The First Celibacy Consideration

James Steinberg

James 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 and Love of the God-Man.

This article was originally published in James' book Love of the God-Man.

James SteinbergLet 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 at the 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.

Adi 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 relationship.

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.

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.

This story appears in the following sections:
Crazy Wisdom and
The Mountain Of Attention

Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
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