Health Impact of Celibacy

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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:47 am

And these are the same people you want to sponsor your monastic lifestyle?


I know that this is directed at H. but I'd like to address this attitude and statement. People somehow have this impression that Western monks and nuns expect support, and moreover aren't willing to do anything to receive it. Perhaps my story will help counter this myth.

I have never asked a layperson for a cent in my 8 years of monastic life. If people wish to give to me, I accept but often for example end up sponsoring pujas and initiations at Sera and making offerings to my teachers. My savings are enough that I could maybe sustain 2 weeks of hospital care in India if I were to fall seriously ill. I have never been comfortable fundraising for myself and have gone on faith that if people find my work useful, they may help a little bit. (Fortunately as a translator this happens from time-to-time, but not every often). A small monthly stipend from the centre and the fact that Geshe la (unlike most teachers) always gives me a little bit of the offerings he received during teaching events I translate, cover my basic needs.

I want to address this sort of statement in the context of my story. Those of you from E-sangha are perhaps familiar with it.

Since middle school I had the wish to be a monk but my teacher advised me to finish an undergraduate degree at university first, which I did. Then at the age of 23, using money that I had earned working at Chapters (a bookstore) while a student, I flew to India for the first time to stay 6 months at Sera at my teacher's urging. I decided that becoming a monk was indeed what I wanted to do, flew back to Canada, and worked for another 6 months as an Office assistant, serving cofee at Starbucks and doing other menial adminstrative jobs for friends to save up enough money.

I returned to Sera but at that time could not get a long visa,but having finally taken ordination, after 6 months returned again. Once again I was not able to get a visa to stay long term in India. I spent the summer in robes in an office, working at a travel company that took care of the arrangements of foreigners studying English in Canada. I encountered a lot of open hostility from several co-workers and managers although initially told that my robes were no problem.

The last visit to India I pretty much lost all hope of being able to learn Tibetan if I had to spend the rest of my life doing 6 months in 6 months out. When I returned to Canada the third time my parents who had been initially supportive of my ordination saw that no support was forthcoming and began to worry for my future. They said if I continued to stay at their home, I should think about returning to lay life as there was obviously no support for me in the Buddhist community. Obviously if I had to pay rent in an expensive city like Toronto there was no way I was going to be able to save for a plane ticket and expenses in India. And if I wanted a better paying job, I would have to live in Canada year round as that would have been the only way to build up a career.

At the end of my rope, I considered disrobing. The funny thing is, I was criticized with venomous words by several laypeople. "We would have supported you and always thought highly of you." I found this funny because they knew well my situation all those years, saw me in a positive light as I had been with my teachers since the age of 14, but never indicated they'd be willing to help until I was in a difficult predicament. Though several people offered help, none of them came through in the end.

Deciding that I really couldn't disrobe, a kind nun at a Chinese temple offered me a job working in their bookshop. From there I went to a Chinese Mahayana monastery where I was very unhappy but stayed for 7 months, eventually leaving and going to Thailand. In Thailand the community was very supportive and provided me all the requisites of life, and I served the community at temples both in Thailand and New Zealand.

The Thai Lao community in New Zealand was not rich. But recognizing my sincerity, the work I did with their kids, and my willingness to submit to monastic discipline, when I said I wanted to study further they gave me money for a plane ticket to wherever I wanted to go. I never asked, they just gave from their heart. And these were poor refugees.

Only then did things finally come together for me. My teacher Khensur Rinpoche told me I should try, "one last time" to do something with my Tibetan. FPMT offered sponsorship to study the Translator's course, my parents offered a plane ticket and I was able to learn enough Tibetan in two years to become an interpreter.

After finally experiencing just a little support, I am able to be of service to the lay community, translating teachings of our precious Geshe not only in Holland and France but all over Europe (and hopefully this summer in the US and Canada as well). In addition, I serve as the attendant and often cook for Geshe la. I cook dinner several times a week here, do fundraising for monks in Sera Jey and Sera Mey, help out with odd jobs around the institute, and have corresponded with several prisoners interested in Buddhism. I even volunteer on a Buddhist discussion forum :tongue: .

I am only able to serve in this way because a small number of laypeople decided to take a risk and support Western Sangha. The amount was small- because it was a few people it really didn't hurt anyone financially to give a little, but I think the result was more than worth it.

