Sigh. What I am talking about is the idea of healthy, not guilt/shame ridden, relationship to one's own sexuality for the layperson, such as spelled out in the Higgins article linked early on in this thread. As one's practice matures, deepen in insight, it become easier to see things a bit more clearly, to let go, but as sexual beings - as laity - who are likely to engage in sexual activity, there is a healthy Buddhist context from which we can approach sexuality without getting all twisted out of shape by it.
Yes, I very much agree with you there.
That there are sex addicts, like there are alcoholics and food-oholics, is something we should recognize, but they are not a basis for how the average person should come to grips with sexuality, alcohol or food. This article presents what I see as being a healthy Buddhist approach to sexuality:http://www.buddhanet.net/winton_s.htm
Here I think the waters get murky. The tolerance shown by Western Buddhists toward gays and lesbians is a breath of fresh air, definitely, compared with how things had been in the past. On the other hand, in this day and age its a "slippery slope" (pardon the pun) between healthy sexual habits (actions) and potentially unhealthy ones, imo.
From your link...
Buddhism and Tolerance
Buddhism has nothing against sex as such. Practised skilfully in the spirit of the precepts, it can bring a lot of happiness. As one of my favourite meditation teachers sums it up, there's nothing wrong with dancing lightly with your desires, so long as both can hear the music and all hearts are open. Indeed, I think Buddhism probably improves our sex life in meditation training, where we learn the core skill of mindfulness - of keeping our heart, mind and body in the same place at the same time. So when your body is having a wonderful time with a cuddly friend, your mind is not having a miserable time obsessing about the details of your tax return, for instance - it is free to come to the party too.
Over the years I have gained some familiarity with a number of English-speaking Dhamma centres in western countries, and I'm struck by the unproblematic presence of gays and lesbians in them. In keeping with tradition their sexuality is not an issue and this aspect of their identity is affirmed as straightforwardly as anyone else's. Everyone's structure of sexual desire is unique, and when we leave social engineering considerations behind, there is no warrant for setting one structure of desire above the rest, so long as all can be lived out within the spirit of the precepts.
The appropriate Buddhist attitude to other sexual minorities is just the same. I tested this by visiting the website of Salon Kitty, a very fastidious local establishment which describes itself as 'one of the world's leading BDSM houses.' BDSM stands for bondage, discipline and sado-masochism. On Salon Kitty's main menu is a statement of ethics, which the duty of care and overall responsibility ' the dominant' owes 'the submissive,' not least around the obviously crucial issue of consent. In part the statement of ethics says: Implied in consent is the responsibility of the dominant partner in any BDSM scene to monitor the wellbeing of the submissive to ensure that the submissive is stable and that the consent is still operative.
It is also the responsibility of the dominant to ensure that the submissive is not consenting to an act that is not in his or her best longterm interests.Neither party should indulge in heavy drinking or drug taking as this can impair judgement… A description follows of the mechanism for instantly withdrawing consent - the uttering of a pre-agreed 'safe word' - which immediately brings the procedure in question to an end.
Then the statement of ethics resumes: In order to enjoy the possibilities that the world of BDSM offers, one must first discover respect and trust both of oneself and of others. Elements of all five precepts are there, including the last. On the basis of this statement we can conclude that Salon Kitty comes closer to Dhamma than fundamentalist, social engineering killjoys of various religious persuasions!
Beep beep, warning, warning, red alert, red alert! Danger Will Robinson..!
This article, which is probably more favored by some here, presents a differing, more ascetic point of view:http://www.buddhanet.net/rejoiner.htm
They represent nicely the contrast. One thing we need to be very careful with is aversion towards sexuality.
Quote from above:
Ven. Ajahn Chah, the teacher under whom we both trained for many years, similarly taught that sexual practises had to be given up if one aspired for Enlightenment. For example, I remember a Westerner coming to see Ajahn Chah once and saying that he was sexually active but without being attached to the sex. Ajahn Chah completely ridiculed the statement as an impossibility, saying something like "Bah! that's like saying there can be salt which isn't salty!" Ajahn Chah taught all who came to him, monastic and lay, that sexual desire is KILESA (defilement of the mind), it is a hindrance to success in meditation and an obstruction to Enlightenment. He taught that sexual activity should be abandoned if one wants to end suffering. He would never speak in praise of sex. He would only speak in praise of letting go.
It's a contrast, indeed, a very stark contrast. I agree, we need to be careful with aversion, but we also need to be honest with ourselves.