The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
User avatar
Anagarika
Posts: 915
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Anagarika » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:14 am

The article that Ben posted is interesting reading. It struck me that the subject had a complex or confused relationship with relationship and intimacy. She wasn't celibate by choice, it seems to me, but celibate due to confusion over the role of sex in her life. She ceased sex only later to resume it, without a concrete sense of why sex ebbed and flowed in her life. I wish her only wellbeing, but she seems not the poster case for mindful celibacy.

Sex is a wonderful thing in the context of metta, love and intimacy. Yet, as I understand from the Dhamma, it is a sense fetter that takes us off the path, like many of the other sense fetters. To have sex in a meaningful way, involves a relationship, with all of its euphoria and inevitable vicissitudes. To really go deeper into the practice, it seems to me, requires this renunciation of the sense pleasures. Food becomes that of sustenance, not a Food Network celebration. Relationships become more geared toward kalyana mitta. Sex is renounced as (in one sense) it tends to obstruct the ability to experience jhana; the experience of jhana is subjugated in favor of the mundane impermanent body sense pleasures. Just not focusing on the next sexual conquest or act might benefit the directed focus of the Dhamma practice.

Being celibate is tough going, but it seems to me easier once the other sense pleasures take second place in one's life, and there is some sense of meaningful, cohesive dedication to the path. I'd be a hypocrite if I advocated that most people on the path be celibate, as there are so many kalyana mitta path who have relationships and partners. Yet, the renunciate path seems best equipped to allow for the uncomplicated, uninhibited, unrestricted and unfettered practice of the Dhamma, and it seems to me that Buddha had it right when he articulated the varied renunciate practices for the monks.

My two baht.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16118
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:16 am

faraway wrote:
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:
This is an alternative translation to the Sutta that Bhante quoted above:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"And what is the taking on of a practice that is painful in the present but yields pleasure in the future? There is the case of a person who is normally strongly passionate by nature and frequently experiences pain & grief born of passion; a person who is normally strongly aversive by nature and frequently experiences pain & grief born of aversion; a person who is normally strongly deluded by nature and frequently experiences pain & grief born of delusion. Even though touched with pain & grief, crying with a tearful face, he lives the holy life that is utterly perfect, surpassingly pure. With the break-up of the body, after death, he reappears in the good bourn, the heavenly world. This is called the taking on of a practice that is painful in the present but yields pleasure in the future.
:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 4003
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Ban Sri Pradu Cremation Ground, Phrao District, Chiangmai

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:24 am

faraway wrote: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?
But I have already done so. In the Cūḷadhammasamādāna Sutta the manner of practice is explicitly stated to involve dukkha in the present, but with sukha as its vipāka. The detailed account then describes a man practising the brahmacariyā miserably (= dukkha in the present) but arriving at heavenly rebirth (= sukha vipāka).

Then there is also the Nanda Sutta in the Udāna, where the venerable Nanda is persuaded by the Buddha to continue with the brahmacariyā in the present life (despite his wish to disrobe and take up with his former fiancée), for by doing so he will gain heavenly rebirth and five hundred pink-footed apsaras.

Then there is a sutta in the Aṅguttara Nikāya that describes various secondary defects of the brahmacariyā. One of these consists in living a celibate life motivated only by the desire for heavenly rebirth to which such a life conduces.
Last edited by Dhammanando on Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

SarathW
Posts: 9402
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by SarathW » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:10 am

The link for Cula-dhammasamdana Sutta:


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 4003
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Ban Sri Pradu Cremation Ground, Phrao District, Chiangmai

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:42 am

Dhammanando wrote:Then there is a sutta in the Aṅguttara Nikāya that describes various secondary defects of the brahmacariyā.
Saṃyoga Sutta

Sexual Intercourse

Then the brahmin Jāṇussoṇī approached the Blessed One and exchanged greetings with him … and said to him:

“Does Master Gotama also claim to be one who lives the celibate life?”

“If, brahmin, one could rightly say of anyone: ‘He lives the complete and pure celibate life—unbroken, flawless, unblemished, unblotched,’ it is precisely of me that one might say this. For I live the complete and pure celibate life—unbroken, flawless, unblemished, unblotched.”

“But what, Master Gotama, is a breach, flaw, blemish, and blotch of the celibate life?”

