Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western Zen

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:46 pm

conebeckham wrote:Irony alert, guys. :spy:

Sorry, that's much too oblique for me.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:51 pm

Simon E. wrote:Sorry, that's much too oblique for me.

Well, now I don't know if you're being serious or not, but for the record, let me say that I think that Sasaki's behavior as described in that poem is despicable and I think it's ridiculous to say that the kind of judgement expressed by that poem is "Christianized thinking".
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:57 pm

Then I agree with you entirely.

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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby uan » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:14 pm

Jikan wrote:uan,

I'd thought casual sex was consensual sex. Is it still casual sex if one party is coerced or worse?


Is there a reason why you're asking me?

Is it because I was wondering why Sara in her original post got passionate about how conditioned people are about sex because of Christianized thinking, and basically told those people who are to get over it, but then she clearly hasn't gotten over other issues that went on at the Priory? My question is, if she can give up, or be unaffected by conditioned thought related to sex, then why not with other things? And if she can't, why would she admonish anyone else for whatever their conditioned thoughts might be? This isn't directed only at her, but to all of us. It's easy and natural for human beings to assume something easy for us to give up, or to do, should be easy for others to do. But for those things that hard, that there are special circumstances to that.

I'm not criticizing anyone who has any conditioned thoughts, on sex or anything else. I have a ton of my own. But it's always easier to recognize the flaw in someone else, than the one we have (i.e., the mote in the other person's eye, and not the beam in our own).

Thinking casual sex is wrong is a conditioned thought. Thinking causal sex is okay is also a conditioned thought. It's all conditioned thought. And so it goes until we each become Buddha and go beyond all conditioned thought.

As for the worse example of conditioned thought in this thread, it's got to be "Christianized". What does that even mean? Lots of Christian nations have very different ideas of what sex is, or how one should view "casual/consensual" sex. So I wonder about anyone that would even use that term. Then people will say stuff like "in the East". What does that mean? So are the views of people living in Bangkok the same as the rural farmers in Shaanxi province, China? Has someone actually lived among these people to even know? Not to mention that those people have conditioned thoughts and those thoughts are probably wrong.

Conditioned thoughts are often very subtle, so much so that we can't recognize them and that's why we rely on teachers and masters. Some are easier to see, so we pat ourselves on our back when we can pick some low hanging fruit, but it's important to remember that there is still a large amount of fruit still hidden in the tree and that the tree is a part of a vast orchard.

Hence we are grateful that Buddha and the subsequent masters have come and taught Dharma.

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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby conebeckham » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:19 pm

That ^ is good stuff. Thanks.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:39 pm

Seconded.. :good:
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shel » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:43 pm

uan wrote:Thinking casual sex is wrong is a conditioned thought. Thinking causal sex is okay is also a conditioned thought. It's all conditioned thought. And so it goes until we each become Buddha and go beyond all conditioned thought.


I don't think anyone mentioned casual sex being wrong. There was something mentioned about nonconsensual sex though, that seems to have been circumnavigated.

And I have to ask, if we ever get free of conditioned thought why must we go beyond it? That sounds like running away from it.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Jnana » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:28 pm

tobes wrote:
jeeprs wrote:So I just don't accept this idea that Buddhism doesn't associate sex with sin. The early texts are full of warnings about 'the canker of sensuality' and 'the fetters of the senses'. Regarding sexuality as somehow exempt from this is a misreading of the teaching, in my opinion.

Agree. Very well put. In Pali canon it is not merely sex that gets a bad wrap - it is any kind of sensory consciousness. I don't think later traditions move as far away from this as post 60's western Buddhism wishes to infer.

Sure. There are many examples illustrating the impurity of the body, etc., in Mahāyāna texts. The Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā Sūtra:

    These women are beautiful and pleasing only on the surface. On account of its impurities, I have no interest in this contraption of sinews and bones. Oozing of excretions — blood, urine, and excrement — how can I delight in what are surely only suitable for a cemetery?

The Ugraparipṛcchā Sūtra:

    O Eminent Householder, the householder bodhisattva who lives at home should bring forth three thoughts toward his own wife. And what are the three? The thought of [her] as impure, the thought of her as stinking, and the thought of her as disagreeable.

Nāgārjuna's Suhṛllekha:

    Look at the body of a young woman, separate on its own:
    With a foul smell, it resembles a vessel for all filthy matter,
    Leaking out from nine holes, difficult to be filled, and covered with skin,
    And then (look) at its ornaments also, separate on their own.

Nāgārjuna's Ratnāvalī:

    Once you yourself have seen the impurities
    Of excrement, urine, and so forth,
    How could you be attracted
    To a body composed of those?

Āryadeva's Catuḥśatikā:

    Thinking about the impermanence and uncleanness of the body,
    Understand the faults of attachment to it.

On sexual desire, Ven. Hsuan Hua:

    The true mind is the mind without any sexual desire. Anyone without sexual desire is someone no longer mixed up, someone who understands what it means to dwell in the true mind at all times...