I have never asked for a free lunch, support, even one rupee. I have faith that if I continue to serve, I probably won't be out on the street.

Many other Western monks and nuns feel the same.
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A wise man keeps them secret within.
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But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby greentara » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:35 pm

jkhedrup, "Once again I was not able to get a visa to stay long term in India. I spent the summer in robes in an office, working at a travel company that took care of the arrangements of foreigners studying English in Canada. I encountered a lot of open hostility from several co-workers and managers although initially told that my robes were no problem" I'm very impressed by your story and I know how hard it is to get a long term visa for India but how fortunate you were to know what you wanted to do with your life from the early age of 14 years of age.
At the age of 14 I didn't know how, when or what to do with my life. You on the other hand were a ripe fruit right from the start.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:04 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
Code: Select all
the eighty-four mahasiddhas, Marpa, Milarepa, Khyungpo Naljor, the Sakya royal families


I don't know that all these examples are that convincing because in fact with perhaps the exception of Marpa none of them was living a lay lifestyle in the Western sense. They were full time dharma practitioners- they were not celibate but I wouldn't classify them as laypeople in the true sense of the word either.

The Khon Sakya family, for example, was supported to engage in full time dharma practice and retreat, I wouldn't say it was like they were working full time jobs. Milarepa, similarly, though not a monastic, engaged in full time practice with a strong mind of renunciation. Marpa is perahps an effective example but even he spend many years traveling to India and training. And in the later part of his life, he was fully supported by his disciples.

In fact, if not for the support of the benefactors of Marpa he would not have been able to bring those precious teachings from India. If the supporters had told him to find a 9-5 and save his pennies for those transmissions, I don't think he would have been successful in bringing to Tibet the teachings that have become the backbone of the precious Oral Instruction Lineages.


Maybe this difference in terms is why our conversation sometimes passes like ships in the night. For me a dedicated lay practitioner is spending a preponderance of time on study and practice. The really good lay practitioners I know spend 3-4 hours in formal practice each day, as well as the post-meditation practice and the practice of the night. They tend to lead very simple lives and be devoted to their family and community. Marpa was a farmer spending his days in the fields, but this was not a departure from practice. Often in the large monasteries in Tibet, much time was taken up with the administration and operation of the institution and in some schools with many, many years of scholasticism before they approached the higher practices. It's not really so clear cut in terms of time spent focused on the essential meaning.

Quite obviously if someone is spending most of their time pursuing wealth and wasting their time in entertainments, that's not really a lay practitioner. That's a hobbyist. That is not who I have in mind when I am talking of the lay tradition.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dorje » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:21 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
And these are the same people you want to sponsor your monastic lifestyle?


I know that this is directed at H. but I'd like to address this attitude and statement. People somehow have this impression that Western monks and nuns expect support, and moreover aren't willing to do anything to receive it. Perhaps my story will help counter this myth.


As you say, my comment was directed at a post that was highly disdainful of lay practitioners. Most of the ordained monks that I know have far more of a sense of humour about sexuality than our furry little friend. I do not have the impression that ordained sangha are unwilling to do anything to merit the support that is given. In fact, it is the patrons that benefit the most from supporting the ordained sangha not vice versa!

I do appreciate your story and the hardships you underwent, particularly also having grown up in Toronto and being faced with poverty in a like manner while practicing Dharma.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:47 pm

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

I wish you well Husung, the world needs more pure monks.

^^^ :thumbsup:
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:22 pm

Two of my three main teachers are ngakpas with families and in my Dudjom sangha world we are supported and held by many other non-monastic lamas.

I'm in a funny pickle. Part of me really wants to continue to express the sensibilities of my Vajrayana tradition, and part agrees with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche that, as I read it, we should be Mahayana practitioners in our on-line conduct... or I guess just be silent and keep our own ways hidden. So, for example when he was interviewed about his conduct, non-celibate while wearing robes and a haircut similar to a monk, he said something like "this is the degenerate age." You know he doesn't really believe that he has a fiance' because he is some kind of degenerate lama. Those aren't the values of his father, his grandfather, or of his guru. But he chooses to have a public sutrayana presentation and express other views in environments restricted to Vajrayana students.

