masturbation what's wrong?

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:09 pm

Peter wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:of the things we do that could be considered self-pleasuring, why is sexual self pleasure considered worse - or in some sort of different category - than any number of other common things people opt to do?

Who said it is worse or different?


You didn't, actually, but others here certainly have, in the very least, suggested as much.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:08 am

tiltbillings wrote:You didn't, actually, but others here certainly have, in the very least, suggested as much.

Maybe, maybe not. I've read a good chunk of this thread and I haven't noticed it. Maybe I just missed those posts.

I'm more concerned about what you've been suggesting, namely that the Buddha didn't teach indulgence in sexual pleasure as an obstacle to peace.

But I think we'd all be better off if we stopped responding to what we think people might be suggesting and stick to what people actually say. If there is any doubt as to what a person means, I suggest asking a direct question of that person.

Anyone here think sexual self pleasure should be considered worse - or in some sort of different category - than any number of other common sensual indulgences people opt to do?

Anyone here think the Buddha didn't teach masturbating as an obstacle to peace?

If anyone says 'yes' to either of these questions then we can take it from there.
- Peter

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:25 am

It's pretty clear, i think, that the Buddha taught that sensual desires are an obstacle to liberation and peace. That would include lust in any form, whether "acted" upon or not.

From what i know of psychology certain desires and experiences are by nature quite powerful and for lack of a better word potentially "addictive"... Desires for food, sex and alcohol would all fit into that category.

That doesn't mean these desires are "wrong"... we need food. Also air and water. Some of the others though - especially sex and alcohol - can create difficulties. It may depend on the person though, on how much of an obstacle each desire will be. One person can have a glass of wine every Friday evening and be fine, another masterbates or has sexual experiences once a week and is fine.

You have to watch your own mind very carefully to judge that, to observe the effect these actions are having. But Buddha was pretty clear, I think, that if you want to go the full distance, do your best to drop these habits, they are obstacles on the path.

Just my 2 cents.

:heart:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:34 am

Thanks Peter for refocusing the topic.

I'm one person who believes that masturbation falls into a category of akusala action that is, say, more akusala than some other forms of self-pleasure. While I don't think the Buddha addressed the issue in explicit detail, I think we can infer the morality of masturbation through what he taught us in relation to the danger inherent in indulging in sensory desires, and the operation of sankharas. I don't think its a huge deductive leap. I'm sorry I don't have any references to support my contention. I'm currently at work and about to finish my break.
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:38 am

Ben wrote:While I don't think the Buddha addressed the issue in explicit detail, I think we can infer the morality of masturbation through what he taught us in relation to the danger inherent in indulging in sensory desires, and the operation of sankharas. I don't think its a huge deductive leap. I'm sorry I don't have any references to support my contention....


How about this?

Dhp XXIV PTS: Dhp 334-359; Tanhavagga: Craving
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby Guy » Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:50 am

Hello All,

christopher::: wrote:It's pretty clear, i think, that the Buddha taught that sensual desires are an obstacle to liberation and peace. That would include lust in any form, whether "acted" upon or not.

...

You have to watch your own mind very carefully to judge that, to observe the effect these actions are having. But Buddha was pretty clear, I think, that if you want to go the full distance, do your best to drop these habits, they are obstacles on the path.


I agree, well said.

As you all know, people with 8 or more precepts are supposed to abstain from all sexual activity - for good reason. I believe the reasoning is as follows, but I could be wrong. Those of us who keep the 5 precepts are protected from some of the most harmful actions of body, speech and mind and are therefore relatively safe from harmful consequences which, although it's not the goal of Buddhism, is the foundation for deepening our practice. Liberation might be possible like this but if we are really serious about liberation we will naturally incline to a more pure and simple way of life, which the 8, 10, 227 and 311 precepts are more supportive of, thus giving ourselves the optimal conditions to realize Nibbana in this very life.

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:02 am

Guy wrote:As you all know, people with 8 or more precepts are supposed to abstain from all sexual activity...

As a counterpoint, the 8 precepts also include abstaining from music and shows... and high beds... and perfumes...
- Peter

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:42 am

Peter wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:You didn't, actually, but others here certainly have, in the very least, suggested as much.

Maybe, maybe not. I've read a good chunk of this thread and I haven't noticed it. Maybe I just missed those posts.


Seems so.

I'm more concerned about what you've been suggesting, namely that the Buddha didn't teach indulgence in sexual pleasure as an obstacle to peace.


Pay attention to what I am saying, I am not suggesting that at all,

But I think we'd all be better off if we stopped responding to what we think people might be suggesting and stick to what people actually say.


What we think people might be suggesting as in: I'm more concerned about what you've been suggesting, namely that the Buddha didn't teach indulgence in sexual pleasure as an obstacle to peace.

If there is any doubt as to what a person means, I suggest asking a direct question of that person.


I always do.

Anyone here think sexual self pleasure should be considered worse - or in some sort of different category - than any number of other common sensual indulgences people opt to do?


Seems so:

Chris wrote:Drinking a favorite tea while reading our favorite author, listening to a beautiful piece of music, the company of good friends, exerise, wearing one's favorite shirt, playing with one's grandkids, petting one's dog, abowl of popcorn, video games, looking at sunsets, movies, are not seen by the Viññū (The Wise) as unwholesome actions to be avoided. But within our societies, past or present, I don't know of any culture or religion where the Viññū (The Wise) state that masturbation is a good and wholesome thing to be practised, pursued or encouraged.


Anyone here think the Buddha didn't teach masturbating as an obstacle to peace?


