Firstly, sex is a primal human function. Much like eating, sleeping, fight-and-flight responses and an obsessive obsession with sugar. It’s hard wired into us. Going back hundreds of thousands of years.
With sex, comes sexuality. And this is a beautiful, powerful, wild, ferocious energy that can both move mountains and destroy them. Sexuality is the holding and expression of sex desire and this innate energy. [And before I go any further, let me state for the record that sexuality is wonderful non-linear spectrum. Hetro and Homo on some points, and a huge wonderful array in between and around].
Spiritual gurus have been separating themselves out from the rest of humanity for pretty much all of time. There are phenomenal examples of scientifically verified masters that have lived off of the sun for decades. As well as stories of masters that slept naked in the desert, teleported, rose from the dead, levitated, performed miracles, healed sick people, charmed (and communicated with) wild animals and could see the future.Some masters have lived for years without sleep… which is amazing!
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that sex *probably* wasn’t high on their agenda. But neither were high school reunions (who’s is?!) or working 9-5.
This is awe-inspiring. But all of this wonderfulness is also on a different level.
If you feel in any way inclined to go perform miracles, please do. Just please don’t expect other people to do them too. Most people might not be quite there yet.
We wouldn’t go to a guru and follow their instruction of not sleeping. Hell shall belong to s/he who even thinks of sleep… ahhh see ya buddy! We’d be certifiably insane within days. The same goes for eating. So why does sex have to be different? And demonised?
[Insert rant about misogyny and world religions … another day]
Yes, I completely understand that there are people who don’t have sex, and have found it very spiritually enlightening. I also understand the old energetic beliefs and reasonings behind this (yes friend, they are old views). If you feel drawn to not having sex – then don’t. Or if you feel drawn to any other rules or structure to your sexuality, wonderful, use them. No sex on Mondays, only inside of marriage, only (insert preference) gender, etc etc; wonderful, for you.
My argument is that we don’t have to place those ideas on other people. And that we shouldn’t.
Sexuality is powerful, which is why it is included in great philosophical debate. But ignoring a natural, beautiful and powerful part of yourself is harmful. More so when there is shame, guilt, oppression and isolation attached.
And when we do preach and expect sexual sobriety, particularly in our institutions… our sexuality and sexual needs have a way of leaking out. Unfortunately, they tend to leak out as sexually explicit interactions with those beneath us. Which adds a power play element to it, which automatically makes it abuse.This is in the most innocent form. When sex is mostly consensual. It is still sexual abuse.
But often it is not consensual. Horrifically not consensual. Perpetrating violence against young children not consensual. Often it can be worse case scenario, with victims groomed and isolated, without power or recourse to ask for help… or even to question the okay-ness of this… which is not okay. Ever.
The power difference between master and student, guru and follower, priest and parishioner means that arguably, no real consent can be granted. The power difference is an essential component, and cannot be detached from the situation. So even in the most innocent form of ‘informed consent’, it is still abuse.
When we say sex is bad, sex and sexual expression is pushed underground, against our young people and followers. The vulnerable.
We are so gravely aware [for old-school institutions such as the Catholic Church], sexual abuse can be a systemic experience. And unfortunately, it is not linked to one sexually frustrated religion. It is across the board. Buddhist monks from around the world are also perpetrators of this. Buddhism is paraded as a way of being – to transcend religions… and I’m saying this to highlight that there is something wrong here. And it isn’t that people want to have sex.
A disclaimer from my end, my lineage of yoga includes Tantra which is intricately linked with Tantric Buddhism and some schools of Hinduism. Tantric Buddhists are some of the most known about Buddhist perpetrators.
Also, side note, this is not related to the wonderfully enlightening teachings of tantra (or any other messages from the masters). Just because perpetrators label themselves, it does not implicate the teachings (of tantra in this case, or of the Christ in relation to the Catholic Church etc). The problem isn’t with the teachings of the masters, the problem is with the interpretations, and then the demonisation of sex (in the case).
Absolutely there are hurtful people that prey on weaker people for sexual / any gratification. These people would exist regardless of religions. My point is that religions add another element to this, there is the potential to turn a (once) decent (and not sexually abusive) person into a perpetrator of sexual abuse, because of the systemic shaming of sexuality.
Sexual abuse is not okay. Ever. No means no.
Especially when the victim does not have the power or knowledge to consent.
As well as this, perhaps we could look at the institutions where these crisis are occurring.
If your Brahmacharya (movement towards God/Universe/Source/Consciousness) includes the channeling of your sexual energy, with rules / guidelines / structures, then I applaud you. I implore you, however, to not make comment or rule or reason over others and their use (as long as there is a power balance and consent).
No, Brahmacharya should not be interpreted as chastity. Chastity is dangerous.
Yes, your sexuality and sexual energy is sacred. AND so too is your choice on how and with whom you choose to use this energy.