Brahmacariya Breach

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
Garrib
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Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 8:35 pm

Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Garrib »

Hi All,

I am a lay person but intend to live out the remainder of my life in celibacy - whether I ordain or not. I am not soliciting opinions about whether or not a lay person should live a celibate life etc...

My dilemma is this: I recently had a breach of the vow. I'll spare you the details, but I feel compelled to "confess" to someone. I am experiencing shame and confusion - how did I let this happen? I had been doing well for a good long while, but I succumbed to unwholesomeness during a time of personal and familial distress.

How do I bounce back from this? Should I do penance? Or should I just try to forget about it, double down on my intention, and try to practice better moving forward? Something else?

Thanks,

Brad
dharmacorps
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by dharmacorps »

Plus, If you are a lay person, you don't need to be celibate. If you choose to follow the 8 precepts, or the 5 plus celibacy (including no masturbation), then you can't expect to be able to "turn it off" immediately. Unless your "breach" involves illicit sex or criminal conduct, you should probably just try to see this as something to avoid in the future, recommit to the precept and move on. :anjali:

By the way, I think by suggesting "penance", you are judeo-christianizing things a bit.
Garrib
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Garrib »

dharmacorps wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 9:44 pm Plus, If you are a lay person, you don't need to be celibate. If you choose to follow the 8 precepts, or the 5 plus celibacy (including no masturbation), then you can't expect to be able to "turn it off" immediately. Unless your "breach" involves illicit sex or criminal conduct, you should probably just try to see this as something to avoid in the future, recommit to the precept and move on. :anjali:

By the way, I think by suggesting "penance", you are judeo-christianizing things a bit.
Thanks. There is no sexual misconduct involved, but I didn't meet my own standard of celibacy. I'll just keep going - no backsliding this time.
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Mr Man
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Mr Man »

Garrib wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:58 pm Hi All,

I am a lay person but intend to live out the remainder of my life in celibacy - whether I ordain or not. I am not soliciting opinions about whether or not a lay person should live a celibate life etc...

My dilemma is this: I recently had a breach of the vow. I'll spare you the details, but I feel compelled to "confess" to someone. I am experiencing shame and confusion - how did I let this happen? I had been doing well for a good long while, but I succumbed to unwholesomeness during a time of personal and familial distress.

How do I bounce back from this? Should I do penance? Or should I just try to forget about it, double down on my intention, and try to practice better moving forward? Something else?

Thanks,

Brad
Reaffirm your commitment and carry on.
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

I follow the 8 precepts and sometimes break the third precept through masturbation.
Generally, it's a symptom of something wrong in the practice which makes me turn to sensual pleasures.

Just forgive yourself and keep going.
Lately I discovered that forgiveness and contentment are powerful weapons of the path. Without them you perish. You are not perfect. Nobody is.
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
coconut
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by coconut »

Garrib wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:58 pm Hi All,

I am a lay person but intend to live out the remainder of my life in celibacy - whether I ordain or not. I am not soliciting opinions about whether or not a lay person should live a celibate life etc...

My dilemma is this: I recently had a breach of the vow. I'll spare you the details, but I feel compelled to "confess" to someone. I am experiencing shame and confusion - how did I let this happen? I had been doing well for a good long while, but I succumbed to unwholesomeness during a time of personal and familial distress.

How do I bounce back from this? Should I do penance? Or should I just try to forget about it, double down on my intention, and try to practice better moving forward? Something else?

Thanks,

Brad
One can be non-celibate up until once-return. I would recommend following the gradual training.
coconut
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by coconut »

rhinoceroshorn wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:13 pm I follow the 8 precepts and sometimes break the third precept through masturbation.
Generally, it's a symptom of something wrong in the practice which makes me turn to sensual pleasures.

Just forgive yourself and keep going.
Lately I discovered that forgiveness and contentment are powerful weapons of the path. Without them you perish. You are not perfect. Nobody is.
Masturbation is only sexual misconduct if you're a monk. For lay people it's cheating on a spouse, and having sex with someone who is still supported by their parents, probably because if she gets pregnant, the parents may not have resources to take care of the child.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Sam Vara »

coconut wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:27 pm
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:13 pm I follow the 8 precepts and sometimes break the third precept through masturbation.
Generally, it's a symptom of something wrong in the practice which makes me turn to sensual pleasures.

