Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:41 am

Thundering Cloud wrote:I feel like we may be engaged in a debate over semantics on this point. I consider sexual activity (in many circumstances) to be an expression of love and trust.
I believe that it can be bu that it isn't necessarily. Sex with a sex worker is not an expresion of love and trust. Sex motivated by lust is not...
The purpose of "BDSM relationships" is not different from the purpose of any other intimate relationship ... You seem to have this idea that "BDSM relationships" are in some category all their own, with completely different motives and goals from other intimate relationships.
Look at this statement and then tell me who is setting up this false dichotomy?

Look at this statement by "Clouds"
IN BDSM, among the serious practitioners I have known, it is considered unskillful and unacceptable
* to harm another (regardless of consent or ignorance),
* to take what is not negotiated,
* to fail to develop control and awareness,
* to fail to communicate honestly,
* to undertake risk without informed awareness or mindfulness to avoid harm,
* to use intoxicants while negotiating or practicing with others,
* to fail to address consequences, whether intended or accidental.
And explain to me why "Clouds" may believe that everything in that list pertains to BDSM and not to all healthy relationships in general. Your comments mirror this logic, that is why I am presenting it.
Would you suggest to a gay man that "normal" heterosexual sex is good enough, and that he should either learn to like it or be celibate? After all, if the purpose is ultimately the same, why add the ethically questionable aspect into the equation, right?
Comparing BDSM to homosexuality is not valid. Homosexuality does not take activities "popularly" recognised (even by a child, ie not via socialisation) as negative: inflicting physical pain, domination, humiliation, torture, restraint, beating, etc... and attempt to define them as expressions of love and tenderness. Homosexuality is the expression of love and tenderness (through sex as well) between people of the same sex.
Please do not take this the wrong way... but I have not seen much indication of your understanding this particular issue. Which is mainly why I have taken the time to reply -- I understand this topic by virtue of experience better than most on this forum (including yourself, I have come to suspect) are able to understand it by means of speculation. From what I gather, you have not felt nor explored a desire for BDSM firsthand. Am I right on this?
Bzzzzzzt... Wrong!
If you understood BDSM-related desires, you would not have such difficulty separating particular actions (those falling under the heading of "domination", for instance) from particular motives (such as aggression, or a need to take advantage of another person). I do not get the feeling that my point about the contextual dependence of the wholesomeness of actions has quite been grasped, so I will try to explain it more clearly here. Given any specific action or behavior, there exist circumstances and intentions in context of which said action would be loving and skillful; likewise, for any specific action or behavior, there exist circumstances and intentions in context of which said action would be debasing and unskillful. No specific describable action has the intrinsic quality of being skillful nor of being unskillful. I think that understanding this may be the crux of the matter for you. You do not apparently understand how causing physical pain can possibly be an act of love or kindness. You see such actions as having an absolute nature, independent of their context. In your view they are intrinsically unwholesome no matter what, and this view is what seems to be hampering your understanding. In a Buddhist context, I would suggest that you do not entirely see the emptiness of specific actions. Intent is far more important.
Excellent! Now we are using Buddhist theories of emptiness to justify desire! Buddhism bent to the service of ego-centred desire.
If you think that BDSM has a fundamentally different basis and purpose than more typical expressions of romance, then that is your delusion. I will do what I can to break it.
The only thing you will do during this attempt is expose more of the weaknesses in your logic. But hey, knock yourself out trying! :smile:

In closing I am not asking you to relinquish or abandon anything. In your previous post you asked:
My point is that blind aversion and blind indulgence of the desires one has are both counterproductive. The key is to avoid both extremes. Now, for someone who feels strongly compelled toward BDSM (and not at all toward "normal" romance), how would you advise going about this?
And my answer was a pretty clear example of how one can utilise their compulsions in a postive (in terms of Buddhist ethics and practice) manner. I advise you to read the accounts of lives of the Mahasiddhas to see where this approach to practice originates from.
:namaste:
"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: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Clouds » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:26 am

@gregkarvarnos
:) How not to be defensive when I must, if I respond at all, again correct your misrepresentations of my words. Challenging, but I'll try one more time to communicate with you.

I never said all healthy relationships are BDSM relationships. I never said or suggested all healthy sexual relationships are BDSM relationships. I never said the healthy behaviors and values I saw in serious BDSM practice is unique to BDSM.

What I said from the beginning is that in BDSM, among the serious practitioners I have known, it is considered unskillful and unacceptable
* to harm another (regardless of consent or ignorance),
* to take what is not negotiated,
* to fail to develop control and awareness,
* to fail to communicate honestly,
* to undertake risk without informed awareness or mindfulness to avoid harm,
* to use intoxicants while negotiating or practicing with others,
* to fail to address consequences, whether intended or accidental.
Conscious practice of Risk Aware Consensual Kink in my experience has benefited individuals and relationships and even community. I have seen much less healthy or unwholesome behavior in vanilla dating, courtship and marriage practices, and have alluded to non-consensual dominance being obvious in SOME of those relationships; that some BDSM relationships have dominance, sure I have seen it, and some that do not, but there is much more emphasis and understanding that dominance and submission are consensual possibilities. I am not saying BDSM is the only anything, just to be clear. And I have said I do not see this as alien to Buddhist ethics.
You have seemed to indicate you don't consider this is even possible. Is that a mis-read of your position?

As to what defines me being BDSM - really? I am surprised a counselor would even suggest a person could so narrowly define themselves... I am many things, as are all people, throughout their lives - as are you. But let's get back to the topic and leave personal characterizations aside, they are not in my opinion very helpful.

