Celibacy

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Re: Celebacy

Postby bodom » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:56 pm

Lay or monk, the truth of the Buddha's teachings remains the same.


Ok, so then what is exactly the issue we can help you with? Would you like us to give you reasons to not be celibate? Are you looking for encouragement? If it is something you choose for yourself fine. Not everyone is ready or even able to make that kind of commitment. I know my wife certainly wouldn't be happy if I did. :tongue:

Besides, celibacy is something the Buddha enjoined on his lay followers only on Uposatha days.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Moth » Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:11 pm

bodom wrote:Ok, so then what is exactly the issue we can help you with? Would you like us to give you reasons to not be celibate? Are you looking for encouragement? If it is something you choose for yourself fine. Not everyone is ready or even able to make that kind of commitment.

A lot of people are asking for advice on overcoming lust on this thread. Someone claimed it was healthier to just have sex, and that an effort towards celibacy was an unproductive endeavor. I statement my disagreement. I never said all lay people should be celibate, just that sense desire leads to suffering, regardless of who or what one is. Therefore it is certainly not an effort that should be discouraged.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Dan74 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:42 am

Moth wrote:
bodom wrote:Ok, so then what is exactly the issue we can help you with? Would you like us to give you reasons to not be celibate? Are you looking for encouragement? If it is something you choose for yourself fine. Not everyone is ready or even able to make that kind of commitment.

A lot of people are asking for advice on overcoming lust on this thread. Someone claimed it was healthier to just have sex, and that an effort towards celibacy was an unproductive endeavor. I statement my disagreement. I never said all lay people should be celibate, just that sense desire leads to suffering, regardless of who or what one is. Therefore it is certainly not an effort that should be discouraged.


It is not a question of whether sex and sexual desire is healthy and good for practice. It is clear that they are to be abandoned in due course.

And it is this "due course" that is the issue. We all start exactly where we are, whether we like it or not. And if we try for what we are not yet ready, we are not only setting ourselves up for failure but wasting a lot of energy in the process and even perhaps losing faith in the path.

Before desire is abandoned it has to be recognized as unwholesome, not just thought so. Then it is not a struggle but a natural act of leaving behind what is not useful.

Until then of course, solid ethics and restraint is conducive to practice, but this doesn't preclude having sensual pleasures which the Buddha also praised for householder:

‘Good, Gotama, wait! Other than bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay disciples of Gotama, who wear white clothes and lead the holy life. Is there a single lay disciple, who wears white clothes, leads the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasures, and doing the work in the dispensation has dispelled doubts. Has become confident of what should and should not be done, and does not need a teacher any more in the dispensation of the Teacher. "Vaccha, not one, not one hundred, not two hundred, not three hundred, not four hundred, not five hundred. There are many more lay disciples of mine, wearing white clothes leading the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasuresand doing the work in the dispensation have dispelled doubts have become confident of what should and should not be done and do not need a teacher any more.’ -- MN 73


[Edited in consideration of the comments below.]
Last edited by Dan74 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby ground » Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:10 am

IMO being "sexually active" is cultivation of attachment and distraction and entails additional worldly commitments. Analysing all this may generate the conviction that celibacy is only advantageous in the context of the path.

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Re: Celebacy

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:11 am

Dan74 wrote:Until then of course, solid ethics and restraint is conducive to practice, but this doesn't preclude healthy sexual relationship which the Buddha also praised for householder:

‘Good, Gotama, wait! Other than bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay disciples of Gotama, who wear white clothes and lead the holy life. Is there a single lay disciple, who wears white clothes, leads the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasures, and doing the work in the dispensation has dispelled doubts. Has become confident of what should and should not be done, and does not need a teacher any more in the dispensation of the Teacher. "Vaccha, not one, not one hundred, not two hundred, not three hundred, not four hundred, not five hundred. There are many more lay disciples of mine, wearing white clothes leading the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasuresand doing the work in the dispensation have dispelled doubts have become confident of what should and should not be done and do not need a teacher any more.’ -- MN 73


Just to be clear... the "sensual pleasures" in Pāli doesn't really have any sexual connotations like it does in English. It refers to the pleasures that are obtained via six senses... eyes, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Sexual is just one of those pleasures... among many others, like watching TV.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Moth » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:28 pm

To appease desire is to increase desire. The more you engage in sense pleasure the more entagled within it you become. It's equivalent to saying, I'm going to enjoy a healthy smoking habit until I realize the unwholesomeness of smoking. You may end up carrying that sentiment to the grave.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Dan74 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:37 pm

This depends on what is meant by "appeasing."

Exercising reasonable restraint like in the Precepts is not appeasing.

Being pragmatic about what is achievable at the stage one is at is not appeasing. It is facing reality as it is.

Generating deeper faith in the Dhamma and stronger commitment, more and more becomes achievable but there is no use in fooling oneself.

