Should sex be demonized so much?

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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:54 am

Dan74 wrote:So it seems to me that celibacy or the talk of the unwholesomeness of sex is medicine that is not for common consumption. ...
But a foregone conclusion is rarely helpful in an honest inquiry that's why I agree with the OP that we should let go of the aversion, and indeed of all views regarding sex, as much as we can, and investigate honestly and openly.

Hi, Dan,
You might like this, then:
Walshe wrote:Total sexual control in the sense of perfect abstinence is quite obviously only for the few. It is perhaps one mistake of the Roman Catholic Church that it seeks to impose this discipline on too many people and too absolutely, as some Catholics now recognize. ...

Now there are various possible ways of controlling the sex-urge, some bad, some good. One is through fear: fear of hell fire, fear of venereal diseases, and so on. This is of course not a particularly good way, though it can certainly work, and is perhaps not always wholly harmful. After all, there can be various unfortunate consequences of intercourse and we should be aware of them. Even rebirth in some very unpleasant "hell-state" is not necessarily a complete fantasy. But of course an exaggerated fear of dreadful penalties for minor transgressions is not psychologically very helpful.

That's from Buddhism and Sex on ATI - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/walshe/wheel225.html
The language is a bit old-fashioned but the whole thing is, IMO, sensible and very pertinent to the OP.

:namaste:
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Re: Should Demons be Sexed so much?

Postby Alex123 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:11 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:I would agree with, "we should probably keep in mind that like many other activities we partake in as lay Buddhists, it isn't the best use of our time,"


Right. There are much better things to do, like meditating and contemplating Dhamma.

Kim O'Hara wrote: but, with due respect to Bhikkhu Pesala, I can't agree with, "It is not possible to engage in or even to think about enjoying sex without an unwholesome mind rooted in greed." If we accept that proposition, where does it lead?


Less complications.

Kim O'Hara wrote:Sex is a natural biological drive which we have inherited from every single one of our ancestors right back to the beginning of sexual reproduction - all the way back to the little animals swimming in prehistoric oceans, eating, avoiding predators and mating. If any single one of yours had failed to breed, you wouldn't be here now to read this.


This is why it is so hard to remove sexual desire, and why we may require such strong and shocking measures (asubha, etc). Sexual desire is one of the strongest instincts. Of course contemplation on repulsiveness is not for aversion but to stop such strong instinct for reproduction.


Kim O'Hara wrote:Denying the drive is as difficult and pointless as denying hunger.


If you deny hunger and don't eat, eventually you will die.
You will not die from not having sex.

Kim O'Hara wrote:IMO, sexual activity within its proper bounds is a perfectly natural and wholesome part of the lay life.


It is perfectly natural and normal for a normal person, not for a person trying one's best for nibbana.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Dan74 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:22 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Dan74 wrote:So it seems to me that celibacy or the talk of the unwholesomeness of sex is medicine that is not for common consumption. ...
But a foregone conclusion is rarely helpful in an honest inquiry that's why I agree with the OP that we should let go of the aversion, and indeed of all views regarding sex, as much as we can, and investigate honestly and openly.

Hi, Dan,
You might like this, then:
Walshe wrote:Total sexual control in the sense of perfect abstinence is quite obviously only for the few. It is perhaps one mistake of the Roman Catholic Church that it seeks to impose this discipline on too many people and too absolutely, as some Catholics now recognize. ...

Now there are various possible ways of controlling the sex-urge, some bad, some good. One is through fear: fear of hell fire, fear of venereal diseases, and so on. This is of course not a particularly good way, though it can certainly work, and is perhaps not always wholly harmful. After all, there can be various unfortunate consequences of intercourse and we should be aware of them. Even rebirth in some very unpleasant "hell-state" is not necessarily a complete fantasy. But of course an exaggerated fear of dreadful penalties for minor transgressions is not psychologically very helpful.

That's from Buddhism and Sex on ATI - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/walshe/wheel225.html
The language is a bit old-fashioned but the whole thing is, IMO, sensible and very pertinent to the OP.

:namaste:
Kim


Thanks, Kim. Sounds like a well-balanced and insightful essay to me.