This is difficult for me because I am a straight shooter, and I am very uncomfortable with anything that suggests a lie. Dzongsar Rinpoche's father, the great heruka, chose to live in a private community with only serious Vajrayana students around, and to be himself 24 hours a day.

It's really a conundrum in threads like this, when people are being vehement that a non-celibate lifestyle is at odds with serious practice. From my perspective this is a serious wrong view, but from the exoteric tradition it is absolutely correct.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:06 pm

Maybe it's all relative, the more expansive one's heart, the less important these conventional restrictions might be..but how many of us have so wide a heart?

I know for me sex is a distraction, not like I don't like to have it sometimes (married, with two kids gotta take those rare opportunities lol), but it also sticks in the mind long after I want it to depart and be gone. It's no different from eating rich food etc..it's just that pull is so much stronger. Personally I don't feel there are any hard and fast rules, but I do think that to some level for the vast majority of us sex is a big attachment, and one that is "networked" into so many other iterations of things we are attached to, sex plays a gigantic role in the continual construction of self identity for me.

Khedrup I liked hearing your story, thank you for sharing it. I wish people were more serious about giving in order to support monastics..as I mentioned earlier, I feel like many sort of "interested in Buddhism" people don't even comprehend just how important it is to have monastics, thinking that everyone can just sort of be a part time 'meditator' and still have the tradition go on. So hearing stories like yours gives me something to put in my pocket.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Konchog1 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:08 pm

Yudron wrote:Two of my three main teachers are ngakpas with families and in my Dudjom sangha world we are supported and held by many other non-monastic lamas.

I'm in a funny pickle. Part of me really wants to continue to express the sensibilities of my Vajrayana tradition, and part agrees with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche that, as I read it, we should be Mahayana practitioners in our on-line conduct... or I guess just be silent and keep our own ways hidden. So, for example when he was interviewed about his conduct, non-celibate while wearing robes and a haircut similar to a monk, he said something like "this is the degenerate age." You know he doesn't really believe that he has a fiance' because he is some kind of degenerate lama. Those aren't the values of his father, his grandfather, or of his guru. But he chooses to have a public sutrayana presentation and express other views in environments restricted to Vajrayana students.

This is difficult for me because I am a straight shooter, and I am very uncomfortable with anything that suggests a lie. Dzongsar Rinpoche's father, the great heruka, chose to live in a private community with only serious Vajrayana students around, and to be himself 24 hours a day.

It's really a conundrum in threads like this, when people are being vehement that a non-celibate lifestyle is at odds with serious practice. From my perspective this is a serious wrong view, but from the exoteric tradition it is absolutely correct.
My understanding is that there is no lie. Tantra is about turning poison into medicine. It's about using everything a tool for Enlightenment. So it's like this:

Ordinary people: sex is good
Shravakas and Mahayanists: sex is bad
Tantrikas: sex can be good

Each level builds on the previous. Thus, one can't skip from Ordinary understanding to Tantric understanding without risking confusing ordinary and Tantric sex.

So Dzongsar Rinpoche and so forth aren't lying, they're presenting the Mahayana pov first, to prepare people for the Tantric view.

I could be wrong though.
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Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:59 am

Konchog1: I do believe the Shravakayana pov is that sex is bad. I do not know if I agree that the default Mahayana pov is that sex is bad however. Mahayana is the path of skillful means. It is about view and motivation, primarily. With the correct view and motivation, given particular circumstances a bodhisattva may require to have sexual contact in order to be of maximum benefit to beings for various reasons. One reason may be to benefit someone who is in desperate need of that type of loving physical contact and affection. Another reason may be because it is important to give a precious human rebirth to a particular being in need, even a special being that will benefit many others, etc. Of course, having some degree of insight into what will be of maximum benefit is required, so this means some degree of realization. But because the Mahayana pov is based on the relativity of circumstances and not default external rules, it is improper to say that in the Mahayana sex is bad. And let us not forget that Vajrayana is still Mahayana, after all. . . it just takes skillful means to the next level.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:43 am

Karma Dorje wrote: Most of the ordained monks that I know have far more of a sense of humour about sexuality than our furry little friend.


The Buddha didn't seem to ever joke about the matter.