    Bodhi means not picking anything up. Let it all go! “It” includes money, sex, fame, food, and sleep...

    To decrease desire, it is not enough to be a vegetarian and to read Sutras. You must cut off all sexual desire... Unless you rid yourself of sexual desire you will never get out of the Triple World...

    If you want to determine whether a person is genuine or phony, whether he is a Bodhisattva or a demon, you can look for the following things: First, see whether he has any desire for sex; and second, see whether he is greedy for money...

    Even if a Dharma-speaker displays mighty spiritual powers, you should look him over carefully and see if he is greedy. If he is out for money or if he has lust, then he's not genuine. He's a phony.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby futerko » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:42 pm

A dualistic separation of high and low, sacred and profane... thanks for reminding me why I don't stick to the Sutrayana.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:04 am

futerko wrote:A dualistic separation of high and low, sacred and profane... thanks for reminding me why I don't stick to the Sutrayana.

Isn't your preference for the Tantrayana over the Sutrayana itself such a dualistic separation? :shrug:
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby futerko » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:10 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
futerko wrote:A dualistic separation of high and low, sacred and profane... thanks for reminding me why I don't stick to the Sutrayana.

Isn't your preference for the Tantrayana over the Sutrayana itself such a dualistic separation? :shrug:
I have no preference for Tantrayana, which I think can be just as dualistic, but as this is the Zen forum it may be better couched in Zen terminology.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby futerko » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:44 am

Actually I overlooked the line
Jnana wrote:
    Bodhi means not picking anything up. Let it all go! “It” includes money, sex, fame, food, and sleep...
I don't think Ven. Hsuan Hua is suggesting here that anyone deny themselves food or sleep, or that they either crave or reject any of these things. Western liberal humanism does tend to skew the relative importance of these differently and there is a definite tendency towards assuming this is a base line. This does raise the question whether it is correct to import such value loaded assumptions into dharma practice. In some ways it seems that the shock response to sexual "scandal" is simply a reflection of the same skewed values that facilitated it in the first place.

Interestingly, gluttony and sloth are alongside lust in the seven deadly sins, yet in modern times we tend to view food and sleep as being far more value netural than sex.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Jnana » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:18 am

futerko wrote:I don't think Ven. Hsuan Hua is suggesting here that anyone deny themselves food or sleep, or that they either crave or reject any of these things. Western liberal humanism does tend to skew the relative importance of these differently and there is a definite tendency towards assuming this is a base line. This does raise the question whether it is correct to import such value loaded assumptions into dharma practice. In some ways it seems that the shock response to sexual "scandal" is simply a reflection of the same skewed values that facilitated it in the first place.

Interestingly, gluttony and sloth are alongside lust in the seven deadly sins, yet in modern times we tend to view food and sleep as being far more value netural than sex.

Yes, these things are relative and values are conditioned by a number of factors. I think Ven. Hsuan Hua considered dhutaguṇa ascetic practices to be valuable. Some (many?) of his monastic students have practiced the dhutaguṇas of eating only one meal a day and of not lying down horizontally to sleep.

futerko wrote:A dualistic separation of high and low, sacred and profane... thanks for reminding me why I don't stick to the Sutrayana.

Nāgārjuna & Āryadeva are dualistic?
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby futerko » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:24 am

Jnana wrote:Nāgārjuna & Āryadeva are dualistic?
I'm not sure of the context of those quotations, but I suspect that they are waypoints on the path rather than an ultimate view of theirs.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:50 am

The elephant in the room here is the Sexual Revolution. This radically transformed attitudes towards sexual behaviours. I don't think many people get how radically. Those quotations above regarding the 'impurity of the body' are characteristic of the traditional Buddhist view, but would be echoed in any other traditional setting - Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. We forget how much modernity has re-defined us, or allowed us to re-define ourselves, and no more so than in regards to sexuality. Maybe some of these teachers take advantage of it, but then maybe they also can't help themselves.

I am reminded of a sad episode I witnessed decades ago. When I was first learning about the spiritual path, I took off one day and hitch-hiked to an ashram out in the bush. It was headed up by a young and charismatic swami with only a very small number of people involved at that time. I ended up staying there for a few months. Shortly after I left, the word began to circulate that the swami was having a sexual relationship with one of the devotee's daughters. The head guru, back in India, had declared a very liberal stance on such matters (like the rascal Rajneesh was to do twenty years later). Anyway, this relationship became intense. This girl was living in the swami's quarters, and he was apparently totally besotted by her. The problem was that when the relationship had started when she was under-age. People began to ask questions, and it lead to the swami facing criminal charges and being convicted of carnal knowledge. (I am not breaking any confidences here, it was published in the local newspapers at the time.) From what I recall, he did a jail sentence of something more than a year, then he was deported. (Or so I understood, though I must say, about 5 years ago, I saw a very disheveled, unkempt and nervous looking individual of Indian origin get onto a bus with his possessions in a garbage bag, and I had the distinct idea it might have been the same man.)

