Celibacy and Health

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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri May 21, 2010 3:54 pm

Astus wrote:Among all the quotes you cited didn't say there is "compassionate sex" only in the one by Berzin.


The way I see it, marriage is a kind of contract between two people. It covers things such as emotional and physical needs, the maintenance of a home, raising children, achieving prosperity, etc. It's important to have harmony in a marriage and that means that both partners should basically agree on the goals of the marital endeavor.

If one party decides unilaterally to opt out of sexual intimacy, then he or she is cheating the other out of their marital rights. We have to be a little careful about using the term "addiction" because it comes close to defining sexuality as a sin or inherently bad. A baby is, in a sense, addicted to milk and mama. Would it be compassionate to deprive it of these?

As Ven K. Sri Dhammananda puts it:

Sex by itself is not "evil," although the temptation and craving for it invariably disturbs the peace of mind, and hence is not conducive to spiritual development. In the ideal situation, sex is the physical culmination of a deeply satisfying emotional relationship, where both partners give and take equally.


We might also consider that the spouse is not necessarily a Buddhist, or that either party might not have reached the point where they feel ready to let go.

Now so what is the compassionate thing to do? Probably to introduce the dharma into the household while maintaining the five precepts. It might happen that both husband and wife can practice together and eventually reach the stage where they can overcome the "addiction" to sense pleasures. Priorities can change, especially if there is a lot of spiritual practice by both parties.

In other situations, it might become necessary to defer one's liberatory goals. If that's unacceptable, divorce is surely preferable to trapping one's spouse in a disharmonious union.

The question is: can lust be realised as empty? Certainly, everything is empty. Emptiness doesn't mean non-existence, just one is not bound by it, one doesn't think it is self-existent. Can we deduce from this that lust may not cause suffering? I don't think so, as there is a causal relationship according to the second noble truth. Can suffering be empty? Of course. Thus lust can be not lust and suffering not suffering. So did Vimalakirti have wife and kids while being alone and celibate. Good stuff, eh? So much for lay people...


Those are very interesting questions!

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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Indrajala » Fri May 21, 2010 4:23 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:In other situations, it might become necessary to defer one's liberatory goals. If that's unacceptable, divorce is surely preferable to trapping one's spouse in a disharmonious marriage.


Very few Buddhists expect to be enlightened or liberated or achieve stream-entry in their lifetime. Enlightenment isn't actually an immediate priority for most Buddhists.

That goes for any culture and time period with the exception of maybe when Shakyamuni walked the earth.

Thus why meditation, retreats and the set of 250 vows were reserved for a small segment of the community. Again, that goes for any time period or culture.

The rest of Buddhists procreate, make Buddhist kids, live their lives, hopefully make some merit and aspire for some distant future enlightenment. Buddhists have sex because if they didn't the religion wouldn't have lasted for over 2000 years. If you look at the history of precepts too you'll see that in many cultures in many time periods a lot of precepts were (or still are) completely ignored or outright, though the majority of people still seemed pretty sincere. They might have found comfort in the Buddhadharma, but were hardly saints.

The thing to understand is that there are a few individual practitioners at any given time in any Buddhist community that fully intend to attain realizations and become Arhats or Bodhisattvas and work towards that goal quite sincerely, but the rest of the community, made up mostly of regular families, probably doesn't expect that they'll be attaining Arhatship or Bodhisattvahood in a lifetime.

The idea is often one of "investing" in future lives or achieving rebirth in a Pure Land.

There is a division between wisdom-followers and faith-followers (dharmanusarin and sroddha-nusarin). My opinion judging from the behaviour and trends in Buddhist histories throughout the centuries is that the overwhelming majority of Buddhist adherents are of the later. The few good men and women who fall under the first category might have been relatively scarce, but their legends and written works tend to become popular and as a result we might think everybody is or was (and maybe should be) like them.

Basically, most Buddhist lay persons don't think they'll be attaining liberation in this life, so having sex or no sex, while at the basic level is unwise, isn't really an issue. Enlightenment is for some future life. There is Buddhism in the prescriptive sense and then in the descriptive sense.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri May 21, 2010 5:20 pm

Huseng,

Thank you for providing some very valuable context for this discussion. What you say makes a lot of sense.

I don't, personally, entertain illusions about the likelihood of enlightenment in this lifetime, especially given my status as a busy householder, etc.

