Should sex be demonized so much?

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Mr Man
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Mr Man » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:48 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
Alex123 wrote:Sex should not be demonized, but should be seen for what it is and seen as an obstacle to the path.
Along with all the other obstacles (like eating toffee).
toffee or coffee? Coffee can help, sex just gives too many complications and for much longer time.
Toffee. Not sure if we could really say Coffee is an aid liberation though, if that is what you meant.

Sex certainly has the potential for creating long term commitments.

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Alex123
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Alex123 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:25 pm

Mr Man wrote:Sex certainly has the potential for creating long term commitments.
Long term commitment can result in long term problems that distract from meditating and contemplating Dhamma.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Mr Man
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Mr Man » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:45 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Sex certainly has the potential for creating long term commitments.
Long term commitment can result in long term problems that distract from meditating and contemplating Dhamma.
Long term commitment can also result in long term opportunity for meditating and contemplating Dhamma.

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Alex123
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Alex123 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:25 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:Sex certainly has the potential for creating long term commitments.
Long term commitment can result in long term problems that distract from meditating and contemplating Dhamma.
Long term commitment can also result in long term opportunity for meditating and contemplating Dhamma.

The more one is busy with a partner, the less time one has to read and contemplate Dhamma.


Why did Gotama left the palace, his riches, wife and newborn son?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Dan74
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:48 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
Kim wrote: 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.

:namaste:
Kim
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.
Hi, Dan,
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.

:namaste:
Kim
Kim, I think this is one way to go but not the only way.

In my tradition there were examples of highly realized laypeople and I believe it is possible to practice with a great deal of intensity while being a lay person and attain liberation or at least get close.

I also recall a poster at the old E-Sangha who had spent years at the Zen monastery on Mt Baldy and then after leaving maintained a 6-hour a day meditation practice while holding down an important job and a family. I am sure his prior training at Mt Baldy helped.

Mindfulness and some breath awareness can be extended into every moment of the day like Thich Nhat Hanh taught. And the challenges furnished by laylife are great for cultivating the Brahmaviharas of course (as you also suggest).

But regardless I think the only place we can practice is exactly where we are and with what we have. Other notions can be helpful so far as challenging the notions we hold on to, but if they become the new attachments, they just stand in the way.
_/|\_

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Kim OHara
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Kim OHara » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:08 am

Dan74 wrote: Kim, I think this is one way to go but not the only way. ...
Agreed.
So long as we all remember that 'one size fits all' is not the case here, everyone is okay.
To return to the OP: demonisation of sex, i.e., literally, making it out to be unequivocally bad. IMO, the demonisation is unequivocally bad but (depending always on one's situation and aspirations) sex is not unequivocally bad.

:namaste:
Kim

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Hanzze
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Hanzze » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:05 am

Right, just unwholesome, or call it unskillful. Can we live with just unskillful? That is not bad, isn't it?

If one is not able to cook, he/she is not bad. He/she just did not learn it jet.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Dan74
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:09 am

I thought you were in a relationship, Hanzze?

I think it can be very skillful to make love to your partner. It can be a warm and a compassionate act. Or do you think it is best to just say "I am not going to indulge your need for physical intimacy any longer. It is just a fetter and you should free yourself from it"?

The skillful way, as I see it, does not deal in absolutes, but in the right approach to every situation, to every individual, including ourselves.
_/|\_

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manas
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by manas » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:12 am

Kim O'Hara wrote: 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.
That bit I bolded caused me alot of trouble over the years. Trying hard to 'eliminate' sexual desire, trying to be as celibate as a monk is, but while living the life of a layman. Sometimes having to look down so as to avoid the eyes of attractive women, so that I would not get aroused, while out shopping etc. Antisocial stuff like that. I don't bother with it now. I look at women in the eyes now, and to be honest, I'm 'flaring up' with desire less than before, when I used to 'declare war on lust'. Just because a woman looks at me and smiles, doesn't mean I have to call the SAS. Sometimes, when we fight something, we only strengthen it.