(1) “Here, brahmin, some ascetic or brahmin, claiming to be perfectly celibate, does not actually engage in intercourse with women. But he consents to being rubbed, massaged, bathed, and kneaded by them. He relishes this, desires it, and finds satisfaction in it. This is a breach, flaw, blemish, and blotch of the celibate life. He is called one who lives an impure celibate life, one who is fettered by the bond of sexuality. He is not freed from birth, from old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish; he is not freed from suffering, I say.

(2) “Again, some ascetic or brahmin, claiming to be perfectly celibate, does not actually engage in intercourse with women; nor does he consent to being rubbed, massaged, bathed, and kneaded by them. But he jokes with women, plays with them, and amuses himself with them….

(3) “… he does not joke with women, play with them, and amuse himself with them … but he gazes and stares straight into their eyes….

(4) “… he does not gaze and stare straight into women’s eyes … but he listens to their voices behind a wall or through a rampart as they laugh, talk, sing, or weep….

(5) “… he does not listen to the voices of women behind a wall or through a rampart as they laugh, talk, sing, or weep … but he recollects laughing, talking, and playing with them in the past….

(6) “… he does not recollect laughing, talking, and playing with women in the past … but he looks at a householder or a householder’s son enjoying himself furnished and endowed with the five objects of sensual pleasure….

(7) “… he does not look at a householder or a householder’s son enjoying himself furnished and endowed with the five objects of sensual pleasure, but he lives the spiritual life aspiring for [rebirth in] a certain order of devas, [thinking]: ‘By this virtuous behavior, observance, austerity, or spiritual life I will be a deva or one [in the retinue] of the devas.’ He relishes this, desires it, and finds satisfaction in it. This, too, is a breach, flaw, blemish, and blotch of the celibate life. He is called one who lives an impure celibate life, one who is fettered by the bond of sexuality. He is not freed from birth, from old age and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and anguish; he is not freed from suffering, I say.

“So long, brahmin, as I saw that I had not abandoned one or another of these seven bonds of sexuality, I did not claim to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in the world with its devas, Māra, and Brahmā, in this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its devas and humans. But when I did not see even one of these seven bonds of sexuality that I had not abandoned, then I claimed to have awakened to the unsurpassed perfect enlightenment in this world with … its devas and humans.

“The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘Unshakable is my liberation of mind; this is my last birth; now there is no more renewed existence.’”

When this was said, the brahmin Jāṇussoṇī said to the Blessed One: “Excellent, Master Gotama! … Let Master Gotama consider me a lay follower who from today has gone for refuge for life.”

(A.iv.54-7 Bhikkhu Bodhi trans.)

User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 4003
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Ban Sri Pradu Cremation Ground, Phrao District, Chiangmai

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Oct 01, 2013 4:43 am

Dhammanando wrote:Then there is also the Nanda Sutta in the Udāna, where the venerable Nanda is persuaded by the Buddha to continue with the brahmacariyā in the present life (despite his wish to disrobe and take up with his former fiancée), for by doing so he will gain heavenly rebirth and five hundred pink-footed apsaras.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2742
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by robertk » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:08 am

Any person - monk or layman- if by their nature tend toward strong sensuality and ignorance and aversion then their life will be one of painful feelings- that is inescapable. These tendencies have developed over countless lifetimes and bring with them not only strong delusion, craving and aversion(which has unpleasant feeling), but also the results of past ill deeds which will keep appearing through the five senses.

For the monk who is by nature inclined towards sensuality then it is preferable that he restrains, whether by akusala or kusala citta.
It is much better that that sensual monk, the one with strong accumulations of lust and delusion, live without transgression of the vinaya even if it is only at the very outward physical and verbal level. He still has opportunities to develop and understand Dhamma..
It is like when the BOSS adds something pointless and irritating in a meeting. Aversion arises almost instantly :but it is much worse if I add a comment with sarcasm or irritation, better to stay silent even if it is not with kusala citta. I can still fix things later...


The moment of [b]actual sila[/b]- when there is abstaining from any sensual act - such as restraint from looking at a sunset, enjoying the taste of coffee or chocolate,(all those things that are prohibited for monks), including looking at an attractive women is always kusala. And it is always, at those moments associated, with neutral or pleasant feeling.