But I would argue one point. The Buddha clearly taught that stream entry is a possibility for non-celibate laypersons, as is the next ariyan stage, once-returner. The sense-pleasures fetter doesn't get abandoned until the non-returner stage. There seems to be some dispute as to whether arahantship requires an actual going-forth, although all kama would certainly be extinguished at that point.

So even if the ultimate goal (liberation) is not yet within reach, a fair amount of progress is theoretically possible. Not saying it's easy. Nevertheless, one can imagine a situation where a householder devotes early years to raising a family and making a living, then is able to focus more on spiritual practice in later years.

That's the Theravada "gradual" path. I don't know how it works in Mahayana or, specifically, Chan. Maybe the latter is more restrictive in terms of the possibilities for laypeople?

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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Indrajala » Sat May 22, 2010 2:00 am

Lazy_eye wrote:That's the Theravada "gradual" path. I don't know how it works in Mahayana or, specifically, Chan. Maybe the latter is more restrictive in terms of the possibilities for laypeople?

LE


If the goal is Buddhahood then quite often the idea is that it will take three incalculable aeons (that includes going through the various Bodhisattva stages).

Actually in modern Chinese Buddhism this seems to be the mainstream idea.

You have to keep in mind when you ask about "the possibilities for lay people" that lay people are not really the ones who meditate. A few might take an interest, but as far as I've seen and heard in most Buddhist cultures the laity don't meditate. That's left to the serious monks and nuns.

Jan Nattier's article here about Buddhism in America and its developments might be worth reading:

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma/mainstreet.html

Buddhist practices are diverse as well. While one group views meditation as essential, the next insists that Buddhahood is accessible only through recitation of a certain mantra, and a third considers ritual empowerments by a guru to be required. Watching elderly Buddhists reverently offering small gifts of money or food to the Buddha in hopes of achieving a better rebirth, one realizes that in still other groups enlightenment, at least in this life, isn't the issue at all.


Some months ago I talked to a young enthusiastic layman from Foguangshan and he explained to me that he feels meditation just doesn't have the same sense of accomplishment as charity work and volunteering. He added, "We can see the results of our efforts right away with volunteering!"

Technically you need to master samadhi before true prajna is possible (and so meditation is essential for enlightenment), but I doubt he understands the mechanics behind that and he probably wouldn't care too much. Enlightenment isn't a priority for most Buddhists I meet in Asia. Even the monks and nuns I get to know are not that dead set on it in this lifetime. My bhiksu friend from Malaysia plans to setup schools in Cambodia and do social work there. He didn't mention eliminating all the fetters and attaining dhyanas. I think if you asked him about rebirth and dukha he'd just say, "Yeah, I need to come back anyway to continue my social work."

I think he reflects the Bodhisattva path quite well. Maybe he has enough merit and has lived a pure life for so long that worrying about taking rebirth in the lower realms just isn't an issue. He has genuine compassion and his own liberation isn't his immediate priority -- he wants to look after the welfare of everyone else.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Aemilius » Sat May 22, 2010 10:04 am

"I've never heard of anyone with a regular sex life attaining dhyanas."

It means that there are people who have led a fairly normal life, then at some point they take interest in meditation and go to a seven day retreat of the Pureland School, and attain the breakthrough to the state of being born in a pureland. In some of the pureland literature they have estimated that pureland schools have, in the course of centuries, produced enlightened persons in the thousands and hundred thousands. I have had some contact with the followers of the japanese pureland school as well as with the followers of the chinese schools, so that I have some knowledge of this basic level.
The Dhyana schools also maintain that there are ordinary people who attend a seven day retreat and attain satory thereby, for example D.T.Suzuki's mother, who attained satory much quicker and easier than her son, who afterwards became famous worldwide and lived a very long and fruitfull life.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Indrajala » Sat May 22, 2010 10:22 am

Satori doesn't necessarily correspond to experiencing any of the four dhyanas.

In fact in Japanese the definition of the word satori would change depending on who you speak to.

I personally don't take such anecdotal reports all that seriously anyway.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Sat May 22, 2010 10:51 am

Huseng,

It's great you bring some everyday reality here. But, and this is just as normal too, in the Western countries the newly converted people don't choose Buddhism because they're eager to make some merit for better birth, nor do they like much religious rituals. It is meditation that sells Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama. Average middle class people with university degrees have the time and energy to engage in regular practice. It shouldn't be forgot that today those who have a high school level of knowledge would be called panditas a thousand years back. Uneducated, poor laypeople are not the same as educated and relatively wealthy laymen. Praying for more sons and more food comes naturally for those who depend on those things. That's not the situation of modern Buddhists here. Consequently they want something spiritual instead of material, just as the literati didn't visit Buddhist teachers to learn how to receive more ink and paper in their next life. They wanted enlightenment, Chan, realising the true nature of mind - or at least some good philosophical chit-chat.

