Health Impact of Celibacy

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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby MaitriYNOD » Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:30 am

I think that a far too common pitfall of practitioners is that if there is one aspect of the path that we're really quite good at, we over-emphasize its importance and become self-righteous about it. This is a fetter just as any other. I think people need to abandon/purify/self-liberate the poisons at the pace and order that is most conducive to liberation. Any given hypothetical person may need to focus on overcoming anger and stabilizing shamatha practice as their first priority, and it might be the case that trying to coerce themselves into celibacy on top of these tasks will only stress them out and make everything work less effectively. For another person, abandoning lust may be at the top of the list. A practitioner with the power of past training may have the capacity to do many of these things at once. In any case, it's good to know where you're at, be systematic, and avoid the pitfall of clinging to your own virtue, because that can easily become just another ego construction.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby uan » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:03 am

MaitriYNOD wrote:I think that a far too common pitfall of practitioners is that if there is one aspect of the path that we're really quite good at, we over-emphasize its importance and become self-righteous about it. This is a fetter just as any other. I think people need to abandon/purify/self-liberate the poisons at the pace and order that is most conducive to liberation. Any given hypothetical person may need to focus on overcoming anger and stabilizing shamatha practice as their first priority, and it might be the case that trying to coerce themselves into celibacy on top of these tasks will only stress them out and make everything work less effectively. For another person, abandoning lust may be at the top of the list. A practitioner with the power of past training may have the capacity to do many of these things at once. In any case, it's good to know where you're at, be systematic, and avoid the pitfall of clinging to your own virtue, because that can easily become just another ego construction.


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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sleazy_Rhino » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:14 pm

Huseng wrote:
Sleazy_Rhino wrote:It's a natural thing, it's in our natural instincts as human beings. I love my marriage and being able to share my life with another person, it makes life alot more meaningful


Chimpanzees love companionship and sharing life with their own as well.

The natural order of things is only suffering. There is no happiness in life. Only suffering.


I believe in some aspects of life being mostly suffering, but with suffering, we have our joys in life. How is life 100% suffering? Maybe I'm just a baby buddhist, but this just doesn't sound right to me. I know that any sort of desire causes our suffering, so is my marriage a desire?
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:10 pm

Sleazy_Rhino wrote:
Huseng wrote:
Sleazy_Rhino wrote:It's a natural thing, it's in our natural instincts as human beings. I love my marriage and being able to share my life with another person, it makes life alot more meaningful


Chimpanzees love companionship and sharing life with their own as well.

The natural order of things is only suffering. There is no happiness in life. Only suffering.


I believe in some aspects of life being mostly suffering, but with suffering, we have our joys in life. How is life 100% suffering? Maybe I'm just a baby buddhist, but this just doesn't sound right to me. I know that any sort of desire causes our suffering, so is my marriage a desire?


Sutra oriented people emphasize the suffering in samsara and the dire situation that it is, tantra people emphasize the inherent purity of everything. Whatever topic we address, not just sex, there is going to be a fundamental disconnect between different kinds of practitioners in public forums. No big deal.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:35 pm

Yudron wrote:Sutra oriented people emphasize the suffering in samsara and the dire situation that it is, tantra people emphasize the inherent purity of everything. Whatever topic we address, not just sex, there is going to be a fundamental disconnect between different kinds of practitioners in public forums. No big deal.


I'm unconvinced that those said tantric teachings really apply or are beneficial to most people. You have to truly realize the former sutric teachings before the latter tantric ones are applicable.

Most tantric adepts I would trust are celibate monks.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:41 pm

Huseng wrote:
Most tantric adepts I would trust are celibate monks.


That's fine Huseng but that's your subjective bias based on your sutra-oriented approach. In general the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhist tantrics would wholeheartedly agree. But there are other presentations and there is a rich history of non-monastic realized masters and sincere accomplished practitioners who are not monks (or nuns), were never monks (or nuns), or even *gasp* were (sutra-level) vow-breaking monks (or nuns), who've had consorts and/or families, etc.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:22 pm

Huseng wrote:
Yudron wrote:Sutra oriented people emphasize the suffering in samsara and the dire situation that it is, tantra people emphasize the inherent purity of everything. Whatever topic we address, not just sex, there is going to be a fundamental disconnect between different kinds of practitioners in public forums. No big deal.


I'm unconvinced that those said tantric teachings really apply or are beneficial to most people. You have to truly realize the former sutric teachings before the latter tantric ones are applicable.

