Tenso wrote:I don't reject other parts of the Dharma either. Personally I use the five precepts for my own mental well being and it that also means collecting some karmic brownie points on the way then that's good also, but I leave my liberation up to the Primal Vow.
The Chinese tradition is tough so hats off to you for being able to practice it.
Well, I think in modern Chinese traditions, if a teacher was asked a question on this topic by a lay person they would probably say, certainly, pornography should be avoided (I know in my tradition this is said), but masturbation would probably not be discussed directly, or something that people agree with would be said, as in, not encourage it, but not reject it. That's skilful means. In the Chinese tradition, the most serious practitioners are typically monks or nuns anyway, except for people who are too old to ordain, who often live at the monastery permanently to volunteer and essentially live like monastics.
On the other hand, if you ask most lay people in the same tradition, I imagine you might find some opinions opposed, but also many people who argue that it's fine, as on this forum. Where I am coming from is the academic side of things, so I am interested in what has been said historically. Whereas, from a practitioner's perspective, or also from someone who holds the precepts but doesn't practice much, typically what you will find is flexibility and openness to new ways of looking at things. If I was simply coming from the practitioner's perspective, I might simply agree with this. After all, the path has to be easy to follow if this world is difficult to endure (Saha), otherwise we'll lose people - this is really what the spirit of Pureland helps with, an easier path for people in the modern world.
For a time I was able to keep my academic and practice worlds separate, but there is some degree of cognitive dissonance there. I am coming to see that this approach isn't welcome on a forum for believers, where canons and authorities are rejected and accepted - something that I don't care for, since they have no justification outside of belief. Some people think that I am a conservative for holding positions contrary to libertine values. Nothing could be further from the truth. But this synthesis may make my views on some topics appear ancient - which may be socially inappropriate. I am willing to adjust my perspective. This means either accepting cognitive dissonance, or ignoring, or remaining silent on those matters which are not socially accepted in this age.