Sensual desire is a lot deeper ingrained than smoking which is an acquired habit and can be dropped much more easily.

It has to be dealt with skillfully through insight and using the knowledge of the mind and deep commitment to the Dhamma rather than sledgehammer methods or slogans that do not draw from experience and do not feed into it in a healthy constructive way. These will just increase suffering and desire will be swept under the carpet (because it is judged to be unwholesome) rather than truly left behind. It will then manifest in much more unwholesome and unnatural ways.

Working with desire and with passions rather than browbeating them into submission is the way suggested by great masters of all schools from Ajahn Chah to Suzuki Roshi.

At least so it seems to me.

On the other hand if one is truly ready to leave it behind, then :bow:
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Re: Celebacy

Postby bodom » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:29 am

Being averse to sensuality is as much an entanglement as craving for it is. Better to keep an even mind.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Celebacy

Postby ground » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:59 am

bodom wrote:Being averse to sensuality is as much an entanglement as craving for it is. Better to keep an even mind.

:anjali:


Depends on one's dominant obscurations. If one cannot keep an even mind (which may be very likely in the beginning and the middle) then the firm intent to abstain from sensuality is wholesome although this entails some sort of "being averse". The who cannot swim should be averse to deep water.
I recall that there is a sutta where the buddha uses a simile which implies that giving in to only a little bit of sense pleasure will naturally open the door to get drowned in sense pleasures but I cannot recall what sutta this is. But this actually advised us to abstain from or "being averse to".
Actually it is mindfulness of renunciation in the presence of certain objects. If the basic state of mind is the mind that knows why this is practiced (knows the advantages and the goal) then "being averse to" actually is accompanied by a happy awareness of "doing the right thing".

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Re: Celebacy

Postby bodom » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:23 am

Hi TMingyur

firm intent to abstain from sensuality is wholesome although this entails some sort of "being averse". The who cannot swim should be averse to deep water.


I wouldn't say averse as much as cautious.

We need to learn to see the gratification, the danger and the escape from sensuality. You are correct, it is a process.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Celebacy

Postby manas » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:57 am

Dan74 wrote:Sensual desire is a lot deeper ingrained than smoking which is an acquired habit and can be dropped much more easily.

It has to be dealt with skillfully through insight and using the knowledge of the mind and deep commitment to the Dhamma rather than sledgehammer methods or slogans that do not draw from experience and do not feed into it in a healthy constructive way. These will just increase suffering and desire will be swept under the carpet (because it is judged to be unwholesome) rather than truly left behind. It will then manifest in much more unwholesome and unnatural ways.


Yes, just take a look at the Catholic Priesthood to find examples of this...
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Viriya » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:11 pm

I'm a medical student. I see cadavars every week, dissected and preserved sexual organs.

At present, I'm running a set of experiments culturing microbes taken from human skin, vaginal swabs and faeces.

I have very little sexual desire.

Casual link between the two?

Maybe. A combination of 'asubha' meditation (contemplating the repulsiveness of the body), relentless questioning of desire (Why do I feel this way? Do I really want to feel this way? Where did the feeling originate? Where is it going to go?), reading verses from the suttas/from Thai forest monks dealing with craving, and experience with corpses really worked for me.

All I know is that I never realised how burdensome a thing it was until it naturally fizzled out. All that mental energy! All those tears! All the psychological hang-ups, chasing after this and that! So, definitely beneficial if you can do it the right way, as previous posters have elaborated on.

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Re: Celebacy

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:33 pm

Viriya wrote:
All I know is that I never realised how burdensome a thing it was until it naturally fizzled out. All that mental energy! All those tears! All the psychological hang-ups, chasing after this and that! So, definitely beneficial if you can do it the right way, as previous posters have elaborated on.

Metta,
Viriya


Yes, this is true, but what if you're a married person, or in a long-term relationship, and intend to continue having a sexual life with one's significant other? Is there a way to find a good balance? It's certainly a welcome thing not to be chasing after her or him, always looking for the next thrill, always dissatisfied or hung up, getting into entanglements, etc -- but to what extent can we free ourselves of this without turning the faucet off completely, so to speak? Because in most marriages sex does play an essential role -- besides for childbearing, of course, it also preserves intimacy, can help one or the other partner de-stress, and sometimes provides good closure for a marital quarrel...

Is it possible to apply these practices to reduce inappropriate desire (i.e. leading to or constituting sexual misconduct)? How does one then turn the desire back on again if you just want some romantic time with the Mrs. (or Mr.)

Complicated, eh?
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Viriya » Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:22 pm

I think it was Ajahn Mun, or one of his revered disciples, maybe Venerable Maha Bua or Venerable Ajahn Khao, who likened raga-tanha to a fire. When kept in the kitchen, it can be useful for heating. When let loose in a forest, it can cause havoc.

