Celibacy

A forum for discussion of Buddhist ethics.

Re: Celibacy

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sat May 10, 2014 3:49 pm

JKhedrup wrote:What I find funny is that the very same people who advocate "sexual freedom" don't respect the choice of some to work towards "freedom from sexuality".

Thus you find these days it is less shocking to have open relationships and polyamory than have a person who just isn't interested in "cultivating" their sexuality and prefers to invest energy in different things.

Indeed. Some people think sex is all that matters. I am not sure if this is a problem in Buddhist "libertine" circles, but claiming there is more to life than sex is like claiming to be anti Semitic. It can be a frustrating pursuit, the best yoni, is new yoni. Nature, family, and civilization are not always compatible.

Myoho-Nameless wrote:I don't really see that as important....

By which I also meant that certain aspects of Buddhism are over emphasized to a detrimental point, and I speak from personal experience. A whole world religion's class I belonged to where everyone walked away thinking Buddhism is a steaming pile of dung.
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.-The Sith Code
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Andrew108 » Sat May 10, 2014 4:36 pm

JKhedrup wrote:What I find funny is that the very same people who advocate "sexual freedom" don't respect the choice of some to work towards "freedom from sexuality".


Well I think in the West celibacy is something that people don't really believe in. It just isn't meaningful for them. It seems like unnecessary denial. Of course I respect your choice but I'm not sure I admire your choice. That's perhaps the difference?

JKhedrup wrote:Thus you find these days it is less shocking to have open relationships and polyamory than have a person who just isn't interested in "cultivating" their sexuality and prefers to invest energy in different things.


There are many people who see themselves as asexual. The point would be that they are not repressing their sexuality in order to achieve a higher goal. They just have an aversion to sex with others.

The other point with Tibetan monastics is that they seem to play loose with Vinaya. I lived long enough in Boudha to understand that for many Tibetan monastics the Vinaya wasn't taken as seriously as perhaps their Theravadan brotherhood take it. So in some ways I found the worldliness of monks more disappointing and shocking than the sexual proclivities of those lay people who are in open relationships.

The last point I would like to make is that modern Buddhism continues to learn a lot from the West. This is how it should be. There is no need to think that Buddhism has all the answers. We know how problematic celibacy is in the Catholic church. Do we need to repeat those mistakes?
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 10, 2014 4:46 pm

Andrew108 wrote:The last point I would like to make is that modern Buddhism continues to learn a lot from the West. This is how it should be. There is no need to think that Buddhism has all the answers. We know how problematic celibacy is in the Catholic church. Do we need to repeat those mistakes?
Having worked in institutions for minors I can assure you that the problem in the Catholic Church was not due to the celibacy of the clergy. I have had to deal with abuse of minors in institutions, by workers and members of the community where the institution was situated, that were neither celibate, nor male, nor gay.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Sat May 10, 2014 4:51 pm

Thanks so much SD, that was going to be my point exactly.

For example, stepfathers have the highest rates of abuse of children. Most stepfathers are in sexual relationships with their wives, but still abuse children.

47% of sexually abused children are abused by family members, most of whom are in sexual relationships with other partners. If you argue celibacy causes child abuse, after looking at these statistics who could argue modern family structures cause child abuse as well.

Celibacy is not the reason for child abuse- it is simplistic and ill-informed to say so.

As for the bad behaviour of the monks around Boudha, that area is notorious for lax discipline. If you had spent time at Sera or Namdroling in South India, or Sakya Monastery in Dehra Dun, you'd have a very different picture.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Andrew108 » Sat May 10, 2014 5:46 pm

I didn't say that celibacy leads to child abuse.

The problem with celibacy and the Catholic church is that it's moral authority no longer hinges on the self-denial of it's priests. It is simply the fact that amongst a literate population, the discipline of celibacy is not as admired as it used to be i.e. "what do you know about real life?" The recent scandals just add to this idea of the Catholic church losing its relevance and authority.

It is also the case that, due impart to the discipline of celibacy, membership of the Catholic priesthood is in serious decline. Not enough new priests willing to take the vows.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby uan » Sat May 10, 2014 7:36 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Thanks so much SD, that was going to be my point exactly.

