Health Impact of Celibacy

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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:56 am

There are many non-celibate Buddhist traditions. It's confounding to those of a puritanical mindset who would rather just dispense with the whole dimension of sexuality, but it's true.
We should be able to rejoice in all 84 000 gateways of dharma, and not just those that agree with our preconceptions and agendas.

Those agendas are not necessarily admitted or healthy. I have known monks that took their vow out of a sense of anger and hurt that women weren't interested in them, for example. It was ultimately an act of aggression against themselves, one indeed giving back his vows at the first flush of real interest from women. I have known others that took vows out of a sense of ambition.

There are good and bad reasons for doing everything, and simply giving up sex is most definitely not giving up desire. That is given up with the mind, not the body.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:38 am

Karma Dorje wrote:\
There are good and bad reasons for doing everything, and simply giving up sex is most definitely not giving up desire. That is given up with the mind, not the body.



That is true, and if one vows to not have sex one is giving up the possibility of giving some beings what they may really want or need from you. Sex may be an important bodhisattva activity of generosity of the body if motivated by genuine compassion and not lust. . .
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:14 am

Yudron wrote:
That is not the approach in my tradition.


Okay, but just be clear that the Buddha taught abandonment of sexual desire as a precondition to liberation.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:16 am

Adamantine wrote:That is true, and if one vows to not have sex one is giving up the possibility of giving some beings what they may really want or need from you. Sex may be an important bodhisattva activity of generosity of the body if motivated by genuine compassion and not lust. . .



In rare cases this might be true, but for ordinary people they're just deluding themselves thinking that their getting laid is somehow benefiting another being.

I wrote about this incidentally here:

http://huayanzang.blogspot.com/2012/11/ ... thics.html
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:18 am

Karma Dorje wrote:There are good and bad reasons for doing everything, and simply giving up sex is most definitely not giving up desire. That is given up with the mind, not the body.


Engaging in lustful acts only perpetuates lust. If, with a mind determined to overcome lust, one ceases such activities, then lust will diminish.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:40 am

Huseng wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:There are good and bad reasons for doing everything, and simply giving up sex is most definitely not giving up desire. That is given up with the mind, not the body.


Engaging in lustful acts only perpetuates lust. If, with a mind determined to overcome lust, one ceases such activities, then lust will diminish.


From old age?
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:59 am

Yudron wrote:From old age?


Old age does not remedy desire. It only becomes latent.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:46 am

I have known others that took vows out of a sense of ambition.


The ambition part could be argued for people that take any type of ordination. I've met plenty of ambitious ngakpas, Zen masters, self-proclaimed teachers. I don't think if I were ambitious that becoming a monk would be my first choice actually. Why? Because of the principle of seniority - it takes many years in the robes before one has any sort of real say in things, because deference is given to elders according to Vinaya.

In my home monastery in India, I will forever sit near the back because I have not entered the debating program and passed its exams. So in fact every puja I go to is a sort of lesson in humility.

I have known monks that took their vow out of a sense of anger and hurt that women weren't interested in them, for example


I've noticed I get more attention from women in the robes than I ever did as a layman.

I don't understand where this sort of hostility to monastic ordination comes from. I know that some (especially Western) sangha can be difficult, but this is also true of Western lay practitioners.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:00 am

JKhedrup wrote:I don't understand where this sort of hostility to monastic ordination comes from. I know that some (especially Western) sangha can be difficult, but this is also true of Western lay practitioners.


Lingering unrecognised anti-Catholic protestant sentiments.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:58 am

We should be able to rejoice in all 84 000 gateways of dharma, and not just those that agree with our preconceptions and agendas


But it has to work both ways...

I agree, but my perception is very different. The agenda I see in Vajrayana and to a lesser extend the Vipassana movement is to divorce Buddhism from monasticism entirely, ruling it out for Westerners. This does a great disservice to the dispensation of Lord Buddha, which, like it or not, is very much grounded in monasticism. I am not saying that it is not wonderful we have lay teachers, but that the monastic tradition is not something disposible.

