Celibacy

A forum for discussion of Buddhist ethics.
Myoho-Nameless
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Myoho-Nameless » Sun May 11, 2014 8:02 pm

Zhen Li wrote: I would have thought you'd know what I meant.
About apparent the irony of a NB bringing up sectarian arguments in a negative light? I thought I did, and I was saying we are not alone in having sectarian issues. Did you mean something else?
Zhen Li wrote:It's far more likely to be a debate between you and me, about your personal views on Buddhas, than between me and Nichiren.
Yes, but my intention was to put forth an opinion on Buddhism and celibacy, not to discuss personal view on Buddhas, I know people can be stuck on their views of Buddhas.

incidentally
Zhen Li wrote:How long have you been a Buddhist?
True, I am a convert, and a former Christian/atheist, and I think.....8 years, however that is long enough for me to know why you probably believe what you believe on this subject because I believed the same thing. As a guy who has higher priorities than sex it was quite easy as well. Despite my position here, I do not frequent orgies.
Zhen Li wrote: You really aren't making any sense here, and as far as I know, you are just uncomfortable with and culturally awkward with the idea of celibacy
Far from awkward, I actually have plenty of first hand knowledge of celibacy. But this stems more from ideas relating to masculinity, than it does a Buddhist influence. Ordained persons in Nichiren circles, at least as far as I know most of them, are under no obligation to be celibate, though were it me I probably would choose it.
Zhen Li wrote: If you have no desire, there's no reason to have sex, except as upaya.


I don't believe that Buddhas literally "have no desire". I don't even believe that is possible. I am aware that many Buddhists believe otherwise. And why they believe it.
Zhen Li wrote:Please quote me the Sutra where the Buddha has sex just for the sake of it.
That is not explicitly spelled out as far as I know. I would be surprised if it was. The personal lives of awakened beings are their personal lives. Celibacy would probably benefit some of them. Nichiren upheld his vows of celibacy for his own reasons, but never praised the choice in and of itself as necessary for attaining Buddhahood.

My views here and on the relationship between awakened individuals and their desires comes from the mutual possession of the ten worlds, which is a teaching imported from Chi-I to Nichiren's thought, and how the teaching have been presented to me. Buddhahood is always a potential, and within Buddhahood is all the other 9 worlds. We are never actually "purged" of the capability to experience the other states of being. But they no longer hold us back from the highest joy of awakening. We are no longer need or are attached to those lesser joys nor are we overcome with the negative states of being. Being affected by them and being overcome by them are two different things. I would rather experience this state to a greater degree before talking about it much however. My attitude towards sex may be normal but I have other issues. Why an awakened being would have a sex life would be up to the individual. But this really is just a "sectarian difference" as you put it. Though I think somewhere in the samyutta nikaya, the Buddha once praised the loving affection of couples to Ananda as "the whole of the holy life".
Zhen Li wrote:
Myoho-Nameless wrote:If you think differently, I don't care, I am happy and content with my religion and my attitude towards sex. It does not bother me, keep me up at night, nor cause me any confusion.
This isn't black and white. The fact that some people can live without sex doesn't mean that they stay up at night or are bothered in any way. Some people are, some people aren't, it all depends on your point of view and reasons for living without sex. If some people are voluntarily celibate, it might be because they don't want it, like a Buddha wouldn't, or because they don't want to want it, in which case they may be frustrated until they either overcome their want, or don't, and continue to be frustrated. People who are involuntarily celibate may simply my asexual, or they could just be desiring sex and never come across it. Once again, there is a spectrum. The world has people who fit your expectations, and people who don't.
by which I meant, "you have your religion, I have mine". And the issue of sexuality is not an important one to me in my own life. And that I am fine with people believing differently.
sorry if I rambled.
paedicabo te et irrumabo :guns:

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Zhen Li
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 8:19 pm

Myoho-Nameless wrote:Though I think somewhere in the samyutta nikaya, the Buddha once praised the loving affection of couples to Ananda as "the whole of the holy life".
That is actually kalyāṇamittatā, admirable friendship. Applicable to both monastic and lay friendships.
Myoho-Nameless wrote:I don't believe that Buddhas literally "have no desire". I don't even believe that is possible. I am aware that many Buddhists believe otherwise. And why they believe it.
This is all I really need to know to know that we don't need to pursue this any further. If your Buddhology is incompatible, and you're not willing to reconsider it, there's no point continuing talking past each other.