The only thing I find missing from this approach (if anything) is an emphasis on a very deep commitment to the Dhamma, what in Mahayana is called Bodhicitta. Without it, without a radical reorientation, there can be no true insight and no eradication of defilements. Like Jesus said you cannot serve both God and Mamon (money), so we cannot be committed to the Dhamma and to worldly comforts and pleasures at the same time. This is not to say, reject them, don't enjoy them, but to reject them as the prime motivator, and ultimately reject them as important at all. Or so it seems to me now.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby manas » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:03 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Hanzze wrote:§ Once, when one of Ajaan Fuang's students was being pressured by her parents to look for a husband so that she could settle down and have children, she asked him, "Is it true what they say, that a woman gains a lot of merit in having a child, in that she gives someone else the chance to be born?"

"If that were true," he answered her, "then dogs would get gobs of merit, because they give birth to whole litters at a time."

That fits perfectly with the life-denying, life-hating views which are found within both Christianity and Buddhism but not - so far as I know - in the direct teachings of either founder.

:namaste:
Kim

(edited for clarity)


It's always problematic when we take a single little quote and extrapolate wider things from it. But while we are on this, maybe having kids is morally neutral, it's how you raise them that counts. One can be a kind and loving parent, or a mean and cold one. Each option would have a different kammic outcome. Just as sex in the context of a loving relationship with one woman must have a different kammic result to meaningless, exploitative one-night-stands taken for pleasure alone. imo.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Hanzze » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:08 am

Very creative :smile:
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:19 am

Dan74 wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, Dan,
You might like this, then:
Walshe wrote:Total sexual control in the sense of perfect abstinence is quite obviously only for the few. It is perhaps one mistake of the Roman Catholic Church that it seeks to impose this discipline on too many people and too absolutely, as some Catholics now recognize. ...

Now there are various possible ways of controlling the sex-urge, some bad, some good. One is through fear: fear of hell fire, fear of venereal diseases, and so on. This is of course not a particularly good way, though it can certainly work, and is perhaps not always wholly harmful. After all, there can be various unfortunate consequences of intercourse and we should be aware of them. Even rebirth in some very unpleasant "hell-state" is not necessarily a complete fantasy. But of course an exaggerated fear of dreadful penalties for minor transgressions is not psychologically very helpful.

That's from Buddhism and Sex on ATI - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/walshe/wheel225.html
The language is a bit old-fashioned but the whole thing is, IMO, sensible and very pertinent to the OP.

:namaste:
Kim


Thanks, Kim. Sounds like a well-balanced and insightful essay to me.

The only thing I find missing from this approach (if anything) is an emphasis on a very deep commitment to the Dhamma, what in Mahayana is called Bodhicitta. Without it, without a radical reorientation, there can be no true insight and no eradication of defilements. Like Jesus said you cannot serve both God and Mamon (money), so we cannot be committed to the Dhamma and to worldly comforts and pleasures at the same time. This is not to say, reject them, don't enjoy them, but to reject them as the prime motivator, and ultimately reject them as important at all. Or so it seems to me now.

Hi, Dan,
You are right, of course, that "an emphasis on a very deep commitment to the Dhamma" is missing. But, to me, most of our "demonisation of sex" arises from confusion over the relationship between the level of our commitment to the Dhamma and our response to the normal elements of lay life - including, most problematically, sex.
At one extreme we have the bhikkhu (or the Christian monk), who has renounced everything which does not assist progress on the path. At the other, we have the hedonistic, materialistic householder with a purely nominal attachment to Buddhism or Christianity. Most of us here on DW are somewhere in between. Where I think we fall over ourselves is that we are inclined to idealise monastic levels of renunciation while living lives which do not and cannot allow us to achieve such levels.
Putting it even more plainly than Walshe did, monastics renounce sexual activity, difficult though that is, because their whole focus should be on the dhamma; but lay people should not normally be expected to because it is really difficult in even the best of circumstances (i.e. monastery life or seclusion).
Perhaps we in the west need to move towards the more, let's say, approachable Buddhism of lay people in traditionally Buddhist societies: try to be good people, live a full life, support the sangha and visit the wat regularly, and maybe give more emphasis to the Dhamma in retirement when we have the time for it.

