Celibacy and Health

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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby muni » Tue May 25, 2010 4:31 pm

At least delusion is not in sex organs or in clothes or way of living but in conceptual mind.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Huifeng » Wed May 26, 2010 3:02 am

Lazy_eye wrote:
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


I may just have to work on that allegory, until I have one that matches all five obstructions to dhyana, and maybe the 10 fetters as a whole.

I agree that those are perhaps the two (biggest) traps. When we say: Well, we can just be a lay person with 5 precepts and practice the Dharma just fine - we are forgetting the fence, and decorating the prison cell. When we say things like: Destroy the conceptual mind and realize emptiness - before we have the basics, then perhaps we are overemphasizing the fence, before we're out of the cell.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Wed May 26, 2010 8:50 am

This prison metaphor is so much like Plato's Cave in a modern "Prison Break" format.

I think meditation on the drawbacks of samsara is essential as a basis for the path, and this appears to be usually missing from Western Buddhism.

I like the metaphor of the film. One watches a film because he thinks it is interesting. It could be a love story or a horror, the point is to glue people to the screen. Samsara here is not a grey prison cell but a world full of entertainment. Honey on the blade. And we're told honey is the meaning of life, and a success story is when you can avoid the blade (lived happily ever after). That is the modern myth of love and money we're told again and again. The soap opera of life.

Also, the TV/film metaphor gives the option of both gradual and sudden awakening. :sage:
"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 muni » Wed May 26, 2010 9:25 am

Huifeng wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:
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


I may just have to work on that allegory, until I have one that matches all five obstructions to dhyana, and maybe the 10 fetters as a whole.

I agree that those are perhaps the two (biggest) traps. When we say: Well, we can just be a lay person with 5 precepts and practice the Dharma just fine - we are forgetting the fence, and decorating the prison cell. When we say things like: Destroy the conceptual mind and realize emptiness - before we have the basics, then perhaps we are overemphasizing the fence, before we're out of the cell.


:namaste: For sure Ven Huifeng.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Huifeng » Wed May 26, 2010 9:38 am

Astus wrote:This prison metaphor is so much like Plato's Cave in a modern "Prison Break" format.

I think meditation on the drawbacks of samsara is essential as a basis for the path, and this appears to be usually missing from Western Buddhism.

I like the metaphor of the film. One watches a film because he thinks it is interesting. It could be a love story or a horror, the point is to glue people to the screen. Samsara here is not a grey prison cell but a world full of entertainment. Honey on the blade. And we're told honey is the meaning of life, and a success story is when you can avoid the blade (lived happily ever after). That is the modern myth of love and money we're told again and again. The soap opera of life.

Also, the TV/film metaphor gives the option of both gradual and sudden awakening. :sage:


Okay, how about I add "And the prison cell has cable TV, high-speed internet connection, and room-service"? :tongue:

But if I go one step further, then I'm going to have add the classic - "Problem is, the prison is on fire!" ("Wake up and smell the burning coffee beans!") Lotus Sutra Remix II.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Wed May 26, 2010 10:11 am

Master Huifeng,

Yes, now that sounds better. Such version then fits Zongmi's vision of combining sudden enlightenment with gradual training. It's just that a new TV series should be made of Sudhana's journey, starting with the cell mate Samantabhadra and ending with the guard tower of infinite connections (like when Neo meets the Architect in Matrix Reloaded).

Image
"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 » Wed May 26, 2010 10:18 am

Astus wrote:I think meditation on the drawbacks of samsara is essential as a basis for the path, and this appears to be usually missing from Western Buddhism.


I agree.

However, in the case of western Buddhism you often have people denying rebirth or reinterpreting it to mean some kind of of watered down "rebirth in every moment". From that perspective samsara ends at your physical death, so whether you live well or not is irrelevant because the end result is the same. There is no reason to strive to be saintly if oblivion is just going to swallow up you and all your results, whether they be good or evil. Much of what is sold (and it is literally sold) as Buddhism in the English speaking world at least is merely palliative methods to make existence a bit easier (meditation, music CDs featuring authentic Japanese traditional music and cozy Buddha statues), and it can hardly be said to be anything more than that.

