Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Dhammanando
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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:39 pm

Concluding remarks on the article...
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:If you cannot do the real commitment and the consensual marriage thing, you still need the guardian's permission. Remember, if you are not ready to commit in this life, you might meet again in another life, and another and another.
I suppose you might. And at some time in the long round of saṃsāra you might also get to meet Archbishop Makarios or Aimee Semple McPherson or Dr. Wellington Koo or Moses or Napoleon or Cleopatra.

I take it, however, that you don’t mean anything quite as trivially true as that. Presumably you mean that there’s a good chance of its happening. But wouldn’t this be almost the opposite of what the Buddha taught Nakulapitā and his wife? To them the Buddha taught that getting reunited with one’s partner in the next life takes considerable effort and an equality in the couple’s moral and mental virtues. It also entails wanting to meet one’s loved one again:
“Householders, if both husband and wife wish to see one another not only in this present life but also in future lives, they should have the same faith, the same virtuous behaviour, the same generosity, and the same wisdom. Then they will see one another not only in this present life but also in future lives.”
But you seem to be saying that this will happen even with someone you’re just having a casual fling with and whom you don’t especially wish to meet again. To me this sounds more akin to the Christian doctrine expounded by C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape:
C.S. Lewis wrote:“The truth is that wherever a man lies with a woman, there, whether they like it or not, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured.”
(The Screwtape Letters, XVIII)
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:Restraint is always better than no restraint at all. A way around such an awkward question to the guardians is to have the woman ask the parents privately herself if she is granted her own sexual freedoms and control of her body. The man should get a recording of this so he knows for sure what was said by both parents. Does this sound a little creepy?
To me it sounds egregiously creepy.
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:After this freedom is granted, you will be following the precept according to specification. However, keep in mind that kamma and habitual kamma are always being generated.
A kamma of a particular type comes to be called ‘habitual’ only when it has been ‘accumulated’. It comes to be accumulated only through having been repeated both often and over a long duration. As such, it is not necessarily the case that habitual kamma is “always being generated.” It might be that a certain kind of kusala or akusala kamma is done frequently but only for a short duration, or is done over a long duration but only occasionally. Or it might be that someone’s actions over a long duration are too morally heterogeneous for any single one of them to stand out as ‘habitual’. It would be quite possible for someone to live a morally mediocre sort of life in which he didn’t accumulate any habitual kamma at all.

To summarise the conditions needed for the accumulation of habitual kamma:

On the akusala side:
1. One of the first nine of the unwholesome courses of action (akusala kammapatha).
2. Not weighty (i.e., not one of the five anantariyaka kammas or one of the wrong views of fixed outcome).
3. Performed frequently (abhiṇhaso kataṃ).
4. Performed for a long time (dīgharattaṃ kataṃ).

And on the kusala side:
1. One of the three or ten bases of merit (puññakiriyāvatthu).
2. Not weighty (i.e., in the case of bhāvanā it must fall short of the eight samāpattis)
3. Performed frequently (abhiṇhaso kataṃ).
4. Performed for a long time (dīgharattaṃ kataṃ).
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:Sexual behavior is very close to the animal realm. In fact, we have idioms and words depicting animal behavior for sex and sex organs, some which are quite crude. The mascot for Playboy has the iconic bunny ears. In the forests of Sri Lanka, you will inevitably see monkeys having sex to the point where it becomes clear that it is a distinctive animal behavior. If you wish to have "all the sex you can eat," you might end up as a monkey.
As I understand it, rebirth in the lower realms is due to the ripening of one or other of the ten akusala kammapathas. Sexual misconduct is one of the ten, but having too much sex is not. Having too much sex has a number of undesirable outcomes, such as the strengthening of the latent tendency to lust, but a bad rebirth isn’t claimed to be one of them.
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:So be careful for what you wish for. Suppose you are lucky to be human, but still wish for unlimited sex, in the next life you might be sold off as a trafficked child prostitute.
Getting reborn as a trafficked child prostitute would be the ripening of an akusalakamma patha, not the result of wishing for unlimited sex (unless of course you wished for unlimited sex with somebody else’s wife, in which case it would be the akusala kammapatha of covetousness).

