masturbation what's wrong?

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cooran
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by cooran » Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:04 pm

Peter wrote:While the answers given so far have been spot on Dhamma, I'm still waiting for a clarification of the question from the original poster (OP). I'm certain the question is based on some misunderstanding or something misheard or taken out of context.
Hello Peter,

Have a look at the last paragraph of page 73 and the first one of page 74:

An introduction to Buddhist ethics - By Brian Peter Harvey
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=URZ ... q=&f=false" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

metta
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by kc2dpt » Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:27 am

Or I guess based on the opinion of a single monk quoted in one sentence in an academic book on Buddhism.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Ben
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by Ben » Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:55 am

Hi Peter
I thought what Harvey said was pretty reasonable.
I'm not suggesting that you should agree with him but he is a pretty reliable academic.
Cheers

Ben
“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.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by Pannapetar » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:20 am

Ben wrote:At the very least, its unskilful and unwholesome as it creates powerful sankharas of lust that are difficult to eradicate.
mikenz66 wrote:It's not "wrong" but it's a time-wasting and rather useless activity.
Dhammakid wrote:I can attest to the scourge that sensual desire - particularly sexual - is on the development of sila, panna and samadhi.
I would be very careful with such statements. There is a good reason why the Buddhadharma gives few explicit rules about sexual misconduct and masturbation. It is certainly not up to us to retrofit the dhamma by generalising our opinions. What skilful practice with regard to the 3rd precept is, depends on largely the psychophysical makeup of the individual. Celibacy can be the best path for some, but it can be disastrous for others. It is not required for lay people.

Cheers, Thomas

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Ben
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by Ben » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:47 am

Hi Thomas

Firstly:
I would be very careful with such statements.
Perhaps they were carefully formulated after many years of studying the suttas. One doesn't need to go very far to see the Buddha warn against the dangers of indulging in sensual desire.
There is a good reason why the Buddhadharma gives few explicit rules about sexual misconduct and masturbation.
Could you please elaborate?
It is certainly not up to us to retrofit the dhamma by generalising our opinions.
I haven't seen anyone retrofit anything.
What skilful practice with regard to the 3rd precept is, depends on largely the psychophysical makeup of the individual.
I disagree completely. Sila is a requisite for the the development of samadhi which becomes a requisite for the development of Panna. None of the silas are 'optional extras', none of the silas are open to reinterpretation or 'skilful means' based on one's psychophysical make-up or predelictions.
Celibacy can be the best path for some, but it can be disastrous for others.
Maybe it was a disaster precisely because they couldn't maintain their sila because they either did not want to, nor engaged in a practice that focused on the elimination of their defilements.
It is not required for lay people.
I didn't say that. But for those lay-people who I have encountered who have adopted celibacy, they've found their progress easier and faster. Some have even told me that after practicing the Dhamma for a while, they loose their interest for sexual activity and their celibacy is completely natural.
Kind regards

Ben
“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.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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tiltbillings
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:57 am

Pannapetar wrote:
Ben wrote:At the very least, its unskilful and unwholesome as it creates powerful sankharas of lust that are difficult to eradicate.
mikenz66 wrote:It's not "wrong" but it's a time-wasting and rather useless activity.
Dhammakid wrote:I can attest to the scourge that sensual desire - particularly sexual - is on the development of sila, panna and samadhi.
I would be very careful with such statements. There is a good reason why the Buddhadharma gives few explicit rules about sexual misconduct and masturbation. It is certainly not up to us to retrofit the dhamma by generalising our opinions. What skilful practice with regard to the 3rd precept is, depends on largely the psychophysical makeup of the individual. Celibacy can be the best path for some, but it can be disastrous for others. It is not required for lay people.

Cheers, Thomas
I agree with your response to the quotes. We are, after, sexual beings. Self pleasuring has its place as a sexual response to one's sexual impulses. It is far better, as a layperson, to have a healthy appreciation and enjoyment of one's sexuality rather than taking a grim Calvinistic or Catholic approach that causes unnecessary and unhealthy shame and guilt. Like anything we do self-pleasuring can be misused, overdone and can become a problem, but in and of itself it is not a problem. As Woody Allen so rightly said: “Don't knock masturbation, it's sex with someone I love.”
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:27 am

That quote from me had nothing to do with guilt, just time wasting. Like playing video games, or watching TV, or ... umm ... surfing the internet... :coffee:

Obsessive behaviour with any of the above can be, as Tilt points out, a serious problem.

