Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

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Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Ikkyu » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:37 am

Buddhavacana (word[s] of the Buddha) from the Cūḷasīla of the Brahmajāla Sutta:

It is, bhikkhus, only to trifling and insignificant matters, to the minor details of mere moral virtue, that a worldling would refer when speaking in praise of the Tathāgata. And what are those trifling and insignificant matters, those minor details of mere moral virtue, to which he would refer?

"'Having abandoned the destruction of life, the recluse Gotama abstains from the destruction of life. He has laid aside the rod and the sword, and dwells conscientious, full of kindness, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings.' It is in this way, bhikkhus, that the worldling would speak when speaking in praise of the Tathāgata.

"Or he might say: 'Having abandoned taking what is not given, the recluse Gotama abstains from taking what is not given. Accepting and expecting only what is given, he dwells in honesty and rectitude of heart.'

"Or he might say: 'Having abandoned unchaste living, the recluse Gotama lives the life of chastity. He dwells remote (from women), and abstains from the vulgar practice of sexual intercourse.'
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby dharmagoat » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:37 am

Now, where did I leave that ten foot pole... ?
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:48 am

Ikkyu wrote:Buddhavacana (word[s] of the Buddha) from the Cūḷasīla of the Brahmajāla Sutta:

It is, bhikkhus, only to trifling and insignificant matters, to the minor details of mere moral virtue, that a worldling would refer when speaking in praise of the Tathāgata. And what are those trifling and insignificant matters, those minor details of mere moral virtue, to which he would refer?

"'Having abandoned the destruction of life, the recluse Gotama abstains from the destruction of life. He has laid aside the rod and the sword, and dwells conscientious, full of kindness, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings.' It is in this way, bhikkhus, that the worldling would speak when speaking in praise of the Tathāgata.

"Or he might say: 'Having abandoned taking what is not given, the recluse Gotama abstains from taking what is not given. Accepting and expecting only what is given, he dwells in honesty and rectitude of heart.'

"Or he might say: 'Having abandoned unchaste living, the recluse Gotama lives the life of chastity. He dwells remote (from women), and abstains from the vulgar practice of sexual intercourse.'
Well, I personally believe there was a difference between what the Buddha taught lay people who can have sex and monks who cannot. Skillful means and all that.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Nighthawk » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:49 am

Basically anything that comes under sexual misconduct is vulgar otherwise no, not at all.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Andrew108 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:30 am

Ikkyu - you seem to have a misconception about what it means to be buddhist. A person uses Buddhism - the discourse - to see how their experiences are. What is the nature of their experience. A buddhist does not have to take on any kind of dogma or conditioning not even buddhist conditioning.
So if in a text it says that sex is vulgar then as a buddhist one asks in what sense is sex vulgar in my experience? What can I find in the sexual experience that is harmful to my understanding of the nature of experience?
In brief, as has been pointed out to you, buddhist teachings are encyclopedic. This means that within the discourse of Buddhism you can find many points of view that seem opposing. They are not opposing - they are just meant for different types of practitioners at different times. But of course it comes down to how we deal with experiences - the experience of suffering being most notable. With the inspiration from a teacher and the teachings we come to look inwards at the nature of our experiences and the strange fact of perception. We do not condition ourselves all over again. What would be the point in that? So we see this ever fresh experience and we see it's nature in an uncontrived way. Isn't that a good thing? Buddhist discourse in the end comes down to working with the analysis in the filed of our experiences. Enlightenment in this context is confidence - certainty - in seeing how experiences are.
The Blessed One said:

"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:20 am

As a celibate bhikṣu(ni) it is probably useful to maintain a view of sexuality as vulgar and inappropriate, otherwise it could lead to a loose attitude. If you have full precepts, which the scriptures often assume, then having a strict attitude when it comes to any kind of sex will be important. As a layperson it is easy enough to speak of sex in liberal terms and think anyone who says otherwise is attached to forms, but if you have to maintain strict celibacy for the rest of your days, attitude counts for a lot, or so I have come to think after living in monasteries with bhikṣus.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:13 pm

Yes.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby seeker242 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:17 pm

It depends on who you ask, are you asking a celibate monk, or a average layperson?
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:08 pm

Or a tantric siddha.
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One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:04 pm

This thread adequately puts it into perspective (quotes from H.H. the Dalai Lama, etc.):

viewtopic.php?f=77&t=8704

Celibacy is only mandatory for (most?) monks, and/or in Yanas that by themselves are said to take eons to reach Buddhahood.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:13 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:Celibacy is only mandatory for (most?) monks, and/or in Yanas that by themselves are said to take eons to reach Buddhahood.
What's the rush dude? You got somewhere better to go? Kick back and enjoy the view! :smile:
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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: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Wesley1982 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 8:51 pm

You might think sex is "vulgar" only to forget how you were born.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:26 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:You might think sex is "vulgar" only to forget how you were born.


Unless you consider birth itself to also be vulgar. :smile:
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:48 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:You might think sex is "vulgar" only to forget how you were born.


Mammal procreation, pregnancy and birth are all quite filthy processes when you think about it.

Semen and blood mixing to create a new life.

A parasitic organism in the womb, quite uncomfortable for the mother. For the infant it is said to be perpetual pain.

Birth is bloody and full of bodily fluids.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Ogyen » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:48 pm

Is this another one of those prank posts?!