I'm finding that looking at women as human beings, trying to understand them (not that I ever really will, though ;) ) is doing more to get a measure of control over lust, than my previous method of trying to not look at them at all. This is a phase I'm going through, I know. I'm not recommending it for everyone, I'm just saying that as a layman, I've accepted where I'm at: not as yet ready to give up all sex life, but certainly wanting to be regulated about it, with the ultimate goal of reducing the fever and attachment to it; but realistically, not in an idealized and artificial way that only makes me neurotic.

_/I\_
Last edited by manas on Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Hanzze
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Hanzze » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:17 am

Dan74 wrote:The skillful way, as I see it, does not deal in absolutes, but in the right approach to every situation, to every individual, including ourselves.
If someone does expect something of cause, very needed. Maybe the problem is "skillful in regard of what?" I guess that is why the precepts have been given very simple and just to keep, one after the other, step by step.
We do not understand skillful, wholesome, "good" as long as we are not aware of the base, the roots of unskinfull acts. We are not easy aware of our attentions at all having not eager worked on being mindful in observing just what was taught to be skillful..
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Dan74
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:36 am

Hanzze wrote:
Dan74 wrote:The skillful way, as I see it, does not deal in absolutes, but in the right approach to every situation, to every individual, including ourselves.
If someone does expect something of cause, very needed. Maybe the problem is "skillful in regard of what?" I guess that is why the precepts have been given very simple and just to keep, one after the other, step by step.
We do not understand skillful, wholesome, "good" as long as we are not aware of the base, the roots of unskinfull acts. We are not easy aware of our attentions at all having not eager worked on being mindful in observing just what was taught to be skillful..
You have posted a lot on this subject which suggests to me that this issue resonates with you very strongly. Perhaps we can step back and examine our involvement and our assumptions here rather than projecting or guessing what others are or are not aware of?
_/|\_

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Hanzze
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Hanzze » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:50 am

If I would say that there is no more doubt that sex is unskillfull even it is done "skillful", would that be enough in regard to your question Dan? Would that support you to gain conviction?
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Dan74
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:29 am

Conviction in what?

I have no doubt that attachment to sex is unskillful and that generally sex proceeds from attachment. I also have no doubt than I am still attached to sex and that this attachment is unskillful. But I feel that rejecting sex is far from being the top priority of my practice and would be artificial and counter-productive. Rather learning to be skillful - to be attentive to my partner, gentle and thoughtful, in tune with sensuality while exercising self-restraint seem to be more appropriate for my situation and I suspect to most married householders.

What I doubt is that blanket statements like "sex is unskillful" are useful for people in their practice. I very much doubt that for most people these statements truly address where they are in their practice but instead are more likely fan the flames of aversion and foment inner conflict as attested to by the OP and his subsequent comments.
_/|\_

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Hanzze
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Hanzze » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:48 am

But I feel that rejecting sex is far from being the top priority of my practice and would be artificial and counter-productive.
So what is this doubt made of?
and counter-productive
Speculation?
What I doubt is that blanket statements like "sex is unskillful" are useful for people in their practice.
Not if skillful is understood, but yes if skillfull is misunderstood.

It even needs skill to seperate skillful from good, and unskillful from what is called bad, so there is always reflexion needed to learn.

We should not forget that practicing virtue has the use to overcome the raw ditthi (believe in an I) but if we use the practice to make that "I" be good or to be a good one, that preassure of course can cause many problems (because it is not really possible).

How ever, an avoiding of contact is very useful if one is not that strong and of coures an overcoming of such an disire while being permanent in contact with dangers might be a sign of great power. As long as we do not ceat ourself. We can always give it a prove and we will only addopt things if there is strong conviction or knowing by one self. The secound would not come without the first.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_

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Dan74
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Re: Should sex be demonized so much?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:58 am

Thanks, Hanzze. The Buddha has already said it well.

But what do you have to contribute to this conversation?
_/|\_

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