This furry friend is merely relaying what the Buddha and countless traditions throughout the last twenty-five centuries have conveyed: lust and in turn sexual activities (unless you're some profound yogi they go hand in hand) only keep one bound to the kāma-dhātu, which obstructs progression into the rūpa-dhātu and ārūpya-dhātu. This means the door to the lower realms in the kāma-dhātu remains open. Moreover, without realization of the rūpa-dhātu and ārūpya-dhātu, there are no means to transcend such states and moreover no means of knowing firsthand the suffering such realms entail, whereupon true compassion for the beings in such states remains impossible.

You can only know the suffering of the rūpa-dhātu and ārūpya-dhātu by achieving those states yourself, but in order to do so you must abandon both desire and sexual activities.

Lacking such attainments and experiential compassion for such states, your scope and perspective of things is limited to the kāma-dhātu. It would be easy to mistake your experiences within the kāma-dhātu as being somehow profound and beneficial, though in reality it would be like a frog in the well thinking the sky seen from within is vast.

Basically, you are promoting wrong views and justifying your unwholesome acts. I am in my rights to refute you. You are in your rights to disagree with me, but tradition and canon are on my side.

If you want to have sex, then fine, but see it for what it is: an act driven by mental poisons that creates unwholesome karma, the result of which can only be suffering. Remember: the product of unwholesome karma is always suffering. You can claim that your sex is driven by some other motivations, and I cannot prove otherwise. However, your stated views are simply wrong and hence I am coming across as a hard-ass in refuting them.

You might not like that, but nevertheless it is necessary. If such views are not refuted, then people might adopt your stated views and it will lead them to having and promoting harmful views. If sex is no big deal as you suggest, then might as well enjoy it, right? Well, as a practitioner if you don't address the issue of the mental poison of lust (and for most people sex and lust go hand in hand), then liberation is impossible. Period. This is what the Buddha taught.

His word takes precedence over yours in the Buddhist context.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:56 am

Yudron wrote:It's really a conundrum in threads like this, when people are being vehement that a non-celibate lifestyle is at odds with serious practice. From my perspective this is a serious wrong view, but from the exoteric tradition it is absolutely correct.


Look at it this way: the brahmalokas in the rūpa-dhātu are attained by way of abandoning and being free from desire (desire for sex and food). That's only the first dhyāna. Mastery of the first dhyāna requires abandonment of desires. If you don't master the first dhyāna, how could you achieve the other three, or reach the ārūpya-dhātu?

As Nāgārjuna teaches, dhyāna enables the mental fitness through which one realizes emptiness. It logically follows that abandonment of desires and associated behaviors is necessary in order to cultivate real dhyāna, which in turn is necessary for realizing emptiness and thereafter personal liberation followed by aiding other beings in liberation.

In other words, to really get anywhere you need to abandon desire for things like sex and food. That means celibacy and being abstemious.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherlock » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:02 am

This thread shows how little can be really discussed with regards to doctrine when people hold different teachings to be definitive.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby YogaDude11 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:21 am

The reason the Buddha said that celibacy is required is because there is a biological basis for realization. Enough energy needs to build up in the body to feed kundalini. If you reed some books by Gopi Krishna he describes how the reproductive system feeds the whole process. So that is the reason celibacy plays a role. My first mystical/kundalini experience came after a period of celibacy and I can tell there was a huge change in my practice once I put the restraints on all sexual and other activities that dissipate energy. The only way to know is try it yourself and see the difference it makes. All the yogis and sages from Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism have laid great Emphasis on celibacy because they know that without that raw fuel you can not achieve any form of self realization. Even in the shamanic cultures of South America celibacy plays an important role in building up the Shaman's spiritual power.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:50 am

Sherlock wrote:This thread shows how little can be really discussed with regards to doctrine when people hold different teachings to be definitive.


:good:

However, I think that in itself has been a good lesson for me.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:00 am

Huseng wrote:Basically, you are promoting wrong views and justifying your unwholesome acts. I am in my rights to refute you. You are in your rights to disagree with me, but tradition and canon are on my side.

If you want to have sex, then fine, but see it for what it is: an act driven by mental poisons that creates unwholesome karma, the result of which can only be suffering. Remember: the product of unwholesome karma is always suffering. You can claim that your sex is driven by some other motivations, and I cannot prove otherwise. However, your stated views are simply wrong and hence I am coming across as a hard-ass in refuting them.

