A. I don’t understand how you can make a distinction between practice and going for refuge.

A major characteristic of the practice of the Buddha-Dharma is restraint, so that we may cultivate the ability to walk the middle way. When we truly alight and stay on the middle way – which is the perfection of the fourth noble truth – samsara will fall away to reveal our true nature. Restraint applies to all our attachments to views and opinions, desire and aversion, etc. Restraint means to keep in control, not deny or suppress. If we suppress, we may not only get ourselves into emotional trouble but also deny ourselves the opportunity to get to know ourselves and work and make friends with what we are.

Of all our attachments it has to be said for most of us the desire for sexual fulfilment is the most powerful and difficult to control. For this reason it could be justified to break the rule of restraint and contain to the extent of suppression, in the full knowledge that this act is only a temporary expedient. Yes, it can help, because of the massive emotional involvement that this aspect of our being seems to demand, and if you are successful with using this temporary expedient it probably is something useful to bring to the practice when seen to be needed. But it is not necessary by any means to go down this route in our pursuit of insight. To contain and find the balance that is the middle way applies to the sex drive in exactly the same way as to any other part of our makeup. Try celibacy if you so wish, but if you find it too difficult to maintain, better to give it up than maybe do yourself some psychological damage, consider yourself a failure, and even give up the practice as well. To practice the middle way is the way to nirvana, and if your sexual drive is a part of your mandala of practice, then so be it.