Health Impact of Celibacy

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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:01 am

Adamantine wrote:Yeah but one can be more lustful while celibate potentially than if one were actually getting some action. It's a moot point.


Not really. The Buddha insisted on brahmacaryā as a prerequisite for liberation regardless if one was overly lustful or not. He never suggested you could forgo brahmacaryā commitments if you were not really into sex but sometimes felt compelled to engage in such acts once in awhile.

Basically, there is no liberation unless sexual desire is eliminated and all such karmas associated with it (body, speech and mind) halt, likewise with other desires such as for food.

This might be difficult to accept, especially if someone thinks they're already a decent practitioner and don't need to really deal with their lust and other desires for whatever reasons. It is unwise to make excuses for one's afflictions and flaws.

You can still be a practitioner of course while never giving up sex, but realistically at best you are planting the seeds for liberation in a future life. So long as desire remains, there will be rebirth and suffering. So long as sexual desire is present, the doors to the lower realms are always open.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:21 am

That's not according to the Vajrayana. Need we hash this out yet again?
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:26 am

Adamantine wrote:That's not according to the Vajrayana. Need we hash this out yet again?


I hope it works out for you.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:51 pm

Huseng wrote:Basically, there is no liberation unless sexual desire is eliminated and all such karmas associated with it (body, speech and mind) halt, likewise with other desires such as for food.

This might be difficult to accept, especially if someone thinks they're already a decent practitioner and don't need to really deal with their lust and other desires for whatever reasons. It is unwise to make excuses for one's afflictions and flaws.


True enough. One can't be both liberated and conditioned by thoughts at the same time. However some of the words you are using here such as 'eliminated' and 'halt' are probably the wrong type of words to use if you are talking to someone on the varjayana path.
Also one has to take into account a persons previous experience of sex. Some people have had very unfulfilling sexual relationships and have a high degree of anxiety concerning sex. For these types, the idea of eradicating a source of anxiety and emotional pain sounds like a good thing. But as we know repressing or trying to eliminate sexual feelings can lead to a lot of imbalances which are surely not healthy. Other people have enjoyed sex and had healthy and fulfilling sex lives. Telling these people that sex should be eliminated from their lives can be quite a task. Asking them to bring thoughts and experience of sex to the path is easier.
So it comes down to the extent to which we are conditioned by our thoughts and it is to that extent that liberation is close or is far away. Celibacy is just a name we give to the letting go of the content of thoughts. It's more of a principle - the principle of non-attachment.To be celibate but to be conditioned by thoughts of celibacy isn't the real celibacy. Or to be celibate in the hope of eliminating and halting all thoughts and actions related to sex isn't going to happen.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:08 pm

Andrew108 wrote:True enough. One can't be both liberated and conditioned by thoughts at the same time. However some of the words you are using here such as 'eliminated' and 'halt' are probably the wrong type of words to use if you are talking to someone on the varjayana path.


I think people often throw around "Vajrayana" as an excuse for behaviour they enjoy and don't want to give up.

How many people on this thread arguing that sex is alright for them because they're doing Vajrayana are saying that really because they believe and have verified this for themselves? How many are just trying to justify the fact they enjoy sex and don't want to give it up? We tend to defend, justify and promote the activities we enjoy. This is just attachment and craving rather than wisdom.


But as we know repressing or trying to eliminate sexual feelings can lead to a lot of imbalances which are surely not healthy. Other people have enjoyed sex and had healthy and fulfilling sex lives. Telling these people that sex should be eliminated from their lives can be quite a task. Asking them to bring thoughts and experience of sex to the path is easier.


I think that's largely a western idea to be honest -- that if you give up sex you'll turn into a neurotic basketcase.

If you're in a culture which thinks renouncing worldly desires is a noble and worthy task, then maybe the peer pressure ensures less frustration as opposed to living in a hypersexualized culture where such things are considered abnormal and unhealthy.



Celibacy is just a name we give to the letting go of the content of thoughts. It's more of a principle - the principle of non-attachment.To be celibate but to be conditioned by thoughts of celibacy isn't the real celibacy. Or to be celibate in the hope of eliminating and halting all thoughts and actions related to sex isn't going to happen.


It is quite a mechanical process actually: if you have desires for sensory objects, you will be reborn and continue to suffer.

You might say realization of emptiness remedies all that, but then according to Nāgārjuna in order to realize emptiness one needs mental stamina cultivated through mastery of dhyāna. One prerequisite for mastery of dhyāna is abandonment of desires. To realistically comprehend the formless and form realms you need to actually experience those states in sustained meditative concentration, and such an attainment requires abandonment of all desires, in particular sexual desire.

If you do not realize the form and formless realms, you cannot understand the suffering such states entail, whereby your compassion for beings in such states is limited to intellectual speculation.