You might not like that, but nevertheless it is necessary. If such views are not refuted, then people might adopt your stated views and it will lead them to having and promoting harmful views. If sex is no big deal as you suggest, then might as well enjoy it, right? Well, as a practitioner if you don't address the issue of the mental poison of lust (and for most people sex and lust go hand in hand), then liberation is impossible. Period. This is what the Buddha taught.

His word takes precedence over yours in the Buddhist context.


Sherlock is right. We won't agree on what teachings are provisional and what teachings are definitive, so it is scarcely possible that we will agree on what is proper conduct. I can certainly rejoice that the Buddha revealed such a wondrous assortment of teachings appropriate for the needs of all beings. What is important is that we take the words of our gurus to heart, regardless of how they have instructed us. There is not merely one approach that is appropriate for all beings.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:29 am

Huseng, may I ask who are your living Buddhas?

Who are your living teachers?

For us who follow the Vajrayana tradition, our living Guru's kindness surpasses that of the Buddha because it is through their speech that we learn the Dharma, through their actions and example that we are inspired by Dharmic conduct, and through their body and mind that we receive profound blessings that facilitate the blossoming of wisdom mind in a quickened path.

In the Dzogchen tradition in particular, we hold Garab Dorje and Guru Rinpoche in especially high esteem as the lineage masters, and as Nirmanakaya Buddhas themselves. We believe that Guru Rinpoche, who established the Ngakpa ordination lineage in Tibet alongside the Monastic lineage coming through Shantarakshita, was prophesied by Shakyamuni Buddha as an emissary of his own Wisdom mind that would vastly spin the wheel of the Vajrayana teachings.

We also believe that the Tertons who are Nirmanakayas of the 25 close disciples of Guru Rinpoche are inseparable from his Wisdom display and therefore we hold them as dear to our hearts as Guru Rinpoche himself. On our altars we have Shakyamuni Buddha as well as Guru Rinpoche, --sometimes Guru Rinpoche is in the central position, and for a reason.

So we may be speaking past each other. Guru Rinpoche taught the union yogas and had many consorts. As Yudron mentioned a contemporary terma lineage of Dudjom Rinpoche, I will also bring this up since this is my main lineage. Dudjom Rinpoche was the regent of Guru RInpoche for our age, and some of us are immeasurably fortunate to be connected with him or his sons or close disciples. In this lineage it is more common to be a ngakpa then a monastic. Sexual activity is not something looked at as a thing to shun, it is seen as an aspect of our lives which we should try to work with on the path. If someone has the karmic imprints to desire a monastic path of practice that is wholly encouraged, but it is certainly not promoted or seen as the ultimate or only way to engage in a successful mode of practice. Most Lamas of our lineage are householder yogi ngakpas who pass lineage down through their offspring. Some of the greatest luminaries of our time are sons and grandsons of Dudjom Rinpoche himself. Thinley Norbu Rinpoche personally trained many amazing non-monastic young children of his students, some of them tulkus. Their discipline and grace shines beyond any other examples of their age I have met, including ones I have seen brought up in monastic institutions.

I feel that you are making a rather dogmatic presentation which I don't believe was ever the Buddha's intent. As it is said, 84,000 different teachings were given to fit the varying capacities of sentient beings. I believe Gendun Choepel had a better idea of the expanse of these than you do, and he chose the opposite of a celibate life and even wrote a guide to the Kama Sutra for Tibetan Buddhists. I would dare say the 6th Dalai Lama may have had a better idea too. No one is arguing that you should not be celibate. But perhaps you should accept other expressions of Dharma as valid, for not the least of reasons that generations of powerfully realized beings have emerged from the non-celibate paths: Saraha, Savaripa, Ghantapa, Yeshe Tsogyal, Marpa, Machig Labdron, Nyang-rel Nyima Ozer, Guru Chowang, Como Menmo, Ngodrup Gyeltsen, Pema Lingpa, Dudjom Lingpa, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, to name just a few. . .

