Question: Could you talk about sexual abstention in terms of getting to a higher consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: 'Higher consciousness' is a vague term. If somebody says, "This is my higher consciousness," a second person will say, "My higher consciousness is infinitely higher than that." A third person will say, "Oh, that is all low consciousness in my view. When I see your highest consciousness, I see that it is equal to my lowest consciousness." Let us use the word 'aspiration' instead.

In our aspiration we have to know what our goal is. We have to know how high we want to go. For a child, a few feet is very high, but for a grown-up it is quite low, and for a pilot in an airplane it is no height at all. When our aspiration mounts, it goes infinitely higher than any airplane can go. If we want to lead an ordinary life and have just a little aspiration, we can do so. Those who have a little aspiration are better than those who have none at all, because at least they are trying to get a little light. For some time they remain in light and for some time they remain in darkness. They are just like babies. Their capacity is very limited. But again, there are people who want to remain in light twenty-four hours a day. For those who want to touch the Highest, physical abstinence is necessary. For everything we have to pay some price. The higher we go with our aspiration, the greater is our delight. The aspirant has to know what he wants. If his ultimate goal is the Highest, then gradually he has to give up the sex life. But if he stops the sex life all at once, he will be doomed. Inner purification has to be accomplished gradually.

If we have done something for many years and we stop it all at once, this sudden change may tell upon our health. But if we do it gradually, then it will not affect us. For centuries in many previous incarnations we have indulged in sex. Then we start aspiring and want to go to the Highest.

When we get inner experiences our entire being will be flooded with delight and ecstasy. Then we will see the difference between the physical life and the spiritual life, between real food and clay. When we were children we used to eat mud, dirt, rocks and all kinds of undivine things. At that time we thought it was most delicious food. But when we grow up we eat only proper food. Similarly when we are children in the spiritual life we also enjoy undivine things. But when we grow up we see that these enjoyments are all impure and undivine. At that time we are ready to give them up.