The experience of celibacy for 12 years

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

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:43 am

Dhammanando wrote:Then there is also the Nanda Sutta in the Udāna, where the venerable Nanda is persuaded by the Buddha to continue with the brahmacariyā in the present life (despite his wish to disrobe and take up with his former fiancée), for by doing so he will gain heavenly rebirth and five hundred pink-footed apsaras.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/ud/ud.3.02.irel.html
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby robertk » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:08 am

Any person - monk or layman- if by their nature tend toward strong sensuality and ignorance and aversion then their life will be one of painful feelings- that is inescapable. These tendencies have developed over countless lifetimes and bring with them not only strong delusion, craving and aversion(which has unpleasant feeling), but also the results of past ill deeds which will keep appearing through the five senses.

For the monk who is by nature inclined towards sensuality then it is preferable that he restrains, whether by akusala or kusala citta.
It is much better that that sensual monk, the one with strong accumulations of lust and delusion, live without transgression of the vinaya even if it is only at the very outward physical and verbal level. He still has opportunities to develop and understand Dhamma..
It is like when the BOSS adds something pointless and irritating in a meeting. Aversion arises almost instantly :but it is much worse if I add a comment with sarcasm or irritation, better to stay silent even if it is not with kusala citta. I can still fix things later...


The moment of [b]actual sila[/b]- when there is abstaining from any sensual act - such as restraint from looking at a sunset, enjoying the taste of coffee or chocolate,(all those things that are prohibited for monks), including looking at an attractive women is always kusala. And it is always, at those moments associated, with neutral or pleasant feeling.

Any aversion, or stress at around that time is not part of wholesome restraint, although it can precede or postdate the wholesome restraint.
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Mr Man » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:04 am

Hi Ven. Dhammanando, Thank you for your reply.

:anjali:

Don't we still need to keep celibacy, in perspective. For monks it is part of a wider code of practice and way of training.

The idea that practicing celibacy removed from a broader context will result in a higher rebirth sounds to me like superstition, as do ideas like celibacy will cause one to look more radiant and be more relaxed.

For your average Joe how important is celibacy and how beneficial is the practice going to be? Is it an appropriate practice or are there more appropriate practices?

How about if we remove celibacy from a Buddhist (or religious context)? Does is still remain intrinsically beneficial? How would it balance against other practices (like trying to sleep less or being vegetarian, or being less angry, for example)?
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby purple planet » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:21 am

Is there an advantage to avoid eating after lunch like there is to avoid sex ? and is there an advantage even when someone isnt meditating ?

edit : ( wrote it before refreshing the page and seeing the above post - i wont delete it just so i can get answered about this specific case )
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:03 pm

Mr Man wrote:Don't we still need to keep celibacy, in perspective.


Well, yes, but in what perspective do you want to keep it? I myself keep it in the perspective of those benefits (attha) at which the Buddha’s teaching aims. Now it’s customary to divide these into three: (1) benefits obtainable in the present life, (2) benefits obtainable in future lives, and (3) the highest benefit (paramattha) — synonymous with the noble paths, fruits and Nibbāna.

From the perspective of the first two atthas, the difference between a celibate life and a sexually active life constrained by the third precept is the difference between a higher good and a lower one. But from the perspective of the third attha sex doesn’t even qualify as a lower good. It stands in absolute opposition to Buddhism’s highest attha, for the highest attha is all about dispassion, whereas...

“...it is impossible that one can indulge in sensual pleasures without sensual desire, without the perception of sensual desire, without the thought of sensual desire!” (MN. 22)

From this perspective sex, along with all other sensual indulgences, doesn’t merit a single word of praise.

The idea that practicing celibacy removed from a broader context will result in a higher rebirth sounds to me like superstition,


Could you clarify your position? Do you regard the whole doctrine of kamma and rebirth as a superstition? If not, then which part of my previous post would you regard as a superstition: that rebirth in heaven is due to the ripening of puñña, or that resisting unskilful urges creates puñña?

as do ideas like celibacy will cause one to look more radiant and be more relaxed.


This is not of course the Buddha’s teaching. In the Suttas the radiance of certain bhikkhus is attributed not to their celibacy but to their success in bhāvanā, while the Vinaya frankly recognizes that celibacy can lead some to look thin, yellow-skinned and ugly on account of sexual frustration.

For your average Joe how important is celibacy


It depends on which of the atthas he is principally concerned with. If it’s with the third, and if his concern with it is an ardent one, inspired by a sense of urgency, then the avoidance of sensual indulgences will be of great importance. One practising as if his turban were on fire is unlikely to have much use for “the rubbing of a piece of intestine, followed by a convulsion and the spurting of some mucus” (M. Aurelius, Meditations 6:13).

and how beneficial is the practice going to be?


The degree of benefit that celibacy will confer in different cases depends on too many variables for any generalization to be possible.

How about if we remove celibacy from a Buddhist (or religious context)? Does is still remain intrinsically beneficial?


Yes, in particular for the second attha.