Most tantric adepts I would trust are celibate monks.


It's really great such knowledgeable sutra guys as you around. Whether I agree with you or not It depends on how you define "most people."
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Jikan » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:27 pm

Yudron wrote:
Huseng wrote:
Yudron wrote:Sutra oriented people emphasize the suffering in samsara and the dire situation that it is, tantra people emphasize the inherent purity of everything. Whatever topic we address, not just sex, there is going to be a fundamental disconnect between different kinds of practitioners in public forums. No big deal.


I'm unconvinced that those said tantric teachings really apply or are beneficial to most people. You have to truly realize the former sutric teachings before the latter tantric ones are applicable.

Most tantric adepts I would trust are celibate monks.


It's really great such knowledgeable sutra guys as you around. Whether I agree with you or not It depends on how you define "most people."


...a knowledgeable sutra person making a claim about tantric practice and its efficacy no less. Huseng, are you sure you're not overstating your case a bit?
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:17 pm

I don't know, Jikan. Here is a look at what is going on in the lives of most of the people in the world:
http://www.worldometers.info/

I'm thinking that they have a lot going on in their lives. It may be hard enough just to get across the karma and no harming idea, much less the Vajrayana.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:20 am

Adamantine wrote:That's fine Huseng but that's your subjective bias based on your sutra-oriented approach.


You don't know anything about my practice, so your remark here is unwarranted.

In general the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhist tantrics would wholeheartedly agree. But there are other presentations and there is a rich history of non-monastic realized masters and sincere accomplished practitioners who are not monks (or nuns), were never monks (or nuns), or even *gasp* were (sutra-level) vow-breaking monks (or nuns), who've had consorts and/or families, etc.


Historically Shingon said the same thing: Kukai was a celibate vegan, as were his predecessors in China.

I don't deny the efficacy of other tantric teachings that might embrace sensual pleasures with a view of them being empty, though I doubt those teachings really apply to most Buddhists given what attainments they are said to require in order to really be applicable.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:21 am

Yudron wrote:It's really great such knowledgeable sutra guys as you around. Whether I agree with you or not It depends on how you define "most people."



Such sarcasm contributes nothing to the discussion.

As to me being a "sutra guy" -- again, that's unwarranted.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:30 am

Huseng wrote:
Yudron wrote:It's really great such knowledgeable sutra guys as you around. Whether I agree with you or not It depends on how you define "most people."



Such sarcasm contributes nothing to the discussion.

As to me being a "sutra guy" -- again, that's unwarranted.



I truly wasn't being sarcastic in the slightest. I appreciate your knowledge of sutra very much.

I personally feel that most people in the planet could benefit more from sutra than tantra. However, I do feel that among highly western Dharma students, the Vajrayana is suitable to a great percentage of them, should they choose to pursue it.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 15, 2013 4:38 am

Jikan wrote:...a knowledgeable sutra person making a claim about tantric practice and its efficacy no less. Huseng, are you sure you're not overstating your case a bit?


I have seen plenty of people announcing to the world their tantric practices and all the empowerments they receive. They like to further announce the faith they hold towards their gurus, or that they view everything as empty and/or pure.

Well, that's fine, but these same people continue to engage in behaviours that only perpetuate their neurosis. They are clearly addicted to sense pleasures and think this is alright for whatever reasons, are full of venomous emotions and continually harm both themselves and others. Moreover, they don't seem to understand emptiness even on an intellectual level, let alone an intuitive level, so how could they perceive all their deeds as pure and empty, or even begin to?

If they really did see things as pure and/or empty, they wouldn't suffer so much neurosis and emotional instability.

This is why I believe tantric practices (which are supposed to remain secret actually), especially consort practices, are not applicable to most people. These sentiments are echoed by plenty of modern masters plus my own Tibetan teacher.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby uan » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:03 am

Huseng wrote:
Jikan wrote:...a knowledgeable sutra person making a claim about tantric practice and its efficacy no less. Huseng, are you sure you're not overstating your case a bit?


I have seen plenty of people announcing to the world their tantric practices and all the empowerments they receive. They like to further announce the faith they hold towards their gurus, or that they view everything as empty and/or pure.

Well, that's fine, but these same people continue to engage in behaviours that only perpetuate their neurosis. They are clearly addicted to sense pleasures and think this is alright for whatever reasons, are full of venomous emotions and continually harm both themselves and others. Moreover, they don't seem to understand emptiness even on an intellectual level, let alone an intuitive level, so how could they perceive all their deeds as pure and empty, or even begin to?