Numerous professional psychologists, sociologists, and social observers have already published on similarities between the view of homosexuality as pathoplogical and the view of consensual BDSM as pathological, these topics are in no way original to me, and were key in revisions of both the DSM-IV and the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). I realize that's primarily a North American standard, but I understand previous earlier discussions in Europe led to their even earlier changes to professional standards and national laws.

Much discussion regarding what is abuse and what are consensual if extreme erotic activities have been happening for decades in America, Canada, Europe, and I think probably elsewhere (though I am unfamiliar with them); this has been a truly global topic for a long time. That you are apparently unaware of it, or prefer to ignore developed professional consensus, does not mean it does not exist. Current sexuality and mental health research is comfortable that 10-15% incorporate some form of BDSM into their sexual lives; some surveys find as much as 25%. The actual deep psychological and social harm done by pathologizing / stigmatizing what is a non-pathological variant behavior or identity has also been validated by research, on appearance, ethnic identity, racism, nationalism, gender and sexual orientation.

The original post asked about Buddhist ethics and BDSM. I have found Thundering Cloud and others most interesting when they have spoken to this topic. Some people have suggested all sexuality is simply expression of lust. That sounds wrong to me; not all eating is an expression of gluttony. Buddhism is the Middle Way and there are 4 assemblies in the Sangha; only 2 are vowed to celibacy.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Clouds » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:04 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Clouds wrote:@gregkavarnos ... To even suggest that, when I say that true love (not sex) has universally recognised manners of expression (tenderness, affection, etc...), means that I want to have sex with your children is (and EXCUSE ME for saying so) evidence of a dis-eased mentality regarding love.

And then to cap it all off you dismiss everything that I say (outright) because I happen to be a psychological counsellor. Like that invalidates all my professional and personal experience with BDSM!!!
...


Some additional comments: I have not corrected every misrepresentation you have offered; but on these two, in the first, I quoted your words exactly i.e. "If what you consider love is truly love then its expression stands in all circumstances." You had continued "Love, like that of a mother towards her child, and its expression is not specific to its object, it is boundless and universal." I pointed out the fallacy easily reached from that generalization; sex is an expression of love NOT universally appropriate in all relationships. The emotion might be a universal; expression is definitely not. Your imaginative leap was your own, which you then used to characterize my mentality as dis-eased.

And no, I in no way dismissed what you wrote because you happen to be a psychological counselor; on the contrary, I consider them all the more seriously because of that. And I suspect that such a reaction from readers may be why you volunteered that self-identification.

I cannot really consider your personal or professional experience with BDSM because you have not really stated what that is. Nor would your reported experience cause me to discard my own educational, professional and personal experience.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:50 pm

Clouds wrote:I pointed out the fallacy easily reached from that generalization; sex is an expression of love NOT universally appropriate in all relationships.
No, sex is sex, love is love. Love may be expressed during or through sex, but that does not make sex an expression of love. Love may be expressed through a well cooked meal, that does not make cookery love, or love cookery.
Your imaginative leap was your own, which you then used to characterize my mentality as dis-eased.
Sorry dude, but I'm gonna have to call you on this. AGAIN. I said:
If what you consider love is truly love then its expression stands in all circumstances. Love, like that of a mother towards her child, and its expression is not specific to its object, it is boundless and universal.
You took the first bit out of its context and then insinutated that I want to have sex with your children. You can just admit you were wrong on this point, if your ego allows you to.

Okay, now I am going to use an analogy in order to explain what I have said three times which has been COMPLETELY misinterpreted all three times. I will assume that it is my incapacity to clearly express what I mean that is leading to the misinterpretation. Let's get one thing straight, the example I will use has no direct bearing on the subject (BDSM) and I am not trying to draw parallels regarding the subject matter but parallels regarding the use of mistaken logic.

I say: the Ku Klux Klan is a wonderful organisation and is completely in keeping with Buddhist ethics and practice because:
It encourages trust amongst its members.
It's provides it's members with group activities that encourage unity and combined effort.
It's helps it's members develop social interaction and group decision making skills.
It encourages honesty amongst its members.
It gives people with certain habits and proclivities the opprtunity to express them in a supportive environment.

You say: wait on Greg, those characteristics you describe are not the exclusive domain of the KKK but are characteristics that are to be found in all social groups. Wouldn't it be better to reconsider the KKK as an avenue for the development of those characteristics and look to other more socially acceptable groups in order to gain the same benefits.

I say: but I like the idea of destroying the "other" (read: Jew, Fag, Nigger, Commie, etc...) which brings ruin to this world, it really appeals to my sensibility.

You say: well, why not turn this need towards destroying the "other" of ignorance, hatred, lust, greed, jealousy and pride, the "other" which destroys your enlightened nature, the true realm of existence?

etc...
:namaste:
"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: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Clouds » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:46 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Clouds wrote: Clouds wrote:I pointed out the fallacy easily reached from that generalization; sex is an expression of love NOT universally appropriate in all relationships.

No, sex is sex, love is love. Love may be expressed during or through sex, but that does not make sex an expression of love. Love may be expressed through a well cooked meal, that does not make cookery love, or love cookery..


You agree with me (and revise your position). Then suggest it is a correction of me. Interesting.

gregkavarnos wrote:
Clouds wrote:Your imaginative leap was your own, which you then used to characterize my mentality as dis-eased.


