In order to have Self-realisation, celibacy is absolutely necessary. But we are not going to get Self-realisation in the twinkling of an eye. It takes time; it takes aspiration and meditation. A student does not get his Master's degree in a day or a month, and God-realisation is not only a study, but also a most difficult subject. It takes many years and many incarnations to complete. It is a very long road. If you tell the beginner that he has to give up all his lower vital life immediately, he will say, "Oh, that is impossible! The spiritual life is a far cry for me." If he has to give up all his lower vital propensities the moment he enters into the spiritual life, then he will never enter. But if the seeker gradually abandons his lower vital life, the time will eventually come, after he has practised the spiritual life for many years, when he will be able to be fully celibate.
Each individual has his own level of aspiration. If somebody aspires for a minute, meditates for a minute and remains in the animal consciousness in the outer world for the rest of the day, do you think that on the following day he will realise God? No! When one is a beginner, ready to be satisfied with a little joy, a little light, then he must not try to give up the sex life altogether. For the beginner I say, "Slow and steady wins the race." As he advances, as he makes progress in the spiritual life, automatically the necessity for lower vital activity diminishes. Until then one should do his best to lead a pure, sincere life according to his own standard.
Once the aspirant reaches the point where he can say, "I want infinite Light, infinite Joy, infinite Bliss, infinite Peace: I want to go far, farther, farthest," then he must pay all attention to purifying his vital life. If his aim is God-realisation, the Infinite, the Eternal, the Immortal, then he has to aspire wholeheartedly: physically, vitally, mentally, psychically, with all his existence, with all that he has and all that he is. At that point he has to become totally celibate not only physically but also mentally. He has to feel that the sex life binds him to the lowest level of earth-consciousness, whereas what he wants is the highest God-consciousness. God is inside earth and inside man. But man will be able to function divinely only after he has surrendered all his ties to earth and man and realised his oneness with God.
Celibacy can be achieved only through the proper method. If you enter into the spiritual life and say, "Today I am going to conquer all my lower vital propensities," then you are a fool. Tomorrow your mind will doubt the necessity of this self-denial and your vital will torture you in every way. If your vital is not ready, if it is not pure enough, it will revolt under this harsh discipline and destroy your aspiration, or your body will resist and break down. If you suppress your vital needs without having sufficient purity, then after two or three years or even after a few months they will come forward again most vehemently. If you control the lower vital by force with utmost difficulty, if it is not something spontaneous and satisfying, then one day you will be tempted beyond your capacity. Your vital will come up like a volcano and you will become practically insane. At that time human beings act like animals. This has happened to many, many aspirants in India after five or six years of vital suppression without proper purification. If a seeker is still tempted by the vital life but continually suppresses his desires, he will never achieve anything. Only through the spontaneous inner awareness that sex life is unnecessary for him can he transcend it.
We observe that a child sometimes eats mud, dirt, rocks and all kinds of things. To him that is most delicious food. But when he grows up he takes only proper food. Similarly, when one is not fully mature in the spiritual life, one indulges in undivine things. But when he grows up he sees that what he used to eat was all dirt and impurity and he loses his taste for these things. When an aspirant begins to get significant, fulfilling inner experiences, his entire being is flooded with light and delight. At that time he can clearly see and feel the difference between physical pleasure and spiritual joy; between mud and real food.
Unfortunately, unaspiring people are making a Himalayan mistake when they think that pleasure is a form of joy. Pleasure is always followed by frustration and frustration is always followed be destruction. But joy is followed by more joy. From joy we get real fulfilment. If a seeker wants to be inundated with boundless Peace, Light and Bliss, then he has to purify his nature. Otherwise, the transcendental Peace, Light and Bliss will remain a far cry. God-realisation and sex life are like the combination of sugar and salt. If we try to put them together we cannot taste either. If we want to have the taste of sugar we have to take sugar only. If we want salt, then we must take salt alone. If we mix the two we will taste nothing; we will make no progress.
By beating or forcing our vital desires we can never get joy. Only by pouring illumination into them can we get real joy. When our aspiration is absolutely intense we need God alone — nothing else and nobody else. When we want Him most intensely we gladly give up the life of pleasure. We know the difference between pleasure and supreme Joy of oneness. That absolute Joy of oneness we can have only with God, and with no human being.
How can we acquire celibacy in the proper way? We have to gain control gradually and naturally. Vital indulgence is just like drinking or smoking cigarettes. If we have a drink or smoke a cigarette seven times a day, then we must diminish gradually; we must make it six, four, three, two, one, then none. Why? Because these things cause misery; they are like slow poison, weakening our inner life and delaying our realisation. If we gradually diminish our desire to drink or smoke we will be successful and will not damage our health.
The lower vital, the sex life, has to be conquered and transcended in this way. But if one is a beginner, he must go slowly, steadily and unerringly. If he tries to run very fast but does not have the capacity or the necessary preparation, then he will soon be exhausted and will have to give up the race. Perhaps he will fall down so severely that he will break his legs.
We do not get our Master's degree while we are in kindergarten. We get it gradually after many years of study. Similarly, the beginner in the spiritual life cannot expect this significant attainment immediately. He must gradually transcend the vital life through years of serious aspiration and meditation, the inner study. If the aspirant really feels that he needs God desperately, that God is the only object of his life, then this aspirant has the capacity to run very fast and I will say that he has to be absolutely celibate.
We cannot drink milk and smoke cigarettes at the same time. Milk is like immortal nectar, while cigarette-smoking is like inner death. If we accept the nectar of Immortality, naturally there can be no death in our existence. But if we accept limitation and death, then how can we have Immortality at the same time? Immortality and death do not go together. Similarly, God-realisation and sex life do not go together.
Millions of people are still asleep and are not consciously aspiring for God-realisation. They can do whatever they want with their lives. Those who have just awakened should try to purify their lives slowly. Those who are a little advanced must be very careful and give all attention to their spiritual life. Those who are really advanced find that lower vital necessity does not enter into them. For them the life of pleasure is replaced by the life of real joy. And naturally, once realisation takes place, temptation can never assail them.
We have to know how seriously we take the spiritual life. Celibacy is not for the so-called aspirant who meditates once a week and then has nothing to do with God for the rest of the week. I would not advise that person even to try to be celibate. Unfortunately, on the one hand it will take him thousands and thousands of years to realise God and many years even to get an iota of satisfaction from his spiritual life. On the other hand, the little pleasure that he would get from his vital life will be denied him if he attempts to be celibate. But one does not have to go to the other extreme and live an animal life just because he is not ready to be absolutely celibate. To indulge in sex every day means to enter into the very jaws of a devouring tiger every day. Try to minimise.
We must live a normal human life; a controlled, regulated life. We have to bring our vital life at least to the human level before we can really make spiritual progress. But there are many human beings on earth who are actually living on the animal level of consciousness in this respect. Also we must realise that vital impurity or sexual indulgence can take place not only in the body but also in the mind and in the heart. If we enjoy impure thoughts in the mental plane they are as damaging to our spiritual life as the actual physical act.
The real aspirant cries for the highest and the deepest in every part of his being. If he has successfully covered some distance in his journey toward self-discovery, then gradually he will overcome the lower vital forces in his nature and purity will become solid and permanent in his consciousness. He knows that in the sex life Infinity is suffocated, whereas in God-realisation Infinity and Eternity are playing the game of ecstasy within him. The ultimate Truth, the ultimate Goal, the realisation of the Highest, demands the total purification and total transformation of the lower vital.