If lust is desire...

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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:23 pm

The vinaya is also strictly enforced by the Thai state. If a monk is proven to have committed a parajika (disrobing offence, ie sexual intercourse) and refuses to remove his robes and leave the monastery, he can be imprisoned.
Because monks enjoy such high status in the Thailand, there are the unscrupulous who lust after the benefits of such a station but cannot maintain the requirements.

In order to address this I think the best thing is to have child protection programs and oversight in place. In terms of normative relations between adults, monks who live in monasteries and dharma centres need to be careful to take precautions that will not lead to temptation or to someone not right in their mind (it does happen) making false accusations. This means private interviews with women should take place with the door slightly open or somewhere where there is a window. Just a few practical considerations can save all sorts of headaches.

A monk who is scrupulous to prevent misunderstandings is likely responsible. If the community supports a culture that respects the vows of monastics and nurtures the monastic sangha, often the environment will be conducive to the monk maintaining their vows. The monk or nun's responsibility is to protect their vows and their reputation (as they understand this affects the reputation of the sangha), and provide spiritual support and inspiration in return for the lay community's kindness.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Seishin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:53 pm

I have no doubt that the consiquences for a monastic to break their vows would be strict to say the least. Sadly, even such threats can't stop some people and even worse, stories from various monastics are beginning to come to the surface which suggest that such accurences are common in some monastaries and even hidden from the public because monastics are so venerated in the East.
This is the human condition which effects everyone regardless of what vows one takes and what colour robe they wear. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to disrespect monastics, but it worries me how we tend to put a monastic on a pedestal.

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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:00 pm

Of course we have to use our intelligence and wisdom to watch for the unsrupulous. But I don't think automatic suspicion of everyone wearing robes is fair either. There are many of us who try our best. And people could be cheating themselves out of positive interactions with people who Lord Buddha said were integral to the flourishing of the dharma in many Sutras.

I ask people to keep an open mind, but also to check and be alert. Automatically tarring all monastics with the same brush could damage refuge, and also unfairly dismiss very worthy practitioners.

At the same time, if people see a monastic trangress codes of ethical conduct, of course they should have a place where they can report it and be sure that a proper investigation and discipline will follow.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:09 pm

but it worries me how we tend to put a monastic on a pedestal.


I don't think this is the case with the vast majority of Westerners I have met who practice in the Tibetan tradition (especially when it comes to Western monks/nuns), though it might be said for some Theravada communities.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Seishin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:11 pm

I'm sorry, I'm not trying to tar every monastic with the same brush and I apologise if it comes across as such and if I've offended anyone. My views are not in regard to monastics but to lay peoples view of monastics. I have the utmost respect for any ordained and non-ordained individual.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Seishin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:13 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
but it worries me how we tend to put a monastic on a pedestal.


I don't think this is the case with the vast majority of Westerners I have met who practice in the Tibetan tradition (especially when it comes to Western monks/nuns), though it might be said for some Theravada communities.


I have experienced such in the West to the point of ignorance. One of my friends thinks the rule of not touching a monastic isn't to do with lust or desire, but because they are "different/better" than lay people.

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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:23 pm

Of course these kinds of misconceptions have to be corrected. We need to avoid falling into either extreme- complete blind idealization or complete dismissal.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Seishin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:25 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Of course these kinds of misconceptions have to be corrected. We need to avoid falling into either extreme- complete blind idealization or complete dismissal.

Indeed :smile: I'm sorry again if I've offended. :namaste:

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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:39 pm

I don't take offence don't worry- we are just debating, and you are always welcome to your views. But as a monk myself I do feel I have to balance the kind of opinions you are expressing (which are very common nowadays) with the "other side" of the coin. :namaste:
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:41 pm

If you're married with kids, a job, a lawn to mow and a dog or two to walk, you probably won't have the appropriate conditions to seriously cultivate merit and yogic attainments. The same can be said for living in a noisy monastery and having many tasks, too. This is why the bodhisattva is encouraged to abandon society and even monastic environments to cultivate him/herself. Having a mundane life is contrary to the path. That doesn't mean practice won't be highly beneficial, but realistically it has many limits.