Sorry dude, but I'm gonna have to call you on this. AGAIN. I said:
If what you consider love is truly love then its expression stands in all circumstances. Love, like that of a mother towards her child, and its expression is not specific to its object, it is boundless and universal.


In my first quote of you I quoted you exactly but did not include the second part. Then in my next post I quoted all of it, to show your fallacy AND that YOU introduced, bizarrely, mother love as an example of how "expression is not specific to its object". This is simply wrong, as you admitted above.

Additionally, I NEVER suggested you wanted to have sex with my children. You introduced the word "my", a pronoun of relationship, which made the statement personal and increased its offensiveness. The reason that I find this a particularly glaring insertion and reinterpretation of my words is due to a simple fact: I have no children. So that is utterly your projection and invention. And as a psychological counselor, I am sure that INVENTING A RELATIONSHIP AND REACTION has clear significance to you. It should cause you to pause in your tracks and examine what your mind is doing.

gregkavarnos wrote:You took the first bit out of its context and then insinutated that I want to have sex with your children. You can just admit you were wrong on this point, if your ego allows you to.


How often people accuse others of their own faults.



gregkavarnos wrote: Okay, now I am going to use an analogy in order to explain what I have said three times which has been COMPLETELY misinterpreted all three times. I will assume that it is my incapacity to clearly express what I mean that is leading to the misinterpretation. Let's get one thing straight, the example I will use has no direct bearing on the subject (BDSM) and I am not trying to draw parallels regarding the subject matter but parallels regarding the use of mistaken logic.

I say: the Ku Klux Klan is a wonderful organisation and is completely in keeping with Buddhist ethics and practice because:
It encourages trust amongst its members.
It's provides it's members with group activities that encourage unity and combined effort.
It's helps it's members develop social interaction and group decision making skills.
It encourages honesty amongst its members.
It gives people with certain habits and proclivities the opprtunity to express them in a supportive environment.

You say: wait on Greg, those characteristics you describe are not the exclusive domain of the KKK but are characteristics that are to be found in all social groups. Wouldn't it be better to reconsider the KKK as an avenue for the development of those characteristics and look to other more socially acceptable groups in order to gain the same benefits.

I say: but I like the idea of destroying the "other" (read: Jew, Fag, Nigger, Commie, etc...) which brings ruin to this world, it really appeals to my sensibility.

You say: well, why not turn this need towards destroying the "other" of ignorance, hatred, lust, greed, jealousy and pride, the "other" which destroys your enlightened nature, the true realm of existence?

etc...
:namaste:


Investing dialogue between us; again, rather telling, counselor. And using the KKK as an example - if you are an American, you would know that would trigger strong emotions (of revulsion, disgust, anger, etc) which would tend to shut down discussion and interfere with calm consideration. It is a cheap tactic to make people stop thinking, indulge in emotional reactions, and trigger prejudices. Not really helpful, in my opinion.

No one here except YOU has suggested people are assigning exclusively to BDSM, characteristics which can also belong or only belong properly to other relationships. Personally, I have stated my opinion of the opposite.

I don't have a need to "destroy the other". That may be how you see your own spiritual practice, or your social role; it is not how I perceive either of those for myself. I suggest you own it, don't project it.

There's been more than enough personal attacks, mis-characterizations, and de-railings in this thread. The original post asked about Buddhist ethics and BDSM.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:11 pm

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"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: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Thundering Cloud » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:39 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Thundering Cloud wrote:I feel like we may be engaged in a debate over semantics on this point. I consider sexual activity (in many circumstances) to be an expression of love and trust.
I believe that it can be bu that it isn't necessarily. Sex with a sex worker is not an expresion of love and trust. Sex motivated by lust is not...


Granted. What I meant to say here, I think, was that in general I don't think it is fair or accurate to try to set up a one-to-one correspondence between motives and actions. In my experience, nearly every action is the result of many motives. As applied to the original context, I'm saying that BDSM is not practiced exclusively for selfish indulgement, but for the benefit of one's partner as well. In this respect it is no different than more typical expressions of sex. And of course, there are some practitioners who are more scrupulous / selfless than others; this is also no different than what is seen in more typical expressions of sex.

My larger point is that you will be hard-pressed to find a valid categorical criticism of BDSM that does not apply equally well to sexuality in general.

gregkavarnos wrote:Look at this statement and then tell me who is setting up this false dichotomy?

Look at this statement by "Clouds"
IN BDSM, among the serious practitioners I have known, it is considered unskillful and unacceptable
* to harm another (regardless of consent or ignorance),
* to take what is not negotiated,
* to fail to develop control and awareness,
* to fail to communicate honestly,
* to undertake risk without informed awareness or mindfulness to avoid harm,
* to use intoxicants while negotiating or practicing with others,
* to fail to address consequences, whether intended or accidental.
And explain to me why "Clouds" may believe that everything in that list pertains to BDSM and not to all healthy relationships in general. Your comments mirror this logic, that is why I am presenting it.


I have been following (though generally not commenting on) your conversation with Clouds, and I did not understand Clouds to be suggesting that BDSM was somehow superior to other types of relationships, or that the qualities listed in your quotation are exclusive to BDSM. I understood Clouds to be merely demonstrating that BDSM shares these qualities with other relationships. I do not think a dichotomy was being suggested. I also have not suggested such a dichotomy in my posts.

gregkavarnos wrote:Excellent! Now we are using Buddhist theories of emptiness to justify desire! Buddhism bent to the service of ego-centred desire.


