Celibacy

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Celibacy

Postby Moth » Thu Jul 22, 2010 3:53 am

What are your thoughts on this topic? Is it necessary if not more beneficial? I am at a point in my life where I am considering becoming a monk in which case I would be giving up the opportunity to have a wife and child. I'm curious to hear your opinions on this issue.
Last edited by Moth on Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Goedert » Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:33 am

Hello friend.

The "Celebacy" is used to the bhikkhu trainning. It is on the rules of the monks called Vinaya Pitaka.

Doing so, one avoid the contact with the sexual act and avoiding the sensual pleasure.

It envolves many things in the trainning et all. No doubt the celibacy is good for the trainning of a bhikkhu.

By the way. What motivates you to go on ordination?
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Moth » Thu Jul 22, 2010 4:47 am

Goedert wrote:By the way. What motivates you to go on ordination?


It just seems to be the wisest path, rather than pursuing attachment.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby convivium » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:21 am

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4408&hilit=brahmacariya

i don't know if this will help...
maybe something here.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Celebacy

Postby BlackBird » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:26 am

Moth wrote:What are your thoughts on this topic?


Too hard for me, at this stage. I admire anyone who can make it a life long commitment :)

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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Goedert » Thu Jul 22, 2010 2:43 pm

Moth wrote:
Goedert wrote:By the way. What motivates you to go on ordination?


It just seems to be the wisest path, rather than pursuing attachment.


Very true friend, very true.

The life of a monk is not easy, you have to do with many mundane difficults (food, lack of instruction, etc.), this is part of the programan. Letting them go and acceptting it.

Advice you to choose very carefully the monastery you want to ordain, knowing what method is teached there or Instruct your self before ordination.

Kind regards.
:anjali:
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Jason » Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:57 pm

Moth wrote:What are your thoughts on this topic? Is it necessary if not more beneficial? I am at a point in my life where I am considering becoming a monk in which case I would be giving up the opportunity to have a wife and child. I'm curious to hear your opinions on this issue.

As far as awakening is concerned, it's really only beneficial in the context of a well-developed meditation practice, or for someone who's in the process of developing one.

The Pali literature basically takes the position that sexual intercourse is an obstruction or impediment (antarayika dhamma) to obtaining awakening. In AN 4.159, for example, Ananda explains to a bhikkhuni, who's apparently sick, that sexual intercourse is to be abandoned in the practice of the holy life. (Incidentally, the background to this story details that the bhikkhuni in question was faking her illness so that Ananda would come to see her. She was very infatuated with him, and when he realized this, he gave her this particular discourse.)

Another example can be found at the beginning of MN 22. Here, the Buddha is portrayed as rebuking a monk for his views regarding sex. While not explicitly stated in the sutta itself, the commentary to this sutta mentions that the wrong view of the offending monk, Arittha, dealt specifically with the monastic training rule prohibiting sexual intercourse.

The note given to this section of the sutta concerning "obstructions" by Nyanaponika Thera explains this in more detail. Simply put, for a monastic who's dedicated fully to the holy life, it's a serious hindrance to their practice. After all, the duty of the noble disciple is to discern the allures and drawbacks of, and escape from, sensuality, physical form and feeling (MN 13). And if you look to the Buddha's teachings in general, there's nothing in them that suggests there's anything skillful in giving in to sensual desires, including those of a sexual nature.

As lay-followers, of course, we're not required to remain celibate; however, it seems to be the general consensus among Theravadin orthodoxy that sex and masturbation do nothing for spiritual awakening. Moreover, Buddhism doesn't encourage the casual fulfillment of sensual desires as much as it encourages their eventual abandonment, which further supports the idea that sex is ultimately an obstruction to awakening.

This is essentially the case made by Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Nanadhammo in "Buddhist Sexual Ethics - A Rejoinder." While this shouldn't be taken as an absolute rejection of sex as it mainly pertains to monastics who have gone forth, it does strongly suggest that sex is ultimately a hindrance to awakening for those of us that are interested in pursuing the path the very end. Nevertheless, even if this is true, I think my old friend, Kris, (who I wish was still around) made an excellent point in a similar discussion on another forum a few years ago:

    From "Buddhist Sexual Ethics - A Rejoinder":

    ”Now, Udàyin, the pleasure and joy that arises dependent on these five cords of sensual pleasure are called sensual pleasures - a filthy pleasure, a coarse pleasure, an ignoble pleasure. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should not be pursued, that it should not be developed, that it should not be cultivated, that it should be feared... (whereas the pleasure of the Four Jhànas). This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of enlightenment. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be developed, that it should be cultivated, that it should not be feared.” (ibid p.557)...
    ...I have stated how sensual pleasures provide little gratification, much suffering, and much despair, and how great is the danger in them.


    but that:

    ]The pursuit of self-mortification... is the wrong way. Disengagement from the pursuit of self-mortification... is the right way... The Middle Way discovered by the Tathàgata avoids both these extremes... it leads... to Nibbàna.”