I am also not sure about your comment about ambition, I find it very disturbing. Perhaps it is based on an interaction with one or two people but to make such a sweeping statement is irresponsible. How many of the most successful and popular Western teachers of Buddhism are actually monks and nuns? How many translators? How many authors of Budhist books? They are overwhelmingly lay. Linking monasticism with ambition is an unfair generalization.

Many Westerners who want to ordain are humble and hope to fade into the background. They are happy to do jobs like administration and maintenance to keep the dharma centres going, an essential service. Despite their contributions, many are seen by the centres as simply "another mouth to feed". I realize that if I were not translating, that is likely how I would be viewed as well- which is indeed sad.

With proper training we could have some wonderful Western monks and nuns in Tibetan Buddhism just like they do in the Thai Forest Tradition. People who exemplify a different way of living and a commitment to living as simply as possible.

But this will never happen, because of the aversion many Westerners in our tradition have for monasticism, especially when undertaken by Westerners. Lamas and Rinpoches can repeat again and again the benefits of this way of life, but as long as the Western lay community remains uninterested in Western monks and nuns,completely ambivalent, nothing will change.

I for one think that's sad because this way of life has been a tremendous source of joy. I have learned humility, discipline, the Tibetan language and vast amounts of dharma since I have become a monk. There is a huge amount of work I have to do to become a half-decent practitioner. But my ordination has helped me progress closer to that.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:16 pm

Huseng wrote:Engaging in lustful acts only perpetuates lust. If, with a mind determined to overcome lust, one ceases such activities, then lust will diminish.


"In rare cases this might be true, but for ordinary people they're just deluding themselves thinking that their"
overcoming lust and that lust is diminishing, when in fact they are just avoiding situations that provoke lust and thus have no ability to test their so-called defeat of the klesha.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby randomseb » Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:16 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:There are many non-celibate Buddhist traditions.


"Knowing that all living brings have many kinds of desires deeply attached in their minds, I have, according to their capacity,
expounded the laws by various reasonings, parabolic expressions, and tactful powers."
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Jnana » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:00 pm

Adamantine wrote:
Huseng wrote:Engaging in lustful acts only perpetuates lust. If, with a mind determined to overcome lust, one ceases such activities, then lust will diminish.

"In rare cases this might be true, but for ordinary people they're just deluding themselves thinking that their"
overcoming lust and that lust is diminishing, when in fact they are just avoiding situations that provoke lust and thus have no ability to test their so-called defeat of the klesha.

One is just creating future suffering by engaging in sexual acts as long as there is lust present. The path of means using the lower gate is only correctly engaged in by very few practitioners. Longchenpa's rdzogs pa chen po sems nyid rang grol:

    In the path of "skill in means," indulging in the bliss of the sense (-organs),
    Is attachment to sensuality; so in most cases it is the cause of birth in the inferior realms.
    Even if one reaches happy realms, one will be reborn in inferior births.
    "Skill in means" is the path of only a very few yogis.
    (In this path) there are great dangers of deviative obscurations, and it is very difficult to see the meaning of realization.

And his rdzogs pa chen po sems nyid ngal gso'i 'grel pa shing rta chen po:

    Within, sexual passion is what must chiefly be abandoned. The same text [i.e the Friendly Letter] says:

      Separate yourself from the bodies of young women.
      Craving their nine stinking holes, and joy for such a vessel
      Filled with everything filthy, though covered with skin and adorned,
      See them as something that properly ought to be put aside.

    The Objects of Mindfulness says:

      Women give rise to ruin
      In this world and the other.
      To do yourself a favor,
      Completely abandon them.

    The Bodhisattva Collection Sutra says:

      Even if I examine the thousand world realms, there is no enemy like a wife.