On the other hand, I don't necessarily see much emphasis on the drawbacks of samsara in East Asian Buddhism as it is actually practised with the majority of people. Like I've said before, I seldom meet Buddhists in Asia who think they'll become enlightened anytime soon. I mean the teaching is there, but the emphasis isn't. It is in the background, but it isn't brought to the forefront.

I often forget about that. I read so much material from the top level Buddhist thinkers of ages past as well as sutras, but most Buddhists don't follow the manual so to speak.

In the words of an eccentric bhiksu friend of mine we're kind of freaks because we study the actual texts and try to live by the teachings found in them.
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Wed May 26, 2010 11:27 am

Huseng,

What you say resembles very much the message of the Ani Sutta (SN 20.7):

"in the course of the future there will be monks who won't listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. They won't lend ear, won't set their hearts on knowing them, won't regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works — the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples — are recited."

Similar warning in SN 16.13 (A Counterfeit of the True Dhamma): "It's worthless people who arise right here [within the Sangha] who make the true Dhamma disappear."

What happens? Even monastic curriculum may contain more "explanation for the commentary of the commentary" than reading the sutra itself. And what they do with the sutras? Bow before them and recite the mantra or the title of it. Magical learning. Could be used in universities too, made things easier.

"As long as the monks neither decree what has been undecreed nor repeal what has been decreed, but practice undertaking the training rules as they have been decreed, their growth can be expected, not their decline." (AN 7.21)
"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 » Wed May 26, 2010 4:12 pm

Astus wrote:What happens? Even monastic curriculum may contain more "explanation for the commentary of the commentary" than reading the sutra itself. And what they do with the sutras? Bow before them and recite the mantra or the title of it. Magical learning. Could be used in universities too, made things easier.


I've seen this before. At a Vietnamese monastery there were these cabinets on both sides of the main altar filled with the Tripitaka (the Taisho, Vietnamese canon and others). I asked the abbot if I could look through it and maybe borrow a text at some point. He said sure. I tried to open the cabinets and sure enough they were locked. Nice brand new sets of texts and probably never before read or even taken out.

Just for display. Nice holy scriptures. But don't touch them.

On a larger level look at developments particularly in Japanese Buddhism with Nichiren and SGI. They have turned a Japanese phonetic transliteration of a Classical Chinese title for the Lotus Sutra into a sacred mantra and recite it as a key practise.

I really wonder about that. I've met some SGI people and they explain how great chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is. In one girl's words it had a positive impact on her life.

Would chanting "Coca-cola" be any more beneficial I wonder?

We live in a time of degeneration unfortunately.

I was reading Kukai's work once and he gave some numbers for when the dharma ending age would begin. If you add up the numbers and use the year we generally think Shakyamuni died (480BCE) as a starting point, the dharma ending age will begin sometime this century (2020 to be precise, but then 480BCE is only a provisional dating).

Not that Kukai's sources are unquestionably accurate, but I found that interesting when I first read it. It got me thinking about how there are so many signs of rapid decay.

The dharma ending age, at least according to what I read if I recall correctly, is predicted to last 10,000 years. So we still will have the Buddhadharma around for another 10,000 years at least.

But then that is only provisional and to be taken with a grain of salt. :smile:
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Wed May 26, 2010 4:30 pm

This little discussion - which I don't mind at all - feels like elderly women chatting about the good old days over the garden fence.

And there are the buddha-nature and dharmadhatu teachings, how everything is already perfect (says so the Dzogchen master).
"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 muni » Thu May 27, 2010 5:57 pm

m0rl0ck wrote: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?


We can easely get what we don't want and don't get what we want when we keep comforting our desires. To give up as far as we are ready to give up something. :popcorn:
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Aemilius » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:28 pm

Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:What happens? Even monastic curriculum may contain more "explanation for the commentary of the commentary" than reading the sutra itself. And what they do with the sutras? Bow before them and recite the mantra or the title of it. Magical learning. Could be used in universities too, made things easier.


