Question: I’m not clear about the Bhakti philosophy in this regard....
Is limiting intimacy encouraged?
If so, why? This is beautiful expression of our physical self and relationship connection. Why limit?
Yes, sex is such a beautiful expression or our physical self and relationship! It is a beautiful way to experience nourishment, pleasure, and connection. In Bhakti, we acknowledge that all pleasures in this world (however great!) is temporary ... so to not end our quest for pleasure with pleasure experienced through the senses. There is a pleasure that will satisfy us much, much more deeply than any sensory pleasure ever will. And when we taste that pleasure, our desire to enjoy through the senses becomes much less.
To artificially renounce is not recommended. Though when we have a deeper experience, our taste changes. We desire something that is deeper, that is lasting. A pleasure that doesn't end as a relationship shifts, the body becomes unable, or eventually death moves us to the next. We want to tap in to a deeper experience, because we cannot depend on the pleasures of the senses to always satisfy.
My dear friend, like a brother, was paralyzed from the chest down when he was 29.
Amongst many things, I sometimes think, "wow, how crazy that he will never be able to experience sexual pleasure again".
In this world, we simply have to see sensual pleasures (pleasure that comes through the senses - seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling, hearing something) for what it is; something that we can not depend on for the real happiness that we're seeking. Something to not become attached to. something to regulate (or be able to control), so that it doesn't control us.
Then we can fully enjoy it, in the right time, place, and circumstance.
And often times, in order to fully understand sexual energy, it takes some time of not engaging with it. Of watching the energy arise within you without acting on it, and really seeing its nature. Energy rises, energy falls. And when not exploited or acted upon whenever the energy rises, we can utilize that same sexual energy to create so many things in this world! It can be directed in so many different ways.
So to your question, yes; limiting intimacy is encouraged in bhakti in a similar way that limiting the amount of food that we eat and the amount of time that we sleep is beneficial if we want to experience health, happiness, and vitality in our life ... and if we are on the quest for discovering a pleasure that never ends.
Let me know your thoughts <3