Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby DorjePhurba » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:16 pm

Recently someone suggested that a meditator must abstain from sex in order to gain jhanic concentration. I've been reading a lot about jhana lately and have not come across anyone suggesting that. Could anyone shed some light and explain whether the Buddha ever said this?

Thanks,
Chris
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:32 pm

DorjePhurba wrote:Recently someone suggested that a meditator must abstain from sex in order to gain jhanic concentration. I've been reading a lot about jhana lately and have not come across anyone suggesting that. Could anyone shed some light and explain whether the Buddha ever said this?

Thanks,
Chris


I don't know if you have to but I'd think that if you have jhana as your goal and felt you have a good chance of achieving it then sex is a pretty small and unimportant thing to have to give up for a time.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Jack » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:52 pm

[quote="DorjePhurba"]Recently someone suggested that a meditator must abstain from sex in order to gain jhanic concentration. I've been reading a lot about jhana lately and have not come across anyone suggesting that. Could anyone shed some light and explain whether the Buddha ever said this?
=====
Trying to have sex while meditating would probably be slightly distracting.

I too have not seen anything linking sex and the jhanas.

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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Kenshou » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:04 pm

There is nothing special about sex, it's just another physical pleasure. And like all sensual pleasures, they've got to be out of mind during meditation. It isn't that there is some metaphysical mystical connection with sex and the stability of concentration. If you're craving chocolate cake in the middle of your session, that's as much of a hindrance as a sexual desire would be.
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Reductor » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:14 pm

Kenshou wrote:There is nothing special about sex, it's just another physical pleasure. And like all sensual pleasures, they've got to be out of mind during meditation. It isn't that there is some metaphysical mystical connection with sex and the stability of concentration. If you're craving chocolate cake in the middle of your session, that's as much of a hindrance as a sexual desire would be.


Aptly put. I too think sex is a fairly small thing, unless your mind tends toward obsession toward it. In which case you might spend time contemplating 32 parts, or the charnal (misspelt?) ground. You know, the various stages of decomp.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:15 pm

Hi DorjePhurba,
DorjePhurba wrote:Recently someone suggested that a meditator must abstain from sex in order to gain jhanic concentration. I've been reading a lot about jhana lately and have not come across anyone suggesting that. Could anyone shed some light and explain whether the Buddha ever said this?

As stated above, it's not something against sex, though that is, of course, one of the more potent sensual desires...
Here are some of the Buddha's words...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dham ... jhana.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"There is the case where a monk —
quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities
— enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. He permeates and pervades, suffuses and fills this very body with the rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Monks, there are these five hindrances. Which five? Sensual desire as a hindrance, ill will as a hindrance, sloth & drowsiness as a hindrance, restlessness & anxiety as a hindrance, and uncertainty as a hindrance. These are the five hindrances.

More on the hinrances: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index-su ... l#nivarana

Metta
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:16 pm

You do not need to permanently abstain from sex, but certainly for the meditation session. One cannot enter jhana unless the five hindrances are put at bay, at least temporarily and for the duration of the meditation session. The five hindrances are:

1. Sense desire (kamacchanda)
2. Anger (byapada)
3. Sloth and torpor (thina-middha)
4. Agitation and worry (uddhacca-kukkucca)
5. Extreme skepticism (vicikiccha)

(from Anguttara Nikaya 9.64 and numerous other places in the Tiptiaka)


edit: I see Mike beat me to the answer by one minute.
:tongue:
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:27 pm

DorjePhurba wrote:Recently someone suggested that a meditator must abstain from sex in order to gain jhanic concentration. I've been reading a lot about jhana lately and have not come across anyone suggesting that. Could anyone shed some light and explain whether the Buddha ever said this?

Thanks,
Chris
Poor sex. Always getting a bad comment when talking about this "spiritual." Like anything it depends. One way of finding out is being empirical about it. If you want to work with jhana and sex seems to get in the way, then stop having sex, but pay attention to other cravings that might want fill the void left by one's going orgasmless.
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: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Sekha » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:53 pm

well I recently wrote that there is no jhana without abstaining from sex.

This is only based on personnal experience and indirectly on the Buddha's words.

I have been unrestraint with sex for years before starting the practice. Now I gave it up completely. I have had very little sexual activity for the past two years, and none at all for the past 8 months. Still, I feel very deep and sharp sexual sensations in my meditation, specially in my morning session. I feel also that they are brought up either by what should be felt as the rapture (which I do feel sometimes) born of meditation or by painful sensations. These sensations are very difficult to manage because the deep mind is automatically clinging to them, and I have to connect to manage control over deeper levels to prevent this clinging from araising, which demands quite a level of constant and strenuous effort. At the beginning of my practice, when I had not completely given up sexual activities, I didn't have this phenomenon going, because there was no such state of privation from this particular 'nutriment'.

These experiences of clinging to sexual sensations clearly prevent me most of the time from entering jhana. It seems obvious to me that I will be able to feel the delightful sensations of first jhana only when I will be free from these clingings (which does happen from time to time, for a short period).

As to the Buddha's words, they are mentioned above already, I would add:
If tranquillity is developed, what benefit does it bring? The mind becomes developed. And what is the benefit of a developed mind? All lust is abandoned.
AN 2.32


Anyway, sexual activity is way too coarse to be compatible with the refinement of jhanas
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Sekha » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:56 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Poor sex. Always getting a bad comment when talking about this "spiritual."