Ambapālī, for example, was reborn as a trafficked child prostitute because of the vipāka of harsh speech: she is reported to have insulted an arahant bhikkhunī during the time of Sikhī Buddha. If someone wishes for unlimited sex and performs sufficient deeds of merit, then he may well get what he wants; if he neglects the deeds of merit, then he won’t, but his unfulfilled wish would not be the cause for any particular kind of rebirth because it wouldn’t amount to either an akusala kammapatha or a puññakiriyāvatthu.
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:There was once an ascetic named Puṇṇa who imitated dogs thinking it would lead to a favorable birth.
Puṇṇa imitated oxen; it was his companion Seniya who imitated dogs.
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:In Review:

You now know:


What the original rule completely says.
Yes.
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:How abstaining from sexual misconduct was applied for the past 2500 years (and much longer before that).
No. The article explains how it is understood by modern Burmese – an explanation that has altered the meaning of “protected by father, protected by mother…”
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:How things have changed only in the past 50 years since civilized human history.
Yes.
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:Habitual kamma and its effects for multiple lives.
The multi-life consequences from having multiple partners (soul mates) in this life.
The effects of a multi-life habit if consent from the partner and guardians is given.
These parts of the article aren’t explained very well because they conflate the distinction between habitual akusala kamma and non-kammic habitual behaviour. The subject of habitual kamma is better expounded in your teacher’s book, The Workings of Kamma. Although the sayadaw’s exposition is incomplete (e.g., he doesn’t state what conditions must obtain for any type of kamma to be called ‘habitual’) it is at least correct as far as it goes. I think your own is both incomplete and confused.
Ven. Subhūti's article wrote:I invite you to spread this word about sexual misconduct in your communities and to all you know. It is such a basic fundamental rule that is not being taught correctly. At a minimum, one should know how the rule is taught in Asia.
It’s taught in many different ways in Asia, even just within the Theravada countries. For example, in the popular understanding, the Thais, Laotians and Khmers don’t agree with the Burmese and the Sinhalese about whether homosexual acts transgress the precept.

But I expect by ‘Asia’ you mean ‘Myanmar’. How it’s being taught in Myanmar may be of some anthropological interest, but for a reliable understanding of how it was taught by the Buddha it’s important to look at how the texts define key terms like piturakkhitā, rather than just gullibly assuming that 21st century Burmese have got it right. With that in mind, let me conclude with the very earliest definition of this term:
Piturakkhitā nāma: pitā rakkhati gopeti issariyaṃ kāreti vasaṃ vatteti.

“Guarded by the father” means: the father guards, watches over and wields authority over her; he has her in his power.
(Vin. iii. 139)
Now when young Thin Thin is reading chemistry at Keble College, Oxford, while her daddy sits smoking cheroots in Mandalay, in what (uncontrived) sense can it possibly be said that the latter is guarding, watching over or wielding authority over his daughter?

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by TRobinson465 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:09 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:17 pm

Upon reflection, my new current view ('work in progress') is it is probably best to split unskilful sexual behaviour into two types: (i) sexual misconduct; and (ii) unskilful individual conduct. 'Sexual misconduct' as defined in the 3rd precept has a social or community dimension, namely, to not engage in sex in a manner that harms existing relationships (such as harming a husband & wife or parents & child relationship). 'Unskillful individual conduct' may not harm an existing relationship but because of having its root in mere lust & heedlessness leads to suffering or diminished personal growth in oneself or another individual. Something like this.
I would agree with this distinction. And agree with u that sex outside of marriage would be unskillful sexual behavior for the reasons I mentioned above, but not "technically" sexual misconduct because of the lack of evidence in the suttas.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:46 pm

TRobinson465 wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:09 pm
DooDoot wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:17 pm

Upon reflection, my new current view ('work in progress') is it is probably best to split unskilful sexual behaviour into two types: (i) sexual misconduct; and (ii) unskilful individual conduct. 'Sexual misconduct' as defined in the 3rd precept has a social or community dimension, namely, to not engage in sex in a manner that harms existing relationships (such as harming a husband & wife or parents & child relationship). 'Unskillful individual conduct' may not harm an existing relationship but because of having its root in mere lust & heedlessness leads to suffering or diminished personal growth in oneself or another individual. Something like this.
I would agree with this distinction. And agree with u that sex outside of marriage would be unskillful sexual behavior for the reasons I mentioned above, but not "technically" sexual misconduct because of the lack of evidence in the suttas.
Fair enough, but a significant problem which precludes any hard and fast rule here is the fact of marriage being a social construct which varies massively between cultures and over time. (The debate over "protected by parents" illustrates a similar problem.) In the case of the sex which might take place, we can be very clear about what we mean because the Buddha's descriptions of what is proscribed for monastics leave no room for doubt. But what is marriage? Is it what happens when the state performs a ceremony to mark a couple's being together? Or must a religion be involved? Or is it merely legal recognition, as in the status of "common law marriage"? Would a "civil partnership" in the UK also meet the criterion? Or merely social recognition, when a community acknowledges that a couple are man and wife? If so, then as per the original article, according to some viewpoints one may be temporarily "married" for the time it takes for the sexual liaison to be completed, including any associated financial transaction.

