Once while preaching to a woman I was asked: „You are a monk, right? So how should I understand this, do monks also have sexual desires? Or do they never think about this?“ This happened many years ago and I am not sure how I answered her question, but this memory came up during today's class at my Bhagavatam study.
Some people think that monks, and especially sannyasis, are free from sex desire, however, that's not exactly the case, at least not in general. As long one possesses a material body, there will be sex desire. The senses will always feel attracted to the sense objects. The question is, how should one deal with such desires? In Bhagavad Gita Krishna says that a self-realized person is not disturbed by the many desires that come up in his consciousness:
„A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still—can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.“ 1
Srila Prabhupada elaborates on this by saying: „Desires may come to him like the waters of the rivers that flow into the ocean, but he is steady in his activities, and he is not even slightly disturbed by desires for sense gratification. That is the proof of a Krishna conscious man—one who has lost all inclinations for material sense gratification, although the desires are present. Because he remains satisfied in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, he can remain steady, like the ocean, and therefore enjoy full peace.“ 2
But what does it mean to just remain peaceful? That’s easier said than done! How can one actually deal with material desires, with attachments, with emotions that are detrimental to our spiritual practice?
In today's class we heard a wonderful analogy from Urmila Mataji, who is teaching at moment at the VIHE:
Here in Vrindavana, there are many monkeys and they really cause a lot of trouble. So one should be careful to not feed them and at the same time one should also not hate them, after all, they are inhabitants of the Holy Dhama! So the motto is „Don`t feed the monkeys but don`t kill them either“.
The same applies to lust, greed, anger and all other such emotions that come up in our heart and mind. We should not feed them, meaning not give them attention. If you just let yourself completely go, you may lose your intelligence, you may become very angry or extremely lusty. If you feed the monkeys they will become wilder. On the other hand, we can't just kill the monkeys, similarly, we can't just kill our emotions, our desires.
In some spiritual practices, they actually focus on becoming desireless, but that’s not possible because we are not dead matter. As a living being we will always have desires and thus to try to kill our desires is another form of illusion, because we are neither the enjoyer nor the controller. We simply need to take shelter of Krishna.
Seeing the monkeys every day jumping around, stealing bananas from the fruit-wallah and fighting with each other, I now see them in a different light. I can`t do much about this situation, but I can try my best to see the beauty of Vrindavana. Similarly if my own mind behaves like a monkey and comes up with unwanted thoughts, I do not need to give any attention, nor do I need to feel too much disturbed about it, but simply try to focus the mind on Krishna.
Coming back to the original question, a monk does not generally think or meditate about sex life, at the same time he might not be free from such attraction. Although such thoughts may come up, he is not overly disturbed by it and simply focuses the mind on the lotus feet of Krishna. Thereby he experiences a higher taste and remains peaceful in his relationship with the Lord.
1 - Bhagavad Gita 2.70
2 - Purport to Bhagavad Gita 2.70