What Constitutes Misconduct?

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What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Karma Jinpa » Mon May 12, 2014 10:22 am

Topic split from: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=16449#p233085

LordCope wrote:As 21st century practitioners, do you take this stuff with a pinch of salt? Do you view it allegorically? Similarly the exortations on inappropriate sex (oral / anal).

I was actually wondering to myself about the definition of "sexual misconduct" as referred to in the Pratimoksha vows, but was hesitant to make a whole thread topic on it. Guess now that the proverbial cat's outta the bag we can discuss it in more detail. Does anyone know what the Indo-sutric and Indo-tantric understandings of this phrase were? Was this injunction against such misconduct ever explicitly defined or the parameters set out prior to the Pratimoksha vows taking root in Tibet? If so, was there a single standard, or varying interpretations? And how does this (or do these) compare/contrast with the Tibetan understanding/parameters for "sexual misconduct"?

I ask because 99% of the time I've only heard/read this one simple yet nebulous phrase --- "sexual misconduct" --- and it's not explained in any detail, though perhaps this due to my primarily Kagyu & Nyingma associations. In my experience at Ka-Nying events, for the sake of brevity the Pratimoksha vows are (usually) given during the tail end of the Refuge ceremony, which itself is given just prior to empowerment so as to allow more to receive it. Not sure why there seems to be more emphasis on the formal taking of refuge in Ka-Nying circles, whereas it seems, for example, that in the Sakya tradition the recitation of refuge & bodhicitta during the empowerment ritual itself suffices... but perhaps my limited exposure can at least somewhat account for how/why the upasaka vows are given so briefly. The one time I've seen any sort of detailed explanation of what constitutes misconduct is in Transformation of Suffering: A Handbook for Practitioners (pp. 73-74), where a well-respected Drikung Kagyu lama gets very specific:
Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche wrote:Sexual misconduct means having sex with someone who is married; with a pregnant woman; with a person overpowered by depression, sickness, or suffering; or having sex by force. Sexual misconduct also includes having sex in the vicinity of a shrine or stupa; having sex during the daytime, where there is light, or in retreat; having sex with one's parents, brother, sister, or an immature youth; or having sex with the mouth or anus.

Obviously the majority of these prohibitions make good sense and make for some solid ethics. Adultery inevitably leads to problems with the family social unit or exacerbates problems which were already there; both parties should be consenting adults in possession of all their faculties, and not in a compromised mental state; and rape leads to a host of heinous issues and ramifications.

However, should sex with a pregnant woman be completely off the table, even if you are the woman's loving partner? Many couples sleep with each other during at least some portion of the pregnancy, and often the pregnant woman goes through a point where her libido increases. If this is seen as an issue of not wanting to hurt that unborn child through intercourse, would a lesbian couple still be prohibited automatically, or would there be qualifiers? Or is this more related to the status of Tibetan women and the concept that pregnancy somehow makes a woman "impure"?

We don't want to defile the sacred space of shrines and stupas by giving in to our desires and attachment (worldly concerns), but should rather engage in virtuous Dharma practice. Respectful and simple enough. But no sex in the daytime? Why... because we'd be wasting our day (a.k.a. "burning daylight") and presumably not practicing? This one seems to presuppose no self-control on the part of the practitioner. And no sex where there's light? Are there issues of body shame in Tibetan culture that I'm not aware of? Are we all supposed to do things with the lights completely off every time?

The genetic and psychological tolls of incest, evident throughout history, have been studied thoroughly and are well-known. And pedophilia should be abhorrent to everyone. No bueno. However, no oral sex? Is this to say that sex is for procreation, not recreation, without having to actually say it, or does using one's mouth in that way have negative consequences for enlightened speech and the effectiveness of one's mantra recitation? In the same vein, is the prohibition of anal sex about that orifice being deemed unclean, or is does it stem from a larger notion that homosexuals are somehow unable to be Dharma practitioners? What about lesbians who use toys? What about heterosexuals who enjoy that sort of thing?