:namaste:
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Hanzze » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:39 am

The post from Bhikkhu Pesala (for expamle) was not a glorification of Monkhood, but a kind of glorification of a "perfect" layman (if you have read the link he provided), better a way of perfect acting for one who leads a houselife.
I guess that the hindrence is found somewhere else. Assumed aversion is often simply selfmade, sometimes we fear to lose something.

Do good is much more importand as to try to be good. Fear of being not good is also not needed while fear of doing not good is importand.

There is no such thing as a good person or bad person, a good Buddhist or a bad Buddhist. There are unwholesome and wholesome deed. One after the other.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:56 pm

Sex should not be demonized, but should be seen for what it is and seen as an obstacle to the path.

"This body comes into being through sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is to be abandoned. With regard to sexual intercourse, the Buddha declares the cutting off of the bridge. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Mr Man » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:06 pm

Alex123 wrote:Sex should not be demonized, but should be seen for what it is and seen as an obstacle to the path.


Along with all the other obstacles (like eating toffee).
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:20 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Sex should not be demonized, but should be seen for what it is and seen as an obstacle to the path.


Along with all the other obstacles (like eating toffee).


toffee or coffee? Coffee can help, sex just gives too many complications and for much longer time.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Mr Man » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:48 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Sex should not be demonized, but should be seen for what it is and seen as an obstacle to the path.


Along with all the other obstacles (like eating toffee).


toffee or coffee? Coffee can help, sex just gives too many complications and for much longer time.


Toffee. Not sure if we could really say Coffee is an aid liberation though, if that is what you meant.

Sex certainly has the potential for creating long term commitments.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:25 pm

Mr Man wrote:Sex certainly has the potential for creating long term commitments.


Long term commitment can result in long term problems that distract from meditating and contemplating Dhamma.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Mr Man » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:45 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Sex certainly has the potential for creating long term commitments.


Long term commitment can result in long term problems that distract from meditating and contemplating Dhamma.


Long term commitment can also result in long term opportunity for meditating and contemplating Dhamma.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Alex123 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:25 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Sex certainly has the potential for creating long term commitments.


Long term commitment can result in long term problems that distract from meditating and contemplating Dhamma.


Long term commitment can also result in long term opportunity for meditating and contemplating Dhamma.



The more one is busy with a partner, the less time one has to read and contemplate Dhamma.


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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:48 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
Kim wrote:That's from Buddhism and Sex on ATI - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/walshe/wheel225.html
The language is a bit old-fashioned but the whole thing is, IMO, sensible and very pertinent to the OP.

:namaste:
Kim


Thanks, Kim. Sounds like a well-balanced and insightful essay to me.

The only thing I find missing from this approach (if anything) is an emphasis on a very deep commitment to the Dhamma, what in Mahayana is called Bodhicitta. Without it, without a radical reorientation, there can be no true insight and no eradication of defilements. Like Jesus said you cannot serve both God and Mamon (money), so we cannot be committed to the Dhamma and to worldly comforts and pleasures at the same time. This is not to say, reject them, don't enjoy them, but to reject them as the prime motivator, and ultimately reject them as important at all. Or so it seems to me now.

Hi, Dan,
You are right, of course, that "an emphasis on a very deep commitment to the Dhamma" is missing. But, to me, most of our "demonisation of sex" arises from confusion over the relationship between the level of our commitment to the Dhamma and our response to the normal elements of lay life - including, most problematically, sex.
At one extreme we have the bhikkhu (or the Christian monk), who has renounced everything which does not assist progress on the path. At the other, we have the hedonistic, materialistic householder with a purely nominal attachment to Buddhism or Christianity. Most of us here on DW are somewhere in between. Where I think we fall over ourselves is that we are inclined to idealise monastic levels of renunciation while living lives which do not and cannot allow us to achieve such levels.
Putting it even more plainly than Walshe did, monastics renounce sexual activity, difficult though that is, because their whole focus should be on the dhamma; but lay people should not normally be expected to because it is really difficult in even the best of circumstances (i.e. monastery life or seclusion).
Perhaps we in the west need to move towards the more, let's say, approachable Buddhism of lay people in traditionally Buddhist societies: try to be good people, live a full life, support the sangha and visit the wat regularly, and maybe give more emphasis to the Dhamma in retirement when we have the time for it.

