Spirituality as a War on Testosterone

The greatest danger for a monastery in a traditional society used to be if one of the monks got a local woman pregnant. Here in the modern West, we have no comprehension of what an evil this is for the families affected. We have nothing to compare it to. Where I live, in California, there would be parties. A friend of mine, a gorgeous and brilliant woman, is in love with a young man who is living in a monastery. He is meditating on whether to become a monk - take lifetime vows - or be a householder. If she gets pregnant, and he decides to marry her, there will be huge celebrations with ecstatic dancing until the early hours.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there used to be newspaper articles every year or two, in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, or some other American newspaper, to the effect that a monastery, that had stood for hundreds of years, was stormed and burned down by the local villagers because one of the monks impregnated one of the village girls.

In the United States, we would tend to think of this as hilarious, a great story that everyone would delight in telling for decades. The monk and girl would get married and the child would become a skateboard champion. Total magic. But in a poor village in India, Thailand, or Nepal, where girls are married off at the age of one year, marriages are a business deal between families, and a bride who is not a virgin is a crime that pollutes every member of all families, this is no joking matter.

Therefore, if a monastery, and thus a meditation tradition, is to survive, it must at all costs strive to kill out all sexual desire in its monks, even if this damages their evolution and destroys their chances of enlightenment. Better to destroy an entire generation, or many generations, of monks than to risk having the lineage become extinct. Maybe some day in the future, people will be able to decode these teachings and make them live again.

Therefore, whenever you read any spiritual teaching, in yoga or anywhere else, decide for yourself, “Was this written to protect the lineage hundreds or thousands of years ago, or is it a truth that is designed for me, now, in this modern time, as someone who is NOT a monk?”

Testosterone | This American Life
www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/220/testosterone - Cached
Aug 30, 2002 – Stories of people getting more testosterone and coming to regret it. And of people losing it and coming to appreciate life without it.

Listen to the part of the interview in which a man who, for medical reasons, had his testosterone levels reduced, he is saying that when he got up in the morning, he had no desire whatsoever - he just stared at the walls. There was no impulse to eat. No impulse to get up and do anything. Hours would go by, just staring at the walls. Eventually, a tiny bit of survival would kick in: “If I don’t go get food, this body will die.”

In other words, the guy was a perfect Buddhist monk.

In another interview on low testosterone, the subject says, “The first thing people notice is not being very interested in sex. But it goes beyond that. You’re not connecting, you’re kind of lackadaisical about life. You’re not really depressed, but you’re in a funk. You don’t go out like you used to, you don’t enjoy hobbies like you used to. There’s no zest for life. The mood, the connection, the way you relate to others, the way you deal with stress.”

If you internalize anti-desire and antii-sex, teachings, it may destroy your marriage, your career, your natural path in the world, and damage your children. One man’s meat is another’s poison. Women need testosterone also, not in the same amounts as men, but anti-desire teachings can devastate their lives just as much as men’s.