:shrug:

If anyone has authoritative answers to any of these questions, or can back up their assertions with textual (and preferably scriptural) references, please do so! I've posed all of these questions not to pass judgment on anyone or on the Three Jewels; far be it from me to judge anyone. Rather I'd like to find clarity on this subject which seemed to have been ambiguous. I, for one, am genuinely curious and wouldn't mind learning about the various levels of orthodoxy and orthopraxy involved. I'm sure many others are sincerely interested in this as well...
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby KonchokZoepa » Mon May 12, 2014 12:15 pm

i think this topic has been discussed on this forum before already.

just to give my two cents if anyone is really interested to find out a bout sexual conduct in tibetan buddhism, its history and development and how different masters have defined it in different shastras, check out these links.


http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... cript.html

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... cript.html

http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... thics.html
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby jiashengrox » Mon May 12, 2014 1:12 pm

Hmm, it depends on tradition, but in general the Tibetans follow the Mulasarvastivadin Vinaya. This would be elaborated extensively in any major Lam Rim texts, such as Je Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation, but it can be summarised in 4 main points:

1. Time of performing sexual misconduct
2. Place of performing sexual misconduct
3. The orfices (such as mouth, anys, etc.)
4. Person whom one is performing sexual intercourse with

There is no extensive elaboration though, on the parajikas, thullaccaya, pacittaya, etc. within the Lam Rim texts. However, it is interesting to note that within the Chinese and Japan Mahayana Vinaya (which primarily follows the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya) there has been an extensive elaboration for parajika, etc. for the precepts for lay people.

Hope this helps! :namaste:
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby TocharianB » Mon May 12, 2014 4:37 pm

Prof. José Cabezón, coming from a Gelug perspective, has a thoughtful article on this that you may be interested in: http://info-buddhism.com/Buddhism-Sexuality-Cabezon.html
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Mon May 12, 2014 5:10 pm

Thank you, Tocharian, for posting that link!
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Konchog1 » Tue May 13, 2014 4:08 am

My understanding is that sexual misconduct is sexual behavior that 1. harms others or 2. harms yourself. The idea is to not do harm and to restrain lust. For example, rape or having intercourse six times in one day.

It may be insightful to catch oneself when annoyed by the restraints on sexual behavior. What is my motivation? Why do I want to masturbate or perform oral intercourse?
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Wayfarer » Tue May 13, 2014 6:26 am

Why do I want to masturbate or perform oral intercourse?


If you can even ask that question you're a long way down the track in my opinion. In my experience, lust is an exceedingly difficult power to negotiate with. The hard part is telling yourself you don't want to do what another part of you really does want to do.

:roll:

Another book I have noticed from a modern scholar of Buddhist studies is The Red Thread:
Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality
by Bernard Faure. I have perused it, haven't read it in detail but it is germane to the topic.
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Karma Jinpa » Tue May 13, 2014 7:10 am

Konchog1 wrote:My understanding is that sexual misconduct is sexual behavior that 1. harms others or 2. harms yourself. The idea is to not do harm and to restrain lust. For example, rape or having intercourse six times in one day.

Konchog, I had that same understanding up until I read Khen Rinpoche's.detailed explanations. Left things up to two (or more) consenting adults, rather than being dictated by a historical someone(s) who was biased against women and others who don't fit the cis-gender hetero mold.

Konchog1 wrote: It may be insightful to catch oneself when annoyed by the restraints on sexual behavior. What is my motivation? Why do I want to masturbate or perform oral intercourse?

