Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby danieLion » Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:05 pm

"3) Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct."

I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.

Particularly, I'd like to know what it means in the Suttas for lay people. For example, is looking at "dirty" pictures and/or masturbating to them kamesu micchacara. Did "dirty" pictures even exist when the precepts were formulated? What if you look at "dirty" pictures with your spouse as foreplay? Is that kamesu micchara?

&

"5) Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness."

If this:

Suramerayamajja: ‘sura = fermented liquors, merya = distilled liquors, majja = intoxicating liquors’
Pamadatthana: ‘anything which destroys mindfulness’

is accurate, I don't see how translators get "drugs" out of the Pali. Drugs as we know them didn't exist when the precepts were formulated. And does pamadatthana stand on its own? That is, if intoxication means or is qualified by anything which destroys sati, why bring a particular intoxicant into it, like ethanol? It seems to leave open the possibility that not all "mind-altering" substances qualify as sati destroyers, just the ones that destroy mindfulness. Ethanol always destroys my mindfulness, but that's just me.

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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby David2 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:41 pm

Misconduct should be seen, in my opinion, in the sense of unskillful behaviour.

Ask yourself: "Is behaviour xy skillful or is it unskillful?"

For example: "Is looking at dirty pictures on purpose skillful or unskillful?"
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby nameless » Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:51 pm

Just my opinion:

For lay people, the precepts are not 'enforced' by anyone. One takes it voluntarily, for a purpose. You are the one to bear the consequences for keeping or breaking them, so you have to be aware of the causes and effects, and whether or not you want to continue doing these things.

You can always justify doing these things, and might not be 'wrong' in doing so. But I think the precepts also function as a framework. In the end desire and aversion cause suffering, and abstaining from things that you enjoy brings you face to face with the desire/aversion related to those activities, and allows you to understand and manage the suffering.
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby Upasaka » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:17 pm

danieLion wrote:I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.


For me, sexual misconduct is any sexual behaviour which could cause harm to others or myself.
The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice.

- Ajahn Chah -
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby ground » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:26 pm

danieLion wrote:"3) Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct."

I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.

It is indulging in sensual pleasures.

danieLion wrote:Particularly, I'd like to know what it means in the Suttas for lay people. For example, is looking at "dirty" pictures and/or masturbating to them kamesu micchacara.

Is it indulging in sensual pleasures or not?

Does it foster bondage or not?


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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby daverupa » Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:57 pm

TMingyur wrote:Is it indulging in sensual pleasures or not?
Does it foster bondage or not?


Yes; MN 19:

"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality arose. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.'
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby manas » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:00 pm

The Buddha expected strict abstinence from ALL forms of sexual gratification from his ordained bhikkhus, but he did not expect this of laypeople. We are not breaking 'Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami' if we look at pictures on the internet and masturbate to them (afaik), so long as those pictures are of women of legal age (ie over 18). Here is an excerpt that might be of assistance:

Before turning to our main theme, it is as well to have some idea of the sexual mores of ancient India in the Buddha's time. Gotama himself, as a prince, was brought up surrounded by concubines and dancing-girls as a matter of course. Polygamy was common. Ambapali, the courtesan from whom the Buddha accepted gifts, was a person of some consequence. It was not expected that young men would lead a life of much restraint, and the Buddha with his profound understanding of human nature knew well what demands to make of people in this respect. Thus we find the following formulation of what a man should avoid:

He avoids unlawful sexual intercourse, abstains from it. He has no intercourse with girls who are still under the protection of father or mother, brother, sister, or relative; nor with married women, nor female convicts; nor lastly with betrothed girls.

source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el225.html



Is masturbation akusala? Yes. Is it breaking the precept Kamesu micchacara? Judging by what I have read of the Buddha's instructions, no. But it's a good thing to bring it under control, and eventually give it up completely. And voluntarily observing strict brahmacariya is great for spiritual practice, yes! But a layman should not be putting themselves through guilt-trips about it (masturbation). Just work towards it's restraint using skilful means. It's the above (bolded) paragraph that need to be strictly observed by lay Buddhists, afaik.

:anjali:
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby danieLion » Wed Dec 14, 2011 6:43 am

Thanks manasikara.
manasikara wrote:We find the following formulation of what a man should avoid:

He avoids unlawful sexual intercourse, abstains from it. He has no intercourse with girls who are still under the protection of father or mother, brother, sister, or relative; nor with married women, nor female convicts; nor lastly with betrothed girls.

source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el225.html

Please clarify "unlawful" and "convicts".

I don't see adultery in this, i.e., a married man "is allowed to" have intercourse with a single, independent, (non-criminal?), of-age woman? And sex between (among?) single, independent, (non-criminal?) of-age individuals doesn't seem covered at all.
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby danieLion » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:08 am

Thanks TMingyur,
TMingyur wrote:
danieLion wrote:"3) Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct."