While proclamations of weakness or other such dismissals add character to your replies, you may have noticed that more often than not I respond only to your arguments themselves. I see that you do not have one to address this point (at least, not yet). I encourage you to consider it, as I think it might be central to our differences. To restate it in more detail: although our future is karmically conditioned by what we do, it is not the actions themselves that matter. No action has the intrinsic property of being good or bad, skillful or unskillful, loving or debasing, etc. They are imbued with these qualities -- and with karmic consequence -- by the intentions and contexts in which they manifest. The actions themselves are empty. When you say things like:
gregkavarnos wrote:Comparing BDSM to homosexuality is not valid. Homosexuality does not take activities "popularly" recognised (even by a child, ie not via socialisation) as negative: inflicting physical pain, domination, humiliation, torture, restraint, beating, etc... and attempt to define them as expressions of love and tenderness.

It gives me the impression that you do not quite see this, and instead think that some actions have intrinsic value (from a karmic / Buddhist perspective). That is, you think they are non-empty, or at least that they have as much specific character so that their manifestation unambiguously indicates the presence of specific motives. I think you should reconsider this. Strictly speaking: if inflicting pain on another person is intrinsically a bad thing, even if they want it, enjoy it, and request it, then the chef at my favorite local Thai restaurant must be due for a long stay in a hell realm... they certainly do not skimp on the heat (i.e. pain). :tongue: And just to be clear: I am not trying to equate BDSM with spicy foods here, I am pointing out one example in which a particular BDSM-related action that you can name -- inflicting pain on another person -- is not itself intrinsically bad. I can do the same for other such examples. In fairness, some names for actions can be more misleading than others because they incorporate intent as well, such as "torture" for instance. It is to avoid confusion that what is practiced in BDSM is often called "mock-torture", because any similarity to actual torture is strictly superficial. The motives, experiences, and outcomes are nothing alike. And that -- not the specifics of the actions themselves -- is what matters.

On a related note, I also do not view Buddhism, nor emptiness in particular, as a "theory" per se. Theories involve the adoption of premises, whereas emptiness involves the relinquishing of them. But that's getting into another topic beyond the scope of this thread. :smile:

gregkavarnos wrote:In closing I am not asking you to relinquish or abandon anything. In your previous post you asked:
My point is that blind aversion and blind indulgence of the desires one has are both counterproductive. The key is to avoid both extremes. Now, for someone who feels strongly compelled toward BDSM (and not at all toward "normal" romance), how would you advise going about this?
And my answer was a pretty clear example of how one can utilise their compulsions in a postive (in terms of Buddhist ethics and practice) manner. I advise you to read the accounts of lives of the Mahasiddhas to see where this approach to practice originates from.
:namaste:


Thank you for the reference. :namaste:
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:43 pm

Thundering Cloud wrote:My larger point is that you will be hard-pressed to find a valid categorical criticism of BDSM that does not apply equally well to sexuality in general.
Hmmmm... Yes and no. Take karmamudra practices for example.
I have been following (though generally not commenting on) your conversation with Clouds, and I did not understand Clouds to be suggesting that BDSM was somehow superior to other types of relationships, or that the qualities listed in your quotation are exclusive to BDSM. I understood Clouds to be merely demonstrating that BDSM shares these qualities with other relationships. I do not think a dichotomy was being suggested. I also have not suggested such a dichotomy in my posts.
If you say so. But it didn't come across that way.

To restate it in more detail: although our future is karmically conditioned by what we do, it is not the actions themselves that matter. No action has the intrinsic property of being good or bad, skillful or unskillful, loving or debasing, etc. They are imbued with these qualities -- and with karmic consequence -- by the intentions and contexts in which they manifest. The actions themselves are empty.
This is where your grasp of emptiness falls into nihilism.

Nagarjuna says that statements like:
1. The actions themselves matter.
2. The actions themselves do not matter.
3. The actions themselves matter and do not matter.
4. The actions themselves neither matter nor do not matter.

Are all extremes. The second statement falls into the realm of nihilism. You claim that I believe that actions themselves do matter. I didn't say this because in my example dealing with homsexuality I included the role of socialisation in judgements.

But this is not the point, the point is that the role of the exposition of emptiness is to allow us to see the dependently arisen nature of phenomena so that we do not fall prey to aversion AND attachment towards the object, that we can see the phenomena for what it actually is. You say that I fall prey to aversion I say you fall prey to attachment... :smile: I will analyse this further below.
It gives me the impression that you do not quite see this, and instead think that some actions have intrinsic value (from a karmic / Buddhist perspective). That is, you think they are non-empty, or at least that they have as much specific character so that their manifestation unambiguously indicates the presence of specific motives. I think you should reconsider this.
Painful is painful. Pleasant is pleasant. They are bodily feelings. Suffering and joy are mental. They are part of discriminating minds attempt to classify feeling. This classification is based on a misconception of the true nature of phenomena (including the self). But this does not mean that phenomena lack "substance" or existence. It means they are dependently arising.

An Arhat still feels bodily pain, but they do not feel mental suffering. They are also beyond relative joy. Taking pain to be a joyful experience is not an indication of the realisation of emptiness, it as a further misconception of the nature of phenomena. Saying that pain is neither suffering nor joy is a different story.