I've seen this before. At a Vietnamese monastery there were these cabinets on both sides of the main altar filled with the Tripitaka (the Taisho, Vietnamese canon and others). I asked the abbot if I could look through it and maybe borrow a text at some point. He said sure. I tried to open the cabinets and sure enough they were locked. Nice brand new sets of texts and probably never before read or even taken out.

Just for display. Nice holy scriptures. But don't touch them.

On a larger level look at developments particularly in Japanese Buddhism with Nichiren and SGI. They have turned a Japanese phonetic transliteration of a Classical Chinese title for the Lotus Sutra into a sacred mantra and recite it as a key practise.

I really wonder about that. I've met some SGI people and they explain how great chanting Namu Myoho Renge Kyo is. In one girl's words it had a positive impact on her life.

Would chanting "Coca-cola" be any more beneficial I wonder?

We live in a time of degeneration unfortunately.

I was reading Kukai's work once and he gave some numbers for when the dharma ending age would begin. If you add up the numbers and use the year we generally think Shakyamuni died (480BCE) as a starting point, the dharma ending age will begin sometime this century (2020 to be precise, but then 480BCE is only a provisional dating).

Not that Kukai's sources are unquestionably accurate, but I found that interesting when I first read it. It got me thinking about how there are so many signs of rapid decay.

The dharma ending age, at least according to what I read if I recall correctly, is predicted to last 10,000 years. So we still will have the Buddhadharma around for another 10,000 years at least.

But then that is only provisional and to be taken with a grain of salt. :smile:


In Edward Conze's Short Prajna Paramita Texts there is a PP Sutra For Benevolent Kings So That They Can Protect Their Countries, it says that Dharma will last 8880 years ( according to Kumarajiva's translation) or 5550 years ( according to Amoghavajra's translation).
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:50 pm

Aemilius wrote: In Edward Conze's Short Prajna Paramita Texts there is a PP Sutra For Benevolent Kings So That They Can Protect Their Countries, it says that Dharma will last 8880 years ( according to Kumarajiva's translation) or 5550 years ( according to Amoghavajra's translation).


I don't think anything can be pinned down as absolute as karma-vipaka being what it is -- subject to conditions -- it is variable and thus so is the future. In other words how long the dharma lasts in our world depends on the collective actions of the inhabitants.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:08 pm

Huifeng wrote:
Aemilius wrote:I would like to raise the question, is celibacy not unhealthy? According to the generally accepted medical view? How are going to deal with this problem, or this question? What happens in the human body during celibacy?


If you seek a medical definition of "health", then probably the best place to ask would be on a medical forum. They may cover things such as physical health, in all it's aspects.

For the Buddha Dharma, physical health, while helpful to the path, is secondary to a state of mental and emotional health. Any sort of mental affliction, such as craving or aversion, is considered to be a state of mental and emotional illness, and not health. Moreover, these mental afflictions are the root causes for rebirth in cyclic existence. For instance, sexual craving - which is present in any sort of sexual activity - is a type of desire sphere craving. A basic result of this is rebirth in the desire realm. As a result of rebirth, one will subsequently experience illness, old age, and death. These are the epitome of "absence of health".

The converse is nirvana, the cessation of such mental and emotional diseases. Nirvana is described as real "health", because from it one does not suffer from the aforementioned disease.


To some extent I agree. Because buddhists advocate celibacy, they have to be able to defend it against medical views and medical experience, for example: in man the sperm continues to develop, and in woman a similar physical cycle continues, when a person maintains celibacy, this has a physical and psychological effect on the person, if prolonged it can lead to behaviour that is considered abnormal and unhealthy in normal worldly language, even if it is medical knowledge, you must be able answer this issue!
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:35 pm

Aemilius wrote: To some extent I agree. Because buddhists advocate celibacy, they have to be able to defend it against medical views and medical experience, for example: in man the sperm continues to develop, and in woman a similar physical cycle continues, when a person maintains celibacy, this has a physical and psychological effect on the person, if prolonged it can lead to behaviour that is considered abnormal and unhealthy in normal worldly language, even if it is medical knowledge, you must be able answer this issue!


