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Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 9:09 am
by KiwiNFLFan
Is it considered sexual misconduct for lay Buddhists to look at pornography? I think it would be sexual misconduct (and wrong livelihood) to perform in or produce it, but then lay Buddhists are permitted to eat meat (unless it was specially killed for them) while working in the meat industry is forbidden for them. Does looking at/watching pornography fall into the same situation? And does it matter if you're just looking at pictures of naked people rather than actual sex acts?

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 9:27 am
by JamesTheGiant
KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 9:09 am
Is it considered sexual misconduct for lay Buddhists to look at pornography? I think it would be sexual misconduct (and wrong livelihood) to perform in or produce it, but then lay Buddhists are permitted to eat meat (unless it was specially killed for them)
No, sexual misconduct only refers to things like rape, and having sex with people you shouldn't, like other people's spouses or people under the protection of someone else. Even making hard-core porn with consenting adults would not be sexual misconduct.
Porn and all kinds of masturbation are not sexual misconduct. But they might not be skilful actions, for sure.

Also, about the meat eating, that's a rule for monks and nuns, not laypeople.

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 9:45 am
by Sam Vara
KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 9:09 am
Is it considered sexual misconduct for lay Buddhists to look at pornography?
As James says, it doesn't break the precept about sexual misconduct. I would, however, urge people to think about what type of effect it has on their mind if they watch it. I would also encourage people to think about it in terms of the dhamma and their aspirations for liberation. Does it appear to be wholesome? Is it guarding the sense doors, or the reverse? Is it likely to bring about greater freedom, or more compulsion? And so on...

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 9:47 am
by rightviewftw
Sam Vara wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 9:45 am
KiwiNFLFan wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 9:09 am
Is it considered sexual misconduct for lay Buddhists to look at pornography?
As James says, it doesn't break the precept about sexual misconduct. I would, however, urge people to think about what type of effect it has on their mind if they watch it. I would also encourage people to think about it in terms of the dhamma and their aspirations for liberation. Does it appear to be wholesome? Is it guarding the sense doors, or the reverse? Is it likely to bring about greater freedom, or more compulsion? And so on...
In general if you wouldn't do something in public or in front of your parents it is probably unwholesome:P

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 10:04 am
by SarathW
If you observe the eight precepts you are not expected to watch pornography.

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 5:03 pm
by Dhammarakkhito
"And how is one made impure in three ways by bodily action? There is the case where a certain person takes life, is a hunter, bloody-handed, devoted to killing & slaying, showing no mercy to living beings. He takes what is not given. He takes, in the manner of a thief, things in a village or a wilderness that belong to others and have not been given by them. He engages in sensual misconduct. He gets sexually involved with those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma; those with husbands, those who entail punishments, or even those crowned with flowers by another man. This is how one is made impure in three ways by bodily action.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
james, how do you arrive at the inclusion of rape by that precept

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 7:10 pm
by Clarence
Probably not a transgression in the literal sense. But, research a little more about what goes on behind the scenes and you will want to stay away.

There is this site, yourbrainonporn which does a good job explaining why it might not be the most beneficial thing for you anyway.

At the same time, feeling guilty about it won't help you either.

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 8:17 pm
by JamesTheGiant
Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 5:03 pm
"And how is one made impure in three ways by bodily action? There is the case where a certain person takes life, is a hunter, bloody-handed, devoted to killing & slaying, showing no mercy to living beings. He takes what is not given. He takes, in the manner of a thief, things in a village or a wilderness that belong to others and have not been given by them. He engages in sensual misconduct. He gets sexually involved with those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma; those with husbands, those who entail punishments, or even those crowned with flowers by another man. This is how one is made impure in three ways by bodily action.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
james, how do you arrive at the inclusion of rape by that precept
The precept is
"Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami"
"I undertake the course of training in refraining from wrong-doing in respect of sensuality."
This covers lots of things really, not just the Anguttara Nikaya quote. I was reading some commentary somewhere, and it suggested the precept would change meaning for different cultures, so sexual misconduct is relative and changing.
So maybe masturbation could be sexual misconduct! Hmm, interesting. I gotta think about this some more.
Good point Dhammarakkhito, I had not previously thought of what you mentioned.

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Thu May 17, 2018 10:55 am
by malunkyaputta
My two cents:

I assume that by looking at pornography you are also encouraging the porn industry, which is, as far as I know, exploiting young woman, using them, pushing them (though not intentionally) to substance-abuse like drugs and alcohol etc...
so, yes, you got it right when you said that working in that industry is wrong livelihood, but also consuming the fruits of that industry is considered supporting it.
.
Aside from that - I would suggest that it strengthens your habit of attachment for sensual pleasures, inappropriate attention to the attractive, etc...
.
You can also use the opportunity to look inside and understand whether what you're feeling is a real urge (which also passes), or only stress/boredom/loneliness/sadness/whatever that causes you to want to escape from it via porn.

