Health Impact of Celibacy

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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherab Rigdrol » Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:58 pm

Agreed, but most people practice healthy sexuality, especially dharma practitioners.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:03 pm

I hope you are right,but I am not so convinced. As a translator I can tell you many dharma practitioners struggle with adultery and the like because I have translated many such interviews for the lamas. If they were unfaithful, they probably would not tell their Sangha friends.
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 Sherab Rigdrol » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:12 pm

Which is why doing the psychological work is so detrimental when on this path.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Karma Dorje » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:23 am

JKhedrup wrote:I hope you are right,but I am not so convinced. As a translator I can tell you many dharma practitioners struggle with adultery and the like because I have translated many such interviews for the lamas. If they were unfaithful, they probably would not tell their Sangha friends.


It's true. The road from infancy to adultery is well-paved. Most people don't do very much of anything that is healthy and sex adds extra fuel to the bonfire of neuroses.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:57 am

Sherab Rigdrol wrote:
JKhedrup wrote:
Remember a horny person who becomes celibate just becomes a horny celibate.


That's a big generalization. You don't give people enough credit. Spiritual practice can help us to have more control over all sorts of impulses, including the sexual urge.

Fortunately my main struggle as a monk if with the institutional lack of freedom and my independent nature rather than celibacy.

But I know several people in the Sangha who were previously promiscuous swingers and decided they had had enough, took up Brahmacarya and have had great success in reducing the hold this impulse once had over them. So even people who were once irresponsible sexually are capable of Brahmacarya if they are determined.

Celibacy definitely isn't for everyone, and should not be prescribed for everyone. Nor should it be undersold as for many it can be a valuable and transformative assist in spiritual practice.

Many great tantric practitioners were celibate monks, and not just in the Gelug tradition. Think Patrul Rinpoche, Gampopa, Penor Rinpoche, the 16 of the 17 Karmapas etc.


Just for clarification I wasn't taking a poke at those who choose Brahmacarya. I think that some people simply lack the desire, or karma and thus have the causes and conditions to take up that vow. My statement was meant towards those who believe you cannot make any spiritual progress without renunciation of lust. And when I say renunciation, I am referring to actually giving up sexual activity, not the basic renunciation of realizing the empty nature of desire. Also, I believe many people choose celibacy in a spiritual context in order to bypass their basic psychological ground, which ultimately causes more difficulties in the long run--hence my statement.


Actual sexual desire is a requirement in order to be eligible for monk's vows.

Keeping vows adds power to one's practice.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:37 am

Yudron wrote:Actual sexual desire is a requirement in order to be eligible for monk's vows.

Keeping vows adds power to one's practice.


I've never heard of this after translating copious amounts of material on the Vinaya.

What is your source?
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Sat Mar 16, 2013 4:48 am

Huseng wrote:
Yudron wrote:Actual sexual desire is a requirement in order to be eligible for monk's vows.

Keeping vows adds power to one's practice.


I've never heard of this after translating copious amounts of material on the Vinaya.

What is your source?


I former monk told me.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:17 am

Maybe it was a commentary his preceptor gave on the meaning of the criteria that one is not a eunuch, I don't know. This was Kagyu lama who was a former monk telling me this.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:35 am

Due to the language of the Vinaya commentaries in Tibetan, I think I understand why your friend heard that. Generally vows are explained as objects of abandonment, so if there is no desire whatsoever, there is no object to abandon. But realistically how many people have no desire at all? I don't think this is a huge issue and I don't think even in the Vinaya Sutras that are translated into Tibetan the Buddha mentions this specifically. The discussion happens during the bit about 'objects of abandonment' and 'discordant classes'. It is the vocabulary of the commentaries that sometimes goes in tangents and leads to interesting teachings on obscure points, but sometimes magnifies what are really small issues.

I feel the hypersexualization of our culture is unfortunate. I think it leads to dangerous situations for women (look at the court case in Steubenville Ohio). You cant even make an ad for bottled water these days unless it involves cleavage. Pornography is widely available, and kids are sexualized at an earlier age leading to an epidemic in teen pregnancy.

