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Author Topic: Sensuality and the Buddhist path  (Read 5291 times)

mettajoey

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Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« on: October 10, 2007, 06:20:59 PM »
I'm just curious about the Sangha's feeling towards sensuality. 
I'm currently single and not really looking.  This is a time of great freedom and honestly I'm enjoying that and not in hurry to see it go by.  However, I'm used to a situation where there was frequent sexual activity and I certainly miss it.  In attempting to address those wants I actually feel more comfortable with a friends-with-benefits (or some similar relationship) type release than masturbation to meet those desires.  It's that piece of experiencing "what is" as opposed to some fantasy.  I also feel that physical closeness, on whatever level, with someone is good and healthy for our overall mental and physical well-being.  There is much evidence to support that.  It can be put on a par with eating properly and exercising.  This is just my current circumstance and could change...tomorrow, for all I know. 
I'm not talking about platitudes about "open honesty" and not hurting anyone.  Let's assume we are doing our best to walk the path and that is not an issue.  It's also difficult to buy into the statement, "I don't have any sensual desire".  The desire to propagate is wired in us down to cellular level.  One may not choose to express their sensual desire and that's a valid path, but the desire is almost certainly there and there needs to be a channeling for that energy.
We all have our own situations and this topic can dwell deeply into personal needs and how we approach our intimate relationships.  What do you all think?
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Matthew

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2007, 06:41:39 PM »
I have been celibate for the last seven years. It would be a great joy in my life to meet someone with whom I wanted to start a family and experience fatherhood.

However, I looked closely at the way "the mating game" is played in modern society and realised I just didn't buy it. People run around creating a false image of themselves: in their own minds first and foremost, but also with everything from the way they present themselves, the stories they tell and the perfume they wear - even going to surgery.

The whole thing is so damn plastic and I was revolted by it. It became so obvious why 2 out of 3 marriages ends in divorce: the persons concerned presented and bought images that were false. It's not their fault it's how their experience taught them to behave.

I made a choice not to play that game, to spend my time being as true to the Buddhist path as I can be, and take my chances. If I am lucky then one day a really good woman will spot me and pick me off the shelf, meanwhile I just carry on my own little merry way.

Do I miss sex? Sometimes, yes. But not as much as I benefit from not having all the crap that goes with it. And after a while the cravings for it disappear to a great extent.

I do still find that a leggy blonde can put me off my guard ... but only for the briefest of moments and the quality of all my interactions with all women has increased hugely - I think they tune in to the fact that am not thinking with that thing between my legs pretty quickly.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew

~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Fritz-the-Cat

Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2007, 02:41:57 AM »
When I was young, sex with anyone was great!  That was the whole pursuit.  Now that I've grown older, I have learned that a sexual relationship with someone who you love and care about and who feels the same toward you cannot be beat.  There is no comparison, in my opinion.

Blessings!
Fred

Jimmy Coconuts

Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2007, 09:49:10 PM »
I was just thinking about posting a topic about this. 

For someone who is attempting to follow the path and also doesn't with to remain celibate, dating can be tricky.  As TIB has said, it seems as though the dating scene is inundated with deception.

"You have to make her think that you have better places to be."

"You can't call her too early because you want her to think that you're not interested."

There is a slight disconnect, at least in my eyes, in trying to date and still live within the precepts.

It seems to me the most appropriate thing to do would be just practice as best I can and someone may come along or not.

Matthew

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2007, 11:10:56 PM »
It seems to me the most appropriate thing to do would be just practice as best I can and someone may come along or not.

Interesting Jimmy - we have reached exactly the same conclusion. I truly believe it is a solid one. For all the reasons we have both stated. I also believe it empowers women in many ways if you take that attitude - and that this is "right action" and "right thinking" in a male dominated and devastated world.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Ben

Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2007, 01:55:16 PM »
I'm married so, I'm not celibate (at the moment!).  But I encourage celibacy in any practitioner who is serious about their practice and if they're single. Sometimes practitioners find that they naturally move towards celibacy as they become more serious about their practice, and it can happen while they're in a commited relationship.  Its generally a sign of progress and if both partners are comfortable with it, its an excellent time to really practice more deeply together. 

