Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Shonin » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:18 pm

Satori wrote:A Buddhist once said to reach Enlightenment we have to let go of all our cravings. I also thought some of the words to describe Enlightenment were words like 'extinction' or 'blowing out' or suchlike.


But does that mean one never again has the feeling of hunger or only that one is unattached to and untroubled by it?
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Satori » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:47 pm

Shonin wrote:
Satori wrote:A Buddhist once said to reach Enlightenment we have to let go of all our cravings. I also thought some of the words to describe Enlightenment were words like 'extinction' or 'blowing out' or suchlike.


But does that mean one never again has the feeling of hunger or only that one is unattached to and untroubled by it?


I don't know. :thinking:
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:54 pm

Shonin wrote:If there really are techniques that allow us to permanently 'let go of' our sexual impulses, then I imagine the Christian Right would welcome this as a potential 'cure for homosexuality', presumably it could also be used to cure paedophilia.
It does not mean you don't have sexual feelings, which are simply biological. It means that they feelings no longer have hooks.
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Shonin » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:11 pm

tiltbillings wrote:It does not mean you don't have sexual feelings, which are simply biological. It means that they feelings no longer have hooks.


I think so too.

But what does it mean to not have hooks?

If hunger has no hooks does that mean we never eat? Does it mean we experience hunger without being troubled by it and experience eating without being troubled by it either? Or does it mean we only ever eat in order to not die? And that we only have sex in order to procreate?

Something not having hooks in my experience doesn't necessarily mean that I don't act in the way that the hook would have directed me. It means that I don't blindly follow impulses. It means I have a choice and can remain aware whatever I choose to do.
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:43 pm

Shonin wrote:Something not having hooks in my experience doesn't necessarily mean that I don't act in the way that the hook would have directed me. It means that I don't blindly follow impulses. It means I have a choice and can remain aware whatever I choose to do.
Sounds good to me. To mix metaphors; one is not going to be driven by the impulse.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby chownah » Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:45 pm

bodom wrote:
‘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 pleasures and 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


These householders realised stream entry while "partaking of sensual pleasures". No more will they fall into hell.


I though this might apply.
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:34 pm

chownah wrote:
bodom wrote:
‘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 pleasures and 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


These householders realised stream entry while "partaking of sensual pleasures". No more will they fall into hell.


I though this might apply.
chownah



Those sensual pleasures don't need to include sex. The sutta doesn't include sex, it includes "sensual pleasures" which is pleasure from 5 sense objects that doesn't have to include sex. It could be good food, comfortable bed, good scents, etc.
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:47 pm

Alex123 wrote:
chownah wrote:
bodom wrote:
‘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 pleasures and 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


These householders realised stream entry while "partaking of sensual pleasures". No more will they fall into hell.


I though this might apply.
chownah



Those sensual pleasures don't need to include sex. The sutta doesn't include sex, it includes "sensual pleasures" which is pleasure from 5 sense objects that doesn't have to include sex. It could be good food, comfortable bed, good scents, etc.


Hi Alex,

Why do think this is significant?

Gabe
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby bodom » Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:53 pm

Those sensual pleasures don't need to include sex. The sutta doesn't include sex, it includes "sensual pleasures" which is pleasure from 5 sense objects that doesn't have to include sex. It could be good food, comfortable bed, good scents, etc.


The preceding passage before the section I quoted of MN 73 alex talks of householders who "observe celibacy and lead the holy life". Then the sutta goes on to say, "There are many more lay disciples of mine, wearing white clothes leading the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasures.." So it would seem from the preceding passage, mentioning celibacy, that sensual pleasures would also include sex in the section I quoted.

Also see Bhikkhu Bodhi's In the Buddhas words pg 376 where Bodhi discusses this sutta and explains that sex falls under sensual pleasures in the sutta.

: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: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Alex123 » Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:31 pm

bodom wrote:
Those sensual pleasures don't need to include sex. The sutta doesn't include sex, it includes "sensual pleasures" which is pleasure from 5 sense objects that doesn't have to include sex. It could be good food, comfortable bed, good scents, etc.


The preceding passage before the section I quoted of MN 73 alex talks of householders who "observe celibacy and lead the holy life". Then the sutta goes on to say, "There are many more lay disciples of mine, wearing white clothes leading the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasures.." So it would seem from the preceding passage, mentioning celibacy, that sensual pleasures would also include sex in the section I quoted.

Also see Bhikkhu Bodhi's In the Buddhas words pg 376 where Bodhi discusses this sutta and explains that sex falls under sensual pleasures in the sutta.

:anjali:


While sex is included in sensual pleasures, not all sensual pleasures have to involve sex.
Furthermore the phrase "wearing white clothes leading the holy life" suggests that those have taken more precepts (perhaps 8 or more), which would required full abstinence.