Mike

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by Dan74 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:29 am

The question "Is it wrong?" is in a sense a wrong question. Ultimately any type of desire is to be discarded as unskillful, but this teaching can be harmful to someone already plagued with guilt and self-loathing.

In general, tilt's approach above is the healthiest one, I think. I would also add that accepting who we are is the necessary first step for going forward. And acceptance is by nature non-judgmental. If you experience strong desire, bring awareness to it, notice the consequences, think what role it plays in your life, read what the suttas and wise people say about it, do purification practices if you are so inclined, but don't obsess over it. Eventually we discard desire because it is no longer relevant to us.

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by mikenz66 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:41 am

Dan74 wrote: Eventually we discard desire because it is no longer relevant to us. Most of the time I don't even realise it happened until quite some time afterwards.
Good point. Personally, I notice that I am calmer and not so tired if I don't masturbate. The same goes for "real" sex. So if I was not actually in a relationship (or when I am separated from my partner, as at this moment) I prefer to abstain. Frankly, for me at this point. it's actually more enjoyable to sit in meditation for a few minutes and build up enough concentration for the desire to fade. However, complete abstinence is not always easy, and if it were something one were doing out of shame or guilt then it would probably be counter-productive.

If I can compare this with alchol, my experience in my first retreat was that the clarity of mind was superior to any pleasure I could get from alcohol, so I have not drunkalcohol since. I don't abstain to uphold the precept, I just have no interest.

Similarly, I could imagine losing all interest in sex, but I would not force it.

Metta
Mike

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by cooran » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:43 am

Hello all,

What do you think?

Buddhist Sexual Ethics by Winston Higgins
http://www.buddhanet.net/winton_s.htm

- with a Rejoinder by Ajahn Brahmavamso and
Ajahn Nanadhammo

http://www.buddhanet.net/rejoiner.htm

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by Pannapetar » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:50 am

Ben wrote:Could you please elaborate?
Yes certainly.

I agree with you that sila/morality is required for the development of samadhi/concentration, and I can say this from my own experience rather than just echoing a book teaching. But, the Buddha was deliberately unspecific what concerns the 3rd precept for lay people. The reason for this is that generalisations are simply impossible. What is skilful behaviour for one person may be unkilful for another, depending on the situation the individual is in.

At a certain stage of development, when one has made a serious commitment to the practice, any sexual activity including masturbation can become an obstacle. That's why monks -who are expected to commit themselves to the practice- must be celibate. But the same cannot be said for lay people. It is important to remember that masturbation does not cause physical or emotional harm to anyone including the self. Masturbation may therefore even be thought as a skilful practice. For example, it is more skilful than engaging in casual sex, seducing women for selfish reasons, paying prostitutes, or other more harmful behaviours.

Of course, it can also become unskilful if it leads to compulsion, excess, perversion or abusing the body, but these cases aren't the norm. On the contrary, these are deviations from the norm. Hence, I disagree with the statement that "it creates powerful sankharas of lust that are difficult to eradicate". That is a rudimentary vilification of sexuality that is inaccurate and unnecessary. People are perfectly capable of leading normal sexually active lifes while keeping their sexual relationships harmless to others and themselves. This can be done simply by being mindful and responsible, and in my understanding nothing else is required from Buddhist lay people.

Cheers, Thomas

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:55 am

What Thomas said.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:12 am

I am beginning to like Ajahn Brahmavamso less and less the more I read of him. His “rejoinder” failed to mention that much of texts he quoted are addressed to monastics, not laity. That is a significant distinction.