Consider the case of a (typical?) Western couple. They meet, are attracted, and have sex. Out of a desire to repeat this experience, they come to see themselves as a monogamous "couple" who are in a "relationship". Friends, and, later, family, gradually get used to seeing them in this way. They set up home together and acquire property jointly. In time (in the UK at least) they acquire legal rights regarding inheritance. They have children. Socially, they appear no different from the other middle-aged couples in their community who may or may not be formally married; nobody in the UK cares any more. Then they get married in a civil ceremony conducted by the state's registrar. To complete their journey, they have a religious ceremony in a church.

Regarding this couple, is there a point at which they become "married"? Is there a point at which their unskillful behaviour becomes skillful? Or is their life one slow trek towards increasing skillfulness? Are they always unskillful because (as per our contested interpretations of ancient Indian history) the woman was never formally handed over to her partner? The only certain thing is that at every stage of their partnership, someone somewhere would throw doubt on the fact of their being married. The Buddha doesn't appear to have acknowledged this cultural relativity in the suttas. This suggests that either he wasn't too bothered about the bearing of institutional marriage upon sexual morality; or that his thoughts on this are lost to us and we must do our best in piecing together our own viewpoint. It's significant that newcomers to our local monastery occasionally ask if they can be married there. They are told that there is no Buddhist marriage as such, but that the monks would be happy to bless whatever type of relationship they are in.

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by DooDoot » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:31 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:46 pm
Fair enough, but a significant problem which precludes any hard and fast rule here is the fact of marriage being a social construct which varies massively between cultures and over time.
"Marriage" is merely a sign of "commitment". "Commitment" is a primary sign of having compassion and consideration for the long-term welfare & happiness of another (because loss of partner can lead to rebirth in the hungry ghost, animal &/or hell realms). The suttas say in many places about various dhammas: "This will be for your long-term happiness & benefit". "Marriage" as a social contract would appear in itself insufficient in Buddhism because the marriage contract in itself can be a form of slavery, abuse, etc. Thus DN 31, AN 4.53, AN 4.55, AN 7.63, etc, refer to "suitable" spouses that share the same moral qualities. DN 31, AN 4.53, AN 4.55, AN 7.63, etc, bring a moral or spiritual dimension to what is biologically a sexual and reproductive arrangement

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Sam Vara
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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by Sam Vara » Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:07 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:31 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:46 pm
Fair enough, but a significant problem which precludes any hard and fast rule here is the fact of marriage being a social construct which varies massively between cultures and over time.
"Marriage" is merely a sign of "commitment". "Commitment" is a primary sign of having compassion and consideration for the long-term welfare & happiness of another (because loss of partner can lead to rebirth in the hungry ghost, animal &/or hell realms). The suttas say in many places about various dhammas: "This will be for your long-term happiness & benefit". "Marriage" as a social contract would appear in itself insufficient in Buddhism because the marriage contract in itself can be a form of slavery, abuse, etc. Thus DN 31, AN 4.53, AN 4.55, AN 7.63, etc, refer to "suitable" spouses that share the same moral qualities. DN 31, AN 4.53, AN 4.55, AN 7.63, etc, bring a moral or spiritual dimension to what is biologically a sexual and reproductive arrangement
Yes, this is one of those attempts to piece together a workable interpretation that I referred to earlier. There is, as far as I can remember, no sutta support for marriage merely being a form of commitment, and there is of course considerable cultural difference in terms of what that commitment means. Here's a counter-cultural version of what commitment looks like in the late 1960s!:
He had a new woman every five years
Faithful to each in her turn
They gave him children and time to smile
And he showed them all the love they could learn
(Jefferson Airplane "Look at the Wood")

But I agree with you that overall this approach fits in well with what the Buddha says elsewhere about our moral and spiritual well-being. It articulates nicely my own view, not to mention aspirations!

