I question sometimes my own motives of wanting to take initiation, if it is my ego or if it is a genuine calling. My next question is in regards to following the four principles, specifically illicit sex. I was wondering if you could be clear regarding what is expected of one that would take initiation.
Initiation is essentially a mature commitment, with mutual respect, between a teacher and student. For example, in yoga training courses, those who make a serious commitment advance more easily. It is true that one may seek initiation as a kind of certificate of achievement, or a spiritual trophy. Of course one should take initiation with a sincere desire to advance spiritually, and to help one’s guru to help the world. At the same time, one takes initiation in order to purify oneself, so we cannot expect a candidate to be perfectly pure before initiation. So I suggest that you focus on the basic requirements — to chant 16 rounds and follow the four principles — and cultive a sincere desire to help the guru help the world.
Regarding illicit sex, years ago, I researched this topic in Prabhupada’s teachings, and the answer is quite clear. Prabhupada gives a ‘high’ and ‘low’ definition of illicit sex and both are valid. The entry level principle is that one must have sex only in marriage. Advanced devotees may then limit sex to procreation. But Prabhupada often described illicit sex as sex outside of marriage. Therefore, a devotee who avoids extra-marital sex may be properly initiated.