Just forgive yourself and keep going.
Lately I discovered that forgiveness and contentment are powerful weapons of the path. Without them you perish. You are not perfect. Nobody is.
Masturbation is only sexual misconduct if you're a monk.
It's also proscribed if one undertakes the 8 precepts, like rhino.
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

coconut wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:27 pm
rhinoceroshorn wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:13 pm I follow the 8 precepts and sometimes break the third precept through masturbation.
Generally, it's a symptom of something wrong in the practice which makes me turn to sensual pleasures.

Just forgive yourself and keep going.
Lately I discovered that forgiveness and contentment are powerful weapons of the path. Without them you perish. You are not perfect. Nobody is.
Masturbation is only sexual misconduct if you're a monk. For lay people it's cheating on a spouse, and having sex with someone who is still supported by their parents, probably because if she gets pregnant, the parents may not have resources to take care of the child.
Yes, but third precept out of the eight is total celibacy, which includes not masturbating.
Eyes downcast, not footloose,
senses guarded, with protected mind,
not oozing — not burning — with lust,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
See, Ānanda! All those conditioned phenomena have passed, ceased, and perished. So impermanent are conditions, so unstable are conditions, so unreliable are conditions. This is quite enough for you to become disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding all conditions.
Dīgha Nikāya 17
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Bundokji
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Bundokji »

Hi Garrib,

The moral aspect of your question has to do with the vow. The vow is turning an action (abstaining) into a law, so from a moral POV, you violated a law/agreement/contract between you and your future self.

As the violation did not include a third party, you are spared the technicalities associated with the breach of the agreement. Obviously you are not spared the guilt associated with it.

The other side of the moral question is to know what you are getting yourself into when you take a vow if it really means something too you. What made you trust your own vow? and where did you get betrayed? when you took the vow, or when you breached it?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
Garrib
Posts: 605
Joined: Mon May 30, 2016 8:35 pm

Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Garrib »

Bundokji wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:49 pm Hi Garrib,

The moral aspect of your question has to do with the vow. The vow is turning an action (abstaining) into a law, so from a moral POV, you violated a law/agreement/contract between you and your future self.

As the violation did not include a third party, you are spared the technicalities associated with the breach of the agreement. Obviously you are not spared the guilt associated with it.

The other side of the moral question is to know what you are getting yourself into when you take a vow if it really means something too you. What made you trust your own vow? and where did you get betrayed? when you took the vow, or when you breached it?
Thanks, Bundokji. I think you are spot on regarding the moral question/guilt.

I felt I was betrayed when I breached the vow. Because when I took the vow, I think that was from a more wholesome place. When I broke the vow, I was simply pursuing immediate gratification through the senses. I don't want to be a slave to desire. I want to be free from it, ultimately. Also - I don't want to set a bad example for others. I want to be able to trust myself, that when I take a vow, I keep it.

I think jhana would help a lot. Maybe I need to get a lot more serious about meditating.
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Bundokji
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Bundokji »

Garrib wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:19 pm I felt I was betrayed when I breached the vow. Because when I took the vow, I think that was from a more wholesome place. When I broke the vow, I was simply pursuing immediate gratification through the senses. I don't want to be a slave to desire. I want to be free from it, ultimately. Also - I don't want to set a bad example for others. I want to be able to trust myself, that when I take a vow, I keep it.

I think jhana would help a lot. Maybe I need to get a lot more serious about meditating.
Whether volitional actions can be trusted remains an open question. We have reasons to believe either way, which forms the basis for our experimentation.

Good luck in whatever you try to do :anjali:
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.
The2nd
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by The2nd »

Garrib wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:58 pm Hi All,

I am a lay person but intend to live out the remainder of my life in celibacy - whether I ordain or not. I am not soliciting opinions about whether or not a lay person should live a celibate life etc...

My dilemma is this: I recently had a breach of the vow. I'll spare you the details, but I feel compelled to "confess" to someone. I am experiencing shame and confusion - how did I let this happen? I had been doing well for a good long while, but I succumbed to unwholesomeness during a time of personal and familial distress.

How do I bounce back from this? Should I do penance? Or should I just try to forget about it, double down on my intention, and try to practice better moving forward? Something else?

