Celibacy

A forum for discussion of Buddhist ethics.

Re: Celibacy

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sun May 11, 2014 1:28 am

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

Awakening occurs within daily life, not from escaping it. Arhatship is great and all, but here on the Mahayana, we are after something greater.

Though not having a family and being celibate might benefit ordained people. That would be up to the individual.

Things are not bad in and of themselves, or good. Sex can be good or bad. An active sex life and the pursuit of awakening are in no way incompatible.
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 1:33 am

That's just so PC to say.

If you want results you can't just keep your old habits and keep in the grooves of your old karma.

The reason Bodhisattvas may remain lay, is as an upaya. If there were no sentient beings to save, who would remain in any way? Upaya isn't an excuse to indulge, it's a pedagogical strategy employed by Bodhisattvas of advanced status. It's also a reminder not to assume that enlightenment only comes in one form, to be open minded. I don't take it as an excuse to completely lose sight of the basics, and I personally don't believe it means up-haul monasticism and institute lay monasticism.

In the end, Buddhahood is passionless, sexless. Why would you even be attracted by the prospect of sex after you felt the pleasure of dhyana? It's so inferior and base.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sun May 11, 2014 2:10 am

Zhen Li wrote:Upaya isn't an excuse to indulge

Who is indulging?
Zhen Li wrote:In the end, Buddhahood is passionless, sexless. Why would you even be attracted by the prospect of sex after you felt the pleasure of dhyana? It's so inferior and base.


YOUR concept of Buddhahood perhaps. For me, Buddhism is more life affirming and positive. "inferior and base" lol, this forum IS full of anti sex christians. Or people who are not as I said before, normal. I will thank my karma my sexuality is not an issue for me.
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 2:23 am

If you want to be normal, you don't want annihilation.

Lay people just need to accept that, being lay, they're not set for enlightenment just yet. They're really not going to make the kind of progress that they potentially can. Mahayana accepts this and helps you work with it much more than Sravakayana. Not everyone is ready. But if you were, you'd have no qualms about giving up your family to anyone who asked for them out of pure generosity.

And by the way, it's Christianity that wants people to shoot out kids like no one's business, and live highly normative lives. Celibacy is probably a minority opinion among any Christian community in the world. It's ironic, but true, that under-age sex is much more common among Catholic school students.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Wayfarer » Sun May 11, 2014 3:11 am

It is a fact that the early Buddhist teachings generally express a strong disdain, not only for sexual relations, but for sensuality generally - the enjoyment of pleasures, be they sexual or associated with any of the other senses (often referred to as 'the canker of sensuality'.)

Furthermore in Mahayana sutras (e.g. Surangama Sutra), when the subject of sexual lust is discussed, it is warned against as a trap.

Obviously as Buddhism has developed and been practiced, social attitudes have varied enormously. In some places celibacy is required, in others not. But to regard teachings against 'sensuality' as simply 'repression' or as 'life-denying' is to misunderstand the point. There is an obvious connection between sex and the cycle of birth and death. The sexual act is pivotal to the whole process of being born and dying.

Of course times have changed and so has our outlook, but the pendulium has swung too far the other way in the modern West, to the point where for many people, the connection has become completely lost. It is something that is just treated as a commodity or as a form of recreational activity.

Part of what is required in studying Buddhism is the ability to stand outside what you take for granted, what you and those around you simply accept as 'normal' - that is, to think critically about it. And the notion that sexuality has no relationship with spirituality is something that does need critical examination. There are millions of people - maybe billions - for whom problems of sexual relationship, sexual cravings, gender identity, and so on, are pressing problems. That is where this thread started. Of course you may have no such problems, but brushing it off as something 'completely natural and normal' is to fail to see the point.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sun May 11, 2014 3:16 am

Zhen Li wrote:If you want to be normal, you don't want annihilation.

Clearly we view awakening differently, I am a Nichiren Buddhist. Annihilation is not the true goal of practicing Buddhism, that was just a mile stone in the Buddha's teaching.

