Mr Man wrote: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.
daverupa wrote: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.
beeblebrox wrote:Do you think the Buddha bait anyone like that?
beeblebrox wrote:Hi Dave,
When a person is in sensual heaven, do you think it's easier or more difficult to stay with one's practice? If it's more difficult, then why is it called a heaven? If the Buddha called it heaven, then is that a lie?
daverupa wrote:I'm not really sure what you're asking, but I've been looking at these three questions for a while now.
What I think you're aiming for is that you're wondering if the Buddha, in offering this nymph-gambit, wasn't perhaps opening the door for that man to enter into an even more difficult practice situation. Indeed, you seem to assume that if it is called 'heaven' and yet things aren't easier there, it must not be heaven at all, and if this is the case, the Buddha saying it's a heaven of any kind is simply wrong.
beeblebrox wrote: Venerable Dhammanando seems to be saying that since the practice of celibacy will lead one to heaven, that must mean it's a good thing. I wanted to challenge that assumption. The way I understand it myself, I think celibacy only leads to that kind of appearance... no more, no less.
"Now there are these five cords of sensual pleasure, student. What are the five? Forms cognizable by the eye that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust. Sounds cognizable by the ear...Odours cognizable by the nose...Flavours cognizable by the tongue...Tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable, and likeable, connected with sensual desire and provocative of lust. These are the five cords of sensual pleasure.
The brahmin Pokkharasati is tied to these five cords of sensual pleasure, infatuated with them and utterly committed to them; he enjoys them without seeing the danger in them or understanding the escape from them. That he could know or see or realise a superhuman state, a distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones - this is impossible." - MN99 Bhikkhu Bodhi translation
"One should not pursue sensual pleasure (KÂMA-SUKHA), which is low vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial; and one should not pursue self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble and unbeneficial. So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? The pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desire - low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial - is a state beset by suffering, vexation, despair and fever, and it is the wrong way. Disengage from the pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desire - low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial - is a state without suffering, vexation despair and fever, and it is the right way. The pursuit of self-mortification… is the wrong way. Disengagement from the pursuit of self-mortification… is the right way… The Middle Way discovered by the Tathàgata avoids both these extremes… it leads… to Nibbàna."
(Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Buddha's words in The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, p.1080f)
"In the same way, Magandiya, sensual pleasures in the past were painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; sensual pleasures in the future will be painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; sensual pleasures at present are painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; but when beings are not free from passion for sensual pleasures — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — their faculties are impaired, which is why, even though sensual pleasures are actually painful to the touch, they have the skewed perception of 'pleasant.' MN75
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