Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Thundering Cloud » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:50 am

Clouds wrote: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.

Does that sound so foreign, so antithetical to Buddhist practice? Does it still sound so "pathological" in comparison to other social practices for intimacy or sexual expression?


I think @clouds has it right. I'll reiterate the point of my earlier post, but generalize it and divorce it from the context of @wisdom's theory for purposes of clarity:

All desires are indicative of ignorance, and BDSM is no exception to this. And it makes sense that becoming addicted to BDSM practices is counterproductive to spiritual development, just as becoming addicted to anything else would be. However, repressing / ignoring / avoiding such desires especially when they are not well understood is even more counterproductive, because in general they cannot be uprooted this way. It seems more likely to me that the repression and aversion will transform into a form of denial and so precipitate further delusion. Such might be the better alternative in extreme cases -- such as where one's fetishes entail unacceptable risk, or might cause harm to others -- but if one's fantasies aren't extreme, I would suggest that willful abstinence is likely a flawed approach. It can easily cause more harm than good. As others have noted (and as many entries in this thread indicate), BDSM and its associated desires are generally not well-understood by non-practitioners. Because of this, for many the best means of understanding and ultimately transcending such desires could well be through exploring them with someone that they love and trust.

In a nutshell, repulsion is not better than addiction, when it comes to relatively harmless desires. A better way is the middle path, I think. ^_^

Also, in response to @gregkarvarnos's query:
gregkavarnos wrote: the point is to build an unusually deep and instinctual trust between those engaged

I imagine that's the point for non-BDSM relationships too, so why add the "ethically questionable" factor into the equation?
:namaste:


I was not sure how this question was meant exactly, but if you meant something like "Why practice BDSM when it's not necessary?", then I should ask: Why live in samsara if it's not necessary? Why do you pursue any desires if they aren't necessary?
On the other hand, if you meant something like "Why is it so ethically questionable when in the end it is no different from normal relationships?", then... yes, well said. ^_^
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby LastLegend » Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:32 am

Clouds, you can do whatever you want.

But have you ever asked yourself why such thoughts give you pleasure?
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:27 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
...the point is to build an unusually deep and instinctual trust between those engaged
I imagine that's the point for non-BDSM relationships too, so why add the "ethically questionable" factor into the equation?
:namaste:


I was not sure how this question was meant exactly, but if you meant something like "Why practice BDSM when it's not necessary?", then I should ask: Why live in samsara if it's not necessary? Why do you pursue any desires if they aren't necessary?
On the other hand, if you meant something like "Why is it so ethically questionable when in the end it is no different from normal relationships?", then... yes, well said. ^_^
Let's get something straight, I am not here to judge you, I feel consenting adults can engage in any sexual behaviour of their preference. But I am not here to feed your delusion. You see you are confounding the point of a BDSM relationship with the point of a relationship per se. It is the point of every relationship is "to build an unusually deep and instinctual trust between those engaged". Don't confuse the way the relationship is expressed (BDSM) with the relationship. So... if the point of every relationship is "to build an unusually deep and instinctual trust between those engaged" then why add anything more? Why complicate it with factors that are directly conducive to a betrayal or lack of trust? Why add unecessary layers? I am not looking for an answer to these questions but am asking you to ask yourself these questions. I am also not looking for you to justify to me what you choose to do, it is really none of my business.

Comparing the choice to engage in BDSM with the choice to live in Samsara is a quite silly. I have chosen to exit the cycle of birth death and suffering, that is why I am a Buddhist. Sometimes I am sucessful in implementing my choice sometimes not (sometimes I fall prey to my desires even though I know they will lead to more suffering). How can engaging in BDSM possibly help one escape samsara? The mahasiddhas were experts of transforming mundane activity into enlightened activity but there were only 84 of them recorded in the history of Tantric Buddhism, do you think (I sincerely hope) hat you will be the 85th?
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Thundering Cloud » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:15 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Let's get something straight, I am not here to judge you, I feel consenting adults can engage in any sexual behaviour of their preference. But I am not here to feed your delusion.


Thank you for the clarification. In the context of the larger thread, it becomes important to distinguish criticism from condemnation. Having said that, I did make an effort not to interpret your response too narrowly.

gregkavarnos wrote: You see you are confounding the point of a BDSM relationship with the point of a relationship per se. It is the point of every relationship is "to build an unusually deep and instinctual trust between those engaged". Don't confuse the way the relationship is expressed (BDSM) with the relationship.


As other posts in this thread have indicated, BDSM is often misperceived as an outlet for violent tendencies, need to control another person, etc. The point I make is that it is instead an expression of a loving relationship that is fundamentally not different from "normal" relationships. This is not the same as confounding the two, nor does it entail confusing the purpose of a relationship with its methodologies. I merely pointed out that there is more than one approach to the same common goal. Your approach to romance might be best for you, but that doesn't automatically make it ideal for everyone.

gregkavarnos wrote:So... if the point of every relationship is "to build an unusually deep and instinctual trust between those engaged" then why add anything more? Why complicate it with factors that are directly conducive to a betrayal or lack of trust? Why add unecessary layers? I am not looking for an answer to these questions but am asking you to ask yourself these questions. I am also not looking for you to justify to me what you choose to do, it is really none of my business.
Comparing the choice to engage in BDSM with the choice to live in Samsara is a quite silly.