I'm pregnant, the discomfort's not too bad, aside from the baby's martial arts... For the baby.. it could be painful I suppose, there is no evidence to show this in research, if anything, it's the early preparation for life. The birth of stars is pretty bloody dramatic. Plant matter comes up from from sh*t, yet... the process of life is what it is. Some find it beautiful, not at all filthy. Filthy and vulgar are creations of mind and notions based in perception. In and of itself, the process is rather neutral of value association, like white noise.
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"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:55 pm

Ogyen wrote:Is this another one of those prank posts?!

I'm pregnant, the discomfort's not too bad, aside from the baby's martial arts... For the baby.. it could be painful I suppose, there is no evidence to show this in research, if anything, it's the early preparation for life. The birth of stars is pretty bloody dramatic. Plant matter comes up from from sh*t, yet... the process of life is what it is. Some find it beautiful, not at all filthy. Filthy and vulgar are creations of mind and notions based in perception. In and of itself, the process is rather neutral of value association, like white noise.


I imagine you're aware of the literature that speaks of the womb in terms like "hell realm". Sensations of being crushed and burnt.

In any case, I still think the whole process is rather bloody, sticky, gooey and full of normally disagreeable substances.
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:46 pm

Ogyen wrote:Is this another one of those prank posts?!

I'm pregnant, the discomfort's not too bad, aside from the baby's martial arts... For the baby.. it could be painful I suppose, there is no evidence to show this in research, if anything, it's the early preparation for life. The birth of stars is pretty bloody dramatic. Plant matter comes up from from sh*t, yet... the process of life is what it is. Some find it beautiful, not at all filthy. Filthy and vulgar are creations of mind and notions based in perception. In and of itself, the process is rather neutral of value association, like white noise.



I think it goes back to the whole "birth is suffering" thing because with birth inevitability comes old age, sickness and death. Very unpleasant things for most people! In the early scriptures at least, the Buddha does not speak very kindly about birth because "birth is the supporting condition for suffering". People think birth is beautiful but at the same time think death is ugly. Birth is a celebration but death is a tragedy. But if death really is a tragedy, then birth should also be a tragedy since birth is what causes death. Or something like that. :)
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:18 pm

Well guys, if it wasn't for that "nasty" process of sex and birth, then you wouldn't be here talking about how "nasty and "vulgar" they are! ;) Suffering has it's bright side too, it makes you want to stop suffering.
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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: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby dharmagoat » Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:43 pm

I thought the idea was to get out of the trap of attraction/repulsion? Unlike many other beliefs in buddhism, I can't see how this can be a useful means to an end. It may help to keep monks in line, but at what cost? Aren't we just feeding our cultural hang-ups by viewing a natural process as somehow wrong?
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Re: Is sex considered vulgar to Buddhists?

Postby duckfiasco » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:35 pm

Our samsaric condition constantly demands food, water, crapping/pissing, freedom from pain, and sleep. We need these for our bodies to survive, and our bodies tell us these are the best things ever. However, our condition also demands entertainment, pride, renown, friends, love, etc. and yes, sex. Then these non-survival needs get happily lumped into the same category, and our bodies and minds tell us they're the best things ever. Since we're all addicts to samsara and a captive audience to our own steady stream of BS, it's hard to distinguish between what's actually sustaining us, but what isn't starting wildfires of karma to further enmesh us in samsara. We become so used to giving in to craving that anything else seems impractical, useless, or even scary.

So for some things, you try doing the opposite of the usual "omg this is great" feedback loop that keeps us locked in, and try viewing it as repulsive. Does it then become repulsive? If viewed from a different enough angle, it sure does. Well, that tells you more about the nature of views and our personal narrative than it does about sex, entertainment, or anything else. It helps loosen our grip on ideas of a solid external object that our internal selves apparently need. After all, it's not like the equivalent of mixing our pool of salt water into the ocean does much of anything at all, ultimately. It's the karmic impact of constantly repeating the refrain "me = needy self, out there = gimme gimme!" that acts like a self-fulfilling prophecy, literally. Few things do that as strongly as sex and the desire for sex do. The good thing about sex in this regard is you don't need it to survive, so you can dispense with it until you reach some state of realization :) If you want to, that is.

So I think the Buddha's goal wasn't to say sex or anything is repulsive per se. He's using skillful means like always (he's the Buddha dang it!) to get people to stop believing the stories they tell themselves. You use the stepping stone of viewing things as repulsive to break the spell of samsara, then see what you can see from there. Disenchantment is the name of the game, the Middle Path, not attraction or aversion, as you said dharmagoat :)

I believe this is relevant... sorry I don't know how to cite numbers and chapters of sutras! This is only partial because it's long :)
"Monks, when the uninstructed worldling experiences a painful feeling, he sorrows, grieves, and
laments; he weeps beating his breast and becomes distraught. He feels two feelings--a bodily one
and a mental one. Suppose they were to strike a man with a dart, and then strike him immediately
afterward with a second dart, so that the man would feel a feeling caused by two darts. So too,
when the uninstructed worldling experiences a painful feeling, he feels two feelings--a bodily
one and a mental one.

“While experiencing that same painful feeling, he harbors aversion toward it. When he harbors aversion toward painful feeling, the underlying tendency to aversion toward painful feeling lies behind this. While experiencing painful feeling, he seeks delight in sensual pleasure: For what reason? Because the uninstructed worldling does not know of any escape from painful feeling
other than sensual pleasure. When he seeks delight in sensual pleasure, the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling lies behind this. He does not understand as it really is; the origin and the passing away, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these feelings. When he does not understand these things, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling lies behind this.

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it attached. If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it
attached. If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it attached. This, monks, is
called an uninstructed worldling who is attached to birth, aging, and death; who is attached to
sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and despair; who is attached to suffering, I say.
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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