Moderator: Mahavihara moderator
I'd be interested in some perspectives on this topic as it relates to sex within a relationship.
It seems to me that devoted contemplation of the drawbacks of sensual pleasures and the rewards of renunciation could lead to arguments with one's partner
Lazy_eye wrote:This can be very helpful in containing one's free-floating lust, but what about the potential impact within a marriage? Practically speaking, I'm not sure how one can meditate on the filth and degradation of the body and then jump happily into the sack with the missus or hubby.
It seems to me that devoted contemplation of the drawbacks of sensual pleasures and the rewards of renunciation could lead to arguments with one's partner -- unless, of course, that person is also a Theravadin with similar goals.
Lazy_eye wrote:For now, though, I feel physical intimacy has its place within a loving, committed relationship (as does going to the movies). So I'm wondering how appropriate it is to pursue a spiritual training program aimed at eliminating desire.
Lazy_eye wrote:I don't aspire to eliminate sexual intimacy from our marriage, whether deliberately or as a natural byproduct of practice.
For now, though, I feel physical intimacy has its place within a loving, committed relationship (as does going to the movies). So I'm wondering how appropriate it is to pursue a spiritual training program aimed at eliminating desire.
Would it be better to concentrate on making merit for this and the next life? But we Westerners tend to be disatisfied with such a role, wanting instead the higher fruits of the practice -- and our worldly pleasures too.
Would it be better to concentrate on making merit for this and the next life?
Peter wrote:In other words, the practice is not "I will stop desire!" The practice is "I will learn to see clearly things I currently see with delusion."
Peter wrote: According to the Buddha, that is because you have not contemplated the drawbacks of sexual intimacy.
The practice isn't aimed at eliminating desire. The practice is aimed at revealing the drawbacks of the things you desire, with the result that when you clearly see the drawbacks you won't desire them any more. Do you understand the difference? In other words, the practice is not "I will stop desire!" The practice is "I will learn to see clearly things I currently see with delusion."
Once you do this, then I think you will no longer feel physical intimacy is a necessary part of a loving, committed relationship; you will have a better understanding of love and commitment.
We want higher fruits without realizing that higher fruits are not something we get, it's the result of giving things up. As long as one thinks in this way - wanting higher fruits without giving up worldly pleasures - we will not make any real progress on the path.
Perhaps. In the gradual training of the Buddha, first one learns about giving and generosity, then virtue and keeping precepts, then the drawbacks of worldly pleasures and the drawbacks of heavenly rebirths, and THEN the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. If one does not understand or accept the teachings on the drawbacks then perhaps one should focus on perfecting generosity and precepts and other such merit-making acts. It's really up to you whether you want to focus there or if you also want to try to contemplate the drawbacks.
Lazy_eye wrote:What I'm asking is whether contemplating the drawbacks is appropriate for someone who does not wish (for now) to abandon sexual intimacy.
Playing tennis well requires committment, dedication, enthusiasm and practice. Would it make sense, in this situation, to cultivate disenchantment with the sport?
If you decide to do something, you should put your heart into it.
if you think it unwholesome, you should abandon it. No?
If you're training to be a pianist, would you simultaneously do daily exercises that weaken the fingers?
I made the comment about Westerners to demonstrate a problem, not to defend this way of thinking.
I think this is probably what it comes down to. But in the West at least, the sequence seems to have fallen apart.In the gradual training of the Buddha...
I'm guessing that most of the non-celibates on this and other forums also practice insight meditation, study the sutras, reflect on the drawbacks of desire, etc. How do you do this and later cozy up for a nice snuggle? Isn't there a degree of cognitive dissonance?
A monk once pointed out that in the "east" people are first taught generosity as little children, learn about virtue as they get older, and then maybe once they are much much older do they consider meditating... while here is the "west" we sign up for meditation retreats, are surprised once we get there that we are expected to adhere to precepts, and on the way out we're given a talk on dana and shown where the donation box is. Completely backwards.
I guess my quick answer is there are times when desire for sensual pleasure arises and there are times when desire to contemplate teachings arises and I tend to indulge both whenever they arise. Maybe this isn't a fruitful way to practice? Maybe it is? Maybe it's a really slow way to practice? I don't know. I know I am a better person now that I was years ago. I know I have given things up along the way as I came to see the harm they caused. I guess I figure it's a gradual path and I'm moving at my own pace.
A lay person can enjoy sex from time to time, but it will inevitably lead to attachment, grief, and despair in the long term. It is therefore wise to treat it with respect, as one treats a fire in one’s own home.
Dan74 wrote:Do you really think so?A lay person can enjoy sex from time to time, but it will inevitably lead to attachment, grief, and despair in the long term.
Is it not conceivable that one can develop an attitude of giving in sexual conduct, where instead of craving and attachment, there is kindness and compassion for the other human being?
Peter wrote:Is it not conceivable that one can develop an attitude of giving in sexual conduct, where instead of craving and attachment, there is kindness and compassion for the other human being?
There may be kindness and compassion in addition to craving and attachment, but not instead of. In order for there to be an erection there must be lust. It's biological.
Dan74 wrote:Thank you for elucidating this.
I guess you know that Mahayana has quite a different approach to this, but it is not appropriate to share it in this subforum.