Question: Would you say that in order to achieve enlightenment it is necessary to give up sex or to engage in ascetic discipline?

Sri Chinmoy: Asceticism is not necessary for God-realisation. In order to realise God I must not torture my being. If I cut off my arms and run towards my Father and say, "Father, look, just for you, just to come to you, I have cut off my arms," then God will not be pleased. Too much asceticism or torturing the body in the name of discipline is not good. Discipline is necessary but, like anything else, when you go to the extreme it is very bad. Asceticism is not advisable. We should adopt the middle path; like the Buddha, we should not go to any extreme. We should not be over-indulgent and at the same time we should not be overly strict with our physical consciousness.

About sex I wish to say that one has to transcend it slowly and steadily. If one wants to conquer sex overnight, then it will tell upon his health; it will ruin his consciousness. It is like giving up tea or coffee. If you take it six times a day, then gradually bring it down to five, four, three cups a day. If you overcome something gradually, then your achievement becomes solid and permanent in your consciousness. Otherwise, today you will give up everything and tomorrow the lower vital forces will come and attack you most vehemently. At that time you will be helpless. Slow and steady wins the race. This saying is also applicable to our spiritual life.