    The accompanying commentary (perhaps unsurprisingly) provides a very “monastic” slant on the above quotes. Rather than issuing a blanket command to “give it up”, as some teachers do, Buddha demonstrated the means by which this attachment will fade of itself - the bliss of Jhana.
    That bliss and renunciation are the same thing, indicates that this is no miserable, cold-shower-style repression, rather something quite different and unique. So how can renunciation of something we enjoy be blissful? It can only be blissful when we see the nature of the agitation of the mind (insight) from within the calm of Jhana (samatha). This is entirely unlike any kind of worldly bliss and is termed a pleasure not-of-the-flesh.
    A blissful process is also utilised in the inner fire teachings of highest yoga tantra but as a means to an end - not an end in itself.
    Just “giving it up” won’t work for most people and could be the first step on the path of self-mortification. It involves denial and what help is that when one dies? The desire, the volition, is still latent within the stream (although repressed). Only when true relinquishment occurs, through meditation, can it be deemed worthwhile and I feel that Buddha’s Middle Way must be interpreted in this way.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Celibacy

Postby manas » Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:37 am

My attempts at finding a 'middle way' of enjoying sexual pleasure 'moderately' have always ended in failure. In my mind, the whole idea of pleasure is to maximize it, not to stingily give it to myself in little drips. So I have found that I tend towards sexual obsession, trying to squeeze more and more pleasure out of this slowly ageing sack of blood, flesh and bones.

In order to free myself, for the sake of my own welfare (possibly sanity), I am undertaking a period of total abstinence, not just from the act but also from self-pleasuring, and as much as possible I guard my mind against letting lust invade it. As a lay person this is very hard and sometimes EXCRUCIATING work. It can feel like torture. And self-made suffering it is: the harder I hold on to the memories of past pleaure, the more it hurts! So I have to resort to using whatever wisdom I can muster to keep going. This often happens with me in tears at the end of the day. Here is a benefit though: I feel lighter, more peaceful (when I am not undergoing a 'test' of my resolve), and it is easier to practise meditation.

I am trying to hear the Buddha's advice: that the calm, still mind is far more pleasureable than the world of sense-pleausures. I have not yet fully tasted this, but I have had glimpses. These alone have been enough (so far) to keep me interested in as much sensual renunciation as I can manage for now. For myself, the sensory 'loudness' of orgasm, and the subsequent ripples of longing and desire that are imprinted on the mind when one indulges in it, are too destructive to calm in the mind. So others might be able to cultivate this calm while still having orgasm in moderation, but I just can't seem to do this.

The Buddha always prefaces the description of blissful jhanic states with 'quite secluded from sense pleausures, secluded from unwholesome states of mind', so I am kind of inferring that we have to actually trust and let go a little of our clinging to sense pleausure before really pleasureable meditative states can arise. And sex is not such a big deal anyway: even pigs and earthworms have orgasms, in fact pigs' orgasms last for half an hour...so, pigs have better orgams than us, but (to my knowledge) they can't access the Buddha-Dhamma as well as humans can (if any intelligent porcine being is reading this, I apologise and retract this :pig: ). When you look at it that way, orgasm loses some of its specialness.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Moth » Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:13 pm

A combination of wisdom and willpower is needed I suppose. I'm trying to avoid all sexual self-indulgence as well. Intercourse is easy to avoid, internet pornography not so much. I'm getting better though, and I definitely notice the benefit. For myself I find it too difficult to give up all together, I feel its better to make the effort towards wisdom, and in that sense as one goes up the other goes down.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby manas » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:54 pm

Moth wrote:I feel its better to make the effort towards wisdom, and in that sense as one goes up the other goes down.

Yes, that is my personal experience also. Keep striving with this, it is worth every tear shed and every moment spent standing between the meditation room and the PC room, feeling the lust in the mind and body raging, and 'just knowing' without identifying with it as 'me or mine'. It is just sensation, a burning sensation in the lower body (or in the heart sometimes for me) - and having to again and again (will it ever end, this struggle?) access and use Wisdom in order to NOT indulge that pleasure that leads to much suffering (internet porn). As a single man living alone, I agree that if you can stay off this stuff for good, I bow to you. I'm trying damn hard at present. Like I said, though, it has been very worth it so far, but the price has been heartache and tears, no doubt kamma rightfully returning to me for all those times I did indulge in the past! I wish to encourage you, that it DOES get easier over time (gradually, so I have been told), and don't listen to the doubt that says you can't do it. We do it like learning to walk. At first we walk, then fall, then walk, then fall, but gradually we fall down less and less until it is hardly at all or never. I'm sure the pain will lessen over time too. And thank you for mentioning it, I wasn't sure if I could on this forum!
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Moth » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:09 am

You could also set up parental controls using Kaspersky Internet Security or whatever AV software you have to block erotic sites and purposefully choose a password you will forget.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Reductor » Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:47 am

manasikara wrote:... I wasn't sure if I could on this forum!