So, maybe it ought to be treated like a fire. Watch it. Do some back-burning on uposatha. Place in a set boundary, that of the precept against sexual misconduct. Don't play with it. Don't give it unlimited fuel. And when appropriate, by all means, use it for its useful purpose!
I'm not very good at right speech, although I try, so please guide and correct me if necessary so I don't make bad kamma for myself and cause others to be annoyed. (=
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Shonin » Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:34 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.


This is not a fashionable opinion in these circles, but I don't think sexuality is an obstacle unless you are significantly addicted to sex (or the idea of it even :)) - ie. always thinking about it. It's not pleasure that I see as a problem, it is the attachment to the pleasure. I also don't know if sexuality can be eliminated. If it can't then it is a matter of expressing it in healthy ways. When hungry, eat. However, there is no need to be attached to either hunger or eating or the elimination of them.

I also find my relationship with my wife inseparable from my spirituality in that it is my main practice of compassion/selflessness especially during a current difficult situation.

As I say, it's not a popular view in Buddhist circles, so I don't expect much agreement.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:12 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Viriya wrote:
All I know is that I never realised how burdensome a thing it was until it naturally fizzled out. All that mental energy! All those tears! All the psychological hang-ups, chasing after this and that! So, definitely beneficial if you can do it the right way, as previous posters have elaborated on.

Metta,
Viriya


Yes, this is true, but what if you're a married person, or in a long-term relationship, and intend to continue having a sexual life with one's significant other? Is there a way to find a good balance?



What is more important, Dhamma or your partner (that can change ,and even turn against you)?


What is more important, Dhamma or friction due to restraining one's kilesas?
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Re: Celebacy

Postby bodom » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:20 pm

But what is more important, Dhamma or your partner (that can change ,and even turn against you)?


Why are you separating the two? The Buddha included duties towards a spouse as part of Dhamma practice:

"In five ways, young householder, should a wife as the Westbe ministered to by a husband:(i) by being courteous to her, (ii) by not despising her, (iii) by being faithful to her, (iv) by handing over authority to her, (v) by providing her with adornments. "The wife thus ministered to as the West by her husband shows her compassion to her husband in five ways:(i) she performs her duties well, (ii) she is hospitable to relations and attendants[10] (iii) she is faithful, (iv) she protects what he brings, (v) she is skilled and industrious in discharging her duties. "In these five ways does the wife show her compassion to her husband who ministers to her as the West. Thus is the West covered by him and made safe and secure. - DN 31


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:53 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:
Viriya wrote:
All I know is that I never realised how burdensome a thing it was until it naturally fizzled out. All that mental energy! All those tears! All the psychological hang-ups, chasing after this and that! So, definitely beneficial if you can do it the right way, as previous posters have elaborated on.

Metta,
Viriya


Yes, this is true, but what if you're a married person, or in a long-term relationship, and intend to continue having a sexual life with one's significant other? Is there a way to find a good balance?



What is more important, Dhamma or your partner (that can change ,and even turn against you)?


What is more important, Dhamma or friction due to restraining one's kilesas?


Those are good questions Alex, but maybe keep in mind that someone who has entered into a marriage/relationship has essentially made the decision that such a pursuit is worthwhile.

If one doesn't value one's partner, it's probably better not to be in a relationship with that person.

Dhamma, it's said, goes against the grain of the world, but that isn't true of marriage. When you sign up for marriage, you sign up for attachment, intimacy, bills to pay and maybe a mortgage, driving kids around to playdates and soccer practice, and doubtless plenty more time spent in samsara. On the bright side, a loving partnership can bring mundane happiness. That's the bargain. It's not something you can just opt out of if you've made the commitment, you know? That would be selfish, and perhaps even dishonest.

Please note that I am not criticizing the choice to remain single and/or celibate, which has obvious advantages if you want to go further (perhaps all the way) in this lifetime.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Alex123 » Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:09 pm

bodom wrote:Why are you separating the two? The Buddha included duties towards a spouse as part of Dhamma practice:
:anjali:



It is good to act in a proper way to those around you. That is part of Dhamma.

But remember the Buddha's example. He was married, had a child, and abandoned them as he went to the forest. He did teach them, and countless other people what He has awakened to.
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Re: Celebacy

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Sep 24, 2010 8:44 pm

Alex123 wrote:
bodom wrote:Why are you separating the two? The Buddha included duties towards a spouse as part of Dhamma practice:
:anjali:



It is good to act in a proper way to those around you. That is part of Dhamma.

But remember the Buddha's example. He was married, had a child, and abandoned them as he went to the forest. He did teach them, and countless other people what He has awakened to.


He didn't, however, prescribe his example as something we should all necessarily follow. He had to use guile, secrecy and special powers to escape from the palace in direct violation of his father's wishes -- behavior that, for most of us, might amount to a breach of sila. Later, as a teacher, he required prospective monks/nuns to obtain parental permission, and in the case of married women, spousal permission.
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