The laity can be celibate or not, the clergy can too. A wise and compassionate being neither basis their life on sex and it's acquisition, nor wastes time trying to pretend its not a part of their life. You are "abnormal" as I used "normal" because your sexuality is an issue, you are addicted, are a rapist, or have some other issues. Such a person should probably practice celibacy.The rest of us normal people wont have problems.

believe what you want, there is no point in discussing the role of sexuality in the life of an awakened person, if the parties involved in said discussion do not even believe in the validity or practicality of the goals of the other parties. To me, an awakened person can have a sex life. Or not, if they would rather not put energy into it (some poor beings believe sex is the primary motivator in life, how boring! And wasteful!). An awakened person would still be normal or have a "normal side". I believe in the mutual possession of the Ten Worlds, being awakened does not get rid of the states of being from hell to bodhisattva, it puts them in their proper place, Buddhas are never without them, and such an existence would not be good anyway. A nymphomaniac for sure, has to overcome that before any great awakening.

you see awakening differently, which means this can only devolve into some pointless sectarian herpty derp.
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 3:27 am

Sorry, but it's a bit ironic that a Nichirener is saying I am being a sectarian. I never once pushed any sectarian view. Just because I don't agree with you, doesn't mean I am pushing a sectarian view - what is actually normative Buddhist ethics. If you're having sex, you're less likely to attain awakening, pretty simple.

I also never said annihilation is the goal, but annihilation is part of the path, and a Bodhisattva of the 7th Stage attains and passes beyond the annihilation of sravakayana. I.e. Passionlessness and an end to craving are fundamentally not attained through sex, or through maintaining a sexual habit.

Why would a Buddha have sex? I'm not going to entertain discussions of Tantra here. I'm speaking in terms of strictly normative Mahayana Buddhism. There's no point. The raison d'etre of buddhatva is saving others from the sea of suffering. IF, sex CAN do that, then sex is done as an upaya. This really should be basic knowledge in Nichiren too. I never heard of them teaching that Buddhas have sex just for the sake of a casual "sex life" as you put it.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sun May 11, 2014 3:30 am

Zhen Li wrote:Lay people just need to accept that, being lay, they're not set for enlightenment just yet.


That's nonsense. Laypeople can achieve liberation.

If we accept that prajñā is ultimately what produces liberation from suffering, then celibate sangha members have no monopoly on liberation. Arguably having relationships, sexual or emotional, could prove an obstacle to practice and study, which is why renunciation is often optimal for many people, especially in the past when getting teachings usually required travel. Having a family would have been an obstacle to such endeavors.

If we agree that prajñā requires dhyāna, which in turn requires celibacy so as to cut the links of passionate desire, then a layperson can just as well go into retreat and remain celibate for an extended period.


They're really not going to make the kind of progress that they potentially can.


Depends on how you define progress. In my experience married Buddhists can display the same levels of compassion, wisdom, knowledge and so forth as sangha members. The most knowledgeable scholars of Buddhism I know are all married individuals. For some being a renunciate really does help and enables them to pursue a lifestyle which optimizes their practice, but one shoe doesn't fit all.


Not everyone is ready. But if you were, you'd have no qualms about giving up your family to anyone who asked for them out of pure generosity.


You sound more Buddhist than the Sangharaja.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sun May 11, 2014 3:35 am

Zhen Li wrote:I.e. Passionlessness and an end to craving are fundamentally not attained through sex, or through maintaining a sexual habit.


On paper it is supposed to work like that, but you also have biological hard wiring that makes transcending sexual desire not so easily accomplished.

If you try to live up to the standard on paper you might get very frustrated.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Myoho-Nameless » Sun May 11, 2014 4:13 am

Zhen Li wrote:Sorry, but it's a bit ironic that a Nichirener is saying I am being a sectarian

There cannot have been a wholesome motivation behind such a statement, your intention was to insult me. That was not very nice. All major Buddhist circles have had sectarian issues. We are no different in this regard than any other school of Buddhism.