Any aversion, or stress at around that time is not part of wholesome restraint, although it can precede or postdate the wholesome restraint.

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3332
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Mr Man » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:04 am

Hi Ven. Dhammanando, Thank you for your reply.

:anjali:

Don't we still need to keep celibacy, in perspective. For monks it is part of a wider code of practice and way of training.

The idea that practicing celibacy removed from a broader context will result in a higher rebirth sounds to me like superstition, as do ideas like celibacy will cause one to look more radiant and be more relaxed.

For your average Joe how important is celibacy and how beneficial is the practice going to be? Is it an appropriate practice or are there more appropriate practices?

How about if we remove celibacy from a Buddhist (or religious context)? Does is still remain intrinsically beneficial? How would it balance against other practices (like trying to sleep less or being vegetarian, or being less angry, for example)?

User avatar
purple planet
Posts: 653
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:07 am
Location: Israel

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by purple planet » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:21 am

Is there an advantage to avoid eating after lunch like there is to avoid sex ? and is there an advantage even when someone isnt meditating ?

edit : ( wrote it before refreshing the page and seeing the above post - i wont delete it just so i can get answered about this specific case )
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance

User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 4003
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Ban Sri Pradu Cremation Ground, Phrao District, Chiangmai

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Dhammanando » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:03 pm

Mr Man wrote:Don't we still need to keep celibacy, in perspective.
Well, yes, but in what perspective do you want to keep it? I myself keep it in the perspective of those benefits (attha) at which the Buddha’s teaching aims. Now it’s customary to divide these into three: (1) benefits obtainable in the present life, (2) benefits obtainable in future lives, and (3) the highest benefit (paramattha) — synonymous with the noble paths, fruits and Nibbāna.

From the perspective of the first two atthas, the difference between a celibate life and a sexually active life constrained by the third precept is the difference between a higher good and a lower one. But from the perspective of the third attha sex doesn’t even qualify as a lower good. It stands in absolute opposition to Buddhism’s highest attha, for the highest attha is all about dispassion, whereas...

“...it is impossible that one can indulge in sensual pleasures without sensual desire, without the perception of sensual desire, without the thought of sensual desire!” (MN. 22)

From this perspective sex, along with all other sensual indulgences, doesn’t merit a single word of praise.
The idea that practicing celibacy removed from a broader context will result in a higher rebirth sounds to me like superstition,
Could you clarify your position? Do you regard the whole doctrine of kamma and rebirth as a superstition? If not, then which part of my previous post would you regard as a superstition: that rebirth in heaven is due to the ripening of puñña, or that resisting unskilful urges creates puñña?
as do ideas like celibacy will cause one to look more radiant and be more relaxed.
This is not of course the Buddha’s teaching. In the Suttas the radiance of certain bhikkhus is attributed not to their celibacy but to their success in bhāvanā, while the Vinaya frankly recognizes that celibacy can lead some to look thin, yellow-skinned and ugly on account of sexual frustration.
For your average Joe how important is celibacy
It depends on which of the atthas he is principally concerned with. If it’s with the third, and if his concern with it is an ardent one, inspired by a sense of urgency, then the avoidance of sensual indulgences will be of great importance. One practising as if his turban were on fire is unlikely to have much use for “the rubbing of a piece of intestine, followed by a convulsion and the spurting of some mucus” (M. Aurelius, Meditations 6:13).
and how beneficial is the practice going to be?
The degree of benefit that celibacy will confer in different cases depends on too many variables for any generalization to be possible.
How about if we remove celibacy from a Buddhist (or religious context)? Does is still remain intrinsically beneficial?
Yes, in particular for the second attha.

Note that the words in the Saṃyoga Sutta: “By this rule or vow or austerity or holy life, I shall become a deva...” are the stock phrase used in the Suttas for expressing the fetter of adhesion to habitual and vowed observances (sīlabbataparāmāsa). So, in effect the passage is describing something to be expected among brahmacarī outsiders who practise celibacy while lacking the Buddha’s right view guidance. Such persons' enfetteredness by sīlabbataparāmāsa and lack of right view will be obstructive to their attainment of the third attha, but may still yield the second, in the form of rebirth as a deva.