When you say that actions are empty and lack inherent qualities this does not mean that they lack qualities per se. Being whipped is being whipped. Perceiving whipping as painful and as suffering is "acceptable" at a relative level. Now relative level definitions (as ethics are) depend on a majority accepting the definition. This acceptance does not reduce the karmic quality of the action though. It was socially acceptable in the Southern US states (well, actually in all of the US states initially) to have slaves. But the Buddha considers the selling and purchasing of slaves as wrong action. The Buddha though, was enlightened. We are living in ignorance. When you consider that actions perceived by the majority of people (including enlightened individuals) as unwholesome are actually acceptable, and you perceive them as acceptable since they bring you joy, then you are not involved in the praxis of emptiness, you are just sinking into further delusion and ignorance. At the same time you are reinforcing behaviours (setting up habits) which in the future wil indoubtedly bring suffering.

Here I will ask you a personal question which you (very obviously) do not need to answer publicly. You (and "Clouds" too) say that BDSM can be used to express feeling of tenderness and love. My question is this: if this is the case then if you were to express these feelings in a more "conventional" manner would your partner accept this "new" mode of expression or will they reject it? Why (in both cases :smile: )?
"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: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:06 pm

Bird wrote:...As a woman, I love to be submissive in my "fantasy bed." When I step into my world the next morning, however, and I notice very painfully that almost all (one exception) recognized Rinpoches are male, and in the monastic sangha, the word "equality" is almost a pathetic joke, I wonder what, if any, relationship exists between my very enjoyable "bedroom world" and the daytime sexism which is far from enjoyable and causes me to feel rage rather than pleasure...
It seems that there is quite clearly a link: you reproduce the same oppression that you find in the "everyday world" in your bedroom (as if the bedroom is not part of the everyday world).

I believe that in your attempt to escape the all too obvious injustice which you project onto the Rinpoche (a figure you may, at the same time, also admire, love and respect) and failing to realise that they are dwelling in samsara too, you figure that all loving relationships must also be characterised by domination, inequality and sexism. You eroticise your own suffering (because you feel you cannot erase it) in an attempt to lump it since you cannot truly love it. How can one want suffering after all?

But there is no use in hating yourself. That is not the aim of Buddhist practice. You just have to see the Self for what it truly is. BUT, and this may be the crucial point, if you cannot bring yourself to love yourself, at least respect the fact that this precious human body, so difficult to obtain and so easy to lose, is the perfect receptacle for your enlightened nature. It is the perfect vehicle for your journey to true liberation.

If all else fails, there are some damn fine women Rinpoche out there! Khandro Rinpoche is one of my favorites! AND there are some fantastic practices out there that have come to us from enlightened women masters.
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:namaste:
"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: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Thundering Cloud » Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:07 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
To restate it in more detail: although our future is karmically conditioned by what we do, it is not the actions themselves that matter. No action has the intrinsic property of being good or bad, skillful or unskillful, loving or debasing, etc. They are imbued with these qualities -- and with karmic consequence -- by the intentions and contexts in which they manifest. The actions themselves are empty.
This is where your grasp of emptiness falls into nihilism.

Nagarjuna says that statements like:
1. The actions themselves matter.
2. The actions themselves do not matter.
3. The actions themselves matter and do not matter.
4. The actions themselves neither matter nor do not matter.

Are all extremes. The second statement falls into the realm of nihilism.


I'll buy that. They are all extremes. But my take on what Nagarjuna was trying to illustrate (and feel free to disagree with me, one or both of us can learn that way :smile: ) by such kinds of statements is that technically, any statement is on some level an extreme, even if it is a statement of a negative, or a seemingly well-ambiguated statement like both or neither. Why? For one thing, because words represent concepts, and a concept is necessarily a perception of fullness in something (even if only adopted for sake of argument). A concept is just a model -- a method of thinking about something -- and a model requires the adoption of some fixed premises in order to be defined. Those premises are taken -- if only temporarily for purposes of modeling -- as objective and well-defined truths, i.e. as non-empty.

I understand the teaching of emptiness to imply that "the truth of things" as such is ultimately beyond any conception of it. That is, any conception falls short of modeling "ultimate truth" per se. By extension, any description falls short as well; "The finger is not the moon."

What I was trying to get at with the above-cited argument (and using emptiness as means to demonstrate) is that the model of attaching significance to intent, and to mental joy versus suffering, is more useful for understanding why people like BDSM, and for understanding what their motives are, than is the model of attaching significance to categories of actions or to sensual pleasure versus pain. It is also, by extension, more useful for ethical evaluations of such behaviors.

gregkavarnos wrote:You claim that I believe that actions themselves do matter. I didn't say this because in my example dealing with homsexuality I included the role of socialisation in judgements.


I'm not sure if I follow what you're saying, here. You claimed that the actions employed in BDSM are "recognised (even by a child, ie not via socialisation) as negative." I took this to be suggesting that these actions have intrinsic natures, independent of socialized judgments of them. Did I misunderstand you?

gregkavarnos wrote:But this is not the point, the point is that the role of the exposition of emptiness is to allow us to see the dependently arisen nature of phenomena so that we do not fall prey to aversion AND attachment towards the object, that we can see the phenomena for what it actually is. You say that I fall prey to aversion I say you fall prey to attachment... :smile:
Painful is painful. Pleasant is pleasant. They are bodily feelings. Suffering and joy are mental. They are part of discriminating minds attempt to classify feeling. This classification is based on a misconception of the true nature of phenomena (including the self).


No argument there. :smile:

gregkavarnos wrote: But this does not mean that phenomena lack "substance" or existence. It means they are dependently arising.