Zhen Li wrote:Just because I don't agree with you, doesn't mean I am pushing a sectarian view

I never said you were, I said that as we do not see the nature of awakening in the same way, this discussion could only devolve into a sectarian headache, some people have patience for that, I do not. It was as if we were discussing the length of the great wall of China, but I only accept metric and you the imperial system. Once that is clear, we cannot get anything but an argument and insults. The sectarian headache was not here, but I saw one coming, I wanted to jump ship before it came.

Zhen Li wrote:I never heard of them teaching that Buddhas have sex just for the sake of a casual "sex life" as you put it.


I have been saying a Buddha can have a sex life, not that they must, Buddhas are people, with different lives. Some have a sex life, some don't. I never said a sex life is necessary for awakening either. Its an option that is not contradictory, fundamentally incompatible with, or otherwise detrimental to the achievement of awakening.

If you think differently, I don't care, I am happy and content with my religion and my attitude towards sex. It does not bother me, keep me up at night, nor cause me any confusion.
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 5:07 am

Indrajala wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:Lay people just need to accept that, being lay, they're not set for enlightenment just yet.


That's nonsense. Laypeople can achieve liberation.

If we accept that prajñā is ultimately what produces liberation from suffering, then celibate sangha members have no monopoly on liberation. Arguably having relationships, sexual or emotional, could prove an obstacle to practice and study, which is why renunciation is often optimal for many people, especially in the past when getting teachings usually required travel. Having a family would have been an obstacle to such endeavors.

If we agree that prajñā requires dhyāna, which in turn requires celibacy so as to cut the links of passionate desire, then a layperson can just as well go into retreat and remain celibate for an extended period.

Yeah, definitely. I realised not long after posting that, that what had been on my mind was the definition of lay that Byagghapajja gives, "Venerable sir, we are laypeople who enjoy sensual pleasures, dwelling at home in a bed crowded with children, enjoying fine sandalwood, wearing garlands, scents, and unguents, accepting gold and silver. Let the Blessed One teach the Dhamma to us in a way that will lead to our welfare and happiness both in the present life and in the future life as well." (AN 8:54; IV 281-85) I'm perfectly happy accepting that a lay person can act as an "anagarika" or achieve liberation as a retreatant without even having taken a precept. But in practice that's a life that is gone forth. A life in the house, having sex, being expected to act in accordance with passions, isn't conducive to the same results, and only one with immense cultivation in one's past life could attain liberation in such a condition.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 5:22 am

Myoho-Nameless wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:Sorry, but it's a bit ironic that a Nichirener is saying I am being a sectarian

There cannot have been a wholesome motivation behind such a statement, your intention was to insult me. That was not very nice. All major Buddhist circles have had sectarian issues. We are no different in this regard than any other school of Buddhism.

No insult was intended. But if you were insulted, I apologise. I would have thought you'd know what I meant.
Myoho-Nameless wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:Just because I don't agree with you, doesn't mean I am pushing a sectarian view

I never said you were, I said that as we do not see the nature of awakening in the same way, this discussion could only devolve into a sectarian headache, some people have patience for that, I do not. It was as if we were discussing the length of the great wall of China, but I only accept metric and you the imperial system. Once that is clear, we cannot get anything but an argument and insults. The sectarian headache was not here, but I saw one coming, I wanted to jump ship before it came.

Like I said, I had no idea Nichiren teaches that Buddhas engage in casual sex for means other than upaya. It's far more likely to be a debate between you and me, about your personal views on Buddhas, than between me and Nichiren.
Myoho-Nameless wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:I never heard of them teaching that Buddhas have sex just for the sake of a casual "sex life" as you put it.

I have been saying a Buddha can have a sex life, not that they must, Buddhas are people, with different lives. Some have a sex life, some don't. I never said a sex life is necessary for awakening either. Its an option that is not contradictory, fundamentally incompatible with, or otherwise detrimental to the achievement of awakening.