I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.

It is indulging in sensual pleasures.


Sensual pleasure covers much more territory than sexual misconduct. But the indulgence piece suggests a line between non-indulgence and indulgence. For instance, how many of us can say we clearly know the distinction between eating non-indulgently and eating indulgently? So, can one have sex non-indulgently? And does meditating involve the total absence of sensual pleasure?
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby danieLion » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:17 am

Thanks David2,
David2 wrote:Misconduct should be seen, in my opinion, in the sense of unskillful behaviour.

Ask yourself: "Is behaviour xy skillful or is it unskillful?"

For example: "Is looking at dirty pictures on purpose skillful or unskillful?"


"On purpose" seems an important qualifier to me because my understanding of kusala/akusala is taken largely from Thanissaro who always contextualizes skillfulness in terms of kamma. Skillfulness per se does not provide a moral directive.
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby danieLion » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:27 am

Thanks, nameless,
nameless wrote:Just my opinion:

For lay people, the precepts are not 'enforced' by anyone. One takes it voluntarily, for a purpose. You are the one to bear the consequences for keeping or breaking them, so you have to be aware of the causes and effects, and whether or not you want to continue doing these things.

You can always justify doing these things, and might not be 'wrong' in doing so. But I think the precepts also function as a framework. In the end desire and aversion cause suffering, and abstaining from things that you enjoy brings you face to face with the desire/aversion related to those activities, and allows you to understand and manage the suffering.


The three "unwholesome [unskillful] roots of consciousness"--greed, hate, delusion--seem to me a better guide than a preceptual understanding of the Buddha's ethics. But I can also see how the precepts are themselves an expression of taming and hopefully eradicating greed, hate and delusion.

No greed, no orgasm, right? Why bring heady concepts like "sexual misconduct" into it? The point is to see how greed is inherently harmful, no? Yet, when I have intercourse with my spouse, I don't feel like I'm behaving harmfully.
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby danieLion » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:34 am

Thanks Upasaka,
Upasaka wrote:
danieLion wrote:I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.


For me, sexual misconduct is any sexual behaviour which could cause harm to others or myself.


Please clarify "harm".
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby manas » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:35 am

TMingyur wrote:
danieLion wrote:"3) Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct."

I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.

It is indulging in sensual pleasures.


The Buddha's instructions are pretty clear. A layman is allowed to have sex with a woman who does not fall into any of the 'forbidden' category listed above, and still call himself a Buddhist. It's obvious that the Teaching taken as a whole inclines toward giving up sensual pleasures per se, but this particular rule seems to have the specific purpose of restraining the worst types of wrongful conduct with regards to sex, and not for the giving up of all sexual activity (which is done in the eight precepts, changing the wording to: abrahmacariya veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami).
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby danieLion » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:38 am

Thanks manasikara
manasikara wrote: Just work towards it's restraint using skilful means.

:anjali:

Isn't "skilful means" a strictly Mahayana notion?
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby danieLion » Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:41 am

manasikara wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
danieLion wrote:"3) Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct."

I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.

It is indulging in sensual pleasures.


The Buddha's instructions are pretty clear. A layman is allowed to have sex with a woman who does not fall into any of the 'forbidden' category listed above, and still call himself a Buddhist. It's obvious that the Teaching taken as a whole inclines toward giving up sensual pleasures per se, but this particular rule seems to have the specific purpose of restraining the worst types of wrongful conduct with regards to sex, and not for the giving up of all sexual activity (which is done in the eight precepts, changing the wording to: abrahmacariya veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami).


:goodpost:

Ah, clarity. :anjali:
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby ground » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:04 am

manasikara wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
danieLion wrote:"3) Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct."

I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.

It is indulging in sensual pleasures.


The Buddha's instructions are pretty clear. A layman is allowed to have sex with a woman who does not fall into any of the 'forbidden' category listed above, and still call himself a Buddhist. ...


anybody is allowed to do everything and call himself a Buddhist. Who or what may be a hindrance to do what one likes?

Did you get the written right?
What I said is that sexual misconduct is indulging in sensual pleasures.

If you can have sex without indulging in it why should it be sexual misconduct?


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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby ground » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:14 am

danieLion wrote:Thanks TMingyur,
TMingyur wrote:
danieLion wrote:"3) Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct."

I can't get a clear idea of what sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara) actually is.

It is indulging in sensual pleasures.


Sensual pleasure covers much more territory than sexual misconduct.

Yes. What I said is that sexual misconduct is, i.e. belongs to the category of "indulging in sensual pleasures".

danieLion wrote:But the indulgence piece suggests a line between non-indulgence and indulgence.