In fact, in the History of the Nyingma compiled by Dudjom Rinpoche the story of the terton Guru Choki Wangchuk (Guru Chowang) elaborates on his father's lineage history:
From Pang's son Kunkyen Sherab Gyelpo, there descended an unbroken line of sagacious and powerful masters; and in that line there arose one Panton Trupei Nyingpo. He asked Lama Sangye Nyigom to grant him vows of celibacy, but was told, "One married bodhisattva can benefit living creatures more than an assembly of eight monks. So, I will not break a line of bodhisattvas.


The Indian Mahasiddha Ghantapa said
Moral conduct practiced without understanding can be the greatest of obstacles to fulfilling the bodhisattva's vow of uncompromising compassion. Do not cultivate virtue and renounce vice. Rather, learn to accept all things as they arise. Penetrate the essence of each experience until you have achieved the one taste.


And then he sang this song:
While medicine heals and poison kills
Their ultimate essence is the same.
Both positive and negative qualities
Are aids on the path––
The sage rejects nothing.
Yet the unrealized fool
Five times poisoned
Is lost forever in samsara.


I think it would be a more fruitful dialogue if you merely voiced your preference for the celibate life and for the instructions in that regard, in short, the Shravakayana vehicle. In the Mahayana this is not an absolute condition or even the ideal condition for proper practice. The six paramitas and the bodhisattva vows are, and celibacy belongs to neither. In the Vajrayana, the 5 poisons are seen as inseparable from the 5 wisdoms and worked with accordingly, dependent on individual capacity. If you insist that your read of the Dharma is the only one, true, and right way.. then you are nothing but a dogmatist and incapable of harmonious dialogue with other Buddhists from various traditions.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:56 am

Adamantine wrote:Huseng, may I ask who are your living Buddhas?

Who are your living teachers?


I don't generally speak about my practice on a public forum. It is best to keep such things quiet, or better yet secret.



So we may be speaking past each other. Guru Rinpoche taught the union yogas and had many consorts.



Indeed he did, but how many people are qualified to actually physically practice such things rather than visualize them?



Sexual activity is not something looked at as a thing to shun, it is seen as an aspect of our lives which we should try to work with on the path.


Jnana's quote is relevant here:

Thrangu Rinpoche's commentary on Tilopa's Ganges Mahāmudrā:

    The lower door or lower gate is very dangerous, so very few people actually practice this. There are a few great yogis and yoginis who do it, but most do not.


I don't know if your opinion is really widespread among Tibetans or not. It might be more that westerners feel compelled to think of sexuality as something to "work with on the path". The western ideas about Vajrayāna may be different from what is commonly believed among Tibetan practitioners.



Most Lamas of our lineage are householder yogi ngakpas who pass lineage down through their offspring. Some of the greatest luminaries of our time are sons and grandsons of Dudjom Rinpoche himself. Thinley Norbu Rinpoche personally trained many amazing non-monastic young children of his students, some of them tulkus. Their discipline and grace shines beyond any other examples of their age I have met, including ones I have seen brought up in monastic institutions.


To each their own, but as Ven. Khedrup has said, a lot of the ngakpas are not strictly speaking "laity" in the ordinary sense of the word because many go on to retreats for lengthy periods of time.




As it is said, 84,000 different teachings were given to fit the varying capacities of sentient beings.


Yes, and how many sex addicts want to believe that they're one of the unique few who get to have a fun sex life and liberation all in one go?



But perhaps you should accept other expressions of Dharma as valid, for not the least of reasons that generations of powerfully realized beings have emerged from the non-celibate paths: Saraha, Savaripa, Ghantapa, Yeshe Tsogyal, Marpa, Machig Labdron, Nyang-rel Nyima Ozer, Guru Chowang, Como Menmo, Ngodrup Gyeltsen, Pema Lingpa, Dudjom Lingpa, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, to name just a few. . .


Naturally we should want to equate ourselves to eminent past figures, but I just see that as seeking sanction and justification for one's own desires.

If you can eat dog feces without flinching, then maybe your realization of emptiness is sufficient to warrant talking about sex as a useful means to liberation, but until such time I will remain skeptical when people on public forums talk about how sex is useful to their practice of Buddhism.



In the Mahayana this is not an absolute condition or even the ideal condition for proper practice. The six paramitas and the bodhisattva vows are, and celibacy belongs to neither.