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3332
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Mr Man » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:16 pm

Hi Ven. Dhammanando

The perspective I was thinking of was as a practice for monastics as part of a wider code of practice and way of training - not that lay people should be obliged to partake in sexual activity though.

I personally think the benefits of celibacy may be overstated and in some instances may be inappropriate (for the non monastic). Sensual pleasures are wide and varied. Some appear gross and some more subtle. Giving up the activity of sex is not synonymous with giving up sensual pleasures, It is just giving up one particular activity.

I do not regard the whole doctrine of kamma and rebirth as a superstition. I regard them as things to be investigated, considered and known. What I regard as superstition is that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven. I'm not sure if this is your belief or not.

I do not agree that celibacy is intrinsically beneficial.

:anjali:

santa100
Posts: 2929
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by santa100 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:13 pm

Mr Man wrote:I do not regard the whole doctrine of kamma and rebirth as a superstition. I regard them as things to be investigated, considered and known. What I regard as superstition is that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven. I'm not sure if this is your belief or not.

I do not agree that celibacy is intrinsically beneficial.
Actually it's not only Ven. Dhammanando's belief but it's what the Buddha taught per the many sutta references bhante already provided in his posts. It makes a lot of sense to me. There's no such thing as a free lunch, especially when it comes to cultivating the Dhamma. The better and more exquisite the lunch, the more price you're gonna have to be willing to pay. One can't have it all, ie. enjoy a little hoochie coochie and expect to attain existence in some higher realms, let alone attaining Nibbana. That's why out of the 3 realms, the Buddha didn't call ours the realm of "Sense-Desire" by mere coincidence. What we think, say, and "do" define the identity of our realm. So, like the saying "you are what you eat", a more Buddhist related saying would be "you are what you...'do'..".. :smile:

User avatar
Anagarika
Posts: 915
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:25 pm

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Anagarika » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:24 pm

:goodpost:

Part of what I understand of jhana practice is the cultivation of jhana sukkha in lieu of the cultivation of mundane sense pleasures. One reason the Buddha admonished his monks to go and do jhana. I understand that monks that still have issues with lust, or have issues with any of the sense pleasures, are really not following the path of cultivating release from the realm of the sense pleasures, these sense fetters that inevitably lead to dukkha. Celibacy is just one means of expression of this lack of dependence on dukkha based pleasures in favor of the pursuit of sukkha and release.

A monk with a mind at peace,
Gone to an empty place,
Clearly seeing the dhamma thoroughly—
His delight is more than human.

— Dhammapada 373
Last edited by Anagarika on Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3332
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by Mr Man » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:27 pm

santa100 wrote:
Mr Man wrote:I do not regard the whole doctrine of kamma and rebirth as a superstition. I regard them as things to be investigated, considered and known. What I regard as superstition is that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven. I'm not sure if this is your belief or not.

I do not agree that celibacy is intrinsically beneficial.
Actually it's not only Ven. Dhammanando's belief but it's what the Buddha taught per the many sutta references bhante already provided in his posts. It makes a lot of sense to me. There's no such thing as a free lunch, especially when it comes to cultivating the Dhamma. The better and more exquisite the lunch, the more price you're gonna have to be willing to pay. One can't have it all, ie. enjoy a little hoochie coochie and expect to attain existence in some higher realms, let alone attaining Nibbana. That's why out of the 3 realms, the Buddha didn't call ours the realm of "Sense-Desire" by mere coincidence. What we think, say, and "do" define the identity of our realm. So, like the saying "you are what you eat", a more Buddhist related saying would be "you are what you...'do'..".. :smile:
Hi santa100, So you are saying that it is Ven. Dhammanando's belief "that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven". That particular act being consciously abstaining from sexual intercourse. And this is also your belief?

santa100
Posts: 2929
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: The experience of celibacy for 12 years

Post by santa100 » Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:40 pm

Mr. Man wrote: Hi santa100, So you are saying that it is Ven. Dhammanando's belief "that by performing (or not performing) a particular act one will be reborn in heaven". That particular act being consciously abstaining from sexual intercourse. And this is also your belief?
Given the Buddha's teaching, yes, it is my provisional faith in His teaching that it is true. By the way, you said you don't believe that is the case. Could you provide backup literature and sutta references for your position?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: mario92, Yahoo [Bot] and 15 guests