That said, I don't believe this is the orthodox Nichiren position.
:anjali:

Jesse
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Jesse » Sun May 11, 2014 9:37 pm

Zhen Li wrote:
Myoho-Nameless wrote:Though I think somewhere in the samyutta nikaya, the Buddha once praised the loving affection of couples to Ananda as "the whole of the holy life".
That is actually kalyāṇamittatā, admirable friendship. Applicable to both monastic and lay friendships.
Myoho-Nameless wrote:I don't believe that Buddhas literally "have no desire". I don't even believe that is possible. I am aware that many Buddhists believe otherwise. And why they believe it.
This is all I really need to know to know that we don't need to pursue this any further. If your Buddhology is incompatible, and you're not willing to reconsider it, there's no point continuing talking past each other.

That said, I don't believe this is the orthodox Nichiren position.
:anjali:
I don't think any being will have 'no desires', while they are in a living form. (human, animal, etc.). It's more likely they are in full control of their minds, and no longer fall prey to delusion like the rest of us..
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

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Zhen Li
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Zhen Li » Sun May 11, 2014 11:03 pm

I believe you are mixing up desire with contact and feeling.

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Wayfarer
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Wayfarer » Mon May 12, 2014 1:25 am

As far as the meaning of 'desire' is concerned, the term that is being glossed as 'desire' is actually the Sansrkit 'tṛṣṇā' or Pali 'tanha'. It is one of those key Buddhist terms for which there isn't a direct English equivalent. But tṛṣṇā is often translated as 'thirst' or 'craving'. In that sense, it includes craving for sensual contact, for food, sex, companionship, or anything else, but it has a deeper meaning than that. I think it also has some connotations of 'will', as in 'the will to exist'. So it is more than simply individual's craving for things, although it is that, but at like a force which drives organisms of all kinds (even very simple ones) to procreate and to seek comfort and pleasure.

That is why in the ancient world - remember, Buddhism started in the ancient world - there was a universal understanding of the need to separate yourself from 'the passions and lusts' which were generally understood to belong to your animal nature (hence, following them leading to rebirth as an animal, or worse). Buddhism wasn't nearly so 'ascetic' in that regard as the Jains and some of the other yogis, who went to extremes (hence 'middle path') - but from the viewpoint of modernism, the buddhist path still was (and is) austere, if not exactly ascetic.

We in the West tend to romanticize nature, and think that spiritual paths are about 'being one with nature'. But that idea owes a lot more to modern romanticism, than to Buddhism. In Buddhism (same as many traditional faiths) 'nature' was understood as the realm of constant change and decay - impermanence, in fact. So 'acting naturally' and 'being natural', even in the Taoist sense, isn't the same as what us moderns think of as 'being natural' which is much more like 'following your natural inclinations'. 'Following your natural inclinations' was exactly what spiritual disciplines were supposed to the remedy for. And it's a tough path, I'm sure - I for one have been spectacularly unsuccessful at it.

We have that luxury, now we have medicine and contraceptives and the rest, to 'be ourselves' to a far higher degree. And that is all fine and good, but I don't think it ought to be rationalized with regards to Buddhism. It really doesn't have anything much to do with it.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Huifeng
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Huifeng » Mon May 12, 2014 1:55 am

Though I think somewhere in the samyutta nikaya, the Buddha once praised the loving affection of couples to Ananda as "the whole of the holy life".
Sorry, but this is about as incorrect as can be. It certainly is not "loving affection of couples". Note also that the term for "holy life" is "brahmacarya", which in Buddhist contexts (like almost all ancient and classic Indian contexts) means religious celibacy. So, that would end up as "Loving affection of couples" is "the whole of celibacy"! Oops!!

The Buddha, a celibate monk, is talking to his attendant and younger cousin, Ananda, about how to live the life of a celibate monk. And he's saying that having good companions, including a good teacher, is the most important element.