Truthfully, I'm not annoyed at the injunctions that personally affect me. I'm more concerned for my friends, loved ones, and fellow human beings who will now possibly become conflicted or feel persecuted by their own tradition. Like I said, the majority of he prohibitions laid out by KKG Rinpoche make perfect sense. But certain others, without context, seem like antiquated notions and I fear that they may turn people away from the Dharma if we're not careful...
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby shaunc » Tue May 13, 2014 8:35 am

[quote=or having intercourse six times in one day.
I
?[/quote]

I wish. 6 times in a week isn't a bad run for me.
As far as I know, for a lay follower of Buddhism, the only rule so to speak is adultery. Other things like rape, pedophilia & incest besides being prohibited in Buddhism are also illegal in most if not all western countries.
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Karma Jinpa » Tue May 13, 2014 11:40 am

shaunc wrote:As far as I know, for a lay follower of Buddhism, the only rule so to speak is adultery. Other things like rape, pedophilia & incest besides being prohibited in Buddhism are also illegal in most if not all western countries.

shaunc, if I wasn't clear before, I apologize. I figured since most of us are, like you, lay-practitioners, that we would discuss sexual misconduct as it pertains to upasakas & upasikas, rather than monastics. While I'm sure it's more nuanced in the Vinaya, the practical rule of thumb for monastics (whether monk or nun) is celibacy, so any sexual conduct would be considered misconduct.

That's one of the reasons Khen Rinpoche's statement is so striking to me, If I'm honest with myself. Transformation of Suffering is a very accessible, down-to-earth explanation of the the Mahayana/Vajrayana Dharma, from the Four Thoughts to Refuge & Bodhicitta and the Six Paramitas. He's most certainly talking to us lay-followers/householders throughout the whole book.

shaunc, which tradition (school/lineage) was the lama who gave you that explanation of misconduct, if I may ask? No need to mention your individual teachers.

That leads me to my next question... Are the vows interpreted differently between the different schools and lineages? Or do Rinpoche's words in ToS match directly with what is said in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya where we get our Pratimoksha vows?
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།


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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Malcolm » Tue May 13, 2014 11:56 am

Karma Jinpa wrote:
shaunc wrote:As far as I know, for a lay follower of Buddhism, the only rule so to speak is adultery. Other things like rape, pedophilia & incest besides being prohibited in Buddhism are also illegal in most if not all western countries.

shaunc, if I wasn't clear before, I apologize. I figured since most of us are, like you, lay-practitioners, that we would discuss sexual misconduct as it pertains to upasakas & upasikas, rather than monastics. While I'm sure it's more nuanced in the Vinaya, the practical rule of thumb for monastics (whether monk or nun) is celibacy, so any sexual conduct would be considered misconduct.

That's one of the reasons Khen Rinpoche's statement is so striking to me, If I'm honest with myself. Transformation of Suffering is a very accessible, down-to-earth explanation of the the Mahayana/Vajrayana Dharma, from the Four Thoughts to Refuge & Bodhicitta and the Six Paramitas. He's most certainly talking to us lay-followers/householders throughout the whole book.

shaunc, which tradition (school/lineage) was the lama who gave you that explanation of misconduct, if I may ask? No need to mention your individual teachers.

That leads me to my next question... Are the vows interpreted differently between the different schools and lineages? Or do Rinpoche's words in ToS match directly with what is said in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya where we get our Pratimoksha vows?


Generally, all this is explained in Abhidharmakosha. Sexual misconduct for lay people is wrong partner, wrong orifice, wrong time, wrong place.

Wrong partner means someone who is 1) not your spouse 2) underage 3) under the authority of another 4) ordained.

Wrong orifice means 1) anal 2) oral

Wrong time means daytime

Wrong place means in public, in a temple, in general in places where there is no privacy.
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby shaunc » Tue May 13, 2014 8:01 pm

Karma Jinpa wrote:
shaunc wrote:As far as I know, for a lay follower of Buddhism, the only rule so to speak is adultery. Other things like rape, pedophilia & incest besides being prohibited in Buddhism are also illegal in most if not all western countries

shaunc, which tradition (school/lineage) was the lama who gave you that explanation of misconduct, if I may ask? No need to mention your individual teachers.

That leads me to my next question... Are the vows interpreted differently between the different schools and lineages? Or do Rinpoche's words in ToS match directly with what is said in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya where we get our Pratimoksha vows?