For example, stepfathers have the highest rates of abuse of children. Most stepfathers are in sexual relationships with their wives, but still abuse children.

47% of sexually abused children are abused by family members, most of whom are in sexual relationships with other partners. If you argue celibacy causes child abuse, after looking at these statistics who could argue modern family structures cause child abuse as well.

Celibacy is not the reason for child abuse- it is simplistic and ill-informed to say so.

As for the bad behaviour of the monks around Boudha, that area is notorious for lax discipline. If you had spent time at Sera or Namdroling in South India, or Sakya Monastery in Dehra Dun, you'd have a very different picture.



With due respect Venerable, you should not use modifiers like "most". So most stepfathers abuse children. Really? Is that like 80% or 90%?

There's much more going on with abuse of children than mere sexual desire. It's like calling rape non consensual sex. Yet the current understanding of rape is that it has nothing to do with sex.

I've also seen statistics that show that the highest rate of sexual abuse in families are from families that can be categorized as the most religious or morally rigid. I could then extrapolate to say that people who are more morally rigid (fundamental) are hiding the very proclivities they say they are against - we see pastors who preach against homosexuality get caught with gay prostitutes, or we get conservative politicians who speak on the values of family get caught having affairs, and on and on.

But it serves no purpose in a conversation of how to move towards celibacy or whether celibacy is a good choice or bad choice, what are the pros and cons, etc. It's easy to go off into extremes and marginal situations that are not relevant, then we all get stuck talking essentially off topic without realizing it.

I think some of the negative reactions towards people who advocate celibacy stems from arguments that equate consensual sexual relationships with pedophilia and other abuses. In the US, we get similar logical constructs that equate homosexuality with bestiality and worse. Respect is a two way street. It's one thing to have a position of "your sexuality is normal and I celebrate your choice, my choice is to move beyond my sexuality" versus "I'm giving up sex because it's dirty and your sex and sexual desires are disgusting and degrading and you sleep with children." (Yes, I'm going over the top :) )

For people in the west, for as long as the Catholic Church has been around, and then with Protestantism in its various forms, religion has bludgeoned us with "sex is bad" and "sex is dirty" and "you're going to hell if you have sex with your wife with the lights on" type of sermons.

Unfortunately, some advocates of celibacy come across as preachy and sermonizing. For them, celibacy is a moral choice, often the only moral choice with regards to sex. Just the framing of the way they talk about celibacy immediately puts someone who is not celibate, or looking to be celibate, into the position of being immoral. A person who is called immoral, especially for something that they don't think is wrong, will often respond defensively. In cases like this, the person advocating celibacy may not realize this for themselves, so when they get a negative reaction, they don't look within themselves as to how they may have created or furthered the negativity. (For Buddhist, that's one of the first things we're taught - if there's an issue, look towards yourself first.)

I actually see this quite a bit with some advocates of veganism. Some very militant vegans out there! Some of the most interesting debates I've seen are between those that are raw foodist and vegans who actually *gasp* cook some of their foods.

Personally, I find nothing wrong with people who want to pursue celibacy. I think there are some very tangible benefits to a celibate life style. There are some very tangible benefits to a healthy sexual life as well. At the same time, each can have their drawbacks. All very individual. I think the Buddhist value of the middle way comes in really handy when we talk about topics like this.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Sat May 10, 2014 7:47 pm

With due respect Venerable, you should not use modifiers like "most". So most stepfathers abuse children. Really? Is that like 80% or 90%?


I do apologize, but should clarify it was a syntax error. I meant to say most of those stepfathers WHO ABUSE the children are in sexual relationships with their wives. I certainly don't think most stepfathers are child abusers. Sorry for my sloppy writing.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Celibacy

Postby uan » Sat May 10, 2014 8:28 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
With due respect Venerable, you should not use modifiers like "most". So most stepfathers abuse children. Really? Is that like 80% or 90%?


I do apologize, but should clarify it was a syntax error. I meant to say most of those stepfathers WHO ABUSE the children are in sexual relationships with their wives. I certainly don't think most stepfathers are child abusers. Sorry for my sloppy writing.