:namaste:
Kim


Kim, I think this is one way to go but not the only way.

In my tradition there were examples of highly realized laypeople and I believe it is possible to practice with a great deal of intensity while being a lay person and attain liberation or at least get close.

I also recall a poster at the old E-Sangha who had spent years at the Zen monastery on Mt Baldy and then after leaving maintained a 6-hour a day meditation practice while holding down an important job and a family. I am sure his prior training at Mt Baldy helped.

Mindfulness and some breath awareness can be extended into every moment of the day like Thich Nhat Hanh taught. And the challenges furnished by laylife are great for cultivating the Brahmaviharas of course (as you also suggest).

But regardless I think the only place we can practice is exactly where we are and with what we have. Other notions can be helpful so far as challenging the notions we hold on to, but if they become the new attachments, they just stand in the way.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:08 am

Dan74 wrote:Kim, I think this is one way to go but not the only way. ...

Agreed.
So long as we all remember that 'one size fits all' is not the case here, everyone is okay.
To return to the OP: demonisation of sex, i.e., literally, making it out to be unequivocally bad. IMO, the demonisation is unequivocally bad but (depending always on one's situation and aspirations) sex is not unequivocally bad.

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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Hanzze » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:05 am

Right, just unwholesome, or call it unskillful. Can we live with just unskillful? That is not bad, isn't it?

If one is not able to cook, he/she is not bad. He/she just did not learn it jet.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:09 am

I thought you were in a relationship, Hanzze?

I think it can be very skillful to make love to your partner. It can be a warm and a compassionate act. Or do you think it is best to just say "I am not going to indulge your need for physical intimacy any longer. It is just a fetter and you should free yourself from it"?

The skillful way, as I see it, does not deal in absolutes, but in the right approach to every situation, to every individual, including ourselves.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby manas » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:12 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:At one extreme we have the bhikkhu (or the Christian monk), who has renounced everything which does not assist progress on the path. At the other, we have the hedonistic, materialistic householder with a purely nominal attachment to Buddhism or Christianity. Most of us here on DW are somewhere in between. Where I think we fall over ourselves is that we are inclined to idealise monastic levels of renunciation while living lives which do not and cannot allow us to achieve such levels.


That bit I bolded caused me alot of trouble over the years. Trying hard to 'eliminate' sexual desire, trying to be as celibate as a monk is, but while living the life of a layman. Sometimes having to look down so as to avoid the eyes of attractive women, so that I would not get aroused, while out shopping etc. Antisocial stuff like that. I don't bother with it now. I look at women in the eyes now, and to be honest, I'm 'flaring up' with desire less than before, when I used to 'declare war on lust'. Just because a woman looks at me and smiles, doesn't mean I have to call the SAS. Sometimes, when we fight something, we only strengthen it.

I'm finding that looking at women as human beings, trying to understand them (not that I ever really will, though ;) ) is doing more to get a measure of control over lust, than my previous method of trying to not look at them at all. This is a phase I'm going through, I know. I'm not recommending it for everyone, I'm just saying that as a layman, I've accepted where I'm at: not as yet ready to give up all sex life, but certainly wanting to be regulated about it, with the ultimate goal of reducing the fever and attachment to it; but realistically, not in an idealized and artificial way that only makes me neurotic.

_/I\_
Last edited by manas on Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Postby Hanzze » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:17 am

Dan74 wrote:The skillful way, as I see it, does not deal in absolutes, but in the right approach to every situation, to every individual, including ourselves.


If someone does expect something of cause, very needed. Maybe the problem is "skillful in regard of what?" I guess that is why the precepts have been given very simple and just to keep, one after the other, step by step.
We do not understand skillful, wholesome, "good" as long as we are not aware of the base, the roots of unskinfull acts. We are not easy aware of our attentions at all having not eager worked on being mindful in observing just what was taught to be skillful..
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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