The flip side would be, that one who does not have companionship of others living the celibate monastic life would find it difficult. In fact, as this thread shows, for some, they simply do not believe it possible. It's always easy to doubt what one has not seen or come into personal contact with.

~~Huifeng

santa100
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Re: Celibacy

Post by santa100 » Mon May 12, 2014 2:28 am

DN 29 lists nine things an arahant is incapable of doing, one of which is sexual activity. If an arahant's already been able to live such noble life, imagine how wondrous it must've been the way of life of a SamyaksamBuddha. That also explains the wonderful answers the Buddha gave to Dona in AN 4.36:
"Master, are you a deva?"

"No, brahman, I am not a deva."

"Are you a gandhabba?"

"No..."

"... a yakkha?"

"No..."

"... a human being?"

"No, brahman, I am not a human being."

"When asked, 'Are you a deva?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a deva.' When asked, 'Are you a gandhabba?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a gandhabba.' When asked, 'Are you a yakkha?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a yakkha.' When asked, 'Are you a human being?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a human being.' Then what sort of being are you?"

"Brahman, the fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a deva: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. The fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a gandhabba... a yakkha... a human being: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.

"Just like a red, blue, or white lotus — born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water — stands unsmeared by the water, in the same way I — born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world — live unsmeared by the world. Remember me, brahman, as 'awakened.'"

Adi
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Adi » Mon May 12, 2014 2:36 am

JKhedrup wrote:What I find funny is that the very same people who advocate "sexual freedom" don't respect the choice of some to work towards "freedom from sexuality".

Thus you find these days it is less shocking to have open relationships and polyamory than have a person who just isn't interested in "cultivating" their sexuality and prefers to invest energy in different things.
Ven. Khedrup, you bring up something that I think may be a feature to Buddhism but not so much in other religions. That being you can get actual instruction in how "to invest energy in different things" instead of simply being told to be celibate and try not to think about any alternatives. Is that a correct assumption, that Buddhist monastic training includes such practicalities? (I'm not asking for details, just a general comment about whether this is the case.)

Adi

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Zhen Li
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Zhen Li » Mon May 12, 2014 2:59 am

Isn't that foundational Dharma? Developing wholesomeness in body, speech and mind through the noble eightfold path?

Myoho-Nameless
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Myoho-Nameless » Mon May 12, 2014 3:19 am

Zhen Li wrote:That said, I don't believe this is the orthodox Nichiren position. :anjali:
Not the impression I get, and I am a reader of our sect. But we can leave it at that.
Huifeng wrote:
Though I think somewhere in the samyutta nikaya, the Buddha once praised the loving affection of couples to Ananda as "the whole of the holy life".
Sorry, but this is about as incorrect as can be. It certainly is not "loving affection of couples". Note also that the term for "holy life" is "brahmacarya", which in Buddhist contexts (like almost all ancient and classic Indian contexts) means religious celibacy. So, that would end up as "Loving affection of couples" is "the whole of celibacy"! Oops!!
~~Huifeng
Fair enough, but thats not a quote I have been using to justify my views, I just happened upon it recently, this morning in fact, and thought it applied.
paedicabo te et irrumabo :guns:

Jesse
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Jesse » Mon May 12, 2014 3:40 am

Oh yes, let's all bow to the monks and just fill the alms bowls, us idiot laypersons should learn our places and wait a few kalpas before we try for enlightenment, sorry fellas.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

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Zhen Li
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Zhen Li » Mon May 12, 2014 3:53 am

No worries, that's not the direction the conversation has been going. Reducing sensuality and craving in general is necessary for progress. A lay person can do that, but it's atypical of the lay lifestyle. Buddhism has always been pretty antinomian. But there's room for people who still live nomative lives - but you mustn't have too high expectations if you're not going to put in the investment of energy and renunciation.

Jesse
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Jesse » Mon May 12, 2014 3:59 am

Zhen Li wrote:No worries, that's not the direction the conversation has been going. Reducing sensuality and craving in general is necessary for progress. A lay person can do that, but it's atypical of the lay lifestyle. Buddhism has always been pretty antinomian. But there's room for people who still live nomative lives - but you mustn't have too high expectations if you're not going to put in the investment of energy and renunciation.
You're seriously about as dumb as a rock aren't you? How's that for right speech.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

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Zhen Li
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Zhen Li » Mon May 12, 2014 4:04 am

Oh! I sure hope so! For that'd be a boon.

