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Sex and Buddhism

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Saturday, 12 Aug 2023, 11:14


I realise I haven’t really touched on this subject much. It is an important topic, so will write a little about it.

It is very challenging to become free of the desire for intimacy. The Buddha said if there was another energy as strong as sexual desire, no one would ever get enlightened, including himself.

For someone trying to go beyond, it can be helpful to look at the drawbacks of romantic relationships. But there isn't anything wrong with romance. It is not evil. And a lay Buddhist is not expected to be celibate, only monastics are.

The instruction in the noble eightfold path under right action just says to refrain from sexual misconduct, i.e., don’t cause harm with sex.

To be honest I am a bit afraid of sex now, afraid of romance. Which might be a strange thing for a bloke to say. But there you go...

It depends on what people want.

Intimacy is not wrong, and neither is celibacy.

Platonic relationships are one way to connect with someone and fall in love without the biology getting in the way. And you can have as many of those as you like.

What matters in the end is one's inner development and spiritual progress, that's the real treasure in this life. The tendencies of the mind we have cultivated, the beautiful emotions such as generosity, kindness, goodwill, compassion, equanimity, samadhi and peacefulness, among others. That is what we take with us when we die. Everything else gets separated from us.

For those on the bodhisattva path, there's a story of when Gotama in a past life under the name of Sumedho made a vow to become a Buddha in front of Dipankara Buddha. Dipankara predicted he would be successful and would one day become a Buddha called Gotama.

A woman who overheard this was so moved by Sumedho's wish to become a Buddha, she offered to help him perfect the qualities of a Buddha (the paramis) over the course of his many lives. Sumedho declined her offer and said he was going to live in solitude as an ascetic in the forest. Dipankara Buddha cautioned him however and told Sumedho not to reject her offer as he would need her support. He said all Buddhas in the past have relied upon the support of a spiritual partner to help them develop the paramis. So perhaps for a bodhisattva a partner is a part of the path, at least until the very last lifetime when one becomes fully enlightened and reaches Buddhahood.

When someone ordains as a monk or nun it isn't because they are looking for sex or food. It is because they are searching for higher things, they want to go beyond all that. So, monastics are expected to be celibate, but they get support from the monastic community to help them get over the difficulties of it.

It is much harder to do this by oneself as a lay follower. It is not impossible though.

But I don’t think lay followers should get too hung up about sex. Just follow the precept about avoiding sexual misconduct. Don’t cause harm with sex. Anger and hate are a far greater stain on the personality than desire.

There is a story in the Pali canon of a woman who reached the first stage of enlightenment (stream-entry). She then got married and had ten kids. That was after realising stream-entry.

In fact, it is not until one has reached the third stage of enlightenment (non-returner), that lust and aversion completely go from the mind for good. But that is an advanced stage of enlightenment, and there are few like that in the world. To reach that stage one needs to master right samadhi. When one masters samadhi and can enter it at will and remain in that state for as long as they wish, they have a pleasure that is not dependent on anything outside themselves. It is said the bliss of right samadhi is greater than any pleasure offered by the world, and one naturally becomes a celibate then.

Overcoming the sex drive is not an easy thing to do. It's part of our biology. Part of our nature, our bodies and minds. There are whole sections of the mind devoted to reproduction. We release chemicals and hormones that alter our mood and behaviour when we are attracted to someone. The urge to reproduce is innate in us all, and a very powerful force. Whether we like it or not it is part of the human experience.

For a lay follower, this doesn't have to be a problem.
My thoughts are, if two people love each other and they want to be together, then why on Earth shouldn't they? What's wrong with that?

It’s okay to enjoy life, to enjoy intimacy, just be mindful of the craving and clinging, that’s what causes unhappiness.

Nothing conditioned lasts, it is empty. Empty of self.

Sense impressions create either pleasant or unpleasant feelings.
The mind craves for more of the pleasant sensations and less of the unpleasant ones.
This leads to the clinging, identification and becoming which causes suffering.

One can enjoy the pleasant moments, but when they’re gone don’t pine for them, let them go. Not because it is a commandment or anything like that. It’s because our attachment to things and the pain of wanting makes us unhappy. Peace of mind can be found by not clinging to conditioned phenomena, knowing it is impermanent and not-self.

