Guy wrote:My personal opinion: If someone sees the benefit in sense restraint (not just sexual, but all forms of sensuality) and wants to become a monastic or even a celibate lay person and put a large focus in their life on seclusion, sense restraint, moderation in eating, wakefulness and meditation I would encourage them to do so. If someone thinks that they can live a skilful and wholesome life practicing in the household environment with a partner then I encourage them to do so.
I've just highlighted and underlined the two words that jumped out at me in this statement.
You use 'sees' when you talk about the thing that most conforms with your own opinion and experience, and 'thinks' when you talk about that which does not.
Are you just paying lip service to the household life, or do you actually genuinely mean to say that you would actively and sincerely encourage a householder to pursue a life with a partner, children etc?
Not everyone's experience is the same as yours, and we are not all able, or perhaps more relevantly, are not all willing to become celibate monastics.
As I pointed out in a previous post, there are many wise and enlightened lay Buddhist teachers with partners, families and living in society.
Advances in society, sexual relationships, perpetuation of the species are all worldly goals. I am not saying that these things are bad or unimportant, in fact I can see that these things can be pursued with quite good intentions and have positive outcomes. But they are all limited in their potential for good. Relationships are Anicca (impermanent, unstable, insecure), societies are Anicca, even the human race's existence on Earth is Anicca, even the entire universe is Anicca.
Indeed. I agree! The point is to accept that these things are impermanent, and live with them nonetheless, until the time comes for them to die.
You seem to be arguing that if something is impermanent, it is not worth bothering with. Life is impermanent, as you say. Is life not worth bothering with?
Not really related to the original topic, so please reply to me in PM or on the "Great Rebirth Debate": Is it that you have rejected rebirth as impossible? Or are you open to either possibility ie. you neither accept it nor reject it?
I'm open! Until my own experience tells me otherwise, I remain agnostic on this matter.
When the Buddha spoke of the Middle Way He was talking about the Path between indulging in sensual pleasures on the one hand and self-torture on the other hand. For some people this means refraining from sexual misconduct (ie. not cheating on their partner, not sleeping with someone who has a partner, etc) but other people want to develop this further and refrain from all sexual activity (even the activity of speech or mind in regard to sexual topics). While it is possible to make advances in a household environment (as is evident in the Suttas) it seems that many monastics have mentioned that from their experience it is much more conducive to the Goal (Nibbana) living as a Bhikkhu or a Bhikkhuni.
Well of course many monastics mention from their experience that it's better to live as a monastic - it's a self-selecting group! I can't imagine it would be very easy to find a monk saying that it's better to live as a lay person. Likewise, I've never met a Christian who says it's better to be a Muslim.
I might leave this discussion be for now as replying has just taken quite a lot of time and I've got a lot of work to do!! Plus discussions like this often leave me feeling a bit empty (not in a good Buddhist way!!
I'll read your replies though!
best wishes Guy,