This is the law of this universe...
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Reductor » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:50 pm

Dukkhanirodha wrote:Anyway, sexual activity is way too coarse to be compatible with the refinement of jhanas


Have you made an effort to develop the 32 part meditation, the element meditation, the corpse meditation? Done often, done completely, done with determination to abandon sexual desire, and they could yield a lot of relief from these sexual desires for you.

I have a wife and yet sexual desire is a pretty small thing for me now (and no, we don't have frequent/semi-frequent sex/or even monthly sex). It is amazing to me how far I've come considering that sexual desire and all the trappings of sex once occupied the better part of my waking mind.

Just a thought.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Sekha » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:58 am

thereductor wrote:Have you made an effort to develop the 32 part meditation, the element meditation, the corpse meditation? Done often, done completely, done with determination to abandon sexual desire, and they could yield a lot of relief from these sexual desires for you.


Never tried these ones. Never felt like it. I stick to anapana and vipassana.
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Reductor » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:35 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
thereductor wrote:Have you made an effort to develop the 32 part meditation, the element meditation, the corpse meditation? Done often, done completely, done with determination to abandon sexual desire, and they could yield a lot of relief from these sexual desires for you.


Never tried these ones. Never felt like it. I stick to anapana and vipassana.


I would hazard to say that you are missing out. Really. Especially if you are having trouble with the hindrance of sesuality.

MN 10: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

[4] "Furthermore...just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain — wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice — and a man with good eyesight, pouring it out, were to reflect, 'This is wheat. This is rice. These are mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds. This is husked rice,' in the same way, monks, a monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: 'In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or focused externally... unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself.

[5] "Furthermore...just as a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroads cutting it up into pieces, the monk contemplates this very body — however it stands, however it is disposed — in terms of properties: 'In this body there is the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, & the wind property.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on the body in & of itself, or focused externally... unsustained by anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself.

[6] "Furthermore, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground — one day, two days, three days dead — bloated, livid, & festering, he applies it to this very body, 'This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate'...

"Or again, as if he were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground, picked at by crows, vultures, & hawks, by dogs, hyenas, & various other creatures... a skeleton smeared with flesh & blood, connected with tendons... a fleshless skeleton smeared with blood, connected with tendons... a skeleton without flesh or blood, connected with tendons... bones detached from their tendons, scattered in all directions — here a hand bone, there a foot bone, here a shin bone, there a thigh bone, here a hip bone, there a back bone, here a rib, there a breast bone, here a shoulder bone, there a neck bone, here a jaw bone, there a tooth, here a skull... the bones whitened, somewhat like the color of shells... piled up, more than a year old... decomposed into a powder: He applies it to this very body, 'This body, too: Such is its nature, such is its future, such its unavoidable fate.'
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Sekha » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:48 am

thereductor wrote:I would hazard to say that you are missing out. Really. Especially if you are having trouble with the hindrance of sesuality.


Do you mean to say I should practice these?
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:24 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Poor sex. Always getting a bad comment when talking about this "spiritual."


This is the law of this universe...
It depends.
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: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Sekha » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:34 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Dukkhanirodha wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Poor sex. Always getting a bad comment when talking about this "spiritual."


This is the law of this universe...
It depends.


If not I would simply say it is no spirituality.

sensual pleasures cannot coexist with actual progress towards wisdom
Where knowledge ends, religion begins. - B. Disraeli

http://www.buddha-vacana.org

As a sweet-smelling and beautiful lotus flower may grow upon a heap of rubbish thrown on the highway, so also, out of the rubbish heap of beings may appear a disciple of the Buddha, who with his wisdom, shines resplendent in wisdom. -/ Dhp 58-59
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:39 am

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
sensual pleasures cannot coexist with actual progress towards wisdom
Says who?
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: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby appicchato » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:08 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Dukkhanirodha wrote:
sensual pleasures cannot coexist with actual progress towards wisdom
Says who?


I think he did...
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby Freawaru » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:53 pm

Dukkhanirodha wrote:
sensual pleasures cannot coexist with actual progress towards wisdom


Wisdom is the detached awareness and discernment of sensual pleasure (among other things). So obviously sensual pleasure is able to coexist with wisdom.

The Blessed Buddha once said: Bhikkhus, the uninstructed ordinary person feels
pleasant feelings, painful feelings, and neither-painful-nor-pleasant feelings...
Such does the instructed Noble Disciple also feel. What then is the difference,
the variation, and the distinction between the instructed Noble Disciple and the
uninstructed ordinary person ???

When feeling a pleasant feeling, he (the uninstructed ordinary person) feels it as if attached to it and as
the owner being involved in it.... This, bhikkhus, is called an uninstructed
ordinary person who is attached & clings...

When feeling a pleasant feeling, he (the instructed Noble Disciple) feels it as if detached, remote & alien....
This, bhikkhus, is called a Noble Disciple,...
http://what-buddha-said.net/drops/II/Bo ... eeling.htm
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Re: Do you have to abstain from sex to achieve jhana?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Feb 02, 2010 2:39 pm

appicchato wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Dukkhanirodha wrote:
sensual pleasures cannot coexist with actual progress towards wisdom
Says who?


I think he did...
I think on that I'll go with the Buddhist texts for a bit more of an authoritative says who. And I think I go with my experience.
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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