Note that the words in the Saṃyoga Sutta: “By this rule or vow or austerity or holy life, I shall become a deva...” are the stock phrase used in the Suttas for expressing the fetter of adhesion to habitual and vowed observances (sīlabbataparāmāsa). So, in effect the passage is describing something to be expected among brahmacarī outsiders who practise celibacy while lacking the Buddha’s right view guidance. Such persons' enfetteredness by sīlabbataparāmāsa and lack of right view will be obstructive to their attainment of the third attha, but may still yield the second, in the form of rebirth as a deva.
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Mr Man » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:16 pm

Hi Ven. Dhammanando

The perspective I was thinking of was as a practice for monastics as part of a wider code of practice and way of training - not that lay people should be obliged to partake in sexual activity though.

I personally think the benefits of celibacy may be overstated and in some instances may be inappropriate (for the non monastic). Sensual pleasures are wide and varied. Some appear gross and some more subtle. Giving up the activity of sex is not synonymous with giving up sensual pleasures, It is just giving up one particular activity.

I do not regard the whole doctrine of kamma and rebirth as a superstition. I regard them as things to be investigated, considered and known. What I regard as superstition is that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven. I'm not sure if this is your belief or not.

I do not agree that celibacy is intrinsically beneficial.

:anjali:
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby santa100 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:13 pm

Mr Man wrote:I do not regard the whole doctrine of kamma and rebirth as a superstition. I regard them as things to be investigated, considered and known. What I regard as superstition is that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven. I'm not sure if this is your belief or not.

I do not agree that celibacy is intrinsically beneficial.


Actually it's not only Ven. Dhammanando's belief but it's what the Buddha taught per the many sutta references bhante already provided in his posts. It makes a lot of sense to me. There's no such thing as a free lunch, especially when it comes to cultivating the Dhamma. The better and more exquisite the lunch, the more price you're gonna have to be willing to pay. One can't have it all, ie. enjoy a little hoochie coochie and expect to attain existence in some higher realms, let alone attaining Nibbana. That's why out of the 3 realms, the Buddha didn't call ours the realm of "Sense-Desire" by mere coincidence. What we think, say, and "do" define the identity of our realm. So, like the saying "you are what you eat", a more Buddhist related saying would be "you are what you...'do'..".. :smile:
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Anagarika » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:24 pm

:goodpost:

Part of what I understand of jhana practice is the cultivation of jhana sukkha in lieu of the cultivation of mundane sense pleasures. One reason the Buddha admonished his monks to go and do jhana. I understand that monks that still have issues with lust, or have issues with any of the sense pleasures, are really not following the path of cultivating release from the realm of the sense pleasures, these sense fetters that inevitably lead to dukkha. Celibacy is just one means of expression of this lack of dependence on dukkha based pleasures in favor of the pursuit of sukkha and release.

A monk with a mind at peace,
Gone to an empty place,
Clearly seeing the dhamma thoroughly—
His delight is more than human.

— Dhammapada 373
Last edited by Anagarika on Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Mr Man » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:27 pm

santa100 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:I do not regard the whole doctrine of kamma and rebirth as a superstition. I regard them as things to be investigated, considered and known. What I regard as superstition is that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven. I'm not sure if this is your belief or not.

I do not agree that celibacy is intrinsically beneficial.


Actually it's not only Ven. Dhammanando's belief but it's what the Buddha taught per the many sutta references bhante already provided in his posts. It makes a lot of sense to me. There's no such thing as a free lunch, especially when it comes to cultivating the Dhamma. The better and more exquisite the lunch, the more price you're gonna have to be willing to pay. One can't have it all, ie. enjoy a little hoochie coochie and expect to attain existence in some higher realms, let alone attaining Nibbana. That's why out of the 3 realms, the Buddha didn't call ours the realm of "Sense-Desire" by mere coincidence. What we think, say, and "do" define the identity of our realm. So, like the saying "you are what you eat", a more Buddhist related saying would be "you are what you...'do'..".. :smile:


Hi santa100, So you are saying that it is Ven. Dhammanando's belief "that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven". That particular act being consciously abstaining from sexual intercourse. And this is also your belief?
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby santa100 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:40 pm

Mr. Man wrote: Hi santa100, So you are saying that it is Ven. Dhammanando's belief "that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven". That particular act being consciously abstaining from sexual intercourse. And this is also your belief?

Given the Buddha's teaching, yes, it is my provisional faith in His teaching that it is true. By the way, you said you don't believe that is the case. Could you provide backup literature and sutta references for your position?
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Mr Man » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:48 pm

santa100 wrote:
Mr. Man wrote: Hi santa100, So you are saying that it is Ven. Dhammanando's belief "that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven". That particular act being consciously abstaining from sexual intercourse. And this is also your belief?

Given the Buddha's teaching, yes, it is my provisional faith in His teaching that it is true. By the way, you said you don't believe that is the case. Could you provide backup literature and sutta references for your position?


You would like backup literature and sutta references for what happens after death? My position (that celibacy is not intrinsically beneficial) is an opinion based on my own understanding and experience.
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby santa100 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:53 pm

Mr Man wrote:You would like backup literature and sutta references for what happens after death? My position (that celibacy is not intrinsically beneficial) is an opinion based on my own understanding and experience.