I see "Why add anything more?" as a silly question. People pursue their interests in BDSM because they have desires for them -- the same reason that people pursue "normal" romantic relationships, out of desire for them. It is the same reason that people live in (at least some realms of) samsara in general, because they have desires. But strictly speaking, none of these desires are necessary. By an analogous argument, I might ask why one should have any kind of sexual relations at all? Sex is certainly not a prerequisite for love, trust, or companionship... you can have all of those things platonically. Why add unnecessary layers? Or, for that matter, why even engage in romantic endeavors when good friends are all you need? Etc. The same kind of reasoning can be applied to anything, because in the end all desires are unnecessary.

gregkavarnos wrote: I have chosen to exit the cycle of birth death and suffering, that is why I am a Buddhist. Sometimes I am sucessful in implementing my choice sometimes not (sometimes I fall prey to my desires even though I know they will lead to more suffering). How can engaging in BDSM possibly help one escape samsara?


The point here is that there is a difference between relinquishing one's desires and repressing one's desires. The former is productive while the latter is not. Now, there are examples where repression of desires can lead to relinquishment of them, and that's great... but there are also examples in which repression has the opposite effect, leading more to displacement of desires and self-deception about still having them. Seeing as understanding one's desires and their sources is an important step in releasing them, and as BDSM-related desires are not well-understood beyond the circles of those who practice it, I suggest that BDSM is one of the examples in which relinquishment is unlikely to be obtained by means of repression. Of course that is my opinion, and I would be happy to entertain a challenge to my rationale. I appreciate your attempt to do that, but I didn't (and don't) see what you were getting at. One or both of us have missed the other's points.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:52 pm

Thundering Cloud wrote:As other posts in this thread have indicated, BDSM is often misperceived as an outlet for violent tendencies, need to control another person, etc. The point I make is that it is instead an expression of a loving relationship that is fundamentally not different from "normal" relationships.
Have you ever wondered why the majority of people misperceive BDSM in this fashion? Are you 100% sure it is everybody else that is misperceiving the situation and not you? I mean sexually I am a very open minded, but how can a mock rape possibly be an expression of love and tenderness?. How can getting dressed up in a military uniform and playing rape the POW can possibly be based in a sense of compassion and respect?

To tell the truth "normal" relationships are in most circumstances anything but normal, but when I want to show love and respect I feel a heart felt embrace normally does the trick and leaves very little room for misinterpretation.
I see "Why add anything more?" as a silly question. People pursue their interests in BDSM because they have desires for them -- the same reason that people pursue "normal" romantic relationships, out of desire for them. It is the same reason that people live in (at least some realms of) samsara in general, because they have desires. But strictly speaking, none of these desires are necessary...
Granted. But this logic then leads us to the extreme that we should just indulge all our desires since we are in samsara anyway. If I am not mistaken Buddhist practice is about either overcoming, transforming or utilising desire for liberation, not mindlessly indulging in it.
By an analogous argument, I might ask why one should have any kind of sexual relations at all? Sex is certainly not a prerequisite for love, trust, or companionship... you can have all of those things platonically. Why add unnecessary layers? Or, for that matter, why even engage in romantic endeavors when good friends are all you need? Etc. The same kind of reasoning can be applied to anything, because in the end all desires are unnecessary.
While this is all very true it attempts to turn the spotlight away from the issue: the fact that BDSM reinforces certain behaviours that are considered unwholesome and harmful. Now while you might say that by indulging them, but altering their context, one overcomes the dualism of good vs bad behaviour; but I would easily bet all my money that you indulge in them not to overcome dualism but merely to fulfil your desire. And this is probably the crux: love vs desire. If BDSM activities are neutral expressions of love, tenderness and trust then do you think that you could use them to express these feelings towards your mother? Your grandmother? Do you believe they would be a valid expression of love from mother to child?

