kayy wrote:If, in order to end suffering and 'rebirth' (that is assuming one believes in rebirth, which I don't), one has to renounce the world, human society, human bonds, reproduction and ultimately the continuation of the species, I'm out!
It is really admirable that you are treasuring what you consider good. I think nobody could argue against this wholesome intention.
But on this long path of development many of us came to realize that our understanding of what is "good" is subject to change, as our discernment and our state of mind develops with the practice.
As a personal example, in most of my life I praised intimate relations, and I thought that making a girl happy with intimate love is a great thing to do. But when I actually got some nice meditation experience, and I thought about the same thing with that energetic and happy mind, I had to realize that intimacy is deeply inferior to the experience that I am just having: I have felt repulsed by the thought of sex. It became clear that intimacy feels good purely because we are in a state of deep deprivation, a state of deep hunger, a state of deep discontentment. Just like as the Magandiya Sutta magnificently describes:
Magandiya Sutta wrote:
"Magandiya, suppose that there was a leper covered with sores and infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterizing his body over a pit of glowing embers. His friends, companions, & relatives would take him to a doctor. The doctor would concoct medicine for him, and thanks to the medicine he would be cured of his leprosy: well & happy, free, master of himself, going wherever he liked. Then suppose two strong men, having grabbed him with their arms, were to drag him to a pit of glowing embers. What do you think? Wouldn't he twist his body this way & that?"
"Yes, master Gotama. Why is that? The fire is painful to the touch, very hot & scorching."
"Now what do you think, Magandiya? Is the fire painful to the touch, very hot & scorching, only now, or was it also that way before?"
"Both now & before is it painful to the touch, very hot & scorching, master Gotama. It's just that when the man was a leper covered with sores and infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, his faculties were impaired, which was why, even though the fire was actually painful to the touch, he had the skewed perception of 'pleasant.'"
"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.'
...http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And then I considered the interest of the partner: Is it really compassionate to treat another being with intimacy, instead of teaching her to experience that much higher satisfaction? I had to realize that there is a moral problem, because with intimacy I would inevitably mislead that other being about the priorities of life, maintaining and feeding her illusions about what is suffering and what is happiness.
As for friendliness, helping and teaching, they are universal merits, but if a relationship consists purely of them, then the relationship itself is entirely superfluous, isn't it?
Lastly, to translate this story from the instance to the dynamics: There is only one true desire in every mind, and that is to be satisfied. Beings identify satisfaction with fulfilled concerns, but if satisfaction arises directly due to the dhammic path, concerns fall away. Relationships, society, survival of humankind... it is all the same. What does this mean? It means: buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye.
Anyway, this was just my honest reflection on the subject.
Apologies for any silliness, and I wish you much happiness, whatever path you go.
"Just as in the great ocean there is but one taste — the taste of salt — so in this Doctrine and Discipline there is but one taste — the taste of freedom"