Thanks,

Brad
A vow is necessary but not good enough. the vow will not change your perverted perception, for that you must investigate and try to understand the gratification,danger, and escape from sensuality, so that you can turn your current perception around , so that it is no longer perverted.

If you dont see the danger in acting sexually( or valuing sense pleasures), then you will eventually give in(one way or another), no matter how long you have been celibate.

If you see a thing as dangerous, poisonous, unworthy, disgusting, then you would not go near it.

That perception of the danger needs to be developed and maintained, because, as i said, just refraining or ignoring or hiding away from sexual pleasures, will only work for as long as you are not pressured by circumstances and can ignore and hide away from circumstances (which you cannot control).

You want to be in a position, whereby, even if the most beautiful sensual prospect arises, you are indifferent to it, you are not attracted or moved by it, and you can achieve this by seeing the disgusting , dangerous nature of craving and sensual pleasures.

If you can see the disgusting nature of the body, and maintain that perception, then no matter what beautiful prospect arises, you wil see it arising on top of or based within the nature of the disgusting body. This is seeing things in their right order or in a non-perverted way ( perverted perception =seeing disgusting as within the beauty; unperverted perception= seeing beauty within the larger phenomenon of disgusting)
Garrib
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Garrib »

The2nd wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:51 pm
A vow is necessary but not good enough. the vow will not change your perverted perception, for that you must investigate and try to understand the gratification,danger, and escape from sensuality, so that you can turn your current perception around , so that it is no longer perverted.

If you dont see the danger in acting sexually( or valuing sense pleasures), then you will eventually give in(one way or another), no matter how long you have been celibate.

If you see a thing as dangerous, poisonous, unworthy, disgusting, then you would not go near it.

That perception of the danger needs to be developed and maintained, because, as i said, just refraining or ignoring or hiding away from sexual pleasures, will only work for as long as you are not pressured by circumstances and can ignore and hide away from circumstances (which you cannot control).

You want to be in a position, whereby, even if the most beautiful sensual prospect arises, you are indifferent to it, you are not attracted or moved by it, and you can achieve this by seeing the disgusting , dangerous nature of craving and sensual pleasures.

If you can see the disgusting nature of the body, and maintain that perception, then no matter what beautiful prospect arises, you wil see it arising on top of or based within the nature of the disgusting body. This is seeing things in their right order or in a non-perverted way ( perverted perception =seeing disgusting as within the beauty; unperverted perception= seeing beauty within the larger phenomenon of disgusting)
Thanks, The2nd. I agree with everything you wrote here. I have been focusing on the gratification, and not enough on the drawbacks/dangers, and the disgusting nature of the body. I have done a lot with asubha, and I believed I was further along with regard to this practice than I actually am. One corner of my mind started contemplating gratification non-stop - this is craving. The craving grew strong very quickly, and this led to the breach. Because at that moment, the gratification seemed appealing to me (it feels like it would temporarily solve the issue of the craving/suffering).

I do not think I believe that sensual experience (specifically, sexual experience) can actually bring anything more than temporary satisfaction. I don't think it is wholesome. I know it is bound up in craving. And on some level I am aware of the disgusting and impermanent nature of the body. But my knowledge has not penetrated deeply enough. I can still be tempted by the prospect of immediate gratification. This is concerning.

Maybe I should make asubha my primary meditation focus, until I can get a stable and realistic perception of the body.
Garrib
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Re: Brahmacariya Breach

Post by Garrib »

Bundokji wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:49 pm
Garrib wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 11:19 pm I felt I was betrayed when I breached the vow. Because when I took the vow, I think that was from a more wholesome place. When I broke the vow, I was simply pursuing immediate gratification through the senses. I don't want to be a slave to desire. I want to be free from it, ultimately. Also - I don't want to set a bad example for others. I want to be able to trust myself, that when I take a vow, I keep it.

I think jhana would help a lot. Maybe I need to get a lot more serious about meditating.
Whether volitional actions can be trusted remains an open question. We have reasons to believe either way, which forms the basis for our experimentation.

Good luck in whatever you try to do :anjali:
Yes. I think determination is important, but ultimately - being a sankhara, it cannot be trusted. I need ongoing mindfulness, and right effort (and all the other path factors, in the moment). Determintation is not enough.
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