Sexual Misconduct

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Sexual Misconduct

Postby DonnieRage » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:45 am

Would/could masturbation be considered misconduct? If not, is pornography? And if two consenting partners partake in extreme fetishes (bdsm, urination, etc), is this misconduct? I tend to feel like attachment is the real issue, as there always seems to be attachment involved in intimacy, but should one (a layperson like myself) be willing to forsake intimacy to achieve non-attachment? Or could one seek to learn non-attachment and still be involved in monogamous or even poly-amorous relationships?
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Re: Sexual Misconduct

Postby Jhana4 » Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:56 am

Good questions.

Sexuality is more highly regulated for monks.

As far as lay followers go I understand sexual misconduct as advising people to avoid sex with people who are not consenting adults, people who are already in a relationship, people who are in a marriage, people who are monks or nuns or people who are adults but who can't be fully consenting because of a mental handicapp, who would be taken advantage of.

I have neve seen specifics about particular sexual acts.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Re: Sexual Misconduct

Postby Jason » Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:34 pm

DonnieRage wrote:Would/could masturbation be considered misconduct? If not, is pornography? And if two consenting partners partake in extreme fetishes (bdsm, urination, etc), is this misconduct? I tend to feel like attachment is the real issue, as there always seems to be attachment involved in intimacy, but should one (a layperson like myself) be willing to forsake intimacy to achieve non-attachment? Or could one seek to learn non-attachment and still be involved in monogamous or even poly-amorous relationships?


I'd say no. In my opinion, the precept against sexual misconduct itself isn't about attachment so much as it's about preventing harm to oneself and others. Misconduct is any sexual conduct that involves violence, manipulation, and/or deceit, and it specifically includes sex with "those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma [i.e., monastics who have taken vows of celibacy]; those with husbands [or wives], those who entail punishments [i.e., those protected by law, such as if they're underage], or even those crowned with flowers by another man [i.e., engaged]" (MN 41). While Buddhism does ultimately encourage the renunciation of sensual pleasures in exchange for higher and more blameless forms of happiness, sex in itself isn't a violation of the third lay-precept. If people are enjoying a consensual and pleasurable sexual relationship, even if it includes fetish play or the exchange of money, that's not misconduct in my book. Neither is masturbation.
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: Sexual Misconduct

Postby Aloka » Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:53 pm

Hi Donnie,

This is what Bhikkhu Bodhi had to say about it:



3) Abstaining from sexual misconduct (kamesu miccha-cara veramani)

He avoids sexual misconduct and abstains from it. He has no intercourse with such persons as are still under the protection of father, mother, brother, sister or relatives, nor with married women, nor with female convicts, nor lastly, with betrothed girls.[32]

The guiding purposes of this precept, from the ethical standpoint, are to protect marital relations from outside disruption and to promote trust and fidelity within the marital union. From the spiritual standpoint it helps curb the expansive tendency of sexual desire and thus is a step in the direction of renunciation, which reaches its consummation in the observance of celibacy (brahmacariya) binding on monks and nuns. But for laypeople the precept enjoins abstaining from sexual relations with an illicit partner. The primary transgression is entering into full sexual union, but all other sexual involvements of a less complete kind may be considered secondary infringements.

The main question raised by the precept concerns who is to count as an illicit partner. The Buddha's statement defines the illicit partner from the perspective of the man, but later treatises elaborate the matter for both sexes.[33]

For a man, three kinds of women are considered illicit partners:

(1) A woman who is married to another man. This includes, besides a woman already married to a man, a woman who is not his legal wife but is generally recognized as his consort, who lives with him or is kept by him or is in some way acknowledged as his partner. All these women are illicit partners for men other than their own husbands. This class would also include a woman engaged to another man. But a widow or divorced woman is not out of bounds, provided she is not excluded for other reasons.

(2) A woman still under protection. This is a girl or woman who is under the protection of her mother, father, relatives, or others rightfully entitled to be her guardians. This provision rules out elopements or secret marriages contrary to the wishes of the protecting party.

(3) A woman prohibited by convention. This includes close female relatives forbidden as partners by social tradition, nuns and other women under a vow of celibacy, and those prohibited as partners by the law of the land.

From the standpoint of a woman, two kinds of men are considered illicit partners:

(1) For a married woman any man other than her husband is out of bounds. Thus a married woman violates the precept if she breaks her vow of fidelity to her husband. But a widow or divorcee is free to remarry.