Do I think condoms should be available to young people? Of course. Do I support tolerance for sexual minorities? Yes. Do I think that modern culture has a troubling fixation on sex and that this leads to all sorts of societal problems? Definitely.

If we teach kids how to unroll a a condom but don't teach them that sexual urges are controllable and don't need to rule their lives they are getting an incomplete education in my opinion. Balance.

Good Sangha members can demonstrate that there is still life without sex, many of the people I know with the most exciting lives, who have traveled and been exposed toa huge variety of cultures are monks and nuns.
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 Nemo » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:29 pm

Most people have no imagination. What I would see usually is people taking vows and then slowly going crazy. I think my longest stint was two years. Eventually you cannot escape yourself. There were the beautiful moments of total confusion when without any desire you confront how much of your ego revolves around sexuality. The huge gaping empty space that was once a fire becomes a peaceful meadow. It profoundly changes your entire character. For those who can do it I have great respect for their resolve and purity.

But for some of us these things don't last very long. Eventually I needed longer and longer periods of mediation and Sadhana to keep down my desire. It came to a point where even that backfired. Occasionally I would be alone at the monastery. The first time a young moderately attractive red head having a nervous breakdown(manic depression it turned out) drove to the middle of nowhere and decided she must make love to me. I did have a thing for red heads at the time. So here I was miles from anywhere, locked in my room with a naked woman banging on the door calling my Lama and he is laughing so hard he can't hold the phone. And yes the drapes did match the carpet.

At some point in your practice, especially if you sublimate strong desires, you will begin to call phenomena. My Lama teased me that it was horrible magic as she was so crazy.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:01 pm

Nemo wrote:There were the beautiful moments of total confusion when without any desire you confront how much of your ego revolves around sexuality. The huge gaping empty space that was once a fire becomes a peaceful meadow.


My similar concern is how lust and sexuality raise questions about one's own mental autonomy or the lack thereof. Is the rational will really in command, or is it animal instincts guiding decision making processes? If so, how much of this will result in suffering?

At a basic level a lot of our behaviours are dictated by such impulses. Personally, as someone striving to be rational and mentally well-governed in all matters, the matter of lust is a concern. It is a weakness.

Now that could easily turn into a matter of pride (not wanting to appear or feel weak), though in reality it ties in with the pursuit of liberation and the bodhisattva path. One cannot realistically attain liberation while being weak and slave to passions. One must be in full command of one's own mental faculties (the "tamed mind"). You also cannot walk the bodhisattva path if weak and driven by said irrational passions.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:36 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Due to the language of the Vinaya commentaries in Tibetan, I think I understand why your friend heard that. Generally vows are explained as objects of abandonment, so if there is no desire whatsoever, there is no object to abandon. But realistically how many people have no desire at all? I don't think this is a huge issue and I don't think even in the Vinaya Sutras that are translated into Tibetan the Buddha mentions this specifically. The discussion happens during the bit about 'objects of abandonment' and 'discordant classes'. It is the vocabulary of the commentaries that sometimes goes in tangents and leads to interesting teachings on obscure points, but sometimes magnifies what are really small issues.

I feel the hypersexualization of our culture is unfortunate. I think it leads to dangerous situations for women (look at the court case in Steubenville Ohio). You cant even make an ad for bottled water these days unless it involves cleavage. Pornography is widely available, and kids are sexualized at an earlier age leading to an epidemic in teen pregnancy.

Do I think condoms should be available to young people? Of course. Do I support tolerance for sexual minorities? Yes. Do I think that modern culture has a troubling fixation on sex and that this leads to all sorts of societal problems? Definitely.

If we teach kids how to unroll a a condom but don't teach them that sexual urges are controllable and don't need to rule their lives they are getting an incomplete education in my opinion. Balance.

Good Sangha members can demonstrate that there is still life without sex, many of the people I know with the most exciting lives, who have traveled and been exposed toa huge variety of cultures are monks and nuns.


Thanks for explaining. I've heard that there are more people with no sex drive than we think. There are actually large groups for asexual people.

http://www.asexuality.org/home/

As someone over 50 who has seen the dramatic shift towards media sexualization of everything, I can't help but agree with you. We have a fixation about sexuality and business people are actively encouraging that fixation to make money.

I have seen about 5 western monks and nuns in the Tibetan tradition here this week at a Tibetan medicine educational event, and now the Kama Wangs. I think most of them are long term monastics. Thinking of you, Khedrup! Wish you were here.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Konchog1 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:39 pm

Nemo wrote:At some point in your practice, especially if you sublimate strong desires, you will begin to call phenomena. My Lama teased me that it was horrible magic as she was so crazy.
Can you post more about this? Thanks.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherab Rigdrol » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:02 pm

They should teach Tsa Lung in schools.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:05 am

Sherab Rigdrol wrote:They should teach Tsa Lung in schools.


Doctor Nida is the only lama I know who might probably support that.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby MaitriYNOD » Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:19 am

I will not claim to be a Vajrayana practitioner, as that title is reserved for people who can do things with their mind that I cannot. However, as someone who has studied with Vajrayana teachers, I must say I am in near-total agreement with Huseng. Vajrayana practices, including consort practice, are to be embraced by an attitude of renunciation and bodhicitta, as these practices are intended to liberate self and others from the suffering of samsara. If you have no desire to empty samsara, then there is no reason whatsoever to engage in Tantric practices. One of the reasons Tantra is considered so advanced is because one requires an unshakable foundations in the sutra teachings, in renunciation and compassion, in order to practice it effectively.

That being said, I am going to guess that none of us (certainly not me) are perfect practitioners. There would be no way to begin Buddhist practice if you had to be pure already to embrace the teachings. Vajrayana practices do not exclude people with strong delusions and attachments since that is precisely what they are designed to remedy. It's not exactly that we have to fake it till we make it, but we have to account for the fact that our practice won't be perfect every time. If it was, there would be no need for it. I think this is why pure perception and faith are so closely connected, because we of little attainment need to lean on the crutch of faith on our way to stabilizing genuine pure perception.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherab Rigdrol » Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:23 am

I was half serious, half joking. All kidding aside their really should be specific teachings taught to teenagers/adults on how to transmute sexual energy. Basic mindfulness ain't gonna cut it.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:26 pm

Discussion on (sex) education split here.
"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 Yudron » Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:43 pm

MaitriYNOD wrote:I will not claim to be a Vajrayana practitioner, as that title is reserved for people who can do things with their mind that I cannot. However, as someone who has studied with Vajrayana teachers, I must say I am in near-total agreement with Huseng. Vajrayana practices, including consort practice, are to be embraced by an attitude of renunciation and bodhicitta, as these practices are intended to liberate self and others from the suffering of samsara. If you have no desire to empty samsara, then there is no reason whatsoever to engage in Tantric practices. One of the reasons Tantra is considered so advanced is because one requires an unshakable foundations in the sutra teachings, in renunciation and compassion, in order to practice it effectively.


This is one of the reasons why I am such an advocate for doing ngondro well. One needs a good foundation to build a house on. We have all known people who have not trained whole-heartedly in refuge and bodhicitta and jumped right in to tantra and Dzogchen with a superior attitude. Without ngondro I would be even more of a jerk than I am.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby greentara » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:26 am

Watching news/doco program the other night and they enter a old age facility for people suffering from dementia and what you may ask is the pressing problem in the facility?
These unfortunate people don't know who they are, where they are and don't recognise relatives and friends. No worries for experts are brought in to convince us all that these people are missing out on sexual gratification. The elderly nurse that was brought in went on and on about their needs. Then we cross to sex workers both male and female who are only too willing to enter the old age home(for a fee) and give these poor old folk whatever it takes.
If it wasn't so sad one could laugh but I couldn't even muster a smile.
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