Jesse
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Jesse » Mon May 12, 2014 4:18 am

Jesse wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:No worries, that's not the direction the conversation has been going. Reducing sensuality and craving in general is necessary for progress. A lay person can do that, but it's atypical of the lay lifestyle. Buddhism has always been pretty antinomian. But there's room for people who still live nomative lives - but you mustn't have too high expectations if you're not going to put in the investment of energy and renunciation.
You're seriously about as dumb as a rock aren't you? How's that for right speech.
Well I apologize about the rock comment. However, yes that is the way this conversation has been going. It may be a controversial topic, but to insinuate that laypersons are essentially wasting their time unless they are celebrate and/or renounce is pretty arrogant.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

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Zhen Li
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Zhen Li » Mon May 12, 2014 4:20 am

I didn't say anyone is wasting their time. If you're walking to Timbuktu, you don't get there in the first day. But getting somewhere is better than not getting anywhere at all. Sometimes just shifting from one butt cheek to the other can be a great relief.

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Re: Celibacy

Post by Wayfarer » Mon May 12, 2014 4:57 am

Jesse wrote:Oh yes, let's all bow to the monks and just fill the alms bowls, us idiot laypersons should learn our places and wait a few kalpas before we try for enlightenment, sorry fellas.
Rather than sarcasm, some understanding of the topic from a Buddhist perspective would be more useful. You are entitled to your own opinion, as is everyone, but just because you think something is obvious, doesn't automatically make it true. Buddhism doesn't necessarily agree with what 'the man in the street' thinks is natural and normal and simply takes for granted. If you want to learn something about it, rather than simply offer your opinions, then it is worth discussing. Otherwise it is a waste of time for all parties as we're simply talking past one another.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

Jesse
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Re: Celibacy

Post by Jesse » Mon May 12, 2014 5:07 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Jesse wrote:Oh yes, let's all bow to the monks and just fill the alms bowls, us idiot laypersons should learn our places and wait a few kalpas before we try for enlightenment, sorry fellas.
Rather than sarcasm, some understanding of the topic from a Buddhist perspective would be more useful. You are entitled to your own opinion, as is everyone, but just because you think something is obvious, doesn't automatically make it true. Buddhism doesn't necessarily agree with what 'the man in the street' thinks is natural and normal and simply takes for granted. If you want to learn something about it, rather than simply offer your opinions, then it is worth discussing. Otherwise it is a waste of time for all parties as we're simply talking past one another.
I understand the topic fine, its peoples idiotic attitudes I can't grasp. Tbh I'm quite sick of Buddhism. :zzz:
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

JKhedrup
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Re: Celibacy

Post by JKhedrup » Mon May 12, 2014 5:55 am

That being you can get actual instruction in how "to invest energy in different things" instead of simply being told to be celibate and try not to think about any alternatives. Is that a correct assumption, that Buddhist monastic training includes such practicalities?
I would say so, certainly my teachers have always been accessible when I have sought out advice regarding this issue of celibacy . Fortunately I guess, for me, this is not the main aspect of ordination I struggle with. The part about being a member of a group and having less individual freedom is greater struggle. Now I am in a role where I can be more autonomous, but these years spent living as part of strict monastic communities was definitely beneficial, it help me work on my ego, my likes and dislikes, etc.

smcj
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Re: Celibacy

Post by smcj » Mon May 12, 2014 6:01 am

JKhedrup wrote:...this is not the main aspect of ordination I struggle with. The part about being a member of a group and having less individual freedom is greater struggle. Now I am in a role where I can be more autonomous, but these years spent living as part of strict monastic communities was definitely beneficial, it help me work on my ego, my likes and dislikes, etc.
You're a better man than I am. Group living drives me nuts.
1. No traditional Buddhist sect, Tibetan or otherwise, considers deities to be fictional. (DW post/Seeker242)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
4. Shentong] is the completely pure system that, through mainly teaching the luminous aspect of the mind, holds that the fruitions--kayas and wisdoms--exist on their own accord. (Karmapa XIII)

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