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A typical devotee's experience
We all know the temptation of illicit sex, but devotees also know the strength that comes from Krsna consciousness. Every one of us can attest to this to some degree—how we have been relieved of addiction to sex habits.I can give my own case as an example. When I first met Prabhupada in 1966, I had typical addictions to sex desire as well as to intoxication. I would try to avoid illicit sex but after some time I would be driven to it. It seemed that unless I enjoyed in that way, my life would be unfulfilled. I was very much influenced by the bombardment of sexuality coming from the entertainment and advertising industries and the strong tide of decadence which was the American norm.
One of the first questions I asked Srila Prabhupada was, "Is there a spiritual advancement you can make from which you don't fall down?" He said "Yes," and by associating with him and chanting with him I began to experience it. Within a few weeks, I was able-to give up illicit sex and take the vow. I do not think my case was exceptional. Celibacy is not a pie-in-the-sky. It is not a pathological form of repression. It is the pleasure principle of Krsna consciousness that enables us to give up illicit sex. A devotee in Krsna consciousness finds his desire for celibacy enforced by knowledge of the negative results of sex life. Attachment to sex desire makes the soul continue in the cycle of birth and death. I cannot attain pure love for Radha and Krsna as long as I have material sex desire. In this world, sex is the great "calling card" of maya. It is also described as a shackle which keeps us in material life. These teachings about the negative aspects of illicit sex have a beneficial, sobering effect.
Once we take to Krsna consciousness, we see more clearly that sex brings entanglements and sufferings. We do not feel left out for not joining in the tide of addiction to sex. We aspire to remain celibate. But despite all this, sometimes devotees are tempted and sometimes they fall down to illicit sex. It is a formidable obstacle on the path of devotional service.