With metta,

Alex
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby bodom » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:01 pm

Well then alex I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. :smile:

: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: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Individual » Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:45 pm

Dhammika Sutta:

The Buddha notes that a householder's obligations prevent a householder from fully pursuing a monk's path.[5] Thus, the Buddha articulates "the layman's duty" (Pali: gahatthavatta), what are essentially the Five Precepts, as follows:

...

Observe celibacy or at least do not have sex with another's wife


That sutta can be read here:

Those that cannot observe the holy life, should at least not go to others' wives.


On the same page, but different sutta (#7 of the Sutta Nipata), the Buddha recollects ancient Brahmins who were moral, by not buying wives and by maintaining celibacy when "not in season", whatever that means:

290. Brahmins never went to another's wife, nor did they buy a wife
With mutual agreement they met, on equal terms.
291. Except in the season, at other times they abstained from sexuality,
Brahmins never went to women out of season.
292. . They honoured the holy life, virtues, straightforwardness, gentleness,


We should make a distinction here between householders seeking merit and householders seeking enlightenment. Sensual desire is a hindrance to enlightenment (for monks and laypeople alike) and sex is a form in which it is entertained, but sensual desire is not a hindrance to merit. Thus a householder seeking enlightenment would be wise to be celibate, but the Buddha did not require it. I would add that if a householder doesn't see the wisdom in celibacy of course he shouldn't practice it. Seeing the true nature of things and trusting yourself is what enlightenment is all about; not arbitrary attachments to certain moral codes.
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:21 am

Shonin wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:It does not mean you don't have sexual feelings, which are simply biological. It means that they feelings no longer have hooks.


I think so too.

But what does it mean to not have hooks?

If hunger has no hooks does that mean we never eat? Does it mean we experience hunger without being troubled by it and experience eating without being troubled by it either? Or does it mean we only ever eat in order to not die? And that we only have sex in order to procreate?

Something not having hooks in my experience doesn't necessarily mean that I don't act in the way that the hook would have directed me. It means that I don't blindly follow impulses. It means I have a choice and can remain aware whatever I choose to do.

Not having hooks means, to me, not clinging to the action, sensation or appetite (whether sexual or other), either by anticipation or by looking back, or by giving it undue importance. A zen parable on the subject occurred to me. I read it years ago and don't think I could find it now if I tried, but maybe someone else can.
In brief:
Two monks were walking from their monastery into town and they came to a stream which was normally easy to wade across. But there had been rain recently, and it was deep enough to be a bit dangerous.
A young woman was standing fearfully on the edge. 'Please sirs,' she said, 'I need to go to town to help my sick mother, but I am afraid to cross the stream.'
Without a word, the older monk picked her up in his arms, carried her across, and set her down on the other side. She thanked him and hurried off.
The monks continued on their way together, not talking. The older monk was tranquil, but the younger was seething. Eventually he burst out, 'Master, you know we are not allowed to touch women. How could you do such a thing?'
The older monk replied, 'I put her down beside the stream. You are still carrying her.'

:namaste:
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby bodom » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:09 pm

I always liked that story. Thanks Kim. :smile:

: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: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:49 am

Individual wrote: Sensual desire is a hindrance to enlightenment (for monks and laypeople alike)....


Does the sexual urge eventually subside if not indulged? I'm curious because I've never been completely celibate.

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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby chownah » Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:51 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Individual wrote: Sensual desire is a hindrance to enlightenment (for monks and laypeople alike)....


Does the sexual urge eventually subside if not indulged? I'm curious because I've never been completely celibate.

Spiny

The sexual urge is impermanent and will subside eventually whether indulged or not.
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby 5heaps » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:59 pm

Satori wrote:Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?
according to the documented levels of mental activity, the desire realm is by definition broken and only functions to perpetuate results of similar type (unless we work hard). features of the desire realm include: impossibility of achieving meaningful satisfaction, mental and sense bases are coarse, plus many other nasty things.

one of the features of moving into 1st jhana is realizing all these negative qualities of the desire realm (through one's analysis using a developed mind - shamata) and achieving a cessation with regard to them. therefore one gives up interest, desire, jealousy, greed, etc pertaining to the desire realm. this means the objects in the desire realm (ie. objects of the senses, sensual pleasures) and everyone in it. some yogis in the past thought the bliss of this cessation (of no longer having much connection to coarse objects) was nirvana, but its only temporary.
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby Kenshou » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:47 am

So how exactly does that address the subject of the thread?
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby ground » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:11 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:Does the sexual urge eventually subside if not indulged?


Only if understood that it is completely unsatisfactory and that it is only disadvantagous in the context of the path.
How could mere renunciation entail the elimination of an urge?

But really, nobody can be persuaded through "Hey it is 'completely unsatisfactory' and 'only disadvantagous' in your case".

Kind regards
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Re: Do Buddhists believe sex is a negative thing or unskillful?

Postby alan » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:52 am

"Mere" renunciation?
Are you sure you understand renunciation?

The Suttas make it clear that sensual indulgences are detrimental.
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