If we are talking to laity, then Winston Higgins’ article is more reasonable, and we do not need to make Ajahn Brahm’s fallacious distinction: To some, it offers wise and compassionate advice on how to lessen the suffering of modern lay life. To others, it is the path to Enlightenment which ends all suffering.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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cooran
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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by cooran » Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:17 am

Hello Tilt,
Tilt said: I am beginning to like Ajahn Brahmavamso less and less the more I read of him. His “rejoinder” failed to mention that much of texts he quoted are addressed to monastics, not laity. That is a significant distinction.
In India at that time, any discourse by the Buddha was addressed to the most "important" personages present. There were always lay people of various social levels as well as Bhikkhus. For example, if a king was present one could mistakenly read the sutta as only applying to him - but this would not be correct. All Suttas not pertaining to the Vinaya can be seen, and ought to be seen, as being applicable to lay persons.

This, of course, can cause aversion in those who see it as restricting there daily activities or way of life.

karuna,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: masturbation what's wrong?

Post by tiltbillings » Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:43 am

Chris,
Chris wrote: All Suttas not pertaining to the Vinaya can be seen, and ought to be seen, as being applicable to lay persons.
Not necessarily:

SN II. 231: He [the monk]sees women there lightly clad or lightly attired and lust invades his mind; invaded by lust he gives up the training and returns to the hiina life.

SN IV.191: When a bhikkhu is conducting himself thus and dwelling thus [with mindfulness well-developed], kings or royal ministers, friends or colleagues, relatives or kinsmen, might invite him to accept wealth, saying: 'Come, good man, why let these saffron robes weigh you down? Why roam around with a shaven head and a begging bowl? Come, having returned to the lower life, enjoy wealth and do meritorious deeds.' Indeed, bhikkhus, when conducting self thus and dwelling thus [with mindfulness well-developed], it is impossible the he will give up the training and return to the hiina life.

Ud 21: Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi in the Jeta Wood at Anathapindika's monastery. On that occasion the Venerable Nanda, the Lord's (half-) brother, the son of his maternal aunt, informed a number of bhikkhus thus: "I am discontented with leading the holy life, friends. I am unable to endure the holy life. I will give up the training and return to the hiina life." ...

"But why, Nanda, are you discontented with leading the holy life?"

"On departing from home, revered sir, a Sakyan girl, the loveliest in the land, with her hair half-combed, looked up at me and said, 'May you return soon, master.' Recollecting that, revered sir, I am discontented with leading the holy life... I am unable to endure the holy life. I will give up the training and return to the hiina life."

AN III.393: This one, monks, who disavows his training, returns to the hiina life of the world.

DN iii 49: ...[he] does not approve of such harming, ... he does not crave for sensual pleasure ... Through this restraint, through making this his austerity, he takes an upward course and does not fall back into hiina things [hinaya avattati].

M I.459-460-1: In the same manner four fears should be expected by a person leaving the household to become a homeless. What four?. The fear of waves, fear of crocodiles, fear of whirlpools and fear of alligators. …

When I was a householder, I advised others, here I have to abide by the advice of those who are like my sons and grand sons. Then he gives up robes and returns to the hiina life, out of fear for waves, it is said. Bhikkhus, fear of waves is a synonym for anger and aversion.

...

Then it occurs to him, when I was a householder, I too partook these five strands of sensual pleasures, possessed and provided. I have wealth in my clan, to enjoy these sensual pleasures. I could do merit, too. Then he gives up robes and becomes a layman. He gives up robes and returns to the hiina life out of fear for whirlpools, it is said. Bhikkhus, fear for whirlpool is a synonym for, the five strands of sensual pleasures.

SN II 271:Drunk with the intoxication of youth, a monk leaves the training and returns to the hiina life.

Sn p 92: What if I were to return to the hiina life and enjoy sensual pleasures?

SN IV. 103: "Friend Sariputta, a bhikkhu who was my co-resident has given up the training and returned to the hiina life." "So it is, friend, when one does not guard the doors of the sense faculties, is immoderate in eating, and is not devoted to wakefulness."
This is not addressing the Vinaya, as such, and there is no reason why any of the above needs be considered appropriate for the laity.
This, of course, can cause aversion in those who see it as restricting there daily activities or way of life.
There is no reason to think that the Buddha ever considered restricting the laity in the terms as spelled in the above passages. Of the two essays you linked Winston Higgins' showed, in my considered opinion, a far better grasp of the Dhamma than did the Ven Brahmavamso, and he made a far better argument for his case.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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