No problem :) Reading back through my stuff, I'm probably much worse than you when it comes to being sloppy with my writing!
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Re: Celibacy

Postby theanarchist » Sat May 10, 2014 9:33 pm

I guess the reason why many westerners mistrust celibates or people advocating celibacy is that in our culture the repression of sex out of Christianity based moral code is still wide spread.

And then people who have unhealthy psychological inner conflicts over the topic decide that rather than working to get rid of those concepts they try to get rid of the "sex problem" altogether by becoming a celibate. Which of course will not work either.

Choden Rinpoche defined attachment as "attributing properties to something that it doesn't have". So becoming a celibate while still having all those neurotic feelings in regard of sex and just avoiding the act will not change anything.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Jesse » Sat May 10, 2014 9:57 pm

theanarchist wrote:I guess the reason why many westerners mistrust celibates or people advocating celibacy is that in our culture the repression of sex out of Christianity based moral code is still wide spread.

And then people who have unhealthy psychological inner conflicts over the topic decide that rather than working to get rid of those concepts they try to get rid of the "sex problem" altogether by becoming a celibate. Which of course will not work either.

Choden Rinpoche defined attachment as "attributing properties to something that it doesn't have". So becoming a celibate while still having all those neurotic feelings in regard of sex and just avoiding the act will not change anything.


:good:

That's exactly it. Celibacy is fine if that's what you want to do with your life, or even reduce attachments, I just don't agree with people whom think it's a prerequisite for living a spiritual life, or that sexuality effects your spirituality in any way.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Celibacy

Postby theanarchist » Sat May 10, 2014 10:10 pm

Jesse wrote:That's exactly it. Celibacy is fine if that's what you want to do with your life, or even reduce attachments, I just don't agree with people whom think it's a prerequisite for living a spiritual life, or that sexuality effects your spirituality in any way.



Well, it can affect your spiritual life in a bad way.

For example if you have to divide your sparse free time between the social needs of your bed partners and your practice.

Or for example if you latest love broke up with you and you sit there lovesick and depressed, unable to use this situation to practice.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Zhen Li » Sat May 10, 2014 11:40 pm

If you do have sex, you must be careful to meditate more. But people who have never lived a celibate life may not know what it is like, they may not know the coolness that comes from dispassion. It's truly unfortunate, but this is the age of Dharma decline after all.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sun May 11, 2014 12:32 am

Zhen Li wrote:If you do have sex, you must be careful to meditate more.


Unless your have a healthy relationship/understanding with your sexuality, aka normal.

Granted there are many abnormal people out there..
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.-The Sith Code
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 12:46 am

Um, well if you want to just live a secular life, sure, but if you want to practice Buddhism to attain enlightenment, then sex really is incompatible with Dharma.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby theanarchist » Sun May 11, 2014 1:00 am

Zhen Li wrote:, they may not know the coolness that comes from dispassion..



I honestly doubt that there are very many monks and nuns who are able to perfect their dispassion about sex/partnership etc to an extent that they are no longer affected by their more human urges.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 1:13 am

Nonsense, I've done meditation retreats before and had no sexual urges for weeks. Heck, with a more devoted practice than I currently have, I remember going months without any sexual urges. This isn't anything special.
Last edited by Zhen Li on Sun May 11, 2014 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sun May 11, 2014 1:13 am

Zhen Li wrote: if you want to practice Buddhism to attain enlightenment, then sex really is incompatible with Dharma.

That is nonsense of course.

Man am I glad my sect is not so puritan.
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.-The Sith Code
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 1:15 am

Upon attaining Arhatship lay life is incompatible with realisation, you'll either ordain or enter parinirvana that day.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby theanarchist » Sun May 11, 2014 1:18 am

Zhen Li wrote:Upon attaining Arhatship lay life is incompatible with realisation, you'll either ordain or enter parinirvana that day.



Sorry to break this to you, but a large portion of the teachers I study with are married and some have kids as a proof for their sexual activity.

:rolling:
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 1:21 am

Har har har :lol: :lol: :lol:
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