Sila: morality/precepts is the foundation of one's practice.  And it is my contention that one cannot apprehend the Dhamma without maintaining sila.  That is not to mean that sex within the context of a commited relationship is sexual misconduct, however, arrangements like 'booty calls' or 'friends with benefits' are.
If I were single again and if my children were adult, I would probably ordain.
Kind regards

Ben

mettajoey

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2007, 08:55:26 PM »
Becoming ordinand probably wouldn't be applicable.
There is a subtle theme through many of my comments attempting to reach a point of equanimity between the asceticism of Buddhist thought and the distractions of worldly influence.  I respect the monastic path but, if we all quit being householders who would fill your bowl?  Nor am I about to walk away from the responsibilities of my family, friends or community to live in the woods.  I think it is a much greater challenge to live with these worldy things appropriately and wisely than just use denial because the path isn't clear or comfortable enough.  The world needs the same evolution of consciousness that a select few meditators are experiencing.  I feel this philosophy or thought process needs to be used and accessible to all.  I can see using this fantastic meditative tool as a way to bring equanimity to the masses by eliminating the schisms between monk and householders, atheists and religious people, science and spirituality, man and woman, mind and body.
Studying scripture and learning from enlightened ones from the past is hugely important and necessary for the advancement of this process and evolution.  However, attachment to scriptures is an anchor to progress.  There is no "salvation" in just mere words.  Especially ones translated to the earliest next language solely by memory of cranky monk.  ;D
It's truth we're after and it's in us.
 

   
« Last Edit: October 25, 2007, 01:37:07 AM by silentflute »
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Matthew

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2007, 10:03:03 PM »
Joe

I concur. A good friend who is an ordained Indian Theravadin Bikkhu from the Sakya clan (as in Shakyamuni) laughs every time we meet.

"Matthew", he says, "You have truly chosen a hard path. On the one hand you take your Buddhist practice as seriously as any monk I know. On the other you would like to find a wife and have children. You are 100% monk and 100% layman. Why don't you make life easy for yourself and just become a monk?"

"You forget", I tell him, "Buddha said life was suffering" ..... then we both fall about laughing.

:)

In the Dhamma,

TIB
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Luna Serene

Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 10:28:57 PM »
Ive found that since Ive started to seriously practice vipassana, my relationship with my boyfriend is becoming less like a game and more like "real" love, or as close to it as such a novice can lay claim to. Less pretending and ego, more general compassion. Sex is better though because it is no longer a "bait" (couldnt think of a better word!) to be procured or witheld, but more like a genuine and beautiful expression of feeling.

I don't know though, I think everybodys reaction to and experience of sensuality will be diffrent, depending on the situation they are in. One of the preceps is " no sexual misconduct", so obviously if there are games or deceptions then the experience will be negative, which is actually probably true whether one practices meditation or not! I think if the feelings are genuine and true to yourself then you dont need to abstain.

One thing I do wonder about is the concept of love, and whether one is able to be "in love" with a specific person as you progress in meditation. It seems to have a lot to do with desires, pleasure and craving, so what happens when/if you experience equanimity to these feelings. Do you still love in the same way? Maybe it has to do with experiencing some sort of profound compatbility with a given person. Too confusing for words, I wish you all the best though, hope I helped a bit! Sarah

Matthew

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2008, 02:30:48 PM »
Dear Luna

The concept of love is interesting. What most people experience as "love" has nothing to do with real love. They tell themselves a story about the object of their desires and every time they tell the story or see the person endorphins are released in the brain that make them feel good.

This is a form of self hypnosis in effect.

M Scott Peck defines "love" along the lines of "the work we do to go beyond ourselves to see/help the other person.

I'm with him on this one.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

aunav

Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2010, 06:37:30 PM »
Thank you all for the insights. As we can see how each persons experiences are different. It is also very clear what sexual misconduct is v/s a healthy expression of sexuality and it's final dissolution and also the dissolution of ego. These discussions throw good light on it. Also with the practise of Vipassana, these clouds will become clear and one will be able to think more clearly and enjoy life fully.

I do not know if this is an appropriate thread to do so, but I will raise another topic here: A sankhara deeply eched in to human psyche. Deeper than sex, deeper than material greed, deeper than anything in the world. I have noticed this deep rooted sankhara where I live. And that sankhara is often less talked about. It is the Sankhara of Colonialized Institutionalized racism and the reinforcement of the idea of white supremacy.

