Excerpted from the book The Power of Compassion. Questions answered by the Dalai Lama
Q. Is celibacy necessary to achieve enlightenment?
H.H.Dalai Lama: Generally, I think not. Then you might wonder why the Buddha himself, eventually, became a monk. I think that, in terms of "Vinaya Sutra", the main purpose of celibacy is to try to reduce desire and attachment.
In terms of Tantrayana, especially in the elevated aspect of Tantrayana Yoga, the energy, the "secretions", or the sexual enjoyment, represents the energy source used to dissolve the coarse level of consciousness or the coarse level of energy. By experiencing this special delight, it is possible that the coarse level be dissolved eventually. Thus, the secretions are the key to sexual enjoyment.
In Tibetan Buddhism, especially if you notice the iconography of deities and their consorts, you can see a lot of explicit sexual symbols which often creates a false impression. In fact, in this case, the sexual organ is utilized, but the energy movement which is taking place is, in the end, fully controlled.
The energy should never be let out. This energy must be controlled and eventually returned to other parts of the body. It is necessary for the Tantra practitioner to develop the ability to use their faculties of delight and ecstatic experiences that are specifically generated by the flow of regenerative fluid in his own channels of energy. It is crucial to have the ability to protect ourselves from the error of ejaculation. This is not just an ordinary sexual act.
And here we can see there is a kind of special connection with celibacy. Especially in the practice of "Kalachakra Tantra", this precept of protecting yourself against the loss of energy is considered very important. Kalachakra literature mentions three types of delightful experiences.
-One is the experience induced by the flow of energy,
-Another is the experience of constant delight,
-and another experience is the variable delight.
For me, when Buddha took the oath of celibacy, he did not explain, at that level, the reasons behind this rule or discipline. The complete explanation comes when we know the Tantrayana system. Perhaps it answer to your question. So, I think the answer is both Yes and No!
Q. The answer you gave on the necessity of celibacy, the use of sexual pleasure and suppression of ejaculation came from a male point of view. Why does it not mention the point of view of the women in these practices? What should a woman do with her energy in order to achieve enlightenment through sexual coitus?
H.H. Dalai Lama: It is the same technique and the same principle. According to one of my Indian friends, the practitioners of Hindu Tantrayana also realize Kundalini and Chandralini practices. My information is that women, too, have such energy, such secretions. So, is the same method.