Many thanks. :anjali:

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by TRobinson465 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:59 pm

By marriage I mean official commitment. As it is indeed a social construct with no formal process for it in buddhism.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by pitakele » Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:04 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:17 pm

Upon reflection, my new current view ('work in progress') is it is probably best to split unskilful sexual behaviour into two types: (i) sexual misconduct; and (ii) unskilful individual conduct. 'Sexual misconduct' as defined in the 3rd precept has a social or community dimension, namely, to not engage in sex in a manner that harms existing relationships (such as harming a husband & wife or parents & child relationship). 'Unskillful individual conduct' may not harm an existing relationship but because of having its root in mere lust & heedlessness leads to suffering or diminished personal growth in oneself or another individual. Something like this.

A somewhat similar (but abridged) statement is in an article I posted earlier
pitakele wrote:
Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:33 am
from 'The Sexual Ethic of the Middle Way'

"Refraining from sexual misconduct basically means being responsible in sexual relationships so there is no harm to any party. A possible extended meaning could be stated as moderation and refinement in sexual conduct."
now here = nowhere

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by AgarikaJ » Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:58 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:46 pm
Regarding this couple, is there a point at which they become "married"? Is there a point at which their unskillful behaviour becomes skillful? Or is their life one slow trek towards increasing skillfulness? Are they always unskillful because (as per our contested interpretations of ancient Indian history) the woman was never formally handed over to her partner? The only certain thing is that at every stage of their partnership, someone somewhere would throw doubt on the fact of their being married.
The Buddha doesn't appear to have acknowledged this cultural relativity in the suttas. This suggests that either he wasn't too bothered about the bearing of institutional marriage upon sexual morality; or that his thoughts on this are lost to us and we must do our best in piecing together our own viewpoint. It's significant that newcomers to our local monastery occasionally ask if they can be married there. They are told that there is no Buddhist marriage as such, but that the monks would be happy to bless whatever type of relationship they are in.
It is without doubt though that there was a clearly defined 'marriage' at the time of the Buddha; the terms 'husband' and 'wife' are all over the Suttas and their responsibilities towards each other and how they should conduct their daily lives are quite concise.

One could believe now that marriage is clearly defined as 'marriage at it was handled then in a Northern Indian cultural context', or that marriage means that the wife has gone over from the care of her parents into that of her husband, or that we indeed have simply no transmission of the thoughts of the Buddha on it.

Maybe, discounting the option that we do not know what the Buddha would have prescribed as 'marriage', it might indeed not have mattered much to him. While advising how laymen should live harmonious and happy lives, his main concentration centered around the Sangha, where marriage is simply not happening.

Still, to my mind, it is wrong to say that there is no Buddhist marriage as such. The taking sole responsibility for the wife by the husband is the essential point in time, where this 'marriage in a Buddhist sense' starts; the Suttas do not make any ceremony necessary and we could discuss indeed, if the previous guardian(s) would have to hand her over formally or if their guardianship simply ends if and when they do not take proper care of her any more. But I have no doubt that this would be the most fitting deduction when reading the relevant Suttas.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by DooDoot » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:07 am

AgarikaJ wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:58 am
if the previous guardian(s) would have to hand her over formally or if their guardianship simply ends if and when they do not take proper care of her any more. But I have no doubt that this would be the most fitting deduction when reading the relevant Suttas.
I struggle to follow exactly what you intended to write above however I wish to add to the discussion that in the suttas we can find the ex-wife of bhikkhus living with the bhikkhu's ex-family (rather than returned to her parents), such as in the Ratthapala Sutta.

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by AgarikaJ » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:38 am

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:07 am
AgarikaJ wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:58 am
if the previous guardian(s) would have to hand her over formally or if their guardianship simply ends if and when they do not take proper care of her any more. But I have no doubt that this would be the most fitting deduction when reading the relevant Suttas.
I struggle to follow exactly what you intended to write above however I wish to add to the discussion that in the suttas we can find the ex-wife of bhikkhus living with the bhikkhu's ex-family (rather than returned to her parents), such as in the Ratthapala Sutta.
A good find.

I interpret this as the family of a Bikkhu taking responsibility/guardianship in his name for the wife he left behind to start his monastic life.

This shows that the Buddha had a preferred handling of a marriage situation (in this case its end), as soon as it intersected with the workings of the Sangha. As long as it happened only within the sphere of laymens' life, the Suttas merely mention that some marriages might not be 'successful', without going into any detail how a divorce would be handled procedurally.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

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Sam Vara
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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:27 am

AgarikaJ wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:58 am
It is without doubt though that there was a clearly defined 'marriage' at the time of the Buddha; the terms 'husband' and 'wife' are all over the Suttas and their responsibilities towards each other and how they should conduct their daily lives are quite concise.
Yes, that seems to be the case. The relevant point here, though, is that different cultures have a different conception of what marriage is, and so "getting married" is irrelevant except in so far as the couple are behaving ethically towards one another as per the Buddha's recommendations.
Maybe, discounting the option that we do not know what the Buddha would have prescribed as 'marriage', it might indeed not have mattered much to him.
Agreed. It certainly looks that way.
Still, to my mind, it is wrong to say that there is no Buddhist marriage as such. The taking sole responsibility for the wife by the husband is the essential point in time, where this 'marriage in a Buddhist sense' starts
I think this is deriving the concept of "Buddhist marriage" from "the type of marriage that the Buddha knew and commented on". They are very different. It would mean, for example, that (due to social and economic change which have changed the status of women) such a "Buddhist marriage" is now impossible for all but a tiny number of people still living in traditional patriarchies. As a householder, I don't take sole responsibility for my wife in the same way that I don't use sandalwood of Kasi, and deck myself with garlands, perfumes, and unguents. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nara.html

People, especially in the West, just don't do those things any more. I think that constructing an essentialist concept of "marriage" from historical evidence is chimerical. The Buddha spoke about the marriages he knew. Our job is certainly to act ethically within the marriages that we know, given that his knowledge of contemporary marriage is analogous to his knowledge of computers and cloning.

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by AgarikaJ » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:42 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:27 am
As a householder, I don't take sole responsibility for my wife in the same way that I don't use sandalwood of Kasi, and deck myself with garlands, perfumes, and unguents. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nara.html

People, especially in the West, just don't do those things any more. I think that constructing an essentialist concept of "marriage" from historical evidence is chimerical. The Buddha spoke about the marriages he knew. Our job is certainly to act ethically within the marriages that we know, given that his knowledge of contemporary marriage is analogous to his knowledge of computers and cloning.
I at least try to be a guardian to my wife in the sense that I understand it as primarily my responsibility to see that we do live a harmonious, good life where she would not need to have undue worries (financially and otherwise). She has the same aspiration in return, by the way.

And, to underline my point, it would have been very difficult for me to court her further if her parents would have shown displeasure in us being together as a couple (formally or otherwise, but I actually went to her parents and quite officially asked for their blessing, which was given).

Maybe I am unduly old-fashioned. But even though it might be less structured as it was at the time of the Buddha, I quite consciously have always tried 'to do right by her'.

I do understand that in today's modern world not all think like this and frankly, as I was much younger, I also might have worried little about my impression on parents; maybe it is an older, more settled life that affords me the luxury of such thoughts.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by DooDoot » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:53 am

AgarikaJ wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:38 am
This shows that the Buddha had a preferred handling of a marriage situation (in this case its end), as soon as it intersected with the workings of the Sangha.
Well, in the Ratthapala Sutta, the family & the wives appeared to despise the Sangha. It appears the wives living with the husband's family was unrelated to the Buddha. Maybe the wives, per their later behaviour, were waiting for their husband to disrobe & return home.

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Sam Vara
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Re: Theravada and Sex: Sexual Misconduct

Post by Sam Vara » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:56 am

AgarikaJ wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:42 am
I at least try to be a guardian to my wife in the sense that I understand it as primarily my responsibility to see that we do live a harmonious, good life where she would not need to have undue worries (financially and otherwise). She has the same aspiration in return, by the way.
Yes, that sounds like an excellent model, and I aspire to it myself. I think it is based on an application of wider ethical standards to the modern situation of marriage, though, rather than a recreation of what the Buddha knew about.
And, to underline my point, it would have been very difficult for me to court her further if her parents would have shown displeasure in us being together as a couple (formally or otherwise, but I actually went to her parents and quite officially asked for their blessing, which was given).
Lots of couples in the West don't have that luxury, so I guess the challenge is to apply the ethical standards to the new model of autonomous individuals that conditions our social relationships.
Maybe I am unduly old-fashioned. But even though it might be less structured as it was at the time of the Buddha, I quite consciously have always tried 'to do right by her'.
Yes, that's my main point here. The Buddha seems to have said more about ethics in the most general sense than he did about marriage as a specific social institution, and this is exacerbated by changing conceptions of what marriage is. The ethics, however, seem exempt from this change. I hope you yourself have a long and happy marriage, anyway! :anjali:

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