It affects everything. Right from education, to business to our day to day lives and to some extent even vipassana. I was appalled to see how white people snub people of color at a vipassana course. It is amazing to see seniors participate in institutionalized racism. And how white women behave with arrogance even when politely talked to (in a non - sexual way).
This repeated behavior at all levels has a reciprocal effect on people like me. Not that I feel repressed or saddened, but now I feel the need to challenge this behavior and put the perpetrator in his place.

How do we get rid of this sankhara?
Regards

Matthew

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2010, 02:04:00 PM »
aunuv,

"you must be the change you wish to see in the world" - Gandhi.

Work on yourself, develop your practice and compassion, then right action will be obvious and clear without intellectualising.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

boe

Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2010, 08:08:10 PM »
I don't feel a need to be celibate,
but I haven't met a women who wants to stay with me because i'm not going to go
to great extends just to make the woman happy.

Also, I find that people who don't think/live exactly like me get bored with me soon.
Because I don't join them in their illusions  :P



About intimacy, warmth, sex and the other pleasures found in relationships...
I have to quote Nisargadatta:

"Pain and pleasure go always together. Freedom from one means freedom from the both. If you do not care for pleasure, you will not be afraid of pain. But there is happiness, which is neither, which is completely beyond. (145)"

"Experience leaves only memories behind and adds to the burden which is heavy enough. You need no more experiences. The past ones are sufficient. And if you feel you need more, look into the hearts of people around you. You will find a variety of experiences which you would not be able to go through in a thousand years. Learn from the sorrows of others and save yourself your own. It is not experience that you need, but the freedom from all experience. (317)"


Peace
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 08:15:59 PM by boe »

aunav

Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2010, 07:11:17 AM »
thank u for the advise. Work on myself, I will. Unfortunately I have not been able to calm down the aggressive instincts in me to tackle colonial traits. Tales of valor against the British in India have inspired me since childhood. Women like Rani Laxmibai have been my role models since birth. I have no malice against any human or animal including those that have harmed me and I can reason prejudice in society as an anamoly. It is there everywhere including India and Burma. But it is insane to practice it in a dhamma institution. What kind of role models can we be ? Why would people want to come on this path if they see senior meditators indulge in it? What will motivate them?
It saddens me that in North America an entire population was eradicated for no rhyme or reason. I have seen the beautiful culture of aboriginals on reserves and I have not been able to understand why they are foreigners in their own land...and their oppression and lack of acceptance in society pains me as much as the oppression of lower classes in India.
But u are right  , once we are established on the path all doors open up and that should be our endeavour.
However when we are there to practise the dhamma and build our paramis, we have to be careful how we behave with other people no matter their class, sex, age or ethnicity. During the time of Buddha colonialism didnt exist in the malicious form it does today. During the reign of emperor Ashoka, the Greeks traded a lot with India and took Dhamma back home. Colonialism spoiled everything! It destroyed an entire way of life in some places including north America.. Why do people still want to practise it??
Regards

Crystal Palace

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2010, 09:40:19 AM »

"Experience leaves only memories behind and adds to the burden which is heavy enough. You need no more experiences. The past ones are sufficient. And if you feel you need more, look into the hearts of people around you. You will find a variety of experiences which you would not be able to go through in a thousand years. Learn from the sorrows of others and save yourself your own. It is not experience that you need, but the freedom from all experience. (317)"


Peace

Wonderful quotation.

CP
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

gannuman

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2020, 02:17:13 AM »
Hello friends  :)

I am conflicted about this topic. May I bring it up for further discussion?

On my vipassana practice I've been observsing the desire and satisfaction I get with pleasent contacs. While doing that I turn away from craving the feeling to stay, grow further or come back when it leaves. I feel that doing those things is distressing and letting them go is satisfying. Awesome up to that point! That seems like proper practice.