You may now start to talk about consent, but consent is largely irrelevant in a world where there are so many ingrained inequalities.
The point here is that there is a difference between relinquishing one's desires and repressing one's desires. The former is productive while the latter is not. Now, there are examples where repression of desires can lead to relinquishment of them, and that's great... but there are also examples in which repression has the opposite effect, leading more to displacement of desires and self-deception about still having them. Seeing as understanding one's desires and their sources is an important step in releasing them, and as BDSM-related desires are not well-understood beyond the circles of those who practice it, I suggest that BDSM is one of the examples in which relinquishment is unlikely to be obtained by means of repression. Of course that is my opinion, and I would be happy to entertain a challenge to my rationale. I appreciate your attempt to do that, but I didn't (and don't) see what you were getting at. One or both of us have missed the other's points.
Now that's deluded. You really believe that expression and indulgement lead to relinquishment? Have you ever conidered that maybe they lead to further reinforcement of behaviour rather than its sublimation? Problem is that you may even trigger a Pavlovian response where real oppression and violence will inflame sexual desire. Don't kid me that it doesn't work that way and that it's all consent and trust! Hogwash and bull excretement!
And this "only those in the know, know", how do you know what I know?
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Thundering Cloud » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:31 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Have you ever wondered why the majority of people misperceive BDSM in this fashion? Are you 100% sure it is everybody else that is misperceiving the situation and not you? I mean sexually I am a very open minded, but how can a mock rape possibly be an expression of love and tenderness?. How can getting dressed up in a military uniform and playing rape the POW can possibly be based in a sense of compassion and respect?


OK, "100%" is one of those things that never applies... ^_^ But I am very sure that the majority is misperceiving the situation, yes. Why? First of all, in my experience, such is the nature of the majority. :tongue: But more to the point, see my earlier posts in this thread. I explained it as best I could there, at least in the context of one theory (@wisdom's) of the origins of such desires. The short answer is that for some people, it's just what works. It's what lights the fire, as it were. For some, "normal" romantic kinda things are nice but just not.... well, sexy.

As to how such activities can connote love, again see my earlier responses. I suppose I could add, for help in understanding, that it is analogous to many other trust-building activities. The idea is that one partner is placing themselves in a position of vulnerability to the other, and by doing so they enable their partner to help them transcend emotional boundaries that they were not comfortable crossing on their own.

gregkavarnos wrote:To tell the truth "normal" relationships are in most circumstances anything but normal, but when I want to show love and respect I feel a heart felt embrace normally does the trick and leaves very little room for misinterpretation.


Your circumstances are not identical with another person's. A connection you share easily with your lover through nothing more than an embrace, might for someone else be far more difficult to access (for any number of reasons). Of course, you have difficulty understanding desires that (appear to) differ substantively from your own... but I think it's important to realize that you only need to understand them if you intend to help the other person to surpass them. And moreover, that you very well might be incapable of helping them at all until or unless you DO understand their desires.

If you do not understand why people are drawn to BDSM, that's okay. If you do not understand how it can be a positive thing for some people (because it would not be a positive thing for you), that's also okay, though I'll try to explain it if I can and if you're curious. But do understand that the ultimate needlessness of others' desires will naturally be more apparent to you than the ultimate needlessness of your own.

gregkavarnos wrote:Granted. But this logic then leads us to the extreme that we should just indulge all our desires since we are in samsara anyway. If I am not mistaken Buddhist practice is about either overcoming, transforming or utilising desire for liberation, not mindlessly indulging in it.


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?

gregkavarnos wrote:While this is all very true it attempts to turn the spotlight away from the issue: the fact that BDSM reinforces certain behaviours that are considered unwholesome and harmful. Now while you might say that by indulging them, but altering their context, one overcomes the dualism of good vs bad behaviour; but I would easily bet all my money that you indulge in them not to overcome dualism but merely to fulfil your desire. And this is probably the crux: love vs desire. If BDSM activities are neutral expressions of love, tenderness and trust then do you think that you could use them to express these feelings towards your mother? Your grandmother? Do you believe they would be a valid expression of love from mother to child?


To answer the question at the end: of course not, each relationship expresses love in its own context. The larger point, though, is that harm is also contextual (else, for example, much of modern medicine -- which involves insertion of needles, taking of antibiotics that disrupt digestion, cancer-inducing X-ray scans, and possibly even invasive surgery -- would have to be seen as bad behavior, since it causes an immediate risk and / or injury to the body). The wholesomeness of one's actions is always dependent on context; what's important is the intent behind them and the mindfulness and self-reflection with which they are performed. There is no formulaic "right thing to do" for all possible circumstances and situations.

gregkavarnos wrote:You may now start to talk about consent, but consent is largely irrelevant in a world where there are so many ingrained inequalities.


I'm not sure what this means, exactly. Please clarify?

gregkavarnos wrote:
The point here is that there is a difference between relinquishing one's desires and repressing one's desires. The former is productive while the latter is not. Now, there are examples where repression of desires can lead to relinquishment of them, and that's great... but there are also examples in which repression has the opposite effect, leading more to displacement of desires and self-deception about still having them. Seeing as understanding one's desires and their sources is an important step in releasing them, and as BDSM-related desires are not well-understood beyond the circles of those who practice it, I suggest that BDSM is one of the examples in which relinquishment is unlikely to be obtained by means of repression. Of course that is my opinion, and I would be happy to entertain a challenge to my rationale. I appreciate your attempt to do that, but I didn't (and don't) see what you were getting at. One or both of us have missed the other's points.
Now that's deluded. You really believe that expression and indulgement lead to relinquishment? Have you ever conidered that maybe they lead to further reinforcement of behaviour rather than its sublimation? Problem is that you may even trigger a Pavlovian response where real oppression and violence will inflame sexual desire. Don't kid me that it doesn't work that way and that it's all consent and trust! Hogwash and bull excretement!