How long have you been a Buddhist? I just get the feeling you're not that familiar with Buddhist literature and what has been written on Buddhahood. If you're new, by all means forgive my presumptiveness, but I think you should know better, because this just doesn't make sense. If you have no desire, there's no reason to have sex, except as upaya.

Please quote me the Sutra where the Buddha has sex just for the sake of it. You really aren't making any sense here, and as far as I know, you are just uncomfortable with and culturally awkward with the idea of celibacy, so you reject it as something your ideal Buddha wouldn't do. Your image of the Buddha is the ideal image of yourself. But you fundamentally haven't made any argument as to why the Buddha would have sex for reasons other than upaya. I would also be perfectly satisfied for you to quote me something Nichiren said about this, and I will let it stand as a sectarian difference and not argue it, but I don't believe that Nichiren would say that personally.
Myoho-Nameless wrote:If you think differently, I don't care, I am happy and content with my religion and my attitude towards sex. It does not bother me, keep me up at night, nor cause me any confusion.

This isn't black and white. The fact that some people can live without sex doesn't mean that they stay up at night or are bothered in any way. Some people are, some people aren't, it all depends on your point of view and reasons for living without sex. If some people are voluntarily celibate, it might be because they don't want it, like a Buddha wouldn't, or because they don't want to want it, in which case they may be frustrated until they either overcome their want, or don't, and continue to be frustrated. People who are involuntarily celibate may simply my asexual, or they could just be desiring sex and never come across it. Once again, there is a spectrum. The world has people who fit your expectations, and people who don't.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sun May 11, 2014 5:24 am

Zhen Li wrote:...and only one with immense cultivation in one's past life could attain liberation in such a condition.


Mahāyāna however generally posits that provided prajñā is produced, then the actual status of the practitioner is a secondary concern. It is less about avoiding certain conditions, but simply seeing their empty nature and thus being unmoved by them.

To get to that point of course is easier said than done, though I think a certain amount of worldly and mundane experiences might actually be ultimately beneficial to the bodhisattva path if seen in the right perspective. For instance, I don't have kids, but I imagine parents would understand a degree of compassion and unconditional altruism that I presently cannot. Also, mundane experience maybe cultivates a kind of necessary balance in life. Trying to live above and beyond it all probably won't work for most people. As the Daodejing suggests:

    天下皆知美之為美,斯惡已。皆知善之為善,斯不善已。故有無相生,難易相成,長短相較,高下相傾,音聲相和,前後相隨。

    All in the world know the beauty of the beautiful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what ugliness is; they all know the skill of the skilful, and in doing this they have (the idea of) what the want of skill is. So it is that existence and non-existence give birth the one to (the idea of) the other; that difficulty and ease produce the one (the idea of) the other; that length and shortness fashion out the one the figure of the other; that (the ideas of) height and lowness arise from the contrast of the one with the other; that the musical notes and tones become harmonious through the relation of one with another; and that being before and behind give the idea of one following another.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 5:35 am

Indrajala wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:I.e. Passionlessness and an end to craving are fundamentally not attained through sex, or through maintaining a sexual habit.


On paper it is supposed to work like that, but you also have biological hard wiring that makes transcending sexual desire not so easily accomplished.

If you try to live up to the standard on paper you might get very frustrated.

What you say is true. But the fact remains, if you do try to attain passionlessness through sex, you're in for lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps. As for the path, a few aeons might be expected, or seven days.
Indrajala wrote:Mahāyāna however generally posits that provided prajñā is produced, then the actual status of the practitioner is a secondary concern. It is less about avoiding certain conditions, but simply seeing their empty nature and thus being unmoved by them.

To get to that point of course is easier said than done, though I think a certain amount of worldly and mundane experiences might actually be ultimately beneficial to the bodhisattva path if seen in the right perspective. For instance, I don't have kids, but I imagine parents would understand a degree of compassion and unconditional altruism that I presently cannot. Also, mundane experience maybe cultivates a kind of necessary balance in life. Trying to live above and beyond it all probably won't work for most people. ...