Yes, I meant any sutta references taught by the Buddha which actually described what's here and now and into the future lives. Anyway, thanks for clarifying that it comes from your own personal opinion..
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Mr Man » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:16 pm

Whatever brahmans & contemplatives
describe purity
in terms of views & learning,
describe purity
in terms of precepts & practices,
describe purity
in terms of manifold ways:
none of them, living there in that way,
I tell you, have crossed over birth & aging.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.5.07.than.html
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:35 pm

Which continues:
[The Buddha:]
I don't say that all brahmans & contemplatives
are shrouded in birth & aging.
Those here who've abandoned
what's seen, heard, & sensed,
precepts & practices
— all —
who've abandoned their manifold ways
— again, all —
who, comprehending craving,
are effluent-free:
they are the ones, I tell you,
who've crossed over the flood.

:anjali:
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby santa100 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:53 pm

:anjali: Mike. And also Ven. Thanissaro's footnote which gives further explanation from "Mind Like Fire Unbound" ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... e/2-3.html ):
Just as if a great mass of fire, of ten... twenty... thirty or forty cartloads of timber were burning, and into it a man would periodically throw dried grass, dried cow dung, & dried timber, so that the great mass of fire — thus nourished, thus sustained — would burn for a long, long time; even so, monks, in one who keeps focusing on the allure of those phenomena that offer sustenance [lit: "flammable phenomena"], craving develops; with craving as condition, sustenance; with sustenance as condition, becoming; with becoming as condition, birth; with birth as condition, aging, illness & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all come into play. Thus is the origin of this entire mass of suffering & stress. ~~ SN 12.52 ~~
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby pegembara » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:54 am

And this

"Monks, the All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

"The ear is aflame. Sounds are aflame...

"The nose is aflame. Aromas are aflame...

"The tongue is aflame. Flavors are aflame...

"The body is aflame. Tactile sensations are aflame...

"The intellect is aflame. Ideas are aflame. Consciousness at the intellect is aflame. Contact at the intellect is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I say, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:43 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Then there is also the Nanda Sutta in the Udāna, where the venerable Nanda is persuaded by the Buddha to continue with the brahmacariyā in the present life (despite his wish to disrobe and take up with his former fiancée), for by doing so he will gain heavenly rebirth and five hundred pink-footed apsaras.


Hi Venerable,

Here's a thought... why would anyone, especially those who are serious about their practices, want to be reborn in a heavenly realm with "500 pink footed apsaras"? It seems a bit silly to me, even when we consider the cultural trappings.

Dhammanando wrote:
SarathW wrote:I do not consider simple observation of celibacy constitute a virtue.


I'm not sure what you mean by simple observance of celibacy. In the suttas it's stated that practising the brahmacariyā is a condition for rebirth in the sensual heavens, even where the person who practises it does so very miserably. This seems to imply that there is something intrinsically good in deliberately undertaken abstention from sex.


Likewise, why would it be seen as good to be reborn in the sensual heavens? As opposed to being reborn in the human realm, where I think it's more conducive for dhamma practice?

:anjali:
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby daverupa » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:22 pm

I think the cultural trappings gave an emphasis to the benefits of the practice, whereas earlier exegetical treatments emphasized the utter danger of sensual pleasures generally, sex being simply one among them.

The simile of bait-hook-escape describes benefits in a way that doesn't require reference to heavenly realms, while at the same time being in agreement with the general attitude of dispassion and the rejection of enmeshment with sensuality. The cultural motivation of heaven may no longer be appropriate for some, but the bait-hook-escape approach remains valid.
    "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: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby Mr Man » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:15 pm

Daverupa, Do you think that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven or would you consider that to be superstition?
Do you think that celibacy is intrinsically beneficial?
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Postby daverupa » Wed Oct 02, 2013 5:24 pm

Mr Man wrote:Daverupa, Do you think that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven or would you consider that to be superstition?


I would say that acts have consequences, that observable individual death doesn't prima facie offer evidence for or against the inferential possibility of post-death consequence(s), and that the paired descriptions of the simile of the salt crystal and the vexation of trying to work out kamma precisely make strict, a-contextual equivalencies such as 'X act --> Y heaven' impossible.

But there are themes of wholesome and unwholesome which can be ascribed to certain acts since certain intentions will form necessary foundation(s) for those acts. So for example, when you ask

Do you think that celibacy is intrinsically beneficial?


I'm going to say that sensual pleasures are intrinsically bothersome and obstructive in terms of Buddhist goals because the intention to engage with them is necessarily based on greed for them or aversion to their lack, else ignorance that they are a waste of time and distracting and obsessing, leading a mind which inclines in their direction to further appropriations and enmirement.

So, 'celibate' (and 'chaste' and the lot) are simply the resultant descriptions of an individual who practices to avoid these bothersome and obstructive processes. This indeed forms part of a network of wholesome, beneficial effort.
    "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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