To be clear: I believe that neither indulgement nor aversion can lead to relinquishment. Rather, one has to learn how their desires work, and what drives them. You cannot do that by becoming caught up in them, and you also cannot do that by avoiding them and hoping that they go away. It's important to avoid both extremes.

gregkavarnos wrote:And this "only those in the know, know", how do you know what I know?
:namaste:


I inferred your knowledge from your questions. :smile:
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Thrasymachus » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:10 am

I wrote this in another thread, but it equally applies here:
"Wild animals locked in cages for their whole lives like foxes and mink on fur farms develop certain nervous patterns of compensation. They often constantly pace if possible, they chew on the cage, they smash themselves against the mesh, self-mutilate, viciously fight each other, etc. Humans are no different in our society because our social settings are also totally unnatural and do not allow our natural inclinations. Just about everyone you meet will tend to have a similar pattern of compensation that helps them cope like being workaholic, drug addict, be overweight or have other issues surrounding food and weight regulation, be a smoker, alcoholic, shopping addict, tv addict, phone addict, etc. I don't really see anyone around me that can make say: "They have everything together," all I see is wounded humanity compensating/coping as best they can."

Ultimately if people were not so emotionally numb all the time they would not need all these weirdo sub-cultures like BDSM to feel again, to find meaningful identity. If people had palpable community they would not need to artificially seek it through these sub-cultures. People used to be belong to small tribes through bonds of birth that had one musical tradition, one cuisine, one narrative of history and it was enough for them, they didn't seek outside, they just knew they belonged to something and that others cared. You are trying to find a surrogate tribe, a surrogate way of feeling.

Ultimately "the clouds" need to ask themselves why they feel so numb about an intense bodily experience like sex that they need to artificially heighten and dramatize it. They need ask themselves why they have no immediate, proximal community and seek to defend the artificial BDSM one. Thrasymachus, the elder, say maybe then the rain will fall and there will be no clouds. Maybe then no bad puha(comanche...).
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Bird » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:13 am

This is an interesting topic. The dharma teaches us that "Everything is made from Mind alone." When we experience sexism or any kind of gender-based abuse or discrimination in the world, might it be this kind of karmic situation exists based on a sexual fantasy that got out of hand? 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. In truth, I know there is a karmic link here which I - as karma - as mind - must take responsibility for. Ouch! There are certainly no easy answers here, but my hat is off to those sangha members who are willing to really look within themselves for answers and not just mouth the correct words out of a textbook. These genuine practitioners are not necessarily (or even likely) the "important people" with the fancy credentials!

Ouch once again! I have just joined this forum five minutes ago, and here I am, starting up already!

Best wishes and blessings to All!

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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Clouds » Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:09 am

LastLegend wrote:Clouds, you can do whatever you want.
But have you ever asked yourself why such thoughts give you pleasure?


Gentle being, I already knew that I can do as I choose; such is the situation of a sentient being, and I understand karma to be unavoidable. I never mistook your statement / suggestion / request as being in any way authoritative, because there is no such relationship between us, nor did you speak with any attempt to be persuasive or influential; nor did you seem to have any desire to consider the post I had made nor those others had made. I am glad you recognize that I have choice; this means you may perhaps see the outlines of a person here. :namaste:

Have I ever asked myself why "such thoughts" give me pleasure? What a terrifically vague question. I will avoid speculation on what you imagine are my thoughts or pleasures; those projections are your burden, not mine. The short answer: yes, more than superficially, I have and do consider these things.

I have considered why I have desire, why we have desire, whether desirelessness is achievable now, whether it is generally achievable or much more a rarity than in the age of many recognized arhants , whether the vinaya and its origin stories suggest that desirelessness is just tricky for anyone anytime even when the Buddha walked among us. I have consider what is desire, what is lust, what is sex and sexuality and eroticism

I have considered WHY the precepts are so useful, and what they mean practically, and what they teach. I have considered what is right speech, and the ethics of what I do and do not eat, and the circumstances which have caused me to sometimes break my own rules. I have considered right livelihood; I have never been a 'sex-worker', and I greatly sorrow that in some Buddhist countries, celebrations of the entrance of some young boys into monkhood is financed by the sale of their sisters into the sex trade. How horrible that is, and what can we do about it.

And I consider what are right sexual relations, what are abstinence and celibacy, what are my responsibilities, how can I honor what should be honored, how can I let go of what should be let go. I have found that mindlessly following rules, dishonesty, shame and shaming, and judging others, are harmful to community and to me.

{edited for typo}
Last edited by Clouds on Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Clouds » Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:29 am

Thrasymachus wrote:...
Ultimately if people were not so emotionally numb all the time they would not need all these weirdo sub-cultures like BDSM to feel again, to find meaningful identity. If people had palpable community they would not need to artificially seek it through these sub-cultures. People used to be belong to small tribes through bonds of birth that had one musical tradition, one cuisine, one narrative of history and it was enough for them, they didn't seek outside, they just knew they belonged to something and that others cared. You are trying to find a surrogate tribe, a surrogate way of feeling.