I certainly agree with you here. But seeing with prajñā isn't being in a state of passion. In theory, seeing with prajñā one would be unmoved by sex, but there'd also be no reason to have sex in the first place. It's just two pieces of flesh rubbing against one another. Imagine you're an alien who breeds in a completely different way, looking at humans do that movement would just look completely silly and pointless. Just like sports, it doesn't make any sense unless you have passion for it. Football is just two groups of flesh kicking a round piece of pig skin into a net and then shouting afterwards, it doesn't make any sense without passion. Skiing is really absurd too, pieces of meat attached to sticks sliding down a hill, haha. Of course, if you have passion, it's great fun and has meaning. Of course, out of Upaya, Mahayana can allow someone to do all those things, and get drunk, just to show how open minded Buddhism is and all to promote the Dharma... But that's not the same as doing something just out of passion.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby theanarchist » Sun May 11, 2014 10:50 am

Zhen Li wrote:If you want to be normal, you don't want annihilation.

Lay people just need to accept that, being lay, they're not set for enlightenment just yet. .




Apparently you are after arhatship, not full enlightenment. Because arhatship indeed requires a celibate life and complete renounciation of all sensual attachments as far as I know. That's a fair goal in buddhism.

Whereas to attain full liberation you have to realize the emptiness nature of all phenomena and if you can do that there is no need to be afraid of any sensual experience. Because experiencing for example sex is of emptiness nature too, like all experiences and if you realized that it won't do any harm to your spiritual attainment.


And yes, intensive shamata meditation suppresses fleshly urges. But that's not an ultimate goal if you want to attain liberation. Because this "wanting this" (peace of mind, passionlessness) and "not wanting that" (sex!!!) attitude that you exhibit is rather dualistic and unliberated because it's a strong display of attachment and aversion. And liberation while you still have attachment and aversion? That's hardly liberation, is it?
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Wayfarer » Sun May 11, 2014 11:26 am

Because experiencing for example sex is of emptiness nature too, like all experiences and if you realized that it won't do any harm to your spiritual attainment.


So you can do whatever you like?
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Re: Celibacy

Postby theanarchist » Sun May 11, 2014 12:07 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Because experiencing for example sex is of emptiness nature too, like all experiences and if you realized that it won't do any harm to your spiritual attainment.


So you can do whatever you like?


Yes.

If you truely arrive at that stage you will not be interested in any act that is caused by the clinging to an ego in an ordinary person, that could potentially harm other beings.

So what you are going to "like" to do then will be fundamentally different compared to what a deluded being "likes". And you can definitely chose to have a family at this point.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby theanarchist » Sun May 11, 2014 5:20 pm

Oh, and what I forgot, phases of intensive meditation practice where sex has no place are of course be helpful to get there
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 7:38 pm

theanarchist wrote:Apparently you are after arhatship, not full enlightenment. Because arhatship indeed requires a celibate life and complete renounciation of all sensual attachments as far as I know. That's a fair goal in buddhism.

Whereas to attain full liberation you have to realize the emptiness nature of all phenomena and if you can do that there is no need to be afraid of any sensual experience. Because experiencing for example sex is of emptiness nature too, like all experiences and if you realized that it won't do any harm to your spiritual attainment.

And yes, intensive shamata meditation suppresses fleshly urges. But that's not an ultimate goal if you want to attain liberation. Because this "wanting this" (peace of mind, passionlessness) and "not wanting that" (sex!!!) attitude that you exhibit is rather dualistic and unliberated because it's a strong display of attachment and aversion. And liberation while you still have attachment and aversion? That's hardly liberation, is it?

If you read what I wrote, you will see that we are in agreement completely. At this point it's just pure semantics. But in simple terms, Buddhas aren't in the business of casual sex, and it wouldn't quite make sense if they were.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby theanarchist » Sun May 11, 2014 7:42 pm

Zhen Li wrote: But in simple terms, Buddhas aren't in the business of casual sex,



Nor are people in strict meditation retreats. But that doesn't mean that such a person has to give up relationships that include sex altogether and forever.
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