The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Ben
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The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Ben » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:10 am

Interesting reading.

When we broke up, I felt a huge sense of relief. For the first time in years, I felt free. Within days, I looked more relaxed, my eyes shone and I was calmer. Back in Paris, friends asked if I'd met someone new and assumed I must have fallen in love. But the reason I was so radiant was that I'd decided to be celibate.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle ... CMP=twt_gu
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Hickersonia » Sun Sep 29, 2013 1:24 am

Interesting indeed, Ben. Thank you. :anjali:
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Modus.Ponens » Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:22 am

Thanks Ben :)
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Sokehi » Sun Sep 29, 2013 9:06 am

Interesting reflection. Thank you for sharing this!
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by SarathW » Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:54 am

Hi Ben
This article will raise some important Buddhist questions!
I do not consider simple observation of celibacy constitute a virtue.
For example a blind person may say that he is not interested about visual stimulus or a beggar may say that he is not sitting in high chairs.
I think virtues come to effect when they are practice with in conjunction with Anicca,Dukkha, Anatta or in terms with Metta,Karuna and Muditha.
I may be wrong but I like to see what others opinion about it.

:shrug:
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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Dhammanando » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:18 am

SarathW wrote:I do not consider simple observation of celibacy constitute a virtue.
I'm not sure what you mean by simple observance of celibacy. In the suttas it's stated that practising the brahmacariyā is a condition for rebirth in the sensual heavens, even where the person who practises it does so very miserably. This seems to imply that there is something intrinsically good in deliberately undertaken abstention from sex.

Presumably the principle would not apply to someone who abstained solely out of physical incapacity (which would be the proper analogy for your blind man).

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Mr Man » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:12 am

Hi Ven. Dhammanando
Do you think that there is something intrinsically good in deliberately undertaken abstention from sex? And why would that be? Does there reverse apply? Is it intrinsically evil to have sex?
:anjali:

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by daverupa » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:44 pm

There's something intrinsically unsatisfactory about any sensual pleasure, whether it's due to sex organs or otherwise. They form a troubling draw for even once-returners, and must be set aside before jhana is engaged. They are inherently obstructive to the goal.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by DNS » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:14 pm

One of the most common arguments against celibacy is: "but it's so natural to have sex."

Yes, it is natural to have sex for procreation, but it is not natural and necessary in the way it is necessary to have food to survive. People can survive without sex, but not without food.

Probably a stupid question, somewhat related, but do [other] animals continue to have sex well past menopause? Or is it only humans and other primates?
(Not a rhetorical question, I really don't know for sure. :embarassed: )

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Mr Man » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:12 pm

daverupa wrote:There's something intrinsically unsatisfactory about any sensual pleasure, whether it's due to sex organs or otherwise.
Yes, and what is the cause of the intrinsic dissatisfaction?
daverupa wrote:They form a troubling draw for even once-returners, and must be set aside before jhana is engaged. They are inherently obstructive to the goal.
I'm not sure if the "They" is specifically aimed at sexual activity or sensual pleasure in general but I guess you're into the realms of speculation here?

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by daverupa » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:13 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:do [other] animals continue to have sex well past menopause?
Humans have a menstrual cycle in place of the estrous cycle of most other mammals, so the question as framed isn't something that can be answered, really...

Other animals mostly oscillate between estrus and anestrus states in various ways; age is only partly correlated here as most estrous cycles continue until death.

Humans are reproductive mutants; I think I read a paper that menstruation is the result of a long string of 'junk' DNA which may be the remnant of an old virus. Wild stuff.

:tongue:
Last edited by daverupa on Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by DNS » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:21 pm

daverupa wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:do [other] animals continue to have sex well past menopause?
Humans have a menstrual cycle in place of the estrous cycle of most other mammals, so the question as framed isn't something that can be answered, really...
They oscillate between estrus and anestrus states in various ways; age is only partly correlated here, and most estrous cycles continue until death.
Humans are reproductive mutants. :tongue:
Okay, thanks. Maybe it wasn't such a dumb question after all. Apparently most (all?) other mammals have this estrous cycle all the way till death, so menopause isn't a factor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estrous_cycle
Wikipedia wrote:Typically, estrous cycles continue until death. Some animals may display bloody vaginal discharge, often mistaken for menstruation, also called a "period".
I noticed that in my cat before she got spayed. I thought it was a period.

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by dagon » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:29 pm

I would disagree on the conclusion that you draw about the differences between humans and other mammals about the reproductive capabilities.

There is no doubt that human females survive beyond the menopause on a regular basis but other mammals don’t. This in my view may reflect mans “success as a species” arising out of natural selection process. If you take the life expectancy data for early humans it would be seen that few females survived beyond menopause. That would put humans on a par with most other mammals.

When human ‘development’ gave rise to a life span beyond the reproductive capacity of the body and given the social structures the post reproductive humans provided a greater chance of survival of children. The role of the grandparents evolved and this provided additional support to the children through provision of resources and protection from danger. Therefor the effect on longevity through natural selection favored those offspring who had post reproductive grandparents. While the ‘natural effects have seen superseded in most societies they are still evident in certain existing societies with high infant mortality rates such as some of the Aboriginal communities in Australia.

:focus:

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Dhammanando » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:36 pm

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?
Yes.
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.

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Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by faraway » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:02 am

Dhammanando wrote:
SarathW wrote:I do not consider simple observation of celibacy constitute a virtue.
I'm not sure what you mean by simple observance of celibacy. In the suttas it's stated that practising the brahmacariyā is a condition for rebirth in the sensual heavens, even where the person who practises it does so very miserably. This seems to imply that there is something intrinsically good in deliberately undertaken abstention from sex.

Presumably the principle would not apply to someone who abstained solely out of physical incapacity (which would be the proper analogy for your blind man).
Banthe,

Could you show me the sutta where it's stated explicitly that practising the brahmacariyā is a condition for rebirth in the sensual heavens, even where the person who practises it does so very miserably?

:anjali:

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