I am a young man on the path, having trouble with sexual desire. I wanted to ask any older men who have been on the path a while: does it get easier to deal with desire, to where it is not a constant battle? Are you more confident in your ability to resist? Are there any 'keys' you’d recommend? I would imagine it easier for the yogis in our masters' days to resist because they didn’t have e-media; how can we be disciplined in these tools when they are literally at our fingertips?
You are quite right in saying that in the 21st century, sexual imagery, language and opportunity abound, making the practice of self-control and moderation challenging. Does it get easier with age? That depends on how well one re-directs this powerful force upward towards purity, devotion, and into other and higher forms of creativity and spiritual consciousness. Reincarnation furnishes endless opportunities to chase after unfulfilled desires.
Desire arises in the mind and heart and these can remain forever young regardless of the age or ability of the body to function!
So, start now and with effort you will indeed find the the wind of grace filling your sails and sending you toward the the soul’s promised land of bliss, making all lesser things seem uninteresting.
Even marriage, itself, is no guarantee, unless each works towards transcendence, using the tools of respect, privacy, distance, and spiritual practices and goals central to the partnership. Nonetheless, for most humans, marriage is the safer route for we soon learn that we must deal with the whole person, not some glamorous but passing pretense or romantic image.
Keys include learning to avoid temptation: first in the mind and by what one looks at. In public gatherings, on the street, on the bus, in an airport, or on TV, movies, or the Internet. Develop a strategy on how to respond to visual temptation: “Do not allow yourself to be thrashed by the provoking whip of a beautiful face,” Swami Sri Yukteswar advised! Those who parade themselves demean themselves and others. Ask yourself, “At what price this temptation?” No person can constantly be romantic or sexy. All humans have many other moods, activities, relationships, needs, and, indeed, an infinity of interests. In person, in private, and in a close relationship, what you see now, or on the outside, is NOT what you get! We pay a very high price for our pleasure: in self-respect, in nervousness, disease, hurt feelings, and tortured relationships.
Train your eyes to look away and your thoughts to rise, chanting, Aum Guru, Jai Guru or some other mantra or prayer! Keep busy in wholesome, serviceful activities, creative hobbies, craft or art, sports and exercise, prayer and meditation.
Behind every pretty face or figure, there lurks a potential demon of anger or contempt. “Sadhu (yogi), Beware.” I highly recommend the book by Swami Kriyananda: Sadhu, Beware! Swamiji wrote that “women will respect you if you keep your distance.” Avoid, then, undue familiarity and don’t imagine age difference can protect you. Pondering admiringly on looks or gestures, voice, figure, or form is but a prelude to loss of Self.
Pray for guidance and if you do seek a partner then visualize the spiritual qualities (not the physical ones) of one who can be a true, loyal and wise life partner. Consult those whom you trust and respect to guide you should a decision be needed. Hang out with people who are spiritually minded and avoid lazy, idle gossip.
Keep your body fit and clean and eat foods that are nutritious. Processed and “dead” food (fast-food, fried, e.g.) can irritate the sex nerves and lower centers. Dress modestly, neatly and tastefully without being ostentatious.
I hope these keys will be helpful to you! Life must be understood to be a battle of the higher against the lower. Be a warrior of peace; develop self-control, inner strength, good character, and devotion and yours will be a victorious life!
Blessings upon you,