If by "dependently arising" you mean only in a temporal sense, that they have prior causes and will effectively "become" their future resultants, then this is not the sense of emptiness that I had intended to reference (not to say it isn't valid). I was thinking more in terms of interdependent existence. Phenomena do not exist independently, not even in an instantaneous sense. Phenomena can be thought of as being defined strictly by their context within other phenomena. Because of this I do not think of them as having a substance. More specifically: I do not think it is ultimately correct to assert that any particular phenomenon exists, and I also do not think it is ultimately correct to assert that no phenomena exist. Rather, the model of "existence" as it is typically conceived simply does not apply. What would Nagarjuna say? :smile:


gregkavarnos wrote:An Arhat still feels bodily pain, but they do not feel mental suffering. They are also beyond relative joy. Taking pain to be a joyful experience is not an indication of the realisation of emptiness, it as a further misconception of the nature of phenomena. Saying that pain is neither suffering nor joy is a different story.


On this we agree. :thumbsup:

gregkavarnos wrote:When you say that actions are empty and lack inherent qualities this does not mean that they lack qualities per se. Being whipped is being whipped. Perceiving whipping as painful and as suffering is "acceptable" at a relative level. Now relative level definitions (as ethics are) depend on a majority accepting the definition. This acceptance does not reduce the karmic quality of the action though. It was socially acceptable in the Southern US states (well, actually in all of the US states initially) to have slaves. But the Buddha considers the selling and purchasing of slaves as wrong action. The Buddha though, was enlightened. We are living in ignorance. When you consider that actions perceived by the majority of people (including enlightened individuals) as unwholesome are actually acceptable, and you perceive them as acceptable since they bring you joy, then you are not involved in the praxis of emptiness, you are just sinking into further delusion and ignorance. At the same time you are reinforcing behaviours (setting up habits) which in the future wil indoubtedly bring suffering.


The point I make is that the karmic quality is not attached to the action itself, but more accurately to the intent. From a karmic perspective the action is superficial, your choice to act and your intentions in acting are what determine your karma. BDSM is roleplay for mutual enjoyment -- not real torture, nor real slavery, etc. Practiced by "otherwise normal" healthy and loving people, it may often involve pain, but never involves suffering... at least to any greater degree than sexual desires in general entail suffering.

gregkavarnos wrote:Here I will ask you a personal question which you (very obviously) do not need to answer publicly. You (and "Clouds" too) say that BDSM can be used to express feeling of tenderness and love. My question is this: if this is the case then if you were to express these feelings in a more "conventional" manner would your partner accept this "new" mode of expression or will they reject it? Why (in both cases :smile: )?


Well, I am single right now, but I can speak of a past relationship equally well here I think. The short answer is yes, and in fact we did just that. The degree of BDSM "flavor" in our relationship varied all the time with our collective mood. In daily life it was backgrounded, often to the point of non-existence. Behind closed doors, well... occasionally she liked vanilla, but more often she preferred "Rocky Road," shall we say. :smile:
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:56 pm

Thundering Cloud wrote:I'll buy that. They are all extremes. But my take on what Nagarjuna was trying to illustrate (and feel free to disagree with me, one or both of us can learn that way :smile: ) by such kinds of statements is that technically, any statement is on some level an extreme, even if it is a statement of a negative, or a seemingly well-ambiguated statement like both or neither. Why? For one thing, because words represent concepts, and a concept is necessarily a perception of fullness in something (even if only adopted for sake of argument). A concept is just a model -- a method of thinking about something -- and a model requires the adoption of some fixed premises in order to be defined. Those premises are taken -- if only temporarily for purposes of modeling -- as objective and well-defined truths, i.e. as non-empty.
"Any" is much too broad, he was mostly arguing against specific philosophical positions regarding specific objects like: sensation, aggregates, subject, suffering, actions, etc... nagarjuna was NOT a post-modernist nor a deconstructivist. I reccomend reading the Mula Madhyamaka Karika (Verses from the Centre) http://www.fodian.net/world/1564.htm
I understand the teaching of emptiness to imply that "the truth of things" as such is ultimately beyond any conception of it. That is, any conception falls short of modeling "ultimate truth" per se. By extension, any description falls short as well; "The finger is not the moon."
Again, not quite so simple. Why? Because then Abhidharma would just fall apart. Abhidharma is all about listing and categorising actions, feeling and sensations in order to allow for a practical depersonalisation of feeling/sensation/action; and to offer a working blueprint for enlightened action. The finger may not be the moon, but the finger actually points to the moon.
What I was trying to get at with the above-cited argument (and using emptiness as means to demonstrate) s that the model of attaching significance to intent, and to mental joy versus suffering, is more useful for understanding why people like BDSM, and for understanding what their motives are, than is the model of attaching significance to categories of actions or to sensual pleasure versus pain. It is also, by extension, more useful for ethical evaluations of such behaviors.
The social/moral/ethical is just a sum total of the personal.
I'm not sure if I follow what you're saying, here. You claimed that the actions employed in BDSM are "recognised (even by a child, ie not via socialisation) as negative." I took this to be suggesting that these actions have intrinsic natures, independent of socialized judgments of them. Did I misunderstand you?
Pain is pain. How you conceptualise it is something else. The vast majority of beings coneptualise it as a negative feeling, without having to be taught that it is a negative feeling, and something to be avoided. Now if your past karma dictates otherwise you may, from birth, conceive of pain as joyful. But if you look at BDSM behaviour, normally, you can find socialising elements at play: upbringing (familial factors), economic status, level of education...
If by "dependently arising" you mean only in a temporal sense, that they have prior causes and will effectively "become" their future resultants, then this is not the sense of emptiness that I had intended to reference (not to say it isn't valid). I was thinking more in terms of interdependent existence. Phenomena do not exist independently, not even in an instantaneous sense. Phenomena can be thought of as being defined strictly by their context within other phenomena. Because of this I do not think of them as having a substance. More specifically: I do not think it is ultimately correct to assert that any particular phenomenon exists, and I also do not think it is ultimately correct to assert that no phenomena exist. Rather, the model of "existence" as it is typically conceived simply does not apply.
Do you apply this theory selectively or generally? For example: if somebody comes up and punches you in the face OR You get busted by the police, handcuffed and thrown into a cell for the weekend.