Exactly that's the point.

danieLion wrote:For instance, how many of us can say we clearly know the distinction between eating non-indulgently and eating indulgently?

That is why eating is of utmost importance. One can live without sex but not without eating.

danieLion wrote:So, can one have sex non-indulgently?

Good question. Isn't sexual desire desire for indulgence?

danieLion wrote:And does meditating involve the total absence of sensual pleasure?

Yes if its right meditation. In the beginning it may be defiled with habitual pleasure seeking.


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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby Yana » Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:24 am

manas wrote:The Buddha expected strict abstinence from ALL forms of sexual gratification from his ordained bhikkhus, but he did not expect this of laypeople. We are not breaking 'Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami' if we look at pictures on the internet and masturbate to them (afaik), so long as those pictures are of women of legal age (ie over 18).

:anjali:


..so it's okay to look at dirty pictures in the internet and masturbate to them?..i don't know why that just doesn't seem right to me.I mean i may not know Everything the Buddha taught and my knowledge of Buddhism is very limited but..i have a conscience.i don't know..doesn't that count for something anymore?

i don't understand aren't we suppose to Not indulge in any behaviour that brings harm to ourselves and others?

By doing that don't you indulge in lust?How is that beneficial to your practice of morality?aren't you taking advantage of the men and women being degraded for your entertainment especially if the dirty pictures your refering to is porn.. not..say..your long term girlfriend sending you a little something something or your wife of 20 years.

Because when it comes to porn..I mean you don't really believe it's good for them...didn't you know porn workers have high suicide rates..this makes me very sad for them.Do you really think they are in a wholesome state of mind while performing these acts that are being photographed and recorded..Do you really think it's not bringing some type of physical and mental harm to them and their familes as well.They are harmed by your consumption and you are harmed as well.Your mental state especially.

I mean Really. you don't need the Buddha to tell you looking at dirty pictures and using it to masturbate is unskillful behaviour :namaste:
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby robertk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:05 am

Yana is having sex with your husband unskilful behaviour?
is looking at your wifes naked body unskilful?
Is enjoying a beautiful sunset unskilful?
Is liking the taste of some foods unskilful?
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Re: Sex, Drugs & Precepts 3 & 5

Postby robertk » Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:10 am

[quote="Yana...didn't you know porn workers have high suicide rates..:[/quote]

http://www.apa.org/monitor/jan01/suicide.aspx

Suicide by profession: lots of confusion, inconclusive data





Police officers end their lives more often than those in other professions, right? Or is it dentists? Or psychologists?

Assertions about which occupational group has the most suicides float around like urban myths.

Various occupational groups have called the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), each to confirm that their occupation has the highest rates of suicide, says Jim Weed, NCHS analyst.

But experts on suicide say that statistics on its relation to occupation are not clear. There is no national data set on occupation and suicide. Local studies indicate elevated rates in different occupations, but the data usually "turn out to be frail," says prominent suicide researcher David Clark, PhD.

And in fact, points out Ronald Maris, PhD, director of the Center for the Study of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior at the University of South Carolina, "Occupation is not a major predictor of suicide and it does not explain much about why the person commits suicide."

One of the largest studies in the area was conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 1995, which concluded that there is a higher suicide rate in the medical field. But beyond that, NIOSH researchers said, the picture is equivocal: Often the studies are only of one geographic area, sometimes they have methodological problems, and sometimes they contradict each other.

That's in great part because the statistics are surprisingly difficult to gather. Only about half the states put occupation on their death certificates. And even when they do, there are questions as to whether the physician, medical examiner or coroner filling in the certificates always gets the occupation or the cause of death right.

In addition, statistical conclusions are hampered by the fact that when the 30,000 annual U.S. suicides are divided into occupations, the numbers for many job categories are relatively small.

Some larger studies in the last few years provide at least some thought-provoking questions about connections between jobs and suicide. For example, in 1997, NIOSH and other government agencies analyzed 1980-84 death certificates by all occupations and causes of death, and found statistically significant elevated rates of suicide for:

White male physicians.

Black male guards (including supervisors, crossing guards, police, protective service occupations, but not correctional institution occupations).


White female painters, sculptors, craft-artists and artist printmakers.


In another study, a sociology researcher at the University of California, Riverside, Augustine Kposowa, PhD, looked at records over nine years for about half a million people of whom 545 committed suicide. After controlling for such variables as age, income, race, marital status and region of residence, he found that only laborers and the unemployed had significantly higher risks.

On the other hand, he found "dramatic" differences for suicide among the industries where people work. At highest risk were those in mining, business and repair services, wholesale and retail trade and construction.

In the end, say some researchers, occupation may not be much of a factor in suicide. Psychologists have long documented that among the top predictors for suicide are diagnosable mental disorder, co-morbid substance use, loss of social support and availability and access to a firearm.
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