Maybe a tangent, but I think it's worth bringing up here and it's somewhat related.

The fact is that for many people who are 'householders' today life has more opportunity for Dharma practice than it would have back in the day. Basic necessities are taken care of, and information on Dharma is widely available FOR FREE and is simply out there for the digesting. Things like mowing a lawn or walking a dog do not prevent Dharma practice at all. For most people who are householders what seems to prevent Dharma practice the most are things like career ambition, overly active social lives, material accumulation, action based on competitiveness, opportunity for quarrels and similar, not just plain family obligation or chores. There is nothing at all preventing people from simplifying much of this stuff - providing they have income..sad as that is. It is easier today to live in the middle of Western society and still be removed from it than ever before if you have the means, certainly it cannot be said to be any harder than just getting up and physically leaving.

Alot of people ask why Dharma in the west is the domain of certain income brackets - answer is obvious, time and money..ironically an abundance of time, and having enough money to secure that time allow one to practice Dharma more easily in western culture. Not saying it's right, but it is to me a fairly obvious truth. If one has to no longer worry about 'the basics' one has more time for Dharma.

So to relate it to sex, there is no more preventing a person living in the suburbs from cultivating sexual restraint than a monk, Sure it might require him to ditch his TV, stop engaging in certain habits etc. But the monk has to do that also, just in a more formal way so beyond actual vows of celibacy etc., I think the limits you are placing on how well householders can practice Dharma are incorrect.

If the sex thing is really a function of just "overly permissive" liberal western sexual culture (which I think is an oversimplification maybe, possibly tending towards the opposite extreme), then what is required is just non-participation in that culture, that can come from leaving society altogether, or simply not participating in it, and laying down those aspects of our culture - that is something that is done with someone's heart, and might not always be connected with whether or not they physically leave society.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:50 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Seishin » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:41 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I don't take offence don't worry- we are just debating, and you are always welcome to your views. But as a monk myself I do feel I have to balance the kind of opinions you are expressing (which are very common nowadays) with the "other side" of the coin. :namaste:


Funny, I thought I was doing the same thing :tongue:
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby PorkChop » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:13 pm

Huseng wrote:If you're married with kids, a job, a lawn to mow and a dog or two to walk, you probably won't have the appropriate conditions to seriously cultivate merit and yogic attainments.


I'll give you the idea of possibly being limited as far as yogic attainments, but I don't agree with limitations on cultivating merit.
Generating merit through true acts of selflessness, generosity, and compassion is not limited to formal renunciates or those who've had yogic attainments.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Astus » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:49 pm

Yudron wrote:Exactly. In my experience in a woman's body, it's not sex that is any kind of problem for my practice, it would be dwelling on thoughts about sex, and then getting in to relationships with non-practitioners which ends up with a lot of wasted time doing things to please someone whose priorities are different than a practitioners time are. Sex itself is no big deal, it's what we make of it.

I don't know if loosing semen creates all the problems some texts say they do, but in my body sex for me does not leave me depleted at all... I just feel a little healthier and happier afterwards... as I recall.


Loss of semen as loss of "vital energy", I leave this to those who follow such esoteric paths. If you look at it on the biological level there is no basis for such a belief (i.e. semen is continually reproduced anyway, with or without having sex).

In the Bloodstream Sermon of Bodhidharma it is written,

"But since married laymen don’t give up sex, how can they become Buddhas? I only talk about seeing your nature. I don’t talk about sex simply because you don’t see your nature. Once you see your nature, sex is basically immaterial. It ends along with your delight in it. Even if some habits remain, they can’t harm you, because your nature is essentially pure. Despite dwelling in a material body of four elements, your nature is basically pure. It can’t be corrupted."
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
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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: If lust is desire...

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:35 am

Seishin wrote:How can we tell the difference between a monastic who has overcome desire and a monastic who is still grappling with desire?