If they really did see things as pure and/or empty, they wouldn't suffer so much neurosis and emotional instability.

This is why I believe tantric practices (which are supposed to remain secret actually), especially consort practices, are not applicable to most people. These sentiments are echoed by plenty of modern masters plus my own Tibetan teacher.


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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:18 am

Huseng wrote:I have seen plenty of people announcing to the world their tantric practices and all the empowerments they receive. They like to further announce the faith they hold towards their gurus, or that they view everything as empty and/or pure.

Well, that's fine, but these same people continue to engage in behaviours that only perpetuate their neurosis. They are clearly addicted to sense pleasures and think this is alright for whatever reasons, are full of venomous emotions and continually harm both themselves and others. Moreover, they don't seem to understand emptiness even on an intellectual level, let alone an intuitive level, so how could they perceive all their deeds as pure and empty, or even begin to?

If they really did see things as pure and/or empty, they wouldn't suffer so much neurosis and emotional instability.

This is why I believe tantric practices (which are supposed to remain secret actually), especially consort practices, are not applicable to most people. These sentiments are echoed by plenty of modern masters plus my own Tibetan teacher.


I absolutely agree with you here, but this is not a fault of the method. This is a fault of the student. We are indeed in a degeneration age which has been prophesied in detail. Part of this is the misappropriation of the teachings and methods.

Also, a lot is lost in translation, both linguistic and cultural.

But as familiar as you may be with what you deem to be failures, others of us may have experience with the opposite examples. I certainly have met plenty of people both eastern and western who appear to be embodying understanding and realization in their conduct and demeanor, who are non-celibate.

However, also remember that the essence of the practice is not to judge others but to discover and purify our own worst faults. Even if we think we can know another person's mind through what we witness as their behavior this may be a wrong presumption. There are many examples of yogis who appeared as greedy, lecherous, or drunkards who revealed at the time of death all the signs of highest accomplishment. We should really reserve judgment for ourselves when it comes to gaging results of practice.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Sherab Rigdrol » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:11 am

What drove me to Vajrayana was its embracing of the sensual/material. There is no way I could renounce a lot of what I experience in life. In fact for years I had an ignorant view of Buddhism in general because my first impressions of it were centered around renunciation. I'm grateful that I never gave up the search.

For me applying my practice to those "wordly" moments allow me to find a healthy balance. I'm a psychotherapist, so for me the tantric perspective is very helpful in allowing people to separate from early programming of sin and replace it with having compassion for oneself and others due to not knowing the causes and conditions which lead to such afflictions, then applying mindfulness to the afflictions and acceptance. Ultimately even if individuals in the therapeutic setting aren't able to have a non-dual experience, they can at least apply the basic intellectual concepts of emptiness in order to let go of their afflictions.

I think everyone is different due to their samskaras, I for one cannot imagine practicing anything other than Vajrayana...
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:28 am

Adamantine wrote:
Huseng wrote:I have seen plenty of people announcing to the world their tantric practices and all the empowerments they receive. They like to further announce the faith they hold towards their gurus, or that they view everything as empty and/or pure.

Well, that's fine, but these same people continue to engage in behaviours that only perpetuate their neurosis. They are clearly addicted to sense pleasures and think this is alright for whatever reasons, are full of venomous emotions and continually harm both themselves and others. Moreover, they don't seem to understand emptiness even on an intellectual level, let alone an intuitive level, so how could they perceive all their deeds as pure and empty, or even begin to?

If they really did see things as pure and/or empty, they wouldn't suffer so much neurosis and emotional instability.

This is why I believe tantric practices (which are supposed to remain secret actually), especially consort practices, are not applicable to most people. These sentiments are echoed by plenty of modern masters plus my own Tibetan teacher.


I absolutely agree with you here, but this is not a fault of the method. This is a fault of the student. We are indeed in a degeneration age which has been prophesied in detail. Part of this is the misappropriation of the teachings and methods.


Not only the student, teachers sometimes hold responsibility as well.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Adamantine » Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:14 am

Yudron wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
Huseng wrote:I have seen plenty of people announcing to the world their tantric practices and all the empowerments they receive. They like to further announce the faith they hold towards their gurus, or that they view everything as empty and/or pure.