Ultimately "the clouds" need to ask themselves why they feel so numb about an intense bodily experience like sex that they need to artificially heighten and dramatize it. They need ask themselves why they have no immediate, proximal community and seek to defend the artificial BDSM one. Thrasymachus, the elder, say maybe then the rain will fall and there will be no clouds. Maybe then no bad puha(comanche...).


I am not numb; why do you project that I am?

I am not numb in relationships, or towards sex, I am not artificially "spiking" either to compensate for brokenness. Why do you project that that is my experience or needs?

I see my immediate and proximal community (those ethical and splendidly kinky people I see weekly and sometimes more often, and communicate with daily) as real human beings gathered together by real shared interests and values - less artificial than identifying as Irish-American, or Buddhist or Christian or Jewish or golfer or anything else. Why are you trying to affirm a hierarchy of "real" vs "artificial"?

If I am defending, you are attacking -- why?

Eventually rain will fall, or clouds dissipate in drying air, reforming elsewhere; clouds attack no one. That is the nature of existence. I chose my name because I find awareness of those aspects of clouds to be helpful. :)

But are you expressing a wish that these clouds would just go away? Why?
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:00 am

Clouds, I have no need to consider your thoughts since you have considered your thoughts.
And you seem to do so without any doubts on your part.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Clouds » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:01 am

gregkavarnos wrote:While this is all very true it attempts to turn the spotlight away from the issue: the fact that B Now while you might say that by indulging them, but altering their context, one overcomes the dualism of good vs bad behaviour; but I would easily bet all my money that you indulge in them not to overcome dualism but merely to fulfil your desire. And this is probably the crux: love vs desire. If BDSM activities are neutral expressions of love, tenderness and trust then do you think that you could use them to express these feelings towards your mother? Your grandmother? Do you believe they would be a valid expression of love from mother to child?


While this is merely one paragraphs in one of your posts above, I have to reply to it. I do not intend to misrepresent you by pulling the paragraph from context but see no need to quote your entire post, which quotes someone else; we'd seen need diagrams to follow such a conversation!

I don't think one can state as "fact" that "BDSM reinforces certain behaviours that are considered unwholesome and harmful". I have found that serious BDSM communities reinforce honesty, self awareness, consent, respect, recognition of an essential equality (else there's no consent!), self-control, care, consideration of one's own and any others' mental, emotional and physical health... These do not seem to be unhealthy behaviors to me, in fact, I wish the "No means No" educators would learn from the profound respect BDSM practitioners give to consent and limits, it might make our cultures less rape and abuse-friendly.

I think most motivations for human behavior, especially social behavior, are complex; simplifying them as mere indulgences is not helpful in my experience. Any guy wanting any kind of social interaction may be wanting to indulge lust or other desires; shall we stop all dating behavior or marriages unless they are pure or purely romantic? Shall we segregate the sexes? How do you feel about burkhas and the recent pronouncements by some Muslim leaders that women still are too sexy if they show their eyes?

Is BDSM appropriate to express feelings towards a child? no - and neither is sex or eroticicism in any form by adults or people in authoritative relationships over a subordinate. Is it appropriate for my mother or grandmother? Not from me; the 3rd precept really clarifies this so directly I am surprised this can seriously be raised; it prohibits sexual relations with persons "protected" by various defined relationships or roles.

You say the crux of the issue is love vs desire. Possibly so. But just because BDSM is not a possible or healthy mode for YOU to use to express authentic love, while vanilla sex or sexuality is, does not make it prescriptive or the situation for all.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Clouds » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:13 am

LastLegend wrote:Clouds, I have no need to consider your thoughts since you have considered your thoughts.
And you seem to do so without any doubts on your part.


:) You asked my thoughts. I shared them, respectfully; by revealing my concerns, my considerations, I offered a respect I hope you see and share. Assume that, more than doubtlessness. That's probably not a word...

Communication is a tricky thing, especially when not face to face. It can even be difficult to know when it is successful or a failure. And among Buddhists, language can be stood upon its head, turned inside out, vivisected, and burned with the ashes being taken for reality.