Peace and love to everyone. I am going to have a rest from blogging for a month or so. Got a lot of catching up to do with studying. My father’s death caught me out and I fell behind. I have been struggling to get back into it, and there’s loads of revision to do for an upcoming exam in the middle of September.

Here is a good article for anyone interested in exploring this topic further:

https://www.againstthestream.com/read/buddhism-sexuality

I think it is a good thing for a person to learn how to be okay on their own. When one feels comfortable and secure by themselves; then if they meet someone they really like, and it becomes romantic. That person will be coming from a stable place. Building the relationship on solid ground. There won't be the wanty, clingy, angsty stuff that often kills relationships. It will make that person easier to be with, to talk to, and hopefully then the relationship will be a serene and happy one – easy-going. A blessing and not a needy painful experience.

May we all be safe, well, happy and feel at ease.
May all beings know peace of mind.

...

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Asoka

What heartbreak taught me

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 2 Oct 2023, 07:45


There was a time I yearned for romance. But that has passed now. I am not looking for that anymore. Falling in love is suffering, and I will never fall in love again. I did fall in love, but she didn’t want me. And when that happend, happiness left me like breath evaporating from a mirror.

Relationships are suffering. I don't need anyone’s emotional support; I don’t need a partner. I don't need anybody. I am okay by myself. And it is okay to be alone.

Besides, I am no one special, I am not particularly attractive, I am nearly 50, and financially unstable, I can barely make ends meet. It wouldn’t be fair on anyone else, but by myself it doesn’t matter if I am poor. I often contemplate becoming homeless because I struggle to live the household life, it is stressful trying to survive and live in these dark times. There’s a longing in me to escape it all, to leave the dusty household life behind and live simply, with few cares and burdens.

I have nothing to give anyway, nothing to offer in a relationship. I am not what women want in a man. And that's fine, I don’t care anymore. That’s why love can be cruel, because not everyone gets that happy-ever-after that Hollywood sells. And those that do often pay a great cost for it in the end.

 Perhaps it is a blessing to be alone. Without anyone to think about. I have the freedom to decide how I best want to use what little time I have left on this Earth.

It is one reason I write so much. Maybe these pieces of writing will help someone else out there. I feel if it helps just one person, it was worth it. 

I have not enjoyed my life; it has been mostly shit if I'm honest. Those brief drops of happiness are just not worth it in the end. The pain far outweighs the pleasure. The thought of coming back here and having to go through all this again, the thought of living another life is unbearable. It is that thought that keeps me making effort.

I am done with wanting things. I relinquish it all. All desire, all longing, all attachment. I release it all.

This world is a slaughterhouse, a cruel and brutal place for most of us. There’s much suffering here, so many beings suffering, and there’s a heartbreaking mass extinction event happening. That one just feels completely powerless to do anything about.

Mass extinction of life on this planet for what? A plastic deluded modern existence. The empty consumer dream of Ken and Barbie. Killing the forests, killing the oceans, and killing ourselves for what? Why? How did it come to this? What good has come from the insatiable greed of our modern times?

It is all so inane, tragic and vacuous. 

I plan to make this my last lifetime; I don’t want to return here. To incarnate here means another being will have to suffer so I can exist, that is the sorrow and horror of interdependence. It isn't beautiful, it is deeply disturbing. For one lifeform to exist it must feed on another. And no lifeform wants to be eaten. All beings value their lives. The cycle of life is not unicorns and rainbows. It is a horror show. 

 Even if you are one of the lucky few who succeed in this challenging modern world. If you do get to live that over-hyped American dream. It all one day gets taken away from you, torn away. All that effort, all that hard work to build the perfect material life is for nought in the end. It is a con. A scam.

What really matters in the end? What doesn't get taken away from you when you die?

When I sat next to my dad, holding his hand, while he fought for his life in that hospital room. I clearly saw anicca, anatta, and dukkha. The three characteristics of conditioned phenomenon. Translated as: impermanence, not-self, suffering.

I finally understood dependent origination. Life is fragile, the body is fragile. When those conditions that support it cease, so does life.

What is there to cling to?

What is real?

What is non-delusion?


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