The hard core of spiritual development is mastery of the sex urge. Any paths that neglect or soft-pedal this are strictly fluff for mass consumption. Mastery means that the sex drive is under control of the will, without being repressed. It’s an incredibly difficult accomplishment for an individual, and is beyond the means of the majority of people in any society ~ and this is why sexual repression has prevailed in most societies, including spiritual communities.
When the pendulum swings back to sexual indulgence, and continues to the furthest extreme, the result is what we see around us today: a society swamped in a floodtide of unrestrained sex ~ cheap and easy, fast and sleazy, almost totally bereft of love or of any feelings at all except physical titillation and lust. This is the surest symptom of a society in apocalyptic freefall, and is actually a major cause of it. Nevertheless, the only people mounting efforts to reverse the flow have been those who fear sex as evil, and therefore seek futilely to stuff the flaming mass of libido back into the box of repression. Pandora could tell them it’ll never work.
The method of RamaDharma is not to force down the power of sex, but to raise it to a higher plateau: to sacralize it. This means that the love of God and the passion of eros are one ~ or can be, with the right alchemy. Being swept up into the glory of romantic love is the same basic phenomenon as spiritual surrender. When the love solidifies into a bonded relationship ~ a troth, as we call it ~ then devotion to the beloved is essentially the same experience as devotion to God or Spirit. It evokes the same willingness to sacrifice selfish interests for the sake of the other, the same joy in the midst of the daily trials of life, and even in the tribulations of the relationship. Love is so wonderful precisely because it has this divine aspect, which shines through even for people who are otherwise totally materialistic in their beliefs and desires.
This common essence of bhakti and eros makes it possible for us to unite them in our spiritual practice. We call it Dharmalove.
The first priority is to make sure that love can flower, and the most effective way to do this is to hold out for it unconditionally ~ accept no substitutes and waste no energy on strictly physical liaisons. This elevates your soul out of the demeaning morass of the hook-up culture, but the prescription has less to do with morality than with energy. The inner secrets of the path center on building up your spirit-body. Conservation of vital energy is the key to this praxis, and sexual indulgence blows off more energy than everything else combined.
The next operating principle is simple: moderation and restraint enhance the intensity and the quality of the experience. This holds true for all forms of stimulation, like food, drink, and psychoactive substances as well as sex. Besides the immediate rewards of more pleasurable eros, continued praxis accumulates psychic substance which intensifies the divine aspect of experience, not just in sexual activity but in all of life. In a spiritual community in which all the members follow various types of bhakti-praxis, there can arise a dharmalove flux, a collective sense of ecstatic communion. In some situations it can approach the level of erotic intensity even though no sexual activity is taking place. We call this Agape, from the word used by the early Christians to describe the special love they shared as a spiritual family.