I hope we all achieve compassion and awareness. :)
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby LastLegend » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:18 am

Clouds, I am learning about myself more than I am learning about you.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:26 am

Thundering Cloud wrote:The short answer is that for some people, it's just what works. It's what lights the fire, as it were. For some, "normal" romantic kinda things are nice but just not.... well, sexy.
Okay, at last we are getting to the crux of the matter: BDSM has very little to do with love, trust and tenderness and everything to do with sexual desire. Honesty is sign of progress. :twothumbsup:
As to how such activities can connote love, again see my earlier responses. I suppose I could add, for help in understanding, that it is analogous to many other trust-building activities. The idea is that one partner is placing themselves in a position of vulnerability to the other, and by doing so they enable their partner to help them transcend emotional boundaries that they were not comfortable crossing on their own.
Again you are confounding the purpose of every intimate relationship with BDSM relationships. Your habitual patterns of associating the basic qualities of an intimate relationship to BDSM are obviously difficult for you to spot and even more difficult to overcome!
Your circumstances are not identical with another person's. A connection you share easily with your lover through nothing more than an embrace, might for someone else be far more difficult to access (for any number of reasons).
And thus should be abandoned to the "baser" or unwholesome behaviours of humiliation and domination? :thinking:
Of course, you have difficulty understanding desires that (appear to) differ substantively from your own... but I think it's important to realize that you only need to understand them if you intend to help the other person to surpass them. And moreover, that you very well might be incapable of helping them at all until or unless you DO understand their desires.
Ohhhhh... I think you may find that I understand your desires very well. If anything Buddhism teaches us that you and I (or you and anybody else for that matter) are all driven by the same underlying patterns of behaviour based on the three poisons of: ignorance, attachment and aversion. You are not unique in your confusion my dear TC, I understand VERY well where you are coming from.
If you do not understand how it can be a positive thing for some people (because it would not be a positive thing for you), that's also okay, though I'll try to explain it if I can and if you're curious. But do understand that the ultimate needlessness of others' desires will naturally be more apparent to you than the ultimate needlessness of your own.
Are you so sure? Anyway, in order to do this though, we may have to define this term "positive" that you so casually tossed in this direction, because it seems to me that this is where "understanding" may be falling apart.
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?
Bind and shackle the Mara of ignorance and confusion, beat into submission the Mara of desire and anger, humiliate the Mara of sensual attachment, dominate the Mara of Self, torture the Mara of spiritual and emotional death.
Maras defeated army.jpg
Maras defeated army.jpg (452.66 KiB) Viewed 266 times

Find yourself a good teacher and they will give you the practice you need in order to do this.
To answer the question at the end: of course not, each relationship expresses love in its own context.
Piss weak argument. 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. The reason BDSM cannot be used as a vehicle to express love is purely and simply based on the fact that it is not an expression of love. Nothing else.
The wholesomeness of one's actions is always dependent on context; what's important is the intent behind them and the mindfulness and self-reflection with which they are performed. There is no formulaic "right thing to do" for all possible circumstances and situations.
Very true, but if your intention is (as you divulged at the beginning of your post) sensual desire then the outcome is…
To be clear: I believe that neither indulgement nor aversion can lead to relinquishment. Rather, one has to learn how their desires work, and what drives them. You cannot do that by becoming caught up in them, and you also cannot do that by avoiding them and hoping that they go away. It's important to avoid both extremes.
I agree 100%
I inferred your knowledge from your questions. :smile:
Apart from a trained psychological counselor I am also a martial arts teacher. In martial arts we sometimes feign weakness to draw “attack” because it is during the attack that one’s “opponent” is most vulnerable. ;) The questions were to get you to think about why it is that you do what you do and expose to you the weakness of your position.
: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 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:06 pm

@gregkavarnos "BDSM has very little to do with love, trust and tenderness and everything to do with sexual desire.... [It is]"baser" or unwholesome behaviours of humiliation and domination."

Ah I see - you imagine BDSM is unique or specially focused on humiliation or domination - unlike other 'normal' behaviors such as the understandable and excusable humiliation, domination, and dishonesty possible and in fact rampant in vanilla sexuality, or the utterly acceptable authority exchange relationships in monasteries or between teachers and students, or the 'virtuous' effort you are making to 'win' for your point of view. Humiliation play and real humiliation are different things, as sex and rape are different things, as eating meat can be different things.

You are unaware of the intimacy and honesty of BDSM relationships, therefore it must not exist, and because you have some professional psychological training or experience, you 'know' your prejudices are scientifically based (when in fact actual social science research about BDSM suggests it promotes health, and prior similar prejudices about homosexuality have been rejected by most international professional psychiatric and psychological associations as wrong, unethical, and based on historic cultural beliefs rather than science.)

By serious BDSM practitioners, psychological play is recognized as more hazardous, and psychological harm is recognized as often more devastating and lasting, than is any physical SM play. Will you see that awareness in hard BDSM-favored porn? No more than vanilla porn will teach one of tenderness. So if your knowledge of BDSM is based on pornography, you know little and much of it is wrong. If you knowledge is based on experience with non-consensual sadism or sociopaths, that too has only a superficial resemblance to consensual BDSM/Risk Aware Consensual Kink.