You need to read more Mahāyāna literature. A lay bodhisattva might engage in sex under certain circumstances and suffer no violation of their precepts, but it has to be motivated out of compassion and not lust. I don't think most people are actually capable of this. A few people, sure, but they're not ordinary people.

Yogācārabhūmi Śāstra:

“If a bodhisattva resides as a householder and there appears a woman who is clearly unbound to anyone, habituated to sexual indulgence, attracted to the bodhisattva and seeking sexual activities, the bodhisattva having seen this thinks, 'Do not make her mind upset, producing much misfortune. If she pursues her desire, she will obtain freedom. As expedient means [upaya] I will take her in and have her plant the roots for virtue, also having her abandon unwholesome karma. I will engage in impure activities [abrahma-carya] with a compassionate mind.' Even practising such defiled activities like this, there is nothing that is violated [precepts], and much merit will be produced. The renunciate bodhisattva [a monk] in order to protect the noble śrāvaka proscriptions must not destroy [their precepts]. They should not engage in any impure activities.”


The cultural tendency in the west to think of oneself as being special and superior (it goes with our education systems and pathological tendency towards individualism) would have many people read such things as this and believe it applies to them. Humility goes further than hubris.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherlock » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:08 am

Huseng wrote:Yes, and how many sex addicts want to believe that they're one of the unique few who get to have a fun sex life and liberation all in one go?


There's quite a bit of difference between an ordinary couple and sex addicts.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:13 am

Sherlock wrote:
Huseng wrote:Yes, and how many sex addicts want to believe that they're one of the unique few who get to have a fun sex life and liberation all in one go?


There's quite a bit of difference between an ordinary couple and sex addicts.
A matter of degree perhaps
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:25 am

Huseng, I don't think the encouragements to not be limited by external vows of conduct were merely meant for already realized beings. They are intended for people who have both felt aversion for the suffering of samsara, and the accompanying heartfelt feelings of renunciation-- as well as some degree of foundation in sincere aspirational bodhicitta. They are provocations for those of us who have the courage to try to take these beyond a conventional safe approach towards practice and grasping to our own individual liberation . . . It is encouragement to go beyond what is safe, even risk going to the lower realms-- if it may benefit others. Even considering this, even if we don't yet have the capacity-- is meritorious.. and it is the opposite to discourage others from this approach or to act like it is not possible for our self or others. It is not hard to recognize when we are acting out of one of the 5 poisons and when compassion is our guide. The signs are evident.

You are correct in citing some Vajrayana teachers who publicly try to instill caution regarding some of the tantric practices of union yoga. It is true that it may require a high level, a higher level than you or I are at, to practice them properly.
But I am not intending to regard completion stage practice as the only reason or justification to have a sexual life as a practitioner. For instance, some people will not overcome their lust or sexual desire by avoiding it, or abstaining from it. This may fill their minds more with lust in the form of fantasy and longing. Some require the fulfillment and experience of it in order to see the impermanence of it's rewards and the futility of seeking any lasting solace there. Some may have a genuine sincere desire to offer a precious human rebirth to another, as an expression of their cultivation of the paramita of generosity. Some may perfect their paramita of generosity through the selfless giving that is required of a parent. A qualified Guru will know what the hang ups and motivations of their disciples are and advise accordingly.
Some may receive instructions from their Gurus in ways to work with their sexual life at the level that they are able to, without it being at the very high level of a great tsa-lung master. There are actually many levels of approach and practice that are possible, and in Vajrayana it is all about one's own personal Guru's instruction. What Thrangu Rinpoche says doesn't really matter to me. What matters to me is what my own Guru instructs. After all, Thrangu Rinpoche is a monk. Why would I expect him to know much about the path of a Ngakpa?

I don't glorify my own capacity or experience in any way. But I do have immense faith in my teachers. If any one of them ever recommended I be celibate or even take gelong vows I would seriously consider it, I may even be relieved. But this is not the path they have prescribed. The Vajrayana path simply boils down to Guru Yoga, and the advice of the Guru is the ultimate authority. You may not accept this, but it would be considerate of you to accept that this is the path of practice of many of your Dharma brothers and sisters and to treat them and their path with the respect that they try to treat you and yours.
Last edited by Adamantine on Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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