Saturday, August 16, 2008


Celibacy (brahmacariya) is the practice of abstaining from sexual intercourse (methuna). Buddhist monks and nuns must be celibate as are lay people during the time they practise either the eight or the ten Precepts. While sex can give a great deal of pleasure and emotional fulfilment it can also stimulate excessive fantasizing, intense desire, frustration and physical and emotional turbulence. A person trying to develop mental calm and clarity through meditation may find this a hindrance to their practise and choose to minimize it by becoming celibate, at least for certain periods. Thus, Buddhism’s advocacy of celibacy is not because it sees sex as dirty, animalistic or sinful, but for purely practical reasons. However, like other religions in which some people are encouraged to practise celibacy, Buddhism emphasizes the problems of sexuality and the advantages of celibacy but has little to say about the problems of celibacy.


Masta Mind said...

Hi bante, this is Yoko – me and my dad took you around Javanese ancient temples along with Samanera Nyanagupta from Taiwan DharmaDrum a couple of weeks ago.
About celibacy, I remember you, in our conversation, mentioned about monks who disrobed because they couldn’t handle celibate life well (some disrobed after 4-5 years, some after 30 years). You said that one of them (I think you’re talking about an Australian distinguished monk on this one) looked unhappy and never smiled during his monastic life, and he seemed a lot more joyful after being disrobed and married – therefore you concluded that their problem is sex, and the solution is for them is to practice Dharma in marriage life. Also I remember you spoke about several other subjects, and also write articles (especially in this blog) – on which seemingly with an emphasizing point (or conclusion/I hope I’m not mistaken): that you consider sexual problem as the root obstacle in monastic life (also in Catholic priesthood). And by that way, (if I’m not mistaken) probably you also consider it as the core problem in laypeople’s life (therefore you often say that ‘if you couldn’t handle it well, don’t be a monk’).

If my interpretation isn’t mistaken, then don’t you think probably you highlighted (or put too much weight on) the sexual problem a bit too much (both in monastic and lay people life)?

Probably indeed those monks disrobed mainly because they think they want sex(and at another side they assume they suffