Celibacy

A forum for discussion of Buddhist ethics.

Re: Celibacy

Postby coldwater » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:23 pm

That research looks weak to me, sorry. Based on their last 30 days and a self-administered questionnaire defining depression as such things as 'low appetite'. It was also with a very small sample of women compared to a much larger sample?

I know quite a few people in various aspects of sex work..and this is not completely the case- so I will deny it based on experience with such communities.

When people state statistics on these things they often quote studies done on global human trafficking and prostitutes who were using social health services. Sections of a complicated picture. There isn't enough research to make those kinds of statements- more research has been done on the effects of porn addiction than the people themselves. Point it... coercive pornography from Eastern Europe is different than liberal San Francisco and different than human trafficking in any country. This kind of research does not reflect a majority. This isn't denying that there is corruption within the various types of sex industry or that corruption and manipulation doesn't happen in every industry.

I simply don't think stereotyping another group negatively (the object of one's desire) in order to control desire is particularly effective.

In the same way we investigate the impurity of the body from a analytical method we can do the same with porn. For example porn is often an 'idea' of sex. One could consider the amount of makeup, pruning, lighting, editing, and acting and various other aspects that create the illusion. The amount of people, coaching and equipment behind the filming. A person could also ask themselves where in the illusion is the satisfaction? The qualities they think these people have- are they there or just appear that way because of manipulation? Often they are portraying a character and not themselves. What need does this fulfill and what habits does it plant and further?

Sexual desires can be controlled by also removing the stimulus as much as possible. This is harder to do in a lay life. Internet blockers are an option if that is the problem. A person could find other hobbies to put energy into, start setting limits on computer use in general. Get out of the house more. Meditate on impermanence, the contents of the body, and loving-kindness. Try seeing others as siblings or parents. Realize this isn't an immediate 'fix' and that undoing a habit can take much time, effort and repetition of a new habit.

I also don't think porn is particularly different than the majority of movies, games, magazines and media put out selling various images of beauty, sexuality, success, power, control, violence or happiness. We could look at many other icons and see how much mental health, drug and abuse problems they have to be stars. Do movie and TV stars have higher rates of said conditions than the 'average' person? Are they more or less susceptible to certain types of suffering that would predispose them to being an performer? Or does media sensationalize these aspects because there is also addiction to the addiction and drama of others?

'think of their mental health problems, drugs abuse etc. because of their job' is too much like 'if you are attracted to women too much think of how they have to have menstrual cycles, the pain of pregnancy and risk of breast cancer because of being a woman' and neither attitude really helps serve the population that the desire is being projected onto.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby coldwater » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:35 pm

Also- getting off topic...maybe split the thread or delete?.... there is contrary current research:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23167939 and another article/interview on the research http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/porn-stars-and-the-naked-truth-8348388.html
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Re: Celibacy

Postby JKhedrup » Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:29 pm

I am happy to read the different opinions. And if people working in the porn industry are not suffering as greatly as I thought, it would be a relief. Perhaps the issue is just too heated to find statistics that are not biased towards one side or the other. I am sure the anti-porn activists as well as the porn industry itself have their respective lobbyists, especially in the United States.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby flavio81 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:43 pm

coldwater wrote:I also don't think porn is particularly different than the majority of movies, games, magazines and media put out selling various images of beauty, sexuality, success, power, control, violence or happiness.


I agree. The imprints of our Christian-soaked culture make us denounce porn more than these others, but at the end they're all just distractions, things made to lose our time and waste minutes of our life in an enjoyable way.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby In the bone yard » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:57 pm

"The imprints of our Christian-soaked culture make us denounce porn more than these others"

I thought it was the biggest money making industry in the US!

Some people are more sensitive to desire than others. I took the vow of celebacy more than 10 years ago.
I have keen sensitivity to desire.

If you make all of the world celebate, those in the lower realms suffer the most.
Those in the lower realms require more stimulation than those in the higher realms.

I think it's funny how women have trended the wearing of tight pants in society.
I work in a professional environment and it is common place for women to wear skin tight dress pants with no underwear (or no panty line).
The work place is no longer safe from the destructive forces of desire. I will ask coworkers who will say, "God bless her for dressing that way!"
Some women develop very large egos from power they receive, and some get very angry if they are not recognized!

The US workforce has a zero tolerance policy for harassment but this dynamic is left unchecked.
Society, male and female, dissipate this energy in an unhealthy way (hopefully not a work); thereby requiring more and more stimulation to achieve the desired result (union).
Fornication is also socially acceptable which makes it somehow moral.
I've never met a worldly fellow who believed it was possible not to engage in the dissipation of one's energy.

It's unfortunate that some women feel they don't have much to offer other than their bodily attributes. Compassion arises when I comtemplate this deeply.
This is the only way some know how to attract men, and many men will respond only to women of this sort.

It is easy to use anger as an antidote, but anger is destructive as well.
The only antidote to passion is compassion.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby maxaroni13 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:20 pm

flavio81 wrote:
maxaroni13 wrote:Ty both for your help I don't think porn is sex I really would like to be celibate for rest of life though


It seems you are dangerously attracted to choosing extremes. Deal with this (<---) problem first.


Wow that hit me Ty flavio
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Re: Celibacy

Postby jeeprs » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:39 am

I think there's a big disconnect between 'western' and traditional Buddhism on this topic. We are nowadays very acclimatized to what has happened since the 1960's but there have been massive changes in social attitudes towards all these questions as a result of 'the sexual revolution' - more than many people realize.

I think traditional Buddhist teachers would regard pornography as transgressive of the 3rd precept (grossly so, in fact). Whereas most 'moderns' regard 'consent' as the criteria for what is, or is not, ethically or morally acceptable. So the criterion has changed from a generally prohibitive view to a more individualistic and, it has to be said, hedonistic attitude in Western culture. It is very much a matter of 'each to his/her own' and 'whatever appeals to you' - but it so easily becomes, as the OP has noted, a slippery slope.

I notice on secular forums, that if you take express a negative attitude towards online porn, you are tend to be categorized as 'repressive' or 'authoritarian'. The hostility towards what is regarded as 'censorship' is especially pronounced amongst the kinds of 'liberated' folks you would associate with interest in Eastern spirituality. After all, Buddhism became really established in the 60's and the 60's generation were at the vanguard of the sexual revolution. It seems to me that as a result a lot of Western Buddhism has a very liberal attitude towards sexuality which is not actually representative of the original tradition. I think a lot of traditionalist Buddhists are rather shy and reticent about the whole question, which can easily be interpreted as agreement or acquisence. But my honest view is that internet pornography exploits civil freedoms for selfish and commercial reasons. It completely severs the link between sexuality and loving intimacy, which, I would hope, is the demarcation between wholesome and unwholesome sexual relations.

Case in point: there is an old magazine article on Buddhanet on the topic of Buddhist sexual ethics, in which the author says he visited:

the website of Salon Kitty, ...which describes itself as 'one of the world's leading BDSM houses.' BDSM stands for bondage, discipline and sado-masochism. On Salon Kitty's main menu is a statement of ethics, which the duty of care and overall responsibility ' the dominant' owes 'the submissive,' not least around the obviously crucial issue of consent. In part the statement of ethics says: Implied in consent is the responsibility of the dominant partner in any BDSM scene to monitor the wellbeing of the submissive to ensure that the submissive is stable and that the consent is still operative.

A description follows of the mechanism for instantly withdrawing consent - the uttering of a pre-agreed 'safe word' - which immediately brings the procedure in question to an end.

Then the statement of ethics resumes: In order to enjoy the possibilities that the world of BDSM offers, one must first discover respect and trust both of oneself and of others. Elements of all five precepts are there, including the last. On the basis of this statement we can conclude that Salon Kitty comes closer to Dhamma than fundamentalist, social engineering killjoys of various religious persuasions!


I must say, when I read this statement, I found it very disturbing, although not really surprising.

It also notes:

Publication or use of pornography which eroticises women's subordination thus plainly contravenes the third precept. But by no mean all pornography does so, and other sexually explicit material might be equally innocent.


I also recoil from the notion of 'innocent pornography'.

The article has link to 'a rejoinder' at the top which does advocate a more traditionalist understanding. But recall all the many verses in the literature about 'the canker of sensuality'. Whereas it seems to me that a lot of what is going on in Western society actually panders to sensuality. I think if anyone wants to pursue them then it is their perogative in a free society. But I think rationalising it so that it appears to be 'wholesome' or 'innocent' is deeply mistaken. Spirituality involves sacrifice, it often involves *not* getting what you actually want, but undertaking what needs to be done, and quite often they conflict, sad though this might seem. The easy way, instant gratification, anything goes, attitude of the modern world deeply undermines that, and it is a hard fact to acknowledge.

Disclaimer: in saying this, I acknowledge that it is a personal issue and a source of inner conflict.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Konchog1 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 2:57 am

jeeprs wrote:It completely severs the link between sexuality and loving intimacy
This is the key problem with porn.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Celibacy

Postby flavio81 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:47 pm

maxaroni13 wrote:
flavio81 wrote:
maxaroni13 wrote:Ty both for your help I don't think porn is sex I really would like to be celibate for rest of life though


It seems you are dangerously attracted to choosing extremes. Deal with this (<---) problem first.


Wow that hit me Ty flavio


You're welcome, my friend in Dharma !!
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Re: Celibacy

Postby flavio81 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:53 pm

In the bone yard wrote:It's unfortunate that some women feel they don't have much to offer other than their bodily attributes. Compassion arises when I comtemplate this deeply.
This is the only way some know how to attract men, and many men will respond only to women of this sort.


And this hit me as well. Good posting.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby greentara » Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:42 am

in the bone yard, An excellent posting. Spot on, as you have beautifully covered the whole scenario with a few insightful sentences.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby In the bone yard » Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:41 pm

Dharma friends!
:smile:
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:40 pm

jeeprs wrote:I think traditional Buddhist teachers would regard pornography as transgressive of the 3rd precept (grossly so, in fact).


Yes and no. Sexual misconduct is defined by the partner, place and time. For example, someone under the guardianship of another such a minor, inside a monastery or on Buddhajayanti. These would qualify as misconduct according to traditional exegesis.

The thing is that pornography didn't exist up until recently. I think most teachers would define it as inappropriate, but it doesn't really meet the criteria given in traditional commentaries.

I think it best to avoid pornography, though I would venture to say the majority of young men in the first world probably have an addiction to it nowadays given how easily accessible and anonymous it is. This is actually an issue that needs to be recognized, though unless you censor the internet you can't do much to curb it. That's another issue though.

As to whether it transgresses the third precept, I'm reluctant to talk about the criteria for violating a precept. That assumes you're dealing with something concrete enough to break, whereas ethical judgements are subjective and based on values. There's also the reified relationship where precept breakage entails gruesome suffering as a karmic result. According to some authors we could infer that if you take the precepts, masturbate to pornography and fail to confess it, even as a layperson, you'll be reborn in some horrible hell for immeasurable years. I think that kind of thinking leads to damaging neurosis and just reveals a lack of life experience on the part of the author(s).

That being said, I think pornography is unhealthy and in excess leads to a lot of mental and physical problems (like erectile dysfunction).
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Re: Celibacy

Postby In the bone yard » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:12 pm

I don't think the truth is ever outdated though.
There's no expiration date on the spirit. If you can grasp the spirit of the Bible it never needs to be updated.
Desire today is no different than it was 2000 years ago. Different ways to cultivate desire, yes, that will continue to change over time.
We don't fight in the Colosseum anymore but neurosis will manifest in other ways. Thank god for laws and the enforcement of them!

As sentient beings, since we are all the same (assuming humans are the highest being), we all have to achieve the same level of purity to attain realization.
I have met many beings who are much purer than me so I know there's a destination toward enlightenment. Karma is real.

I don't have to be told not to kill, I know it's wrong already in my heart.
Some people kill with desire and they receive satisfaction (desire) from it.
I know it's wrong to lie, because sometimes I can see the result.

I think hell realm is more of a vajrayana term, meaning a realized being's samaya is broken.
Authors write to an audience so they have to include all beings, but I only read books written or translated by Rinpoches.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby greentara » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:03 am

I find the less you read the better, after years of reading countless spiritual books, inspirational stories of great Buddhist monks and yogis....its now best to sit in the garden or somewhere quiet and even if you brood and rake up the past; at least if you're aware of it, you can somehow halt the barrage of thoughts. If you can concentrate on the core of being, one consciousness, not many, just one. No book can surpass it.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby jeeprs » Fri Aug 02, 2013 2:49 am

Indrajala wrote:
jeeprs wrote:I think traditional Buddhist teachers would regard pornography as transgressive of the 3rd precept (grossly so, in fact).


Yes and no. Sexual misconduct is defined by the partner, place and time.


But the problem I am having is that I do look to Dharma for clarity and guidance. That kind of response, whilst it might be very well suited to the liberal democracies, is equivocal and relativistic. Look at what the OP said again:

Need support becoming celibate please help support me somehow I am addicted to pornography would love to be celibate just don't know how someone please provide prayers aspirations etc scriptural resources


That is a plea. It is basically written from a place of desperation. Now you might not have ever been in that place, in which case you might understand the depth of the despondency that gives rise to it, but it exists for an enormous number of people nowadays.

I think the real struggle for a lot of us - a lot of men in particular - is not doing what our urges impel us to do. People speak about 'celibacy' as if it is a simple choice, but it isn't. Libido is an extremely powerful force, in fact in the mainstream of Western society, it is practically equated with the driving force of life itself. Question it at your peril. Western society generally nowadays thinks that 'celibacy' is a far stranger choice than, say, having homosexual relations. So it really doesn't help, in my opinion, that Buddhist teachers are equivocal and relativistic about it. I think there needs to be some clarity around it, but (I'm not directing this at your response in particular, I hasten to add) I really don't see 'Western Buddhism' holding the line - I think it is highly constrained and conditioned by Political Correctness in the West, with powerful, implicit prohibitions on what may and may not be said. Meanwhile we are sorrounded by - many would say, bombarded by - media which constantly urges self-indulgence, hedonism, and complete sexual license.

As far as 'hell' is concerned, it may not be some medieval horror, like some awful heironymous bosch painting, as much as always getting what you want, but knowing that really there's something the matter with it, and that it will never be enough.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:58 am

jeeprs wrote:But the problem I am having is that I do look to Dharma for clarity and guidance. That kind of response, whilst it might be very well suited to the liberal democracies, is equivocal and relativistic. Look at what the OP said again:


It isn't equivocal. I'm just saying pornography is not really to be understood in traditional terms because it didn't exist up until recently. Widespread addiction to pornography has only been around for at most two generations.


Now you might not have ever been in that place, in which case you might understand the depth of the despondency that gives rise to it, but it exists for an enormous number of people nowadays.


I understand, but denouncing pornography as transgressing the third precept probably just adds to the stress of the addiction rather than remedying it. If someone takes the precept and thinks they're breaking it by consuming pornography, then they need to deal with guilt. Guilt isn't the greatest preventative measure when you're dealing with addictions. It might be warranted that you feel guilty after cheating someone intentionally, but feeling guilty about an addiction leads to neurosis.


So it really doesn't help, in my opinion, that Buddhist teachers are equivocal and relativistic about it. I think there needs to be some clarity around it, but (I'm not directing this at your response in particular, I hasten to add) I really don't see 'Western Buddhism' holding the line - I think it is highly constrained and conditioned by Political Correctness in the West, with powerful, implicit prohibitions on what may and may not be said. Meanwhile we are sorrounded by - many would say, bombarded by - media which constantly urges self-indulgence, hedonism, and complete sexual license.


Right, but people with Christian heritage also unknowingly often equate violations of precepts with sin, hence the guilt. I don't think this really solves the problem. To withstand the advertising and messages encouraging hedonism and promiscuity one needs the appropriate mental stamina coupled with right view. Right view would entail seeing recreational sex for what it is: a sense pleasure derived from addictions, feelings of loneliness and the urge for orgasm. There's of course the natural cycles we go through, but that's separate from the desire itself.

Identifying desire as a driving force for a lot of behaviour is the first step. If you can identify it, then you can exercise restraint. I think this is a wiser approach than denouncing pornography and such activities as a violation of a precept which requires repentance. The idea of repairing precepts is quite a reification as it is. It is better to simply identify desire and exercise restraint when under its influence. It takes mental stamina to develop this, but quitting an addiction cold turkey doesn't always work.

If you just say it is wrong and denounce it as transgressive, there is no remedy or means of controlling it provided. There will just be guilt and we know that guilt seldom stops people from engaging in guilty pleasures.

Rather than saying pornography is wrong, I say it is unhealthy. I know someone who produces it professionally in the industry (as a producer). Everyone nowadays is paid appropriately. Is it exploitative? Well, if you prostitute yourself for money knowingly and are not forced into it, then you are being compensated for your performance. Men and women both sign the dotted line knowing what they're doing. If nobody has the intention to harm others, then can you really say it is inherently wrong? The industry in America is celebrated and has conventions.

Likewise alcohol is unhealthy and leads to problems in excess, but consumption in itself is not inherently wrong.

Precept violations are traditionally divided into proscription violations and inherent violations. So, drinking alcohol is an example of the former, and rape is an example of the latter. Where does consuming pornography fit in? That's up in the air.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby jeeprs » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:39 am

I think I understand that christian complex about sin - I have studied the Augustinian understanding of the nature of 'original sin' which has cast an enormous shadow in Western culture. The Augustinian view is that sin is something which we have no conscious ability to control, and so it is only by faith that we are able to overcome it. This was a theme that was hugely magnified in Calvinism. But many would say, looking at the kinds of issues the church is dealing with in regards to priestly transgression, there are huge problems with the traditional approach.

That said, I think that 'sin' represents a real human predicament, in other words, there is such a thing. The traditional Buddhist terms such as 'asavas' and 'kilesas' which are generally translated as 'defilements' come pretty close to the same meaning. The cardinal difference is, much along the lines you suggest, that the buddhist view is more detached, even clinical, in a way - it sees craving as craving, and understands it in terms of 'action and response'. But even so, I think a lot of Western buddhists tend to be too 'cool' about it, maybe through not wanting to appear repressive. I think the traditionalist approach would not play well in many buddhist centres in Europe and the US.

At the end of the day there are two very different visions of the nature of freedom at stake - one where freedom consists pretty much of the pursuit of pleasure and the right to please yourself, and the other which is going beyond the self - an idea which is not well represented in western culture outside the traditional faiths.
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Re: Celibacy

Postby wisdom » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:28 am

Indrajala wrote:Where does consuming pornography fit in? That's up in the air.


Someone get me an umbrella then!

In all seriousness though porn sucks. Its a huge problem. In excess it reconditions your mind to not respond to physical intimacy, resulting in ED. Its relatively easy to recondition yourself, but it takes some will power to pull off. The same is true of quitting porn. Some things you could try:

I. Read "The Practice of Brahmacharya" by Sri Swami Sivananda. Available Here: http://www.dlshq.org/download/brahma_nopic.htm
II. Put a porn filter on your computer, use a password you will never remember, throw away the password.
III. Downgrade your phone, smart phones can stream porn too easily to keep around if you are addicted.
IV. Throw away all magazines, movies, any media that is porn related.
V. Start working out.

The first seven days are the most intense. Once you get past a week you will experience alternative periods of intense libido increase and decrease. Whatever you do, don't "test" yourself to make sure you still work. You do. Whatever control you have now, you won't have in a week or two, you will ejaculate 20x easier, even fantasizing about porn might cause you to get too aroused at this point so its best to leave it all alone and avoid anything that triggers desire, including things like intoxication or going out to places where lots of young women dress up and go out like bars, clubs and so forth. It sounds boring as hell but this is just based on my personal experience.

Lots of things may or may not happen due to becoming celibate. Most of them are good. Try to have as few expectations for better or worse as possible, since everyone is different.

If severely neurotic sexual fantasies arise that disturb you and you feel like you can't handle it- masturbate. Recognize that sexual energy is one of the most powerful energies in the human. It can heal but it can also destroy. All the child abuse that happens in the church is the result of sexual energies becoming twisted. They are suppressed and they develop deluded ideas about sex and sexuality and then it comes out as this rampant abuse. The reason is because as Osho said "Sexual energy only movies in two directions, up or down". He means that it moves pretty much regardless of what you are doing, if its not moving "up" and being used in various activities or redirected in other ways, then it needs to move down and out. This is again just my personal opinion, I have no idea what a Buddhist lama would say about any of this.

Good luck!
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Re: Celibacy

Postby greentara » Sat Aug 03, 2013 9:45 am

wisdom, Thanks for your very interesting contribution but I'm not sure I entirely agree with the following statement 'All the child abuse that happens in the church is the result of sexual energies becoming twisted'
I don't believe celibacy has caused the priests to become twisted rather they gravitate to young boys, pastoral work and a teaching vocation that leads to them having lots of contact with children. We all know it as paedophilia. Criminologists note that married men also gravitate towards professions where they have lots of contact with the young and then can exploit with ease.
Osho certainly had lots of fascinating things to say about sex, he seemed to be able to talk the talk but was unable to live the teaching.
True celibacy happens when one is ripe and all desires just drop off. In the meantime most of us have to struggle for the teaching to blossom.
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