@gregkavarnos "If what you consider love is truly love then its expression stands in all circumstances." If you truly believe that, please, stay away from children.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:58 pm

Clouds wrote:Ah I see - you imagine BDSM is unique or specially focused on humiliation or domination - unlike other 'normal' behaviors such as the understandable and excusable humiliation, domination, and dishonesty possible and in fact rampant in vanilla sexuality, or the utterly acceptable authority exchange relationships in monasteries or between teachers and students, or the 'virtuous' effort you are making to 'win' for your point of view. Humiliation play and real humiliation are different things, as sex and rape are different things, as eating meat can be different things.
Please do not project meanings onto my statements that do not exist there. What are you saying, that BDSM is not based on theatrical (in some cases, but not all) displays of humiliation and domination? Are you from a different planet than me? I also have never used the term "normal", except in a sarcastic sense. And even then it seems you want to define "normal" in an incredibly narrow sense. I have never supported or endorsed "real world", as if the world of sexual realtions is not real, humilitation and domination. I never equated sex and rape. Rape is violence, sex is sex. I have never endorsed acceptable, to some, authority exchange relationships, either religious or not.
You are unaware of the intimacy and honesty of BDSM relationships, therefore it must not exist...
You make the exact same mistake as TC, the intimacy and honesty have to do with the relation, not the type of relation. That is what relationships are about: intimacy and honesty, otherwise they are not relationships. I deleted the rest of your statement because it was just unfounded accusations and projections (again).
...Will you see that awareness in hard BDSM-favored porn? No more than vanilla porn will teach one of tenderness.
The discussion is not about porn, it is about the behaviours that are reinforced by engaging in BDSM and whether one should be reinforcing these types of behaviours.
@gregkavarnos "If what you consider love is truly love then its expression stands in all circumstances." If you truly believe that, please, stay away from children.
I'm sorry but this statement betrays an incredibly diseased defintion of love on your behalf. You seem to equate love exclusively to sex. That's really sad, especially when you then equate sex exclusively to BDSM.
: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 12:02 am

@gregkavarnos Most of your response to me seems based on your need to dismiss my responses. You describe my comments with suggestive perjorative words such as projection, misrepresentation, from another planet, narrow, unfounded accusations, incredibly diseased (nice one, very stigmatizing especially from a therapist). With this wrapping around your words, how could anyone respond to the content? Yet you are projecting, reinterpreting, assuming and insinuating meaning, into what I have said.

I don't think talking with you would be helpful to either of us; your mind is closed, your stance is aggressive. I am saddened we have reached this point.


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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Thundering Cloud » Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:23 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
Thundering Cloud wrote:The short answer is that for some people, it's just what works. It's what lights the fire, as it were. For some, "normal" romantic kinda things are nice but just not.... well, sexy.
Okay, at last we are getting to the crux of the matter: BDSM has very little to do with love, trust and tenderness and everything to do with sexual desire. Honesty is sign of progress. :twothumbsup:


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 gather from your comment here that you do not see it that way, but instead see sexual activities as simply an expression of sexual desires, and nothing more than that. I do not think things can be quite so neatly separated, myself.

gregkavarnos wrote:Again you are confounding the purpose of every intimate relationship with BDSM relationships. Your habitual patterns of associating the basic qualities of an intimate relationship to BDSM are obviously difficult for you to spot and even more difficult to overcome!


The purpose of "BDSM relationships" is not different from the purpose of any other intimate relationship. The description I gave was not given to defend my personal practices, but to aid in your understanding. 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. Hence you see any illustration of their common purpose as "confounding." By way of analogy, if I were to claim that gay relationships are not meaningfully different in purpose from hetero relationships, would you say that I was "confounding" the two? 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?

gregkavarnos wrote:And thus should be abandoned to the "baser" or unwholesome behaviours of humiliation and domination? :thinking:
Of course, you have difficulty understanding desires that (appear to) differ substantively from your own... but I think it's important to realize that you only need to understand them if you intend to help the other person to surpass them. And moreover, that you very well might be incapable of helping them at all until or unless you DO understand their desires.
Ohhhhh... I think you may find that I understand your desires very well. If anything Buddhism teaches us that you and I (or you and anybody else for that matter) are all driven by the same underlying patterns of behaviour based on the three poisons of: ignorance, attachment and aversion. You are not unique in your confusion my dear TC, I understand VERY well where you are coming from.


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?

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.

I expect you would probably argue here that my intentions are for sensual pleasures versus love or kindness... but this goes back to the first point of this post. I do not think of sexual activities as being entirely removed from love or affection. More to the point: what sexual partners do for the purpose of their lover's enjoyment and / or their mutual enjoyment, at no one's expense but their own, has no basis for outside criticism beyond those same criticisms that could be levied against any sexual or desirous practice. 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.

