Celibacy ?

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Celibacy ?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:10 pm

On the sister forum to this one..Dhamma Wheel, a thread has appeared concerning the writers goal of becoming celibate. In fact the op asks for advise on ' Eradicating The Sex Drive ' .
Obviously the dominant view on Dhamma Wheel is that of the Theravada..but it got me thinking.
I see no virtue per se in celibacy. It seems from my pov to be extraordinary that any lay person should see virtue in it.
How do others ( I am thinking principally here of those who do not belong to the ordained Sangha and are not Theravadins ) think of the matter ?
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2142
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:23 pm

According to traditional Abhidharma models, elimination of kāma (all desire, in particular sexual desire) is a prerequisite for attainment of dhyāna which is further necessary for liberation.

Alternative models of course exist and it does beg the question if celibacy is needed outside of long-term meditation retreats. In other words, why can't you just maintain brahmacarya while on retreat?

I think celibacy is logical for renunciates on a number of levels. If you're living in a communal monastery or as a wandering mendicant, then producing offspring or being tied to a home is unwise, though for laypeople such concerns are less of an issue. The concern is more practical rather than puritanical.

In any case, the ironic thing is that a lot of married couples inevitably end up sexless after some years anyway, so being formally celibate isn't as problematic as it might seem initially.

If you want to devote yourself full-time to Dharma, then not having a family is useful. Still, there are plenty of monastics who are busier than laypeople and are bogged down with so many responsibilities that practice proves difficult if not impossible.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5573
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:37 pm

I think the view that married couples ' end up sexless after a few years anyway ' is not borne out by my experience Indrajala, and I don't think it is true of many of my friends either. Including Buddhist ones.
I can see that for those who are embracing a homeless life it may make life far more simple in some respects..but my curiosity was piqued by an assumption implicit in the op ( and in some of the early responses to it ) that to eradicate the sex drive was commendable for lay people.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2142
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am


Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:51 pm

Apologies. I did not realise that I was pointing to such a well worn path..

:namaste:
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2142
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:51 pm

Simon E. wrote:I think the view that married couples ' end up sexless after a few years anyway '


...is true of all my friends and family who have been in FAILED relationships. Not true of those who have been in durable, stable relationships.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4319
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:53 pm

Simon E. wrote:Apologies. I did not realise that I was pointing to such a well worn path..

:namaste:


It's OK, since this is getting at a new angle (laypeople). I just wanted to remind everyone that many of the positions they are likely to see in this thread have been rehearsed elsewhere.

I'm also interested to see how DW members view the role and value of Buddhist practice by laypeople, which has come up for discussion elsewhere, and what the role of sexuality may be in the context of serious householder practice.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4319
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:54 pm

Jikan wrote:
Simon E. wrote:I think the view that married couples ' end up sexless after a few years anyway '


...is true of all my friends and family who have been in FAILED relationships. Not true of those who have been in durable, stable relationships.

There is a lot of truth in that. Sexuality can shift to being an affirmation of relationship.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2142
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:58 pm

I don't think most practitioners ever eliminate their sex drive, including renunciates.

It is just a matter of whether or not it severely impedes your samādhi. For most common people their everyday routines and responsibilities are probably more of a hindrance to their meditation than their sex drive. In any case, living an ordinary life is not conducive to the dhyānas, so most practice of śamatha will be for mental hygiene. Progress will be limited.

I tend to think celibacy is necessary for serious practice of meditation. If you're on retreat, especially long-term retreat, obviously avoid all such activities and thoughts.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5573
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:00 pm

Jikan wrote:
Simon E. wrote:I think the view that married couples ' end up sexless after a few years anyway '


...is true of all my friends and family who have been in FAILED relationships. Not true of those who have been in durable, stable relationships.


It depends.

I spoke to a senior monk some time ago and he explained how common it is for older men to come to him and lament how they haven't had sex in years.

In Japan, too, I've often heard and read about marriages inevitably become sexless and this is even expected. Men often find mistresses and this is quietly tolerated provided he keeps it all outside the home.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5573
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:03 pm

I dont believe for a second that celibacy is necessary for a 'serious' meditation practice.
I have a serious meditation practice. And a rewarding a sex life.
What is the experience of other lay people ?
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2142
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:08 pm

Simon E. wrote:I dont believe for a second that celibacy is necessary for a 'serious' meditation practice.


Is that because you enjoy sex that you say this?

It goes without saying the Buddha generally encouraged brahmacarya.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5573
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:16 pm

Simon E. wrote:What is the experience of other lay people ?


My experience is in accord with the following:

MN 22 wrote:"Monks, it is impossible indeed, that one can pursue sense gratification without sensual desire, without perceptions of sensual desire, without thoughts of sensual desire.


The commentary emphasizes sex as exemplar, but the general statement has wider application in terms of overall practical guidance.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:52 am

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:17 pm

I understand that you have made your choice Indrajala.
I respect that.
I made it plain in the op that my principle interest was in those not ordained and not Theravadin.
If there are no Mahayanist lay people interested in the topic then it will die a death.
:namaste:
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2142
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:21 pm

<-- not Theravada, FWIW
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:52 am

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:25 pm

Simon E. wrote:I understand that you have made your choice Indrajala.
I respect that.
I made it plain in the op that my principle interest was in those not ordained and not Theravadin.
If there are no Mahayanist lay people interested in the topic then it will die a death.
:namaste:


I wasn't always a monk. I can speak from the perspective of having been someone who once practiced meditation alongside a rather passionate sex life.

You say...

I see no virtue per se in celibacy. It seems from my pov to be extraordinary that any lay person should see virtue in it.

Nevertheless, the Buddha saw great benefits to abandoning or at least curtailing sexual activities.

A more moderate position would be to at least acknowledge the perspective of the Buddha.

For the record I don't see celibacy as absolutely critical as I know virtuous lamas who are married with children (one of whom is down the street from me here in Kathmandu). Still, I believe they would agree with me that sexual activities should be done in moderation. Sexual desire is the undoing of many people.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5573
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Jikan » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:26 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Jikan wrote:
Simon E. wrote:I think the view that married couples ' end up sexless after a few years anyway '


...is true of all my friends and family who have been in FAILED relationships. Not true of those who have been in durable, stable relationships.


It depends.

I spoke to a senior monk some time ago and he explained how common it is for older men to come to him and lament how they haven't had sex in years.

In Japan, too, I've often heard and read about marriages inevitably become sexless and this is even expected. Men often find mistresses and this is quietly tolerated provided he keeps it all outside the home.


I think these examples demonstrate the point I was making insofar as they are examples of failed relationships. The cultural expectation you describe that all relationships are doomed to fail in this way is rather depressing.
Jikan
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4319
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:28 pm

Jikan wrote:I think these examples demonstrate the point I was making insofar as they are examples of failed relationships. The cultural expectation you describe that all relationships are doomed to fail in this way is rather depressing.


Well, look at how many relationships end up in divorce nowadays.

I would imagine the majority of them become sexless long before the legal paperwork for divorce is submitted.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
Former staff member
 
Posts: 5573
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: India

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:30 pm

Rather depressing, but also very revealing.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2142
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Celibacy ?

Postby Simon E. » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:36 pm

This thread was a mistake. :lol: I thoroughly regret posting it.
I conclude that a mature discussion on the topic is not yet possible at this stage of Buddhadharma's shifting to the west.
Simon E.
 
Posts: 2142
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Next

Return to Open Dharma

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Taijibum, Vajraprajnakhadga, zerwe and 9 guests

>