Is it more of an obstacle to peace than other sensually pleasurable activities deliberately engaged in?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:50 am

christopher::: wrote:It's pretty clear, i think, that the Buddha taught that sensual desires are an obstacle to liberation and peace. That would include lust in any form, whether "acted" upon or not. . . .
You have to watch your own mind very carefully to judge that, to observe the effect these actions are having. But Buddha was pretty clear, I think, that if you want to go the full distance, do your best to drop these habits, they are obstacles on the path.


"Habits" is one of those words that can be used to cast something in a negative light. Any and all sensual pleasure is/are an obstacle to the path? Where, at what point, and how does one start drawing the line without incurring unnecessary guilt and shame and mental turmoil?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:29 am

Greetings,

Somewhere in the suttas, there's a quote made by the Buddha to the effect that one cannot partake in sensual pleasures, without being defiled by them. It was stated with reference to someone who genuinely believed sensual pleasures were not actually a hindrance. Apologies I can't find the source at the moment - hopefully someone will recognise it.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:46 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Somewhere in the suttas, there's a quote made by the Buddha to the effect that one cannot partake in sensual pleasures, without being defiled by them. It was stated with reference to someone who genuinely believed sensual pleasures were not actually a hindrance. Apologies I can't find the source at the moment - hopefully someone will recognise it.

Metta,
Retro. :)


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html

Several monks, hearing about it, went to the monk Arittha, formerly of the vulture killers, and asked him: "Is it true, friend Arittha, that you have conceived this pernicious view: "There are things called (obstructions) by the Blessed One. As I understand his teaching, those things are not necessarily obstructive for one who pursues them'?"

Just to be clear, that is not what I have said.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:47 am

tiltbillings wrote:
christopher::: wrote:It's pretty clear, i think, that the Buddha taught that sensual desires are an obstacle to liberation and peace. That would include lust in any form, whether "acted" upon or not. . . .
You have to watch your own mind very carefully to judge that, to observe the effect these actions are having. But Buddha was pretty clear, I think, that if you want to go the full distance, do your best to drop these habits, they are obstacles on the path.


"Habits" is one of those words that can be used to cast something in a negative light. Any and all sensual pleasure is/are an obstacle to the path? Where, at what point, and how does one start drawing the line without incurring unnecessary guilt and shame and mental turmoil?


I have a friend who has joined a 12 step Sexual Recovery group. He was telling me about how they support one another, sharing their personal "issues" and such. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a teacher where you are able to discuss something like this comfortably I think that in our modern day there may be a need for something like this for Buddhists wrestling with these issues. Such groups may already exist, actually. Not 12 step focused, but dharma focused.

Unfortunately, a public forum like this may not be optimal for such discussions. But (imo) the support of fellow practitioners who are struggling with or have worked thru similar issues would provide the best opportunity for drawing those lines and then working through the painful emotions that might arise...

I feel that in Zen Buddhism this issue of sensual desires has been a major problem, for teachers as well as students, with an optimal solution not yet materializing...

:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:54 am

That's the one - thanks Tilt.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:11 am

christopher::: wrote:
I have a friend who has joined a 12 step Sexual Recovery group. He was telling me about how they support one another, sharing their personal "issues" and such. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a teacher where you are able to discuss something like this comfortably I think that in our modern day there may be a need for something like this for Buddhists. Such groups may already exist, actually. Not 12 step focused, but dharma focused.

Unfortunately, a public forum like may not be optimal for such discussions. But the support of fellow practitioners who are struggling with or have worked thru similar issues would provide the best opportunity for drawing those lines and then working through the painful emotions that might arise...

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.

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

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.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:14 am

I feel that in Zen Buddhism this issue of sensual desires has been a major problem, for teachers as well as students, with an optimal solution not yet materializing...


Which is a good illustration. Often people assume onto themselve the idea of the "holy": "I am on a holy path and I am above the carnal." The problem is that while on the holy path, if one does not come to grips with sexuality, it is likely to come to grip with you and not in a healthy way.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby Fede » Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:34 am

is 'grip' the operative word here?

It might, in all seriousness, well be.....

If we cease to be so 'intense' and loosen our grip on desire for sensual satisfaction, then the release is far greater, isn't it?
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


http://www.armchairadvice.co.uk/relationships/forum/
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:38 am

tiltbillings wrote:
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..!

:toilet:


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.

:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:39 am

tiltbillings wrote:
I feel that in Zen Buddhism this issue of sensual desires has been a major problem, for teachers as well as students, with an optimal solution not yet materializing...


Which is a good illustration. Often people assume onto themselve the idea of the "holy": "I am on a holy path and I am above the carnal." The problem is that while on the holy path, if one does not come to grips with sexuality, it is likely to come to grip with you and not in a healthy way.



I agree, absolutely.

:spy:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:39 am

Fede wrote:
If we cease to be so 'intense' and loosen our grip on desire for sensual satisfaction, then the release is far greater, isn't it?


Aaaahh, yes.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:54 am

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.


Much of sex is play, unless one is uptight and unimaginative. Unless you want the grim missionary style, man always on top with no variation and side trips, as the only true god-given way to do the ins-and-outs, there is always going to be variations in that play, some of which some of us might find a bit odd, weird, strange, and distasteful, but Higgins makes an interesting point with his referencing Salon Kitty's rules, and Will Robinson, if he follows Salon Kitty's rules has little to worry about.

And you quote this from the ascetic side: 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.

Ajahn Chah was right to ridicule such a silly claim, but there is a more tempered, more skillful, approach than what is presented here.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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