"On my deathbed in my previous life, the last lingering image on my mind, was probably my most beloved... not fame or wealth, not a car or house, but the person I loved the most. So strong was this craving to be with her, that I struggled to stay alive, to live again. My consciousness (bardo) thus wandered in the intermediate state between the expired life and the next. As I see a couple making love, I feel attracted, while jealous. I get drawn closer, till I enter the woman's womb, where I am trapped for nine months, before seeing the light of day, of a new life. In this new life, as I unconsciously pursue my beloved, her vague image lingers on and off, somtimes even changing, as I'm unsure of why I'm here, who or what I'm looking for. If I find her, will we be together? And if we are together, will we be so attached, that she lingers on on my deathbed again?"

The above is probably the cyclic story of our loves for many of us, of how we were reborn time and again - due to attachment to the one we loved the most. This attraction is often of a sexual nature, whether one is mindful of it or not. We are reborn due to sexual attraction in many ways. Out of clinging to the beloved, we bind ourselves to the wheel of life and death even after death. Being "reminded" of our beloved when our bardo witnesses our future parents making love, we further bind ourselves. And when reborn, we tend to live on with this invisible self-imposed obligation to seek the love of our life. Thus, sex plays a constant lure... as an active but mostly latent motivation in the background of our lives (and deaths)!

To the thoroughly worldly, the experience of the highs of sex with the beloved can be mistaken as a "spiritual high". This is especially possible if one has yet to experience the much more refined states of mental bliss in deep meditation. One is thus likely to live for sexual highs, in the vain hope that each high outdoes and outlasts the previous. But as we all probably already realised, there is almost nothing as fleeting as a sexual high. Yet, out of attachment, and not knowing the "alternative highs" of the path (to spiritual liberation from all desires), we are tempted to relive it countlessly.

In the Sutra of Forty-two Sections, the Buddha taught, "of all longings and desires, there is none as strong as sex. Sexual desire has no equal. Fortunately, it is one of a kind. If there were something else like it, no one in the entire world would be able to cultivate the way (to Enlightenment)." This is serious food for thought indeed! While having moral sexual pleasure is not a "sin", it is a misgiving of sorts if we are supposedly serious about ending the rounds of rebirth in this very lifetime. If an aspirant of Enlightenment does not try to relinquish gross material craving, how far away will the sublime bliss of spiritual release be? While we might not be comfortable with renouncing sex overnight, more subtly, should we begin gradually letting go of attachment to various other pleasures of the senses. Sex just happens to be the all-in-one melting pot of sense desires! What we are in pursuit of life after life is actually True Happiness - sometimes mistaken as sexual bliss, when it is the immeasurably "savoury" Nirvana we really yearn for! - Shen Shi'an