So, again, in order to really attain wisdom and compassion, you need to abandon desire. Having a sex life of any kind is not conducive to the elimination of desire.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sleazy_Rhino » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:27 pm

It's a natural thing, it's in our natural instincts as human beings. I love my marriage and being able to share my life with another person, it makes life alot more meaningful
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:30 pm

Sleazy_Rhino wrote:It's a natural thing, it's in our natural instincts as human beings. I love my marriage and being able to share my life with another person, it makes life alot more meaningful


Chimpanzees love companionship and sharing life with their own as well.

The natural order of things is only suffering. There is no happiness in life. Only suffering.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:20 pm

Huseng wrote:I think people often throw around "Vajrayana" as an excuse for behaviour they enjoy and don't want to give up.
On the one hand I agree with you 100%, on the other hand you really should read "Masters of Mahamudra" for some case studies on see how it acually works.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:22 pm

I think there is a lot of power to taking a vow and keeping it purely.

I have never taken a vow of celibacy, but I have certainly experienced celibacy related to retreat, etc. and periods of enjoyment of sexuality. I definitely don't have the power to transform desire into discriminating wisdom ala the Vajrayana. However, personally, I don't find desire for sex to be more of a big deal than desire for food.

In my body, my experience is at times that I accept celibacy in life outside retreat, I am a lot less motivated to do things, exercise, exert myself in any kind of project. So there is a hermity, slug-like quality, that I think could perhaps help a younger person settle down and practice more. But, I think maybe middle aged people need more get-up-and-go, not less.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Jnana » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:48 pm

Adamantine wrote:Yeah but one can be more lustful while celibate potentially than if one were actually getting some action. It's a moot point.

It's all about capacity and karmic proclivity. Some people would be aggravated more by lust if they were celibate. Some people would thrive as a celibate. Some people are sexually active but not really engaged, they feel like it's an alien activity. They have no real need or desire for it, other than pleasing a partner. Everything is relative.

My reply was related to the post that I replied to. The goal of Buddhist soteriology is not to "have sex & breed young before you die." The purpose of Buddhist practices is not to "have sex & breed young before you die."

Adamantine wrote:That's not according to the Vajrayana. Need we hash this out yet again?

This isn't a Vajrayāna sub-forum. Teachings such as those contained in the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra offer detailed instructions on how a householder can relate to the household life, and to their spouse and children from a Sūtrayāna perspective.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:07 pm

Huseng wrote:How many people on this thread arguing that sex is alright for them because they're doing Vajrayana are saying that really because they believe and have verified this for themselves? How many are just trying to justify the fact they enjoy sex and don't want to give it up? We tend to defend, justify and promote the activities we enjoy. This is just attachment and craving rather than wisdom.

I don't know how many people are trying to justify their attachments here. I don't know about other peoples realization of the teaching.
One thing I know is that wisdom and compassion don't magically appear after the act of abandonment. Most wise and compassionate people I have met tell me that one looks to understand the nature of desire and attachment. With seeing the true nature of desire comes wisdom and compassion. When was it any different?
Those who have taken vows of celibacy or those who want to get close to sexual desire will all realize the same thing eventually. They will all realize that sexual desire has no real power over them. This realization will be close to the Buddha's teaching on regarding perceived reality to be false and illusion-like. So which ever method is used to deal with sexual energy, pretty much the end result is the same.
But to the topic in question regarding health - then there are health issues both ways and it seems these health issues are due to excess denial without wisdom or excess indulgence without compassion.
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"What is the All? Simply the eye & forms, ear & sounds, nose & aromas, tongue & flavors, body & tactile sensations, intellect & ideas. This, monks, is called the All. Anyone who would say, 'Repudiating this All, I will describe another,' if questioned on what exactly might be the grounds for his statement, would be unable to explain, and furthermore, would be put to grief. Why? Because it lies beyond range." Sabba Sutta.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:58 pm

I started this thread in the Mahayna forum because it was a place where everyone could participate, because Vajrayana practitioners are Mahayana practitioners as well.

At one time I got very interested in the Chinese Mahayana sutras that address the conduct of the Upasaka. However, I discovered that my teachers do not think that way, i.e. focusing a lot on a lot on elaborations of the genyen vows. That's just not the way we roll. We focus on the main point of the vows--not to harm sentient beings, and conduct ourselves accordingly.

Jnana wrote:
Adamantine wrote:Yeah but one can be more lustful while celibate potentially than if one were actually getting some action. It's a moot point.

It's all about capacity and karmic proclivity. Some people would be aggravated more by lust if they were celibate. Some people would thrive as a celibate. Some people are sexually active but not really engaged, they feel like it's an alien activity. They have no real need or desire for it, other than pleasing a partner. Everything is relative.

My reply was related to the post that I replied to. The goal of Buddhist soteriology is not to "have sex & breed young before you die." The purpose of Buddhist practices is not to "have sex & breed young before you die."

Adamantine wrote:That's not according to the Vajrayana. Need we hash this out yet again?

This isn't a Vajrayāna sub-forum. Teachings such as those contained in the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra offer detailed instructions on how a householder can relate to the household life, and to their spouse and children from a Sūtrayāna perspective.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Jnana » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:59 pm

Yudron wrote:I started this thread in the Mahayna forum because it was a place where everyone could participate, because Vajrayana practitioners are Mahayana practitioners as well.