(2) For any woman any man forbidden by convention, such as close relatives and those under a vow of celibacy, is an illicit partner.

Besides these, any case of forced, violent, or coercive sexual union constitutes a transgression. But in such a case the violation falls only on the offender, not on the one compelled to submit.

The positive virtue corresponding to the abstinence is, for laypeople, marital fidelity. Husband and wife should each be faithful and devoted to the other, content with the relationship, and should not risk a breakup to the union by seeking outside partners. The principle does not, however, confine sexual relations to the marital union. It is flexible enough to allow for variations depending on social convention. The essential purpose, as was said, is to prevent sexual relations which are hurtful to others. When mature independent people, though unmarried, enter into a sexual relationship through free consent, so long as no other person is intentionally harmed, no breach of the training factor is involved.

Ordained monks and nuns, including men and women who have undertaken the eight or ten precepts, are obliged to observe celibacy. They must abstain not only from sexual misconduct, but from all sexual involvements, at least during the period of their vows. The holy life at its highest aims at complete purity in thought, word, and deed, and this requires turning back the tide of sexual desire


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html#ch3



With kind wishes,

Aloka
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Re: Sexual Misconduct

Postby Mkoll » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:12 pm

DonnieRage wrote:Would/could masturbation be considered misconduct? If not, is pornography? And if two consenting partners partake in extreme fetishes (bdsm, urination, etc), is this misconduct? I tend to feel like attachment is the real issue, as there always seems to be attachment involved in intimacy, but should one (a layperson like myself) be willing to forsake intimacy to achieve non-attachment? Or could one seek to learn non-attachment and still be involved in monogamous or even poly-amorous relationships?


Perhaps under the precept itself, there is no breaking. But the pertinent issue is whether this leads towards the end of suffering, or towards more suffering. The third fetter is "attachment to rites and rituals". I see the 5 precepts as falling under this category. Using them as a support to excuse habits one has doubts over is something that one should investigate fully.

May you be well,

:namaste:

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Re: Sexual Misconduct

Postby ricebowl » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:15 pm

DonnieRage wrote:Would/could masturbation be considered misconduct? If not, is pornography? And if two consenting partners partake in extreme fetishes (bdsm, urination, etc), is this misconduct? I tend to feel like attachment is the real issue, as there always seems to be attachment involved in intimacy, but should one (a layperson like myself) be willing to forsake intimacy to achieve non-attachment? Or could one seek to learn non-attachment and still be involved in monogamous or even poly-amorous relationships?

Again I could be wrong, any form of a sexual behaviour is in itself closer to the behaviour of an animal than that of a noble being. Buddhism in itself is already offering a pretty compassionate doctrine in the sense that it offers one the view that animals are animals while humans are humans, separating them into two realms of existence. As an adolescent attending my first science classes in elementary school the UK system I grew up with had categorised both animals and humans as a collective species known as animals, while certain animals are likened to humans as well being mammalian.

In other words, the birds and insects lay eggs, it isn't that they forgot to obey the precepts, the point is that direct sexual conduct ain't applicable as per their anatomies in the first place. The Buddha often spoke about additional types of birth from moisture and birth from manifestation, i.e. there are "such beings", again in the absence of reproductive organs, direct sexual conduct ain't applicable once again.

It brings the matter of the third precept down to humans, and mammals. That's just one way to look at it, ain't exhaustive. In order to discourse about sexual misconduct, first of all one might reconcile what proper sexual conduct is. Proper sexual conduct involves sentient procreation obligations/aspirations and it's as simplistic as that. Or better still, within shades of grey, "as accorded by the law of the time", I never figured that one out myself though.

:meditate: An undergrad used to suggest a decade ago, that he had to first lust over his romantic date before he could decide to engage in a intimate relationship with her on a proper social ettiquette. I said that was fair, ain't perfect as a dhamma or as an emotion, still that was fair.

I wouldn't recommend anything else under the sun than condoms when it involves guys though. As for girls, I wouldn't propose anything else apart from sanitary pads.
Oh yeah, be polite.
Say sorry.
Say excuse me.

Thank you's are fine imho.
I love you's are appropriate at the right occasion iirc.
As per will you marry me's, I am still working on it myself.

Namaste _/|\_
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