Most of my Buddhist training has come from reading English translations of pure land Vietnamese school from a temple nearby to me. I also occasionally attend a Thai Forrest monks temple (Theravada) because of language difficulties a lot of what the monks have said to me is translated by a Thai lady (lay follower) that attends the temple.
So it's a bit of mix & match my training/education.
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Karma Jinpa » Wed May 14, 2014 4:52 am

shaun (may I call you shaun?),

The Vietnamese adopted the Dharmaguptaka lineage of Vinaya, whereas the Theravadins go by their own recension. Maybe if there are no significant differences between the Pureland and Theravadin schools --- at least regarding how you had the 5 householder vows explained to you --- then this could point to there being no major asymmetry between the various Vinaya lineages when it comes to the pratimoksha.
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།


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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby shaunc » Wed May 14, 2014 8:14 am

Karma Jinpa wrote:shaun (may I call you shaun?),

The Vietnamese adopted the Dharmaguptaka lineage of Vinaya, whereas the Theravadins go by their own recension. Maybe if there are no significant differences between the Pureland and Theravadin schools --- at least regarding how you had the 5 householder vows explained to you --- then this could point to there being no major asymmetry between the various Vinaya lineages when it comes to the pratimoksha.


As a lay householder, with a wife & 4 children. To me it seems fairly simple.
Wrong time. With 4 kids, neighbors & assorted friends, anytime we get the chance is a good time. Sure it's normally of an evening but not necessarily.
Wrong place. Even a simple follower of Buddhism shouldn't need a guru to tell them not to bonk in a temple, the local cops would put a stop to it if we tried it on in the supermarket.
Wrong orfice. That's not anyone else's business.
Wrong person. For someone in my position that's quite simple. I don't need to know how this relates to anyone else.

Not all lay followers are aspiring to ordain. Some of us are happy to have an ethical code we can live our lives by.
I'm almost certain that some of the rules mentioned have more to do with Tibetan culture rather than Buddhism.
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby ngodrup » Wed May 14, 2014 4:15 pm

I seem to remember that Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen wrote in his introduction
or commentary to the JOL that according to the Mahayana giving pleasure to
another *is* an accumulation of merit. In the context of sexual ethics, it
seems that he was saying that "taking pleasure" (at the expense of the other)
was the misconduct. But then in the text itself it doesn't mention this.

Such a view, if a correct recollection, is harmonious with what my root
Lama said about ethics in general-- "It's easy to tell if it's selfish or not."
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Gyaltsen Tashi » Wed May 14, 2014 4:23 pm

Konchog1 wrote:My understanding is that sexual misconduct is sexual behavior that 1. harms others or 2. harms yourself. The idea is to not do harm and to restrain lust. For example, rape or having intercourse six times in one day.

It may be insightful to catch oneself when annoyed by the restraints on sexual behavior. What is my motivation? Why do I want to masturbate or perform oral intercourse?


Does masturbation harm anyone?

Regards, Gyaltsen Tashi
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby yan kong » Wed May 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Double post. Sorry.
Last edited by yan kong on Wed May 14, 2014 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby yan kong » Wed May 14, 2014 4:35 pm

The topic seems to have been discussed at length here: http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=77&t=10221" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And I believe there are differences in the understanding of sexual misconduct in the Theravada and Mahayana (east Asian and Tibetan)

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Re: What Constitutes Misconduct?

Postby Konchog1 » Wed May 14, 2014 6:42 pm

Gyaltsen Tashi wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:My understanding is that sexual misconduct is sexual behavior that 1. harms others or 2. harms yourself. The idea is to not do harm and to restrain lust. For example, rape or having intercourse six times in one day.

It may be insightful to catch oneself when annoyed by the restraints on sexual behavior. What is my motivation? Why do I want to masturbate or perform oral intercourse?


Does masturbation harm anyone?

Regards, Gyaltsen Tashi

“For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides.

"And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman.

For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival.

Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity.

In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself. . . . After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”

Personal Letter From Lewis to Keith Masson (found in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3)
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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