I think it is easy among all the teachings to forget it is about decreasing suffering and not about living up to some idea. The problem with lay life is that it involves more problem than a monastic life. But if one has the good background for paying more attention to the Dharma than worldly matters, where is the problem? In medieval Europe the monks had the knowledge and they were the philosophers and wise people of the age, very similar to India and China. Then in the 16th century things began to really change, the clergy gradually lost its position, science, philosophy and theology became the matter of educated citizens. Monastic life never again enjoyed its lost popularity, since it wasn't necessary to live like that in order to know how to read and write.

By the way, to attain any level of dhyana you don't have to be celibate, or live a life of a recluse. True, being occupied by desires prevents the mind to settle down. First of all, no man is constantly full of passion. I have no doubt that one can put aside everyday matters even for an hour, or for a week, sometimes for a month or two. While I don't live a celibate life, it is not hard for me to enjoy inner peace for an hour without thinking about sex, food, sleep, fame or wealth. Even when one is sick and has pains can preserve serenity and rise above concerns.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Indrajala » Sat May 22, 2010 11:02 am

Astus wrote: It is meditation that sells Buddhism, and the Dalai Lama. Average middle class people with university degrees have the time and energy to engage in regular practice. It shouldn't be forgot that today those who have a high school level of knowledge would be called panditas a thousand years back.


I remember my English literature professor saying that in Shakespeare's time an elementary school education was equivalent to a BA degree nowadays. The amount of material you were expected to know and know well (Latin being one big one) was a lot more than what a teenager nowadays would normally be expected to understand.

I wonder if throughout much of India's history it was much the same. To learn Sanskrit they used to memorize Panini's grammar. Even in East Asia the standard way of learning something was to memorize it. Whether it be the Analects of Confucius or Sutras, the young disciple was expected to memorize it. In Chinese the word to memorize is bei2 which also means to turn your back to something. You memorized the chalk board's contents, turned your back and recited it.

I think we often underestimate the amount of knowledge ancient people had from various cultures.

I mean stop and consider that an Indian writer once reported that even parrots recited the Abhidharmakosa to eachother. Nowadays we just read the text and try to figure it out, but in the old days they memorized it!

I think it is easy among all the teachings to forget it is about decreasing suffering and not about living up to some idea. The problem with lay life is that it involves more problem than a monastic life. But if one has the good background for paying more attention to the Dharma than worldly matters, where is the problem? In medieval Europe the monks had the knowledge and they were the philosophers and wise people of the age, very similar to India and China.


Historically in India it was Brahmans that were the intelligentsia. In China it was Confucian gentlemen. They weren't monastics.



By the way, to attain any level of dhyana you don't have to be celibate, or live a life of a recluse. True, being occupied by desires prevents the mind to settle down. First of all, no man is constantly full of passion. I have no doubt that one can put aside everyday matters even for an hour, or for a week, sometimes for a month or two. While I don't live a celibate life, it is not hard for me to enjoy inner peace for an hour without thinking about sex, food, sleep, fame or wealth. Even when one is sick and has pains can preserve serenity and rise above concerns.


What do you think about this?



《長阿含經》卷6:「何謂比丘安隱快樂。於是比丘斷除婬欲。去不善法。有覺.有觀。離生喜.樂。行第一禪。」(CBETA, T01, no. 1, p. 42, b4-6)

~D. 26 Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda-suttanta

Dirghagama:

"What is the peaceful bliss of a bhiksu? It is, this bhiksu, forsaking sexual lust, eliminating unwholesome dharmas, with initial mental applicaton and sustained mental application, due to forsaking [unwholesome dharmas], arises joy and bliss, coursing in the first dhyana."

DN iii 78:

Kiñca, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno sukhasmiṃ? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Aemilius » Sat May 22, 2010 11:14 am

Huseng wrote:Satori doesn't necessarily correspond to experiencing any of the four dhyanas.

In fact in Japanese the definition of the word satori would change depending on who you speak to.

I personally don't take such anecdotal reports all that seriously anyway.


