Project Conversion

Project Conversion

My Beloved Wife: Best Friend, Devoted Mother, and Temptress

Practicing as a Jain ascetic this month, I took certain vows. The five most important being:

  • Ahimsa (Non-injury)
  • Always tell the truth
  • Do not steal
  • Celibacy
  • Non-possession

So far I’ve done pretty well. I even took on the practice of one small meal a day. With non-injury it means that I must avoid killing or harming even the smallest insect. One day I actually sat and watched a mosquito bite my arm before I tried to blow her off. I’ve sat in meditation outside in 40 degree weather with nothing but a thin bed sheet. I sleep on a hardwood floor at least three hours a night before moving to the couch. Now I’m even participating in a three-day (at least) fast…and I’m not even hungry. I can do all these things through sheer power of will, but there’s one thing I cannot resist:


My wife.

Heather practicing her harlot kiss of doom.

Back in May when I practiced Buddhism, I wrote this post. It talked about how practicing heavy meditation and introspection actually decreased my libido. I thought it was just me, but I’ve spoken with others who experience the same thing. What troubles me this month is that I took a vow of celibacy knowing that I would experience that very same phenomenon. Trouble is, sex happens to be a two person (ahem…at least) activity which means by declaring celibacy, I’m signing up my wife for something she doesn’t want to do.


I knew I’d be fine…as long as there was no temptation, so I made Heather promise to take the vow with me. She did…but I think she had her fingers crossed. I was doing fine. I was doing so well, and then Heather went back on her “promise.”

“Celibacy doesn’t apply to us,” she told me while chasing me around the house, pulling at my robes. “We’re married.”

“Yes, but I took a vow! You’re messing with my enlightenment!” By this point I was trying to fight her off with my fly whisk, but to no avail.

“Come here, I’ll show you enlightenment…”

It took her a few days, but the constant barrage of flirting and innuendo paid off and I succumbed to my wife.


Strange that I feel guilt and shame after sleeping with my wife, isn’t it? The funny part is that she is unapologetic about the whole thing. This isn’t a game of “let’s get the monk to screw around,” she legitimately wants a course correction here because from her point of view, our relationship as husband and wife should never change regardless of what religious practices I have that month. She’s already made it clear that she will be just as persistent for the rest of the month, because as her husband, our intimacy was “bought and paid for at the altar.”


Yes, she has a point. Project Conversion is supposed to affect me the most, not her or the kids, so indeed why should she have to change? I am sympathetic to that. The other issue is that despite all my other successes with practice this month, I’ve discovered my Achilles heel: my wife. I simply cannot say “no” because over the course of nearly seven years of marriage, we have never refused one another. Ever. And now I must suddenly resist?

In many ways, I have it a little tougher than the average Sadhu (monk). Because they own nothing and move from temple to temple, they do not face daily temptations to the same extent that I do. I must walk by a nicely stocked refrigerator every day. There is always a comfortable couch to enjoy rather than the floor. I also have a perfectly ready and willing wife just waiting to find a crack in my resolve. Choice is, in my opinion, much more dangerous to our will than no choice.


As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, like fasting, celibacy isn’t about punishing yourself by avoiding life’s pleasures. It’s about learning self-control, learning how to channel one’s passions, and becoming the master of your actions. By failing in my commitment of celibacy this month, I’ve uncovered my only weakness of discipline. Now, I just have to stand even more vigilant and resist my greatest temptation.

What is your weakness? Perhaps you’ve made the same New Year’s resolution year after year only to fail. What tools do you use to remain vigilant?

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posted March 13, 2016 at 9:58 pm

Because you were fulfilling your wife’s wishes you didn’t break your vow… Not having sex with your wife you would create negative karma by causing another person pain.

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posted November 16, 2011 at 2:33 am


Ooooo that’s a good one! Monastic Jains, I assume, would not think of the death of sperm over the act of giving into desire. The idea is to avoid and conquer attachment to the desire for sex or pleasure. As for the laity, chastity within a marriage is very important and so I assume a healthy sexual lifestyle as well. Within that context, I don’t see there being any issues regarding your question. I hope that helps!

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posted November 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I am unaware of the Jian aspect, I am learning more and more each day.

In my own path (Wicca) I see sensuality as being a gift to be shared where there is no harm done. Celebrating sensuality with a committed partner does not seem to be a sin, especially if a lack harms my partner.

Within this aspect of no harm I have had issues of the death of sperm (silly as it may seem) as a harmful act. May I be enlightened on this from the Jain perspective?

Thanks! I know I am being a little obtuse here.

Love & Light,

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posted November 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm


Not a bad idea ; )

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Sam Karvonen

posted November 12, 2011 at 6:57 am

Heather, you should write a book for all the lonely Jain women out there. “How to break a handsome monk in 30 days — Dunnit!” I insist on a commission from the proceeds.

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aka Cookie

posted November 12, 2011 at 6:26 am

Giving into fear…

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posted November 12, 2011 at 5:04 am


I don’t think my faithfulness to my wife is the problem, it’s my apparent inability to resist her feminine charm. And why should I try to resist? Well, because it’s a brief lesson in self control and quite frankly, fun to be chased. We naturally want what we can’t have, so it’s a great way to train our desires. Try not to take the theology here too seriously man, no one laughs or learns when we do that ; )

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posted November 12, 2011 at 5:00 am


Only an enlightened Mentor like yourself could see the truth and beauty in all this. Thanks, for you and your father, for being awesome.

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posted November 12, 2011 at 4:44 am

Art’s comment is perfect. Chastity is the virtue, not celibacy. Before marriage chastity is manifested (in part) as celibacy, but after marriage it is manifested by complete faithfulness to your partner. She is not your weakness; she is your strength.

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Meeta Gajjar Parker

posted November 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm

What I’ve learned from your experience is that wives will chase their husbands around if they have taken a vow of celibacy. Now, men will get ideas from you Andrew. Pink Elephant :)

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Rimmy Kaur

posted November 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Wow, that was enlightening. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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posted November 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm



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posted November 11, 2011 at 5:30 pm


No, it was not designed to drive a wedge between man and wife, which is why celibacy goes hand in hand with a chosen monastic lifestyle, not marriage. Because this is a 30-day experiment, there is an understanding of an end in site, however it would indeed be morbid for me to declare celibacy while married.

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Art Sherwood

posted November 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Andrew, if you just change the word from celibacy to chastity, you’ve solved the problem.

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Beth Irwin

posted November 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Honey, if you find Nirvana with your wife, it’s a GOOD thing.

Seriously. While you’re meditating, contemplate why, from earliest times, marriage and a strong desire to renew the species was hardwired into human beings. Why that’s such a strong bond that kingdoms have fallen and rivers been swum for men and women to be with each other.

Manmade conventions and rules might twist it into property exchanges or arranged pairings or forbid it entirely, but that pull between a bonded pair is one of the strongest forces in the universe. Once those successful pairings form, they last lifetimes and the survivor doesn’t last long without the other, 2 years on average.

Monastic lifestyles might relieve overcrowding in highly populated areas in times before birth control. And it DOES teach discipline and give time for contemplation. But was it ever intended to divide a man from his wife over extended periods?

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