Many years ago, when I first became interested in the so-called religious life, I made the strong resolve to cut out sex altogether. I conformed rigorously to what I considered to be an essential requirement of that life and lived with all the fierce austerity of a monkish celibate. Now I see that that kind of puritanical conformity in which suppression and violence are involved is stupid, yet I don’t want to go back to my old life. How am I to act now in regard to sex?
Why is it that you don’t know what to do when there is desire? I’ll tell you why. Because this rigid decision of yours is still in operation. All religions have told us to deny sex, to suppress it, because they say it is a waste of energy and you must have energy to find God. But this kind of austerity and harsh suppression and conformity to a pattern does brutal violence to all our finer instincts. This kind of harsh austerity is a greater waste of energy than indulgence in sex. Why have you made sex into a problem?Really it doesn’t matter at all whether you go to bed with someone or whether you don’t. Get on with it or drop it but don’t make a problem of it. The problem comes from this constant preoccupation.
The really interesting thing is not whether we do or don’t go to bed with someone but why we have all these fragments in our lives. In one restless corner there is sex with all its preoccupations; in another corner there is some other kind of turmoil; in another a striving after this or that, and in each corner there is the continual chattering of the mind. There are so many ways in which energy is wasted. If one corner of my life is in disorder, then the whole of my life is in disorder. If there is disorder in my life in regard to sex, then the rest of my life is in disorder. So I shouldn’t ask how to put one corner in order, but why I have broken life into so many different fragments—fragments which are in disorder within themselves and which all contradict each other.
What can I do when I see so many fragments? How can I deal with them all? I have these fragments because I am not whole inside. If I go into all this without causing yet another fragment, if I go to the very end of each fragment, then in that awareness, which is looking, there is no fragmentation. Each fragment is a separate pleasure. I should ask myself whether I am going to stay in some sordid little room of pleasure all my life. Go into the slavery of each pleasure, each fragment, and say to yourself, my god, I am dependent, I am a slave to all these little corners—is that all there is to my life? Stay with it and see what happens.
Love, Sex and the Religious Life
KINGSTON, ENGLAND, 2 OCTOBER 1967 .
Book – Meeting Life