The ideal is still venerated in the said cultures, which leads to a community which supports sangha both materially and emotionally. If everyone is sceptical about the monastics, they'll unlikely support them.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby jeeprs » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:45 am

In my view, modern culture actually venerates lust. Furthermore, if you debate the topic in secular philosophy forums, you're not so much debating about lust, but with lust itself, in the person of many of the contributors. If you argue for a morally conservative stance on questions of sexual ethics, particularly with regards to issues such as pornography and sexual rights, you are depicted as being fundamentally opposed to human rights and an enemy of freedom.

My own view is not censorious - live and let live, that kind of thing. I don't necessarily support the imposition of moral standards by the state. In fact the extreme censoriousness of the Islamic republics is a threat to civil freedoms, there's no question about that. But at the same time, elements in Western society have completely lost the connection between sexuality, family life and morality. There is a large entertainment sector known as 'the sex industry', which lobbies very effectively to overturn any controls on the distribution of entertainment products that exploit sexuality. There is a whole generation of children growing up who have been exposed to extremely graphic sexual content from a very young age via the Internet. Heaven knows what effect that will have on their capacity for intimacy as adults.

So, generally I think Buddhists ought to adopt a conservative stance on these questions. There is a lot of pressure, overt and covert, to 'go with the flow' but this case, in particular, is one where we need to go against it.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Indrajala » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:06 am

jeeprs wrote:There is a whole generation of children growing up who have been exposed to extremely graphic sexual content from a very young age via the Internet. Heaven knows what effect that will have on their capacity for intimacy as adults.


I've wondered about that, too. When you have adolescents downloading HD smut, what will the end result be?

I've read that a lot of young men suffer sexual dysfunction as a result of excessive stimulation. It leads to erectile dysfunction among other problems.

On the other hand we cannot censor any of it. The internet shouldn't be subject to censorship anyway.


So, generally I think Buddhists ought to adopt a conservative stance on these questions. There is a lot of pressure, overt and covert, to 'go with the flow' but this case, in particular, is one where we need to go against it.


I agree. However, environmental and social factors tend to direct people in their actions and sense of ethics. This is a very strong flow. As you pointed out if you take a moderately conservative attitude about these things a lot of people will accuse you of attacking freedom and rights, even if you are not suggesting state intervention.

It really comes down to the all too human habit of defending what you enjoy. Look at how much effort is spent on trying to legalize marijuana.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby greentara » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:29 am

Jeeprs, "In my view, modern culture actually venerates lust. Furthermore, if you debate the topic in secular philosophy forums, you're not so much debating about lust, but with lust itself, in the person of many of the contributors. If you argue for a morally conservative stance on questions of sexual ethics, particularly with regards to issues such as pornography and sexual rights, you are depicted as being fundamentally opposed to human rights and an enemy of freedom"

Spot on....I couldn't agree more.
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby ground » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:58 am

Huseng wrote:If lust is desire and desire is cause for suffering, why are continence and celibacy generally overlooked in the English speaking Buddhist world?

Because of desire :sage:
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby freefromsamsara » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:21 am

Fu Ri Shin wrote:The lust = desire = suffering equation has always been intuitively obvious to me, even before my exposure to Buddhist outlooks. The choice of "manifesting" one's sexuality has only ever seemed sensible and desirable to me within the context of a selflessness-cultivating and loving relationship. Anything short of that is far to akin to treating another person as a sex toy, in terms of my sense of ethics, and besides which it would just feel like an empty physiological reaction. Like Kool-Aid without sugar. Thankfully, I've never let social-cultural pressures get the better of me. People may do as they wish, but it bothers me that others with innately more healthy attitudes are probably getting sucked into the great and powerful hyper-sexual mindset. There's no real respect for diversity when it comes to "prudes" like myself.


and some in the forum still question why yogis would hide out in the mountains instead of freely mingling with the rest of humanity..
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Re: If lust is desire...

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:33 am

Guys, just get married, then you'll naturally be inclined to celibacy.

*BA-ZING*
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