Satori corresponds to attaining combined dhyana and prajna, (see for example the Sutra of Hui Neng). Ofcourse there are different kinds of dhyana, in the mahayana sutras it is said that there are thousands of different samadhis, and they have names too. This issue of dhyana/prajna & samadhi goes far beyond the scope of theravada, and here we should be able to discuss the matter taking the mahayana as our basis and starting point, is this not so ? And therefore your comment seems quite inappropriate here, don't you think?
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Indrajala » Sat May 22, 2010 11:26 am

Aemilius wrote:
Huseng wrote:Satori doesn't necessarily correspond to experiencing any of the four dhyanas.

In fact in Japanese the definition of the word satori would change depending on who you speak to.

I personally don't take such anecdotal reports all that seriously anyway.


Satori corresponds to attaining combined dhyana and prajna, (see for example the Sutra of Hui Neng). Ofcourse there are different kinds of dhyana, in the mahayana sutras it is said that there are thousands of different samadhis, and they have names too. This issue of dhyana/prajna & samadhi goes far beyond the scope of theravada, and here we should be able to discuss the matter taking the mahayana as our basis and starting point, is this not so ? And therefore your comment seems quite inappropriate here, don't you think?


Elucidation of the four dhyana are found even in the Chinese Agammas. They were also a key part of Indian Mahayana Buddhism. Even today in Chinese Buddhism the four stages of dhyana are taught and practised.

Having an experience of satori can mean a lot of things. You need to keep in mind even in Japanese there is no single definition for this word. Like I said ask ten Buddhist priests for a definition and you'll have ten different answers.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Sat May 22, 2010 12:13 pm

Huseng,

And what percent of the population studied in those schools in Shakespeare's times? Very small. And that's what I meant to point out, that the masses were uneducated peasants and craftsmen. Today, who learn Sanskrit, or any foreign language, has to memorise the grammar. Or you could learn Japanese by watching samurai films?

They memorised texts, true. I, on the other hand, have hundreds of books, plus the internet. In terms of information we're way beyond the capacity of Ananda, the whole canon on a single e-book reader with a search option.

The Chinese literati were no monks, sure. And they still could be involved in high level Buddhism, like Peixiu and Li Tongxuan.

As I said, celibate life and putting aside a noisy, desiring mind for a while are not the same. Otherwise teaching meditation to lay people would be quite pointless, don't you think? But they did so in the past and they do it now too.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Huifeng » Sat May 22, 2010 1:42 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:
Huseng wrote:Basically if you want liberation, you need to give up sex.

If you're not willing to go that far, then you won't achieve liberation.


Which raises the question: what does it mean to be a "lay Buddhist"?


I think one way to look at it may be like this:

Living beings are in bondage, bond by a wide range of different mental afflictions, such as craving, aversion and ignorance. We could liken these to being a prisoner, locked up with hand-cuffs, shackles, and in a prison cell, with a wire fence outside of this. If we wish to escape, we have to overcome all of these bonds. Now, some of the bonds must be overcome before we can even attempt some of the others. eg. we must get out of the prison cell before we can jump the fence. But for some of the bonds, it really doesn't matter which order we overcome them. eg. the hand-cuffs or the shackles. The hand-cuffs and shackles are like the five obstructions to dhyana - sensual craving, aversion, dullness, excitedness and doubt. Then the prison cell is like the form realm, and jumping the fence is like escaping from the formless realm. We have to overcome the hindrances to dhyana which means we escape the desire realm, before we can then escape the form and then formless realm. But whether or not we first remove the handcuffs or the shackles, it really doesn't matter much either way, like whether we first overcome sensual craving or aversion, or the other three obstructions to dhyana.

At first we have both hand-cuffs and shackles, but to become a celibate monastic is like saying that one has to remove the hand-cuffs and never put them back on again. One can remove them without becoming a monastic, too, as a celibate lay person. No problem there. If one wishes to keep in a sexual relationship as a lay person, no problem. The hand-cuffs are on. One can still spend some time forgetting about the hand-cuffs for a while, and work really hard on removing the shackles of aversion, dullness etc. and all the other minor ropes and ties around us as we sit in the prison cell, inside the fence perimeter. Being a monastic though, for some may mean spending a lot of time overcoming the hand-cuffs, so much time that they may not have much time to deal with the shackles or other ropes tying them up. Maybe they are, but maybe not too, relatively more or less liberated than the layperson who is dealing diligently with the shackles, as the monastic deals with the hand-cuffs.