The thing is, this practice is reducing not only my desire but also my enjoyment of sex and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I feel great about the freedom of not feeling like I need sex or other pleasurable things, but I still want sex to feel meaningful, which right now it doesn't. I think that sex and sensuality are of our nature and that (for me) it would be unnatural to abstain from them. And yet, it seems that enjoyment of them depends on desire, which goes against the freedom of letting them go. I want to completly let go while completly participating. The Buddha clearly had a preference and believed the choice to be unnegotiable, but I wouldn't want my practice to hinder my sexuality nor my sexuality to hinder my practice.

Sorry if that was a bit of a long ramble. I feel that many here will share this feeling. What is the sangha's experience with this? I would love to discuss this topic further as I think that it is of great importance for success in the practice.

May we all find freedom and lasting well-being  :D
Lord of gods, there are two kinds of happiness ... Two kinds of sadness ... Two kinds of equinimity: That which you should cultivate and that which you should not cultivate.

Thanisaro85

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2020, 03:15:54 AM »
Hello friends  :)

I am conflicted about this topic. May I bring it up for further discussion?

On my vipassana practice I've been observsing the desire and satisfaction I get with pleasent contacs. While doing that I turn away from craving the feeling to stay, grow further or come back when it leaves. I feel that doing those things is distressing and letting them go is satisfying. Awesome up to that point! That seems like proper practice.

The thing is, this practice is reducing not only my desire but also my enjoyment of sex and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I feel great about the freedom of not feeling like I need sex or other pleasurable things, but I still want sex to feel meaningful, which right now it doesn't. I think that sex and sensuality are of our nature and that (for me) it would be unnatural to abstain from them. And yet, it seems that enjoyment of them depends on desire, which goes against the freedom of letting them go. I want to completly let go while completly participating. The Buddha clearly had a preference and believed the choice to be unnegotiable, but I wouldn't want my practice to hinder my sexuality nor my sexuality to hinder my practice.

Sorry if that was a bit of a long ramble. I feel that many here will share this feeling. What is the sangha's experience with this? I would love to discuss this topic further as I think that it is of great importance for success in the practice.

May we all find freedom and lasting well-being  :D

It really depend on your goal for practising meditation. Some people are sick and afraid being borne into samsara again as they understand( conceptualised) that being endless lifes in samsara, thus meditations of samatha and vipassana is one of the key to nirvana. Seeing the truth of nature, which is nothing but mere suffering. If you don't fall into these category, then just practise like any yogi and don't create conflicts in yourself. Perhap one day following this path you will still give up the cravings automatically which is not intended.

I just take sex like food, do it as and when i needed, it takes time to tail off a craving, no need to  torture yourself when it is not necessary. Middle path to be exerted and experienced by oneself.
Buddha just let you know craving is the root to suffering. It is your choice to continue which path to take.

A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

Dhamma

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Re: Sensuality and the Buddhist path
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2020, 02:08:44 AM »
Don't deprive yourself, but don't indulge.

When we see clearly, we see the absurdities of all sensual desires. In an ultimate sense, all desire does is lead to greater and greater suffering as we endlessly *cling*.   For the vast majority of us (99.9999%), we are failing to see clearly -- and that is perfectly okay.  We don't feel guilty about fulfilling our sensual desires, but we don't dwell on them, either. Just let them be.  Try to see them for what they are: fleeing feelings that lead to greater clinging, which is suffering. This is why Vipassana meditation is so important, as well as a solid understanding of the emptiness of all phenomena, as they help us to adjust our lenses to gain greater clarity of ultimate reality.

Ajahn Brahm, a famous Theravadin Buddhist monk, has no desire for sex as he has seen clearly. He has seen the emptiness and futility of all desire. May this be our ultimate wish.

I am like the Zen Buddhists in that I don't like to talk about goals; that is, "our wishes." However,  may we all see ultimate reality with pristine clarity so we can stop samsara for once and for all. And, yes, all clinging to sensual pleasures (sex, good food, status, wealth, etc.) must ultimately go. But, do know, dear friends, that when we see clearly, it is only with joy that we say our final goodbyes to sensual pleasures.  Never is it done with repression. Repression = still *not* seeing clearing --- that is not true enlightenment in any Buddhist/ Yogi sense in the least.

Peace and enlightenment to all.  :)
« Last Edit: April 22, 2020, 02:21:50 AM by Dhamma »
May we see the emptiness of all phenomena

 

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