As I said, it was a very sad affair. Even though the swami had plainly done wrong, and I wouldn't never condone it, I saw it as a real cultural collision. Modern ethics are so different - women are much more upfront about sexuality, contraception exists, it is very laissez faire compared to the old cultures. I felt that when that swami stepped out of that ancient tradition of renunciation and celibacy into the modern world, with freely available sexuality, it became totally intoxicating. Those in his immediate vicinity didn't express any approbation, unlike what would have happened in the traditional culture (although ultimately he was outcast, in effect.)

I think many people are really wrestling with these problems, not just swamis and roshis and those who you would like to think would know better. Sex has real power and we live in a culture that magnifies and exploits it endlessly. In fact a lot of Western culture is basically amoral in regards to sexual behaviours - any behaviour is regarded as 'individual choice' (with the exception of paedophilia, although the 'sexuallization of children' is proceeding regardless). To even express dissapproval of those attitudes is to risk getting called 'Christianized' - or worse.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby futerko » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:24 am

Jeeprs, I think you've overlooked a couple of things there. The Victorian (I mean the age, not the Australian region)attitude, although we tend to see it as somewhat repressive and puritanical also produced a very similar situation that you describe these days - I'm not so sure that we've really shaken that off, and I think the roots of this can be even be traced back to Protestantism, Cromwell, the Pilgrim fathers etc. - probably someone far more knowledgeable can clarify these historical trends.

I also think there have been trends in Asia with the spread of the Tantras which suggest the same sort of tension between what we might ethnocentrically call conservative and more liberal appproaches have also played themselves out long before this occurred in European thought.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Jnana » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:30 am

futerko wrote:I'm not sure of the context of those quotations, but I suspect that they are waypoints on the path rather than an ultimate view of theirs.

Yes, the context is meditative practices which serve as antidotes to defilements. Various Mahāyāna sūtras and śāstras give three or more such practices, such as meditation on impurity/unattractiveness (aśubhābhāvanā) as an antidote for passion (rāga), meditation on loving-kindness (maitrībhāvanā) as an antidote for aggression (dveṣa), and comprehensive investigation of conditioned arising (pratītyasamutpādapratyavekṣaṇā) as an antidote for delusion (mohā). For example, the Kāśyapaparivarta Sūtra:

    Therein Kāśyapa, what are true remedies? Namely, for passion the remedy is [recognition of] unattractiveness; for aggression the remedy is loving-kindness; for delusion the remedy is comprehensive investigation of conditioned arising.

In addition to these three remedies, the Śikṣāsamuccaya adds giving attention to impermanence (anityatāmanasikāra) as an antidote for arrogance and an aid for attaining tranquility. It also gives extensive instructions from various sūtras on how to develop these antidotes.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Dan74 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:07 am

futerko wrote:
Jnana wrote:Nāgārjuna & Āryadeva are dualistic?
I'm not sure of the context of those quotations, but I suspect that they are waypoints on the path rather than an ultimate view of theirs.


Ultimate view?
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby greentara » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:19 am

jeeprs, That was a really interesting story about the swami and the underage girlfriend.
I think you're right the 60s revolutionised sexual permissiveness amongst the masses but in the 1920s the 'elite' of society could be quite permissive.
I was reading about Gurdjieff, Uspenskii and Bennett in Constantinople. Apparently Bennett was living with a woman at least 20 years older then himself and had a wife back in England pregnant with their first child. In addition Bennett was also totally taken with Siva Puri baba. There you go, people are full of contradictions and engrained vasanas.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby randomseb » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:49 am

Isn't the point of the monastic precepts about celibacy is to help the practicing individual to avoid what amounts to an addictive activity or negative mental influence that would draw you away from your practice?

When you get all aroused, aren't you "losing your mind", that is to say, being pulled away from "your center" by the biochemical flood in your blood stream that these sensations cause? If this is ok in Zen, or any other practice, then why isn't cocaine and crack not valid too?

But if the goal is to specifically show you how this happens under those circumstances, for that direct experience knowledge, then is it ok? There is at least one story I recall reading from ancient zen where the student is sent to a prostitute for enlightenment purposes, I surmised that it was for the purpose of direct knowledge of the effect it has on one's mind.

I don't know, but if I encountered a teacher who was constantly seeking physical pleasure I would question his state of practice! Not because of any taboos, but because how can he be advanced on the Way, if he acts in this manner?

Perhaps once you've reached "the goal", and are "enlightened", then any circumstances will fail to "move" you, and in such a case it makes no difference what kind of behavior you take, as you respond to any given situation, but you wouldn't go out of your way to seek anything either, would you?

Perhaps my view on this stems from the belief that "sin" is not about a payment/repayment system of good/evil behavior, but rather a roadmap to help one avoid the influences that easily "hook" you and carry you off to lala land, so to speak. I even see the 10 commands thing in this way, and feel there has been big misunderstandings about this across the world, and throughout time :shrug:
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