:jumping: On this forum just about anything goes.
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2021
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4411

Sexual topics can be hot around here.

http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&q=+site%3Ad ... e4ac12056e

Whatever is getting you down in life, I'm sure that it can be fruitfully discussed with the members here.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Celebacy

Postby manas » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:42 am

Hi all, I'm posting here cos I am in a hurry and don't know where else to post...I wonder if any other householder experimenting with complete sexual abstinence has found that just when they have begun to taste some higher pleasure in meditation, just when they feel like they have had a GLIMPSE of what it is like to let go of the five-sense world obsession for a little while and experience a relatively still mind (and taste the sweetness of this), suddenly the defilement of lust takes a big swipe at you. Today I'm assailed by strong doubt re the higher aspects of the doctrine (stuff that I should not ponder on at this stage, but mara uses this to get me down often), and now for the first time in over a week sensual desire seems to be CALLING me! Just when I have been feeling like I have made more progress in calming the mind than ever before in this current lifetime.

This might not be the right forum for a sob story like mine. But I hope someone can advise, can a deep darkness stand on the edge of a brightness? Just when I felt some sweetness in letting go, should lust come and assail me like this? Should I press onward, or am I pressing too hard?

This must be why the Buddha encouraged pp to ordain. It is tough having to interact with the opposite sex every day while guarding the door of sight so that one does not grasp at the form with desire. I feel I'm ready to give up on celibacy, though this is probably my defilements working hard to stay alive. I am certainly confused.

(PS: I realize that 'the forms' are human beings. I have compassion and I am not averse. My anger is with myself alone; that sex desire came to so dominate me, that I have to now take such an extreme counter-measure to truly free myself. Lust is the enemy; women are not. :anjali: )
Last edited by manas on Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby lojong1 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:53 am

Moth wrote:What are your thoughts on this topic? Is it necessary if not more beneficial? I am at a point in my life where I am considering becoming a monk in which case I would be giving up the opportunity to have a wife and child. I'm curious to hear your opinions on this issue.


How about temporary ordination. Certainly no new wife or child while a monk, but if after a year your faith has not grown, drop the robes and get laid, yes?
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Reductor » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:55 am

manasikara wrote:...just when they feel like they have had a GLIMPSE of what it is like to let go of the five-sense world obsession for a little while and experience a relatively still mind (and taste the sweetness of this), suddenly the defilement of lust takes a big swipe at you.


That happens manasikara, especially if lust is a major character feature for that person (as it is for me).

So don't be too hard on yourself, as oscillation between progress and decline is the norm. I always look at it as one step back, two forward. If you just say 'ITS NOT WORKING' when you take that step back, you'll end up taking a lot more back rather than the next two forward. Get me?

And yes, that is a benefit of ordination verses householder life, and I too experiencing that vexation at times, but being ordained is not a sure fire fix all. I mean, you're memory is retained, and that can be a serious bitch even when you're alone.

So, take a deep breath and stay the course of abstinence for however long you've decided on. Do you're best. Perhaps you're defilements will make you beat retreat for a moment, but that's not a defeat if you use this lapse to resupply for the offensive. So to speak.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Celebacy

Postby manas » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:20 am

Thank you thereductor for your prompt reply! I have not actually lapsed as yet, still feeling the pain, knowing as best as I can that these feelings are just memories in the mind, the memories of the sight and other sensory impressions of the fair sex...

So for now I am practicing Satipatthana on them, I am trying to not avoid, but to let be. I have to feel this pain, to 'go in' to the feeling without identifying with it as 'me or mine'. I will try for rest of this day and re-evaluate in the morning.

You are correct, I won't make too big a drama out of this, after all I am a layman, and this is just how things are...and thanks for the heads-up about the struggles of the ordained as well...I guess it's a problem for everyone who has not yet experienced jhana (which, so I have been told, makes sense-pleasure look rather pale by comparison). But 'there's the rub' - I can't will myself there! It'll arise at the right time, not by an act of will, but when the necessary conditions are there (so I've heard!). So for now I can only do my best and use mindfulness and whatever modest wisdom this being can muster.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Reductor » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:52 pm

manasikara wrote:Thank you thereductor for your prompt reply! I have not actually lapsed as yet, still feeling the pain, knowing as best as I can that these feelings are just memories in the mind, the memories of the sight and other sensory impressions of the fair sex...