gregkavarnos wrote:
If you do not understand how it can be a positive thing for some people (because it would not be a positive thing for you), that's also okay, though I'll try to explain it if I can and if you're curious. But do understand that the ultimate needlessness of others' desires will naturally be more apparent to you than the ultimate needlessness of your own.
Are you so sure? Anyway, in order to do this though, we may have to define this term "positive" that you so casually tossed in this direction, because it seems to me that this is where "understanding" may be falling apart.
Piss weak argument. 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. The reason BDSM cannot be used as a vehicle to express love is purely and simply based on the fact that it is not an expression of love. Nothing else.
The wholesomeness of one's actions is always dependent on context; what's important is the intent behind them and the mindfulness and self-reflection with which they are performed. There is no formulaic "right thing to do" for all possible circumstances and situations.
Very true, but if your intention is (as you divulged at the beginning of your post) sensual desire then the outcome is…
To be clear: I believe that neither indulgement nor aversion can lead to relinquishment. Rather, one has to learn how their desires work, and what drives them. You cannot do that by becoming caught up in them, and you also cannot do that by avoiding them and hoping that they go away. It's important to avoid both extremes.
I agree 100%
I inferred your knowledge from your questions. :smile:
Apart from a trained psychological counselor I am also a martial arts teacher. In martial arts we sometimes feign weakness to draw “attack” because it is during the attack that one’s “opponent” is most vulnerable. ;) The questions were to get you to think about why it is that you do what you do and expose to you the weakness of your position.
:namaste:


To facilitate conversation, I have to assume that the positions you espouse and the questions you ask are genuine reflections of your beliefs and your understanding. I will therefore continue to assume as much wherever I have no specific reason to assume otherwise.

I gather from your comments that you believe the infliction of pain to be unconditionally bad, or unskillful, or debasing. Is this correct? If you say no, I would ask you to clarify what your actual position on the topic is. On the other hand, if you say yes, then I will pose to you the following counter-example:
Do you denounce the consumption of spicy foods? Capsaicin, the chemical that makes spicy foods "hot", activates pain receptors in the mouth, throat, and intestines. In fact, it evolved as a deterrent to mammals, since their digestive systems destroy the seeds of capsicum peppers and do not allow them to spread / propagate. Would you see someone who prefers spicy foods therefore as pathological? Why would they choose to endure pain with the taking of nutrients -- what sort of convolutions of mind are necessary for THAT? A kind of guilt complex about eating, perhaps? Speculation can run wild...

I do not like overly spicy foods myself, but I have friends that do. I feel no particular sadness for them when they are red-faced and sweating it out over a bowl of very spicy curry, because even though they are feeling pain, they are not suffering with their pain. They LIKE their curry hot, the pain is part of the flavor for them. There is no need for me to dissuade them from it, or to advocate that ground black pepper should be zesty enough for anybody. They would be less happy following my diet. I don't necessarily understand why someone would want to feel like their tongue is on fire (or how they can even taste anything under all that heat... yikes!), but I do understand that they enjoy this more than the blander flavors I tend to prefer. That's the other point that I tried to emphasize in my last post -- I don't get why someone would want to endure pain while taking a meal, but that doesn't prevent me from seeing, nonetheless, that others enjoy it. Since I do not think it especially necessary to help them overcome their desire for spice, I do not actually need to understand their affinity for it.

You might suggest that they are feeding a craving by pursuing piquant and flavorful foods... and sure, I suppose they are. But I'd point out that the average person is not in a state of mind that is conducive to eating nothing but the most tasteless of foods for the exclusive purpose of acquiring nutrition... and similarly, the average person is not in a state of mind conducive to renunciation of all sexual activity except for the express purpose of procreation. Trying to abandon one's desires so abruptly as that is typically counterproductive. As a psychological counselor, you are doubtless aware of the poor success rates and outcomes of the "ex-gay" therapies, which are a prime example of an attempt to directly undermine or reshape sexual desires. If you understand BDSM as well as you say, you should know better than to advocate for an analogous approach to it.

Moreover, I suggest that the relinquishment of sexual desires is better seen as an indicator of progress rather than as a meaningful goal of its own. As I see it, attempting to eliminate one's desires merely by abstaining from them is a bit like trying to bring down a fever by drinking a glass of ice-water just before putting the thermometer in your mouth. Outwardly things might look better, but the underlying issue has not changed.
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Re: Buddhist ethics and BDSM?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:06 am

Clouds wrote:@gregkavarnos Most of your response to me seems based on your need to dismiss my responses.
This is yet another projection, I am not dismissing your responses, I just don't agree with elements of them. But when you impute meanings onto my statements when no such meanings exist then it is quite valid for me to say that you are projecting. When you consciously or unconsciously misrepresent what I say because it contradicts your beliefs then it is valid for me to say that you are misrepresenting me. When you say that BDSM (bodage, domination, sado-masochism) is not about domination then it is valid for me to accuse you of being from another planet. When you make unfounded acusations in order to set up straw men then... ad nauseum. 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!!!
I don't think talking with you would be helpful to either of us; your mind is closed, your stance is aggressive. I am saddened we have reached this point.
My mind is anything but closed. My stance is not agressive it is honest. Your are being overly defensive just because I happening to be challenging some of your invalid views. That's fine. I did not expect you not to try and defend them. They are, after all, (currently) what defines you. BUT, if you wish to disagree with what I am saying, then disagree with what I am saying, and not with what you project onto my words.
: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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