Mr Man wrote:Do you think that there is something intrinsically good in deliberately undertaken abstention from sex?
That’s what I take the Cūḷadhammasamādāna Sutta to be suggesting:
“And what, bhikkhus, is the way of undertaking things that is painful now (paccuppanna-dukkhaṃ) and ripens in the future as pleasure (āyatiṃ sukhavipākaṃ)? Here, bhikkhus, someone by nature has strong lust, and he constantly experiences pain and grief born of lust; by nature he has strong hate, and he constantly experiences pain and grief born of hate; by nature he has strong delusion, and he constantly experiences pain and grief born of delusion. Yet in pain and grief, weeping with tearful face, he leads the perfect and pure holy life. On the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a happy destination, even in the heavenly world. This is called the way of undertaking things that is painful now and ripens in the future as pleasure.”
If the living of the brahmacariyā, in spite of one’s “strong lust ... hate ... and delusion”, has rebirth in heaven as its vipāka, then it must be a kusala thing to do.
And why would that be?
When there arises an inclination to act that is grounded in lust, or any of the three unwholesome roots, but this inclination is overcome by a stronger one, such that one refrains from acting, then the counteractive cetanā will generate either sīlamaya puñña (in cases where the prior velleity was directed towards a transgressive act) or bhāvanāmaya puñña (in cases where the velleity was directed towards an act that whose unwholesomeness wouldn’t reach the level of moral transgression).
Does there reverse apply?
Is it intrinsically evil to have sex?
Sexual coupling is an act inseparable from defilement; that’s why it’s an impossible act for an arahant. If one is a non-brahmacarī householder but whose sex life is kept within the parameters of the third precept, then one may avoid kilesa at the morally transgressive level; nonetheless one’s couplings will unavoidably supply fuel to the anusaya kilesa of lust.
Having said that, the statement “Sex is intrinsically evil” is perhaps best avoided. Not because it’s actually wrong, but because ‘evil’ in everyday English usage is a rather strong word, making the statement a less than felicitous way of phrasing the position — one that may lead newcomers to mistake the Buddhist view of sex for that of the Manichaeans, Priscillianists, and suchlike.