The fair sex, hmm... do only men have oil on their skin, puss in their pores? Do women also have fat beneath that skin, shit in their bowls, brains in their heads, wax in their ears? When it comes to foulness, they're natural state is as bad as our own.

Of course, they doll themselves up, right? Hard to see the foul. But the makeup and deodorant and perfume is a testament to their naturally foul state, as it would be for ourselves.

What I've noticed time and again is that lust for the fair sex stems from a narrow perception of them. We look and the perceptions that arise are immediately related to beauty. This perception to beauty is not the problem per se. The trouble is that we stop there and relish the feelings that arise because of these perceptions. If you realize that this is happening you can then force the wider perception of foulness.

Keep in mind that you're not making up some notions which are untrue, because the body in all its modes is in fact foul. You know this, but that first impression of beauty is blinding. But it need not be if you are really looking for relief from lust.

Now, about jhana. It is certainly possible to attain, but that sure doesn't mean its easy. I would sugget to develop the meditation of anapanasati and be steady in your practice, and keep body awareness broad.

Here's a good short list of practices to develop, and the reason to do so.
"A bhikkhu, Meghiya, who is established in these five things should also cultivate four additional things: foulness should be cultivated for overcoming lust; loving-kindness should be cultivated for overcoming malevolence; respiration-mindfulness should be cultivated for cutting off (discursive) thinking; the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am.' For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am,' which is called Nibbana here and now."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Celebacy

Postby manas » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:13 pm

Thereductor,
thank you for your thoughtful reply, once more. That sutta quote is great, I've not seen it before.

I'm going to leave off this subject after this post, because I DID end up lapsing, but I have learned SO MUCH from the last week and a half of trying out complete sexual abstinece (in all its forms) that I am indeed realizing that I have no need to beat myself up, I am after all a householder and I have not broken any precepts (by lapsing in this way)! My mind got a bit obsessed with trying to be perfect, and I think I was 'tightening the strings a little too tightly'. Having said that, that doesn't mean I think it's ok to just relieve ourselves soon as the going gets a little tough, I think we should push a little further than what we think we are capable of, but not to the point of obsessiveness.

How does the mind feel this morning? Honestly, a little sad about the human condition (specifically, my own - I have studied enough anatomical drawings to know that women's bodies are also inherently asubha, like our own, yet still lust arises for them!). A bit more relaxed; I can actually feel this in my body. A bit less sharp and clear, with a slight 'happy fuzziness' in my body (endorphins).

Well I'm leaving it there. Back in the saddle for me now! I am happy to have found this place where I can get help for such issues, without people thinking I am some kind of nut for trying (to abstain from all sexual activity for the sake of better meditation). I am going to study that sutta you mentioned, I see how the Buddha is advising a combination of practices for the overcoming of a variety of problems.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Reductor » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:14 am

manasikara wrote: I am going to study that sutta you mentioned, I see how the Buddha is advising a combination of practices for the overcoming of a variety of problems.


While you're at it, you can try these.

Even a layman would do well to conduct themselves thus:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .horn.html

Methods of avoiding and undoing fetter-some states of mind.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

About sense restraint.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

A favorite of mine. It includes a list similar to that I posted above, only a little longer.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Hopefully you get a bit out of these.

One last piece of advice: if you masturbate, don't fantasize during the act. I've found that this works well for separating the tactile pleasures of sex from the other pleasures derived from the other sense facilities (ie -- eye, ear, nose, taste). It kind of drives a wedge into the lusty though processes.

Good luck.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Celebacy

Postby EricJ » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:20 am

thereductor wrote:One last piece of advice: if you masturbate, don't fantasize during the act. I've found that this works well for separating the tactile pleasures of sex from the other pleasures derived from the other sense facilities (ie -- eye, ear, nose, taste). It kind of drives a wedge into the lusty though processes.

Good luck.
I also find it helpful to [nonjudgmentally] notice how quickly the pleasure dissipates and how overrated it actually is. Sexuality, seems to me, to be a really drawn-out process based on some sort of expectation, resulting in a sensation which is underwhelming when compared to your idealized version of it. This observance engenders this thought in connection to sexual pleasure: "well, what was the point of that?" Sometimes, apathy is more effective than active resistance.

In the meantime, I try to keep in mind that sexual pleasure is something which is overcome gradually, as defilements are dismantled and the compounded and unsatisfactory nature of these sensations is realized. This thought has helped me to reign in some of my youthful sexual energy. :P

Regards,
Eric
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
- Snp. 1.3
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