Well, that's fine, but these same people continue to engage in behaviours that only perpetuate their neurosis. They are clearly addicted to sense pleasures and think this is alright for whatever reasons, are full of venomous emotions and continually harm both themselves and others. Moreover, they don't seem to understand emptiness even on an intellectual level, let alone an intuitive level, so how could they perceive all their deeds as pure and empty, or even begin to?

If they really did see things as pure and/or empty, they wouldn't suffer so much neurosis and emotional instability.

This is why I believe tantric practices (which are supposed to remain secret actually), especially consort practices, are not applicable to most people. These sentiments are echoed by plenty of modern masters plus my own Tibetan teacher.


I absolutely agree with you here, but this is not a fault of the method. This is a fault of the student. We are indeed in a degeneration age which has been prophesied in detail. Part of this is the misappropriation of the teachings and methods.


Not only the student, teachers sometimes hold responsibility as well.


But in that case the teacher also qualifies as a student of the method too, right? If we squarely placed blame on teachers we'd have to trace the failure all the way back, like turtles all the way down.. back to Shakyamuni or Garab Dorje, etc. So I'd rather emphasize the failure begins with the student, who then may also happen to take that failure into the teacher role too. . .
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:38 am

Adamantine wrote:I absolutely agree with you here, but this is not a fault of the method. This is a fault of the student.


Hence the student is unqualified. Like I said, I believe esoteric practices are not suitable for most people. Realistically speaking, if you are going to start perceiving things are pure and empty, you should already be mentally and emotionally stable so as not to deceive yourself into thinking you're on some high road to liberation while in actuality just finding religious justification for one's own neurosis and harmful habits.

But as familiar as you may be with what you deem to be failures, others of us may have experience with the opposite examples. I certainly have met plenty of people both eastern and western who appear to be embodying understanding and realization in their conduct and demeanor, who are non-celibate.


It isn't even all about celibacy, but simply understanding that sexual desire is unwholesome and hence sexual activities are cause for future suffering in this and more importantly future lives. The same principle applies to eating, which is why gluttony is to be discouraged.

The difference of course is that if you don't eat you will die. Abstaining from sexual activities will not kill you. In fact detoxifying from lust might even provide insight and reveal just how mentally weak one is ... how absent one's mental autonomy really is. This is something I discovered personally. Lust tends to colour our decision making processes and value judgements, which is perhaps why hearing about teachings where you get your liberation and sex together are so alluring.

In any case, we don't need to draw such rigid lines between celibacy and non-celibacy. Monks and nuns are obliged to maintain abstinence, but laypeople have that option as well. Failing that continence should at least be seen as a virtue and encouraged. Lust is a passion and as such should be treated with caution. Lust is a mental poison which influences decision making down to the most basic level.





However, also remember that the essence of the practice is not to judge others but to discover and purify our own worst faults. Even if we think we can know another person's mind through what we witness as their behavior this may be a wrong presumption.



In fiction this works, but not in real life. If someone is an abusive molester and alcoholic, you best approach them cautiously. You might convince yourself that they're really helping you, but that could just as well be self-delusion. Plenty of texts describe the qualities a good reliable teacher will possess, which is a decent gauge with which one might ascertain whether someone is really above the fray or not.

What you're suggesting here is actually a genesis for cults arising. People are told never to judge others and just see their superiors as having some kind of status above norms and even the law. This is how you get scandalous teachers firmly rooted in Dharma organizations, or Zen Roshis who molest women for years and years without being ejected from their position. What they do must be seen as edifying regardless of how us common folk see it.

I don't personally roll like that. There is such a thing as ethics and ethical judgements based on reasonable criteria. If more people were aware of this they'd not end up following questionable figures.



There are many examples of yogis who appeared as greedy, lecherous, or drunkards who revealed at the time of death all the signs of highest accomplishment. We should really reserve judgement for ourselves when it comes to gaging results of practice.


Right, that's fiction though. I'm talking about real life.
Last edited by Indrajala on Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:43 am

Sherab Rigdrol wrote:What drove me to Vajrayana was its embracing of the sensual/material. There is no way I could renounce a lot of what I experience in life.


A lack of renunciation precludes the possibility of liberation from sensual desires and consequently saṃsāra.

In fact for years I had an ignorant view of Buddhism in general because my first impressions of it were centered around renunciation. I'm grateful that I never gave up the search.



Actually the Buddha taught renunciation and abstaining from sex, overeating, oversleeping, music and entertainment in general.
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