Yes, all Vajrayāna practitioners are Mahāyāna, but not all Mahāyāna practitioners are Vajrayāna.

Yudron wrote:At one time I got very interested in the Chinese Mahayana sutras that address the conduct of the Upasaka. However, I discovered that my teachers do not think that way, i.e. focusing a lot on a lot on elaborations of the genyen vows. That's just not the way we roll. We focus on the main point of the vows--not to harm sentient beings, and conduct ourselves accordingly.

The Indo-Tibetan Sūtrayāna traditions roll with Śāntideva, and Śāntideva rolls with the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby RikudouSennin » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:12 pm

aren't we suppose to transcend attachment and aversion
i practice brahmacarya, but im also a sahaja of the pravartaka stage i.e. cultivating the mind.
but i think eliminating insteadof using sex desire is childish
we have the precious human life and sex is part of that.

i was taught buddhi means to properly understand our nature.
and any activity that is of no benefit in cultivating, is to be avoided or kept at a distance.

sex is beneficial, imo.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:15 pm

Jnana wrote:The Indo-Tibetan Sūtrayāna traditions roll with Śāntideva, and Śāntideva rolls with the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra.
Care to link us to a good translation? :thanks:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Jnana » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:51 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Jnana wrote:The Indo-Tibetan Sūtrayāna traditions roll with Śāntideva, and Śāntideva rolls with the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra.
Care to link us to a good translation? :thanks:

The Śikṣāsamuccaya is a comprehensive compendium of sūtra training instructions pertaining to the bodhisattva path, compiled by Śāntideva. It's an excellent source for understanding the bodhisattva path and practices related to the path. This translation by Bendall & Rouse is now quite dated, but it's accurate enough to understand what is being taught. In the Śikṣāsamuccaya Śāntideva quotes the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra frequently (approx. 20 times).
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby dzogchungpa » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:59 pm

Jnana wrote:
gregkavarnos wrote:
Jnana wrote:The Indo-Tibetan Sūtrayāna traditions roll with Śāntideva, and Śāntideva rolls with the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra.
Care to link us to a good translation? :thanks:

The Śikṣāsamuccaya is a comprehensive compendium of sūtra training instructions pertaining to the bodhisattva path, compiled by Śāntideva. It's an excellent source for understanding the bodhisattva path and practices related to the path. This translation by Bendall & Rouse is now quite dated, but it's accurate enough to understand what is being taught. In the Śikṣāsamuccaya Śāntideva quotes the Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra frequently (approx. 20 times).

Maybe these will come in handy:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/80209206/Ethics-in-the-Sik?asamuccaya
http://libgen.org/book/index.php?md5=CE1408B7C2919F3C1F3EF693F3844528
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If we have to have a soul, it might as well be vidya, it is after all, permanent, unconditioned, a knower, stainless, and free from the three realms. But If we don't have to have one, vidya still has these characteristics. It is our essenceless essence. - a certain Gemini
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby greentara » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:32 pm

Of course intimacy can be very pleasant. If you're serious about your sadhana and question yourself, you'll find subtle changes. An intimate relationship means more attention to ones appearance, more grooming, even perhaps flirtation. In many ways this strengthens the ego and makes one more self conscious.
It doesn't make it right or wrong but the ego is definately involved.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dorje » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:54 am

greentara wrote:Of course intimacy can be very pleasant. If you're serious about your sadhana and question yourself, you'll find subtle changes. An intimate relationship means more attention to ones appearance, more grooming, even perhaps flirtation. In many ways this strengthens the ego and makes one more self conscious.
It doesn't make it right or wrong but the ego is definately involved.


That's only a very superficial relationship. When you are married and particularly when you have children, relationships are far more about impartial service to others and sacrifice. Everything comes down to motivation-- every situation is workable with the overwhelming desire to be of benefit to others.

While it is true that some use being a vajrayana practitioners as an excuse to merely indulge themselves, these same people are not likely to be diligent when they are celibate either. They simply lack compassion as a driving force, or they would have more of a sense of shame. I have seen just as many examples of men and women that attempted to use celibacy as a weapon because they weren't personally very attractive, felt left out and were angry about it. In my opinion, neither is the proper motivation to be successful as a practitioner.

Being a monk or nun is wonderful, being a dedicated ngakpa or ngakma is also wonderful. Instead of excluding those with virtuous minds, we should be including them. Instead of seeing lower and higher we should just be seeing ourselves as the lowest of all, regardless of whether we are celibate or not. When we do so, many of these seeming conundrums become non-issues.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby greentara » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:29 am

Of course if you're in a family situation it's a bit different but if you combined the hours we'd worried about how our bodies "looked", you could stretch them back to the Big Bang!
I don't care what school you follow, Desire and sex enhance the ego which as we all know is difficult to trace, let alone subdue.
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