But either way, both the cuffs and shackles have to go before one can deal with the prison cell door, and then later jump the fence. Even while cuffed and shackled, some people may make a very careful and detailed plan of how to break the cell door and jump the fence. They may sit there, cuffed and shackled for a long time before they seem to act externally. But when they do, they may very quickly break free of all the bonds and be out the gate while the others are still in their cell hacking on their bonds. This is like someone who develops incredibly powerful wisdom, while not worrying too much about strong dhyana or the like. They could be a monastic or a lay person. Either way, once their insight gets to a certain level, they'll quickly discard both cuffs and shackles, enter dhyana through deep insight (rather than the other way around), and then break through the gate and jump the fence, because they have insight into the nature of all dharmas, whereas the others may have to break through each dharma obstruction one at a time.

There is plenty to do as a lay buddhist, just as there is plenty to do as a monastic. We are human beings. We face the same obstructions to realization. Samsara and nirvana don't know the difference between lay and monastic. But they do know the difference between dhyana and distraction, between insight and idiocy.

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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Luke » Sat May 22, 2010 5:31 pm

Astus wrote:So much for lay people...

Of course in Vajrayana Buddhism there are also stories of people becoming enlightened by having sex; however, it should be remembered that their mental states during these practices were radically different from what normal people experience during ordinary sex.

It appears that there are some ways to use the "handcuffs" as tools as well, but this is probably very hard to do.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Indrajala » Sun May 23, 2010 8:17 am

Astus wrote:Huseng,

They memorised texts, true. I, on the other hand, have hundreds of books, plus the internet. In terms of information we're way beyond the capacity of Ananda, the whole canon on a single e-book reader with a search option.



We might have immeasurable knowledge available at our fingertips, but that hardly means we understand more.

In one of my courses right now we're reading from an Edo period woodblock print of a Zen/Chan text. It contains extensive notes (equivalent to footnotes) and whoever compiled it was extremely well read. I know this because they were able to pinpoint and find obscure references in massive Chinese texts. This was long before they had character indexes for texts, let alone a searchable archive. The scholars of old actually read extensively and maintained a sharp memory.

It is honestly humbling to see how they were able to know where these references came from. They basically read a lot and understood the material quite well. They had no searchable archives. It wasn't just Buddhist texts either.

For us we just punch in the characters and search CBETA or some Chinese text archive and find what we're looking for immediately.

This is actually producing a lot of incompetent graduates from graduate schools. They might have the tools, but they know very little in reality.

I'm sure the same phenomena exist in other places as well. I know my venerable Tibetan guru learned things through memorization and extensive reading. If you ask him a question sometimes he'll pause and start reciting a few lines of a text in Tibetan and then extract the necessary information from the passage he has in memory.

Basically, just because we have access to a wide amount of knowledge doesn't mean we understand more.

Also, earlier you said this:

By the way, to attain any level of dhyana you don't have to be celibate, or live a life of a recluse.



So I'm wondering how you can make such a claim given this quote from Shakyamuni Buddha?

《長阿含經》卷6:「何謂比丘安隱快樂。於是比丘斷除婬欲。去不善法。有覺.有觀。離生喜.樂。行第一禪。」(CBETA, T01, no. 1, p. 42, b4-6)

~D. 26 Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda-suttanta

Dirghagama:

"What is the peaceful bliss of a bhiksu? It is, this bhiksu, forsaking sexual lust, eliminating unwholesome dharmas, with initial mental applicaton and sustained mental application, due to forsaking [unwholesome dharmas], arises joy and bliss, coursing in the first dhyana."

DN iii 78:

Kiñca, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno sukhasmiṃ? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu vivicceva kāmehi vivicca akusalehi dhammehi savitakkaṃ savicāraṃ vivekajaṃ pītisukhaṃ paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati.



Your statement holds no weight when we have such a clear statement from the Buddha that states on the contrary one forsakes lust and then achieves the first dhyana. If the first dhyana is not achieved, there is no second, third or fourth that could be attained. How is it possible to be non-celibate and then achieve the first dhyana?
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Sun May 23, 2010 12:28 pm

Huseng,

If you interpret the quote in a way that one must have eliminated kama, only non-returners and above attain any absorption. Which would then mean wisdom is available without absorption as those on the first two noble stages still have sensual desire. But I believe this has been already mentioned before.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Indrajala » Sun May 23, 2010 1:26 pm

Astus wrote:Huseng,

If you interpret the quote in a way that one must have eliminated kama, only non-returners and above attain any absorption. Which would then mean wisdom is available without absorption as those on the first two noble stages still have sensual desire. But I believe this has been already mentioned before.