Dependently existing means dependently existing: OM YE DHAR MA HE TU PRA BHA VA HE TUM TE SAM TA THA GA TAH HYA VA DAT TE SAM CA YO NI RO DHA E VAM VA DI MA HA SRA MA NAH SO HA

As in empty: OM SAM BHA WA SUD DHO DHAR MA SAM BHA WA SU DO HAM

What else could it mean?
The point I make is that the karmic quality is not attached to the action itself, but more accurately to the intent. From a karmic perspective the action is superficial, your choice to act and your intentions in acting are what determine your karma. BDSM is roleplay for mutual enjoyment -- not real torture, nor real slavery, etc. Practiced by "otherwise normal" healthy and loving people, it may often involve pain, but never involves suffering... at least to any greater degree than sexual desires in general entail suffering.
I agree with you BUT what does intention mean when one is ruled by ignorance? An action (even with the best of intentions) based in ignorance will lead to rebirth in the animal realm, in hatred - the hell realms and in desire - the hungry ghost realms . That's what the Buddha says in all the teachings on karma. That is why the Buddha set out the Noble Eightfold Path, if you don't stray from it...
Well, I am single right now, but I can speak of a past relationship equally well here I think. The short answer is yes, and in fact we did just that. The degree of BDSM "flavor" in our relationship varied all the time with our collective mood. In daily life it was backgrounded, often to the point of non-existence. Behind closed doors, well... occasionally she liked vanilla, but more often she preferred "Rocky Road," shall we say. :smile:
And what would you say influenced the decision (were the deciding factors) to engage in BDSM instead of "romantic" sexual activity? Again, no need to answer publicly.
:namaste:
PS You can find an electronic version of Masters of Mahamudra for free download here http://www.scribd.com/doc/81122728/Keit ... -Mahamudra
"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: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Malcolm » Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:06 pm

Really, seven pages on bondage? Face it greg, some people like being tied up when they screw, lashed with whips, and otherwise dominated and humiliated, and some people like to do that stuff to others while screwing them, and BDSM is a protocol for doing it relatively safely without it resulting in rape, etc. Is it deluded? Yes. Does it matter? Not much.

:shrug:

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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:36 pm

I'm not her to convert anyone from anything to anything, just here discussing ethics.

I mean for Buddhas sake how many pages is the vegetarianism thread? 80 pages! The Steven Batchelor thread? 27 pages! The Buddhism and guns thread reached 22 pages before being locked down. So 7 pages on BDSM is not to bad. ;)
"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: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Thundering Cloud » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:00 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:"Any" is much too broad, he was mostly arguing against specific philosophical positions regarding specific objects like: sensation, aggregates, subject, suffering, actions, etc... nagarjuna was NOT a post-modernist nor a deconstructivist. I reccomend reading the Mula Madhyamaka Karika (Verses from the Centre) http://www.fodian.net/world/1564.htm


What kinds of statements would you say Nagarjuna considered to be not one of the extremes? And thanks for the link btw. :smile:

gregkavarnos wrote:
I understand the teaching of emptiness to imply that "the truth of things" as such is ultimately beyond any conception of it. That is, any conception falls short of modeling "ultimate truth" per se. By extension, any description falls short as well; "The finger is not the moon."
Again, not quite so simple. Why? Because then Abhidharma would just fall apart. Abhidharma is all about listing and categorising actions, feeling and sensations in order to allow for a practical depersonalisation of feeling/sensation/action; and to offer a working blueprint for enlightened action. The finger may not be the moon, but the finger actually points to the moon.


I do not think that the inability to capture ultimate truth in concepts necessarily invalidates methodologies for enlightened action nor Dharma in general. What I'm suggesting instead is that the forms and expressions that Dharma takes on are specified as much by the starting point of the intended recipient on their path as it is by the goal. No given expression of Dharma is universal or "pure" or even objectively ideal because of this. From a different vantage point, the same finger will not be seen to point so directly toward the moon.

gregkavarnos wrote:
I'm not sure if I follow what you're saying, here. You claimed that the actions employed in BDSM are "recognised (even by a child, ie not via socialisation) as negative." I took this to be suggesting that these actions have intrinsic natures, independent of socialized judgments of them. Did I misunderstand you?
Pain is pain. How you conceptualise it is something else. The vast majority of beings coneptualise it as a negative feeling, without having to be taught that it is a negative feeling, and something to be avoided. Now if your past karma dictates otherwise you may, from birth, conceive of pain as joyful. But if you look at BDSM behaviour, normally, you can find socialising elements at play: upbringing (familial factors), economic status, level of education...


