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Sex and the Ecstasies (Kundalini/Jhana)

November 9, 2004

By the contemplative recluse monk Sotapanna Jhanananda (Jeffrey S, Brooks)

(copyright 2004 all rights reserved)

Often people on a spiritual journey make a value judgment upon sex and gender preferences.  I see nothing fundamentally wrong with what any two consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home, as long as neither one feels they are being harmed. I believe engaging in any activity that causes harm to another should be avoided, not just because the Noble Eightfold Path and precepts say so, but because one who is engaged in cultivating the ecstasies (kundalini/jhana) should cultivate wholesome or a harmless states of being, because it is skillful means.  Therefore one who is intent upon cultivating the ecstasies would not knowingly engage in harming others.

In the case of paying someone for sex, one could certainly argue that since the sex worker is an adult (hopefully) and is willingly engaged in sex for money, then their is no harm in paying them to have sex with you.  And, I have also heard that some Buddhist monks take a break from the monastery on a regular basis and pay for sex with a prostitute. 

In the case of sex with a prostitute, who is an adult, then I believe it is still harmful because they are not engaged in right livelihood, or a lifestyle that cultivates enlightenment, and if one pays them for this service, then one is enabling their continued involvement in that livelihood. 

There is ample historic evidence to show that in the various Christian Churches ministers, priests and monastics have occasionally seduced adults and children from the beginning of Christianity.  We should therefore be willing to conclude that all religions that expect or demanding some form of sexual abstinence or discipline from their clergy have the same problem.

I believe these examples: sex with a sex worker, and sex with children, are ultimately harmful.  Certainly one should never seduce another into doing something that their loved ones would find harmful, or would not do unless seduced.

In the case of religious leaders, then I believe they have an even greater responsibility beyond avoiding sex with sex workers and children.  They should also avoid sex with married members of one’s religious community (lay sangha), as well as sex that is not for the purpose of cultivating a lasting intimate relationship (such as marriage) with unmarried members of one’s religious community (lay sangha).

I believe if one wants sex and has no lover, then one should simply masturbate then one does not harm another.  But, I have found ultimately if one is successful in negotiating the Noble Eightfold Path, then one will no doubt have aroused the ecstasies, then sex has no meaning for such a person.

I am, however, familiar with Hindu and Buddhist teachers who claim it takes some considerable period of celibacy to experience the ecstasies (jhana/kundalini), however I have found no evidence in my personal experience to support that belief. I have, however, found that relationships can be a major distraction to a contemplative life.

I have also found that for a contemplative, who has successfully aroused the ecstasies, then sex is often simply not on the agenda.  In fact sex has just not been an issue for this contemplative for several years now, and during this period the ecstasies have been very active.  Thus it seems reasonable to conclude that celibacy is not a requirement, but a consequence of a contemplative life that has aroused the ecstasies.

Some people have reported sexual arousal prior to, or coincident with, ecstasy (kundalini/jhana).  Rarely has this contemplative found any response from either his psyche or genitalia of a sexual nature when the classic kundalini rise up the spine occurs during meditation or during any of the other phases of ecstasy.  When this contemplative is in absorption, there is no thought of sexuality. 

It is assumed the reason for this lack of sexual libido under the influence of the ecstasies (kundalini/jhana) is the layers of the self are falling away under absorption.  Sex has a component of objectification in which the beloved is objectified as a sex object.  It is the layers of self that are occupied with objectification.  Therefore since absorption is dependant upon the cessation of objectification and ego identification, and sex involves levels of objectification, then it seems rather clear that sex and ecstasy are not good "bed partners."  I hope you enjoyed the pun.

This contemplative did however traverse a period in which erotic fantasies did arise just prior to absorption.  In fact this erotic material became so regular that this contemplative began to recognize that absorption was near when erotic fantasies began to arise.  It was by not clinging to this erotic material that allowed this contemplative to drift deeper into ecstasy.

However during the 90s I was studying Anthropology and shamanic practices including Tantra and sexual Tantra.  It was during this shamanic period that this contemplative found he could "raise" the kundalini at the moment of orgasm. 

There is, however, a distinct disadvantage in combining kundalini and sex.  Each time I had an orgasm with full kundalini I was certain I was going to have a heart attack from the increased energy.  Now that I am over 50, even though my doctor says I have the cardiovascular system of an athlete, I do not think this body can withstand that much pressure.  I have since taken up celibacy anyway, so it is a mute point for this one, however I think anyone wanting to combine the two should be extremely careful.  I believe one wishing to engage in sexual Tantra to raise the kundalini upon orgasm should have a complete physical and be quite young and physically fit.

During the period in which this contemplative was exploring sexual Tantra he was also always very concerned about his sexual partner during those sessions.  The reason for this concern was the energy coursing through this body was always far greater than the body could contain, which produced the concern that the consort would literally be split up the middle.  Consequently most of his lovers at that time were large women of 6 foot tall, or at the very least extremely fit.  I felt certain that a petite and frail women would have been crushed, or snapped like a twig, during these kundalini charged orgasms.  So, please choose a stout consort if one is going to engage in this practice.

I have found another sexual aspect of ecstasy (kundalini/jhana).  Since my sleep domain is lucid, I often have ecstasy during the sleep cycle.  When this contemplative has these powerful "sleep" domain experiences he often awakens with an erection.  However, these ecstasies during sleep rarely have a sexual nature.  Therefore I believe we can conclude that even though kundalini can have a sexual component, it need not have sexual content.

May you become enlightened in this very lifetime,

Jhanananda (Jeffrey S. Brooks)

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