I don't say it means complete elimination of kama.

I gather it means that one has to forsake lust.

Thus it seems contradictory to say that on one hand the dhyanas are possible for a non-celibate practitioner when the Buddha outlined that, indeed, one has to give up lust before even the first dhyana is possible.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Huifeng » Sun May 23, 2010 2:47 pm

Maybe it would be helpful to clarify what the word "celibacy" means. Maybe not as simple as it sounds. At what point is one "celibate" as opposed to just "not having sex right now?"
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun May 23, 2010 5:57 pm

Huifeng wrote:Living beings are in bondage, bond by a wide range of different mental afflictions, such as craving, aversion and ignorance. We could liken these to being a prisoner, locked up with hand-cuffs, shackles, and in a prison cell, with a wire fence outside of this. If we wish to escape, we have to overcome all of these bonds. Now, some of the bonds must be overcome before we can even attempt some of the others. eg. we must get out of the prison cell before we can jump the fence. But for some of the bonds, it really doesn't matter which order we overcome them. eg. the hand-cuffs or the shackles. The hand-cuffs and shackles are like the five obstructions to dhyana - sensual craving, aversion, dullness, excitedness and doubt. Then the prison cell is like the form realm, and jumping the fence is like escaping from the formless realm. We have to overcome the hindrances to dhyana which means we escape the desire realm, before we can then escape the form and then formless realm. But whether or not we first remove the handcuffs or the shackles, it really doesn't matter much either way, like whether we first overcome sensual craving or aversion, or the other three obstructions to dhyana.

At first we have both hand-cuffs and shackles, but to become a celibate monastic is like saying that one has to remove the hand-cuffs and never put them back on again. One can remove them without becoming a monastic, too, as a celibate lay person. No problem there. If one wishes to keep in a sexual relationship as a lay person, no problem. The hand-cuffs are on. One can still spend some time forgetting about the hand-cuffs for a while, and work really hard on removing the shackles of aversion, dullness etc. and all the other minor ropes and ties around us as we sit in the prison cell, inside the fence perimeter. Being a monastic though, for some may mean spending a lot of time overcoming the hand-cuffs, so much time that they may not have much time to deal with the shackles or other ropes tying them up. Maybe they are, but maybe not too, relatively more or less liberated than the layperson who is dealing diligently with the shackles, as the monastic deals with the hand-cuffs.

But either way, both the cuffs and shackles have to go before one can deal with the prison cell door, and then later jump the fence. Even while cuffed and shackled, some people may make a very careful and detailed plan of how to break the cell door and jump the fence. They may sit there, cuffed and shackled for a long time before they seem to act externally. But when they do, they may very quickly break free of all the bonds and be out the gate while the others are still in their cell hacking on their bonds. This is like someone who develops incredibly powerful wisdom, while not worrying too much about strong dhyana or the like. They could be a monastic or a lay person. Either way, once their insight gets to a certain level, they'll quickly discard both cuffs and shackles, enter dhyana through deep insight (rather than the other way around), and then break through the gate and jump the fence, because they have insight into the nature of all dharmas, whereas the others may have to break through each dharma obstruction one at a time.


Thanks, Venerable -- this helps put the question into perspective. I like the allegory!

Perhaps there are two traps that we can fall into rather easily. One is simply forgetting about the fence, so that Buddhism just becomes a way of decorating the prison cell or humming to ourselves in the dark. Another is to place so much emphasis on the fence that we forget about the majority of sentient beings, who not only are shackled and cuffed, but may not even be aware of it.

LE
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Sun May 23, 2010 7:56 pm

Huseng,

So, one forsakes lust but hasn't eliminated lust. It should fit the case when one doesn't even want to drink coffee in the evening, although he might drank one in the morning. Also, after lunch one isn't hungry and until dinner there's no need to think of food. By the way, if temporary non-presence of lust is not good enough, how could a permanent non-presence of lust be fine? As far as the non-presence of lust is concerned, both cases are satisfactory.

Master Huifeng's suggestion should be considered too.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby m0rl0ck » Mon May 24, 2010 2:29 am

Im almost as attached to tea and chocolate as i used to be to sex. Are you guys saying i have to give up tea and chocolate? And if not why not? is it ok to have sex if i dont like it? if i close my eyes and think of england?
Ride the horse in the direction its going.

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