There are plenty of living examples of bhiksu and bhiksuni who are celibate and mentally stable.

Medical literature can say one thing, but the masses of healthy and perky monks and nuns in the Buddhist world prove that people can be celibate and live fine.
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Re: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:10 pm

Huseng wrote:There are plenty of living examples of bhiksu and bhiksuni who are celibate and mentally stable.

Medical literature can say one thing, but the masses of healthy and perky monks and nuns in the Buddhist world prove that people can be celibate and live fine.


And celibacy is nothing new in the Western countries either.
"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: Precepts and Shinran

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:59 pm

"And celibacy is nothing new in the Western countries either."

You guys have obviously not lived in the 1960's and 1970's !!! -it seems to me. Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, Wilhlm Reich, etc... and the whole movement of psychogy came to existence because there indeed had been celibacy, and sexual abstinence, and sexual repression, in Europe ( and in the area of western civilisation) for a considerable lenght of time. Times have changed since then, it is impossible describe the development, and the nonunderstanding of history, that has taken place,...
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:37 pm

Aemilius,

I'm no historian, but afaik such Victorian morals were created in the 19th century and not before. There is a considerable difference between common people having the idea that sex is sinful and renunciates, who willingly joined a monastic order, not getting involved in sensual passions. Also, I haven't heard of Freud et al analysing monks and nuns. Celibacy is a problem if you don't want to refrain from sex, also the feeling of guilt exists only when one does something he considers sinful. The monastic life was actually quite popular in Europe, also in Buddhist countries. And they were a group of intellectual and religious elite. I don't see how their health could have been affected.
"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 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:01 pm

Astus wrote:Aemilius,

I'm no historian, but afaik such Victorian morals were created in the 19th century and not before. There is a considerable difference between common people having the idea that sex is sinful and renunciates, who willingly joined a monastic order, not getting involved in sensual passions. Also, I haven't heard of Freud et al analysing monks and nuns. Celibacy is a problem if you don't want to refrain from sex, also the feeling of guilt exists only when one does something he considers sinful. The monastic life was actually quite popular in Europe, also in Buddhist countries. And they were a group of intellectual and religious elite. I don't see how their health could have been affected.


In Buddhist models generally speaking sexuality is regarded as a mental affliction that can be remedied.

The methods utilized actually work if done with sincerity. If you see sexual desire as cause for future suffering you'll devote no mental energy to it and moreover when you develop strong enough mental capabilities you don't let your mind "follow" lustful thoughts. To become aroused or desirous of sexual activity becomes less possible. Finally the experiences of dhyana/jhana are said to be far more blissful and reliable than sex ever could be. Meditation becomes more enjoyable than getting laid.

...a lot easier, cleaner and safer too. :sage: You can't get STDs from meditation for one thing.

I'm no saint and I have no ground to claim having any attainments from meditation, but so far I've concluded that sexual desire can be eliminated (not suppressed) if the proper methods are employed.

Moreover I know enough celibate monks who are healthy and jolly. They're in better mental condition than most people I know who get laid regularly and engage in much of their fantasies. That's the irony, isn't it? Celibate monastics also age slower (maybe because the keep their vital energy or qi inside instead of releasing it). It also amazes me when I meet some long term monastics and they tell me how old they are. They look much much younger than most of their peers.

Maybe celibacy is good for your health? :rolleye:
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Re: Celibacy and Health

Postby noclue » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:21 pm

In Christianity there is a checkered past with aversion to sexuality going back to Origen who castrated himself. This subject merits further study and I am no expert but I suspect that Victorian era did not create sexual repression, but perhaps reached the peak of hypocrisy in the way it deal with it.

As for eliminating sexuality, of course it is possible, but whether it is appropriate or useful must surely depend on individual circumstances.
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