First Celibacy Consideration
Steinberg has been a devotee of Adi Da since 1973 and has
served Him in His Work with the "Great Tradition"
of spiritual and religious traditions. He has also written a couple of books about
Adi Da Samraj, namely Divine Distraction
of the God-Man.
This article was originally published in James' book Love
of the God-Man.
me describe an event that occurred in the summer of 1979. On this occasion, in
a gathering at Bright Behind Me where Adi Da was then residing
Mountain Of Attention, He began to talk about celibacy. He suggested that
if we cut out our “middle class indulgence” in coupling, perhaps we would be able
to really get down to the practice.
Da did not want the Wisdom-Teaching parroted back to Him. He has always only been
interested in His devotees developing their own capability for real self-awareness
and discrimination. Without such capability, there is no Spiritual growth. Thus,
in “consideration” with Adi Da, if an argument was made that conclusively demonstrated
why a particular direction or experiment was not necessary or “Dharmically appropriate”,
then the experiment was over, and the “consideration” was finished. But if there
was no response to the contrary—then we could be off in any direction until the
lesson was gleaned.
Now, on this particular night some of us
tried our best to persuade Adi Da that there was no need for such an experiment
in celibacy. We argued that His Wisdom-Teaching did not Call for it, or that we
were certain celibacy just would not be our practice. But we had not learned the
lessons deeply enough in our body-minds, and our arguments were not based on certain
self-understanding. By the end of the evening, we men
had all moved into Goat’s Wool Blanket, a large dormitory structure on the Mountain
Of Attention Sanctuary, and all our intimate partners were in the
“Circle”, a group of cabins in another part of the Sanctuary. We were “indefinitely”
trying this out to see what real effect it had on our practice. And we were willing
participants in this experiment.
Personally, I had always wanted
to see what this sort of circumstance was like. During the periods of difficulties
in my marriage, I would think that it might be easier to be single, and perhaps
the celibate life was what I should ultimately do. Thus, even though I would not
have chosen this trial period, the fact that I was in it was very interesting
and instructive to me.
The men gathered the next evening on
the porch of our new quarters, discussing the changes that we would now make in
our lives. We felt our camaraderie and strength as a culture of men. We talked
about what Adi Da was showing us, and how we could use it. We got out Swami
Vivekananda’s poem, “Song of the Sannyasin”,
and read it to one another. Most wonderfully, Beloved Adi Da Samraj began to gather
with us each evening and “consider” how it was going. He asked us what it felt
like, if there was more energy and attention available for Spiritual practice
itself. A little bit further into the experiment He began to ask us if our new
celibate situation was in itself becoming a distraction. He “considered” with
us whether we were getting “dry” or dissociated by being only in the culture of
our own sex.
This “consideration” was brief. It was clear that
we were not ready yet for such a lifestyle. There was at that time none among
us who had the particular orientation relative to sexuality which might have made
celibacy worthwhile. But, like all such “considerations”, it dramatically served
real understanding in all of us. I saw that I did not want to be celibate or separate
from my intimate partner at all. And my fantasy of being a “sannyasin” was only
that—an escape from real life. And so I was immensely served by this incident,
in a way that days of discussion could never have done. It is not that this was
the end of the issue for me for all time—growth and greater maturity would and
has cast new light upon such “considerations”. But for the moment, a great clarity
emerged in me regarding sex and Spirituality, and my commitment to my intimate
On another evening, Adi Da was “considering” with
us various traditional cultures and the ways in which men and women are often
divided into separate cultures. We decided to experiment with how we sat when
we were in the room with him. First, the women sat on the left and men on the
right. After feeling this arrangement for some time, we switched sides and spent
time feeling this bodily arrangement and its effects on how we felt. Then we tried
seating the women in the back of the room with the men in front, and so on.
another occasion during this period, screens were placed between the men’s and
women’s sides of the room, so that only Adi Da could be seen by both groups, since
Sat-Guru Da is the Heart-Master for both men and women, and not truly part of
either the men’s or the women’s culture. In each case, we would try the arrangement
for a while and discuss it with each other. We would discuss the reason for doing
it one way or another. Suggestions of all kinds would be made. And then a decision
was made out of it all, based on what made the most sense from our collective
“consideration”. In this case, it was decided that it was useful for men and women
to sit on separate sides of the room and so is it now done at all formal gatherings
in the community of the "Radical"
Way of the Heart.