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 9:10 pm
by cappuccino
the problem with porn is how disgusting and foul it is

it truly is offensive

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 11:42 pm
by JamesTheGiant
cappuccino wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 9:10 pm
the problem with porn is how disgusting and foul it is

it truly is offensive
Hundreds of millions of people (mostly men) think it is beautiful and attractive, and are not offended by it at all.
But maybe your statement was simply expressing a personal opinion, or coming at it from an ariyan perspective, in that all sensual indulgence and human bodies are disgusting and foul.

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Sat May 19, 2018 12:06 am
by cappuccino
Monks, there are these four perversions of perception, perversions of mind, perversions of view.

Perceiving constancy in the inconstant,
pleasure in the stressful,
self in what's not-self,
attractiveness in the unattractive


Vipallasa Sutta: Perversions

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Sat May 26, 2018 3:20 pm
by DC2R
In short, no. Looking at pornography is not considered sexual misconduct.

There was little to no pornography in the Buddha's time, so it makes sense that there is no reference to it in the precepts or suttas. However, a specific reference is unnecessary to understand what the Buddhist view towards pornography is.

One can easily see that pornography and Taṇhā ("thirst, desire, longing, greed", either physical or mental) go hand in hand. I will let someone else elaborate on the details.

In the second Noble Truth, Taṇhā is one of the causes of dukkha.
"Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to re-becoming, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for becoming, craving for disbecoming.
So, for someone who wishes to break out of the cycle of saṃsāra, it is clear that pornography is not helpful.

Re: Is looking at pornography considered sexual misconduct?

Posted: Sun May 27, 2018 4:35 am
by DooDoot
Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 5:03 pm
He engages in sensual misconduct. He gets sexually involved with those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

james, how do you arrive at the inclusion of rape by that precept

How? The precept says to not have sex with girls until their parents arrange their marriage. When I lived in Thailand, I was told, in Buddhism, a girl can only have sex with her husband. This obviously prohibits rape, pornography & casual sex that leads to abortions. The Commentary says:

Māturakkhitātiādīsu yaṃ pitari naṭṭhe vā mate vā ghāsacchādanādīhi paṭijaggamānā, vayapattaṃ kulaghare dassāmīti mātā rakkhati, ayaṃ māturakkhitā nāma. Etenupāyena piturakkhitādayopi veditabbā. Sabhāgakulāni pana kucchigatesupi gabbhesu katikaṃ karonti – ‘‘sace mayhaṃ putto hoti, tuyhaṃ dhītā, aññattha gantuṃ na labhissati, mayhaṃ puttasseva hotū’’ti. Evaṃ gabbhepi pariggahitā sassāmikā nāma. ‘‘Yo itthannāmaṃ itthiṃ gacchati, tassa ettako daṇḍo’’ti evaṃ gāmaṃ vā gehaṃ vā vīthiṃ vā uddissa ṭhapitadaṇḍā, pana saparidaṇḍānāma. Antamaso mālāguṇaparikkhittāpīti yā sabbantimena paricchedena, ‘‘esā me bhariyā bhavissatī’’ti saññāya tassā upari kenaci mālāguṇaṃ khipantena mālāguṇamattenāpi parikkhittā hoti.


In the case where the father is gone, or the mother provides support such as food and clothing, the mother guards [her] thinking "I will give [her] to a good family when she comes of age." This is called "protected by the mother". By the same means "protected by the father", etc., should be understood.

When families come together and, even when the fetuses have just reached the womb, make an agreement - "If I have a son and you a daughter, let there be no getting to go to another; let her be for my son." Even in the case of a fetus that is protected thus, it is called "having a husband".

"Whoever goes to a woman of such and such a name, such a penalty is for him." Thus, a penalty is established by a village or a house, or a street; this is called "as entail a penalty."

"Even to the extent of those who are garlanded" - to the last extreme of all, with the perception that "This woman will be my wife", by tossing some garland over her head, there is "those that are garlanded"

The Sigalovada Sutta says:
In five ways, young householder, the parents thus ministered to as the East by their children, show their compassion:

(i) they restrain them from evil,
(ii) they encourage them to do good,
(iii) they train them for a profession,
(iv) they arrange a suitable marriage,
(v) at the proper time they hand over their inheritance to them.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nara.html