Dan74 wrote: Kim O'Hara wrote:
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/auth ... el225.html
The language is a bit old-fashioned but the whole thing is, IMO, sensible and very pertinent to the OP.
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.
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.