Majority adherence to a given conceptualization does not make it valid. It is still just a heuristic model. And I think just about everyone who enjoys BDSM thinks of pain in other contexts as a negative thing -- analogously to people who enjoy very spicy dishes.

gregkavarnos wrote:
If by "dependently arising" you mean only in a temporal sense, that they have prior causes and will effectively "become" their future resultants, then this is not the sense of emptiness that I had intended to reference (not to say it isn't valid). I was thinking more in terms of interdependent existence. Phenomena do not exist independently, not even in an instantaneous sense. Phenomena can be thought of as being defined strictly by their context within other phenomena. Because of this I do not think of them as having a substance. More specifically: I do not think it is ultimately correct to assert that any particular phenomenon exists, and I also do not think it is ultimately correct to assert that no phenomena exist. Rather, the model of "existence" as it is typically conceived simply does not apply.
Do you apply this theory selectively or generally? For example: if somebody comes up and punches you in the face OR You get busted by the police, handcuffed and thrown into a cell for the weekend.


I would say I apply it generally, in the sense of the Two Truths. I do not deny that conceptualizations are useful models, but I also try not to lose sight of the fact that they are only models.

gregkavarnos wrote:Dependently existing means dependently existing: OM YE DHAR MA HE TU PRA BHA VA HE TUM TE SAM TA THA GA TAH HYA VA DAT TE SAM CA YO NI RO DHA E VAM VA DI MA HA SRA MA NAH SO HA

As in empty: OM SAM BHA WA SUD DHO DHAR MA SAM BHA WA SU DO HAM

What else could it mean?


I have seen the phrase "dependently arising" used to refer exclusively to temporal change with the interdependence of existence being considered as a separate topic. I have also seen "dependently arising" used to mean both combined. I was trying to clarify what idea you were expressing.

gregkavarnos wrote:
The point I make is that the karmic quality is not attached to the action itself, but more accurately to the intent. From a karmic perspective the action is superficial, your choice to act and your intentions in acting are what determine your karma. BDSM is roleplay for mutual enjoyment -- not real torture, nor real slavery, etc. Practiced by "otherwise normal" healthy and loving people, it may often involve pain, but never involves suffering... at least to any greater degree than sexual desires in general entail suffering.
I agree with you BUT what does intention mean when one is ruled by ignorance? An action (even with the best of intentions) based in ignorance will lead to rebirth in the animal realm, in hatred - the hell realms and in desire - the hungry ghost realms . That's what the Buddha says in all the teachings on karma. That is why the Buddha set out the Noble Eightfold Path, if you don't stray from it...


Strictly speaking, until one is an Arhat, every action is based to some degree in ignorance. As I see it, the Eightfold Path is most importantly a path to get from where you are to liberation. If Buddhist precepts had to be practiced perfectly in order to count for anything at all, then it would not be a path. It would only be a solution -- you either nail it spot-on or it's off to the lower realms with you. I don't think it works in such concrete terms as that myself.

gregkavarnos wrote:And what would you say influenced the decision (were the deciding factors) to engage in BDSM instead of "romantic" sexual activity? Again, no need to answer publicly.
:namaste:


I don't know why I enjoy the things I do, or why she does. I can't give a spiritually wholesome justification for practicing BDSM versus typical romance, nor can I give a spiritually wholesome justification for practicing romance instead of simply being good friends. Sexuality is ultimately rooted in ignorance, after all.

gregkavarnos wrote:PS You can find an electronic version of Masters of Mahamudra for free download here http://www.scribd.com/doc/81122728/Keit ... -Mahamudra


Thanks for the link. :smile: I intend to read it.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:41 pm

Thundering Cloud wrote:What kinds of statements would you say Nagarjuna considered to be not one of the extremes? And thanks for the link btw. :smile:
I dunno. You'll just have to read all of his works to figure that one out. Here's a link to an extensive collection of his works that I have put together. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/9844773/Nagarjuna.rar
I do not think that the inability to capture ultimate truth in concepts necessarily invalidates methodologies for enlightened action nor Dharma in general. What I'm suggesting instead is that the forms and expressions that Dharma takes on are specified as much by the starting point of the intended recipient on their path as it is by the goal. No given expression of Dharma is universal or "pure" or even objectively ideal because of this. From a different vantage point, the same finger will not be seen to point so directly toward the moon.
Study Abhidharma. You'll be surprised how objectively ideal it is.
Majority adherence to a given conceptualization does not make it valid. It is still just a heuristic model. And I think just about everyone who enjoys BDSM thinks of pain in other contexts as a negative thing -- analogously to people who enjoy very spicy dishes.
Spicey food without the spices is food, a necessary component to preserve ones bodily aggregate. Do away with the spice and keep the food. I am sure you can do the mathematics for BDSM relationships.
I have seen the phrase "dependently arising" used to refer exclusively to temporal change with the interdependence of existence being considered as a separate topic. I have also seen "dependently arising" used to mean both combined. I was trying to clarify what idea you were expressing.

I know of two basic teachings for dependent origination. One explains arising and the other explains cessation.
Arising http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Cessation http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
What is this "temporal change" deal you are talking about?
Strictly speaking, until one is an Arhat, every action is based to some degree in ignorance. As I see it, the Eightfold Path is most importantly a path to get from where you are to liberation. If Buddhist precepts had to be practiced perfectly in order to count for anything at all, then it would not be a path. It would only be a solution -- you either nail it spot-on or it's off to the lower realms with you. I don't think it works in such concrete terms as that myself.
Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. Take a look at this to get it directly from the horses mouth http://www.accesstoinsight.org/search_r ... l1.3.1l5l0
I don't know why I enjoy the things I do, or why she does. I can't give a spiritually wholesome justification for practicing BDSM versus typical romance, nor can I give a spiritually wholesome justification for practicing romance instead of simply being good friends. Sexuality is ultimately rooted in ignorance, after all.
Like the man said:
"And what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

:namaste:
"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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