(In the above quotations "husband" and "men" can be substituted for "wife" and "women" according to one's sexual preference.)
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Azidonis » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:17 pm

Rakshasa wrote:Eliminating sexual desire is therefore a solution to all the problems in this world...at least most of them.


And if everyone did that, there would be no humans left to do it.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:32 am

Azidonis wrote:
Rakshasa wrote:Eliminating sexual desire is therefore a solution to all the problems in this world...at least most of them.


And if everyone did that, there would be no humans left to do it.


That isn't going to happen though.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:24 am

How many people find the option of celibacy attractive? Let's be honest.

I think the fact that so many people think it is difficult is part of the reason they try to equate it as being antiquated/unhealthy/unnecessary.

I am not saying it will ever be feasible for more than a few, but for those who can manage it, it is an important form of practice that was mentioned by Lord Buddha in many of his teachings.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby randomseb » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:35 pm

JKhedrup wrote:How many people find the option of celibacy attractive? Let's be honest.

I think the fact that so many people think it is difficult is part of the reason they try to equate it as being antiquated/unhealthy/unnecessary.


In regards to myself, it's not that it is attractive or not, but it is a difficulty in Western society to avoid the topic and therefore the influence, as it's the basis of much of our culture and media.. Most people don't understand the idea, but there's always a particular Seinfeld episode to refer people to as an excuse!

The truth is that no matter what one thinks, the effects of sexuality on your bio-chemistry is clear, and the effects of all those hormones thus swimming around in your brain's reward center is also clear. Being a drug addict is not conductive to eliminating all outside (and inside) influences during the "training" period of one's spiritual path. Once you've "attained the dharma", then perhaps it's up to you to know whether or not you have the detachment needed to avoid getting blown away by the various winds of reality.

That's like peer pressure where the peer is everything, if you want to know what I mean.. You see all your friends doing something stupid, so you do something stupid too to join in, same idea, except the influence is whatever happens to be in front of your face.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Rakshasa » Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:01 pm

LastLegend wrote:I was asking a serious question. Maybe Rakshasa can answer me.



Masturbation never really resulted in me "losing" that ability to Fajin, but I guess if I had made it a hobby, it could have. Besides, I masturbated as rarely as the number of times you see a full moon. In traditional Chinese medicine, you do not lose as much "Jing" (essence) through masturbation as you do through sex with a partner (of opposite sex, of course). But that is from a very practical point of view.

I do not view sex and masturbation from a moral point of view. I am unable to decide if it is "good" or "bad".

EDIT: Come to think of it, anything that is conducive for your cultivation towards enlightenment is good and anything that is an obstruction is bad. So I think sex is bad. There could be exceptions though. For example, if you want to offer pleasure and offspring to your partner (not for oneself though).
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby LastLegend » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:11 pm

Thank you for your perspective.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:11 am

JKhedrup wrote:I don't understand where this sort of hostility to monastic ordination comes from. I know that some (especially Western) sangha can be difficult, but this is also true of Western lay practitioners.


I don't understand how you parse what I am saying as hostility to ordination. I have held genyen vows at many points during my life. Nearly all of my teachers including my root teacher are gelong.

My point is that there are all sorts of motivations for taking monastic ordination, not all of them healthy. I have known many that attempt to turn their unattractiveness or social dysfunction into a virtue by taking vows and they are rarely very successful. An aggressive view towards sexual desire is a recipe for disaster. Ordination should be viewed as a means to be of great benefit to others, not of making lemonade or else one will go through one's entire life with a sour expression. If done with proper motivation, ordination is a jewel and tremendous support for sentient beings.

The long and the short of it is that getting laid is no big deal, really. Craving sex is another matter altogether, like any other kind of craving. Tṛṣṇā is *not* equivalent with sexual desire, and one can crave it as surely by abstaining from it as indulging it. Let's leave aside using bliss as an upaya. A simple married life can be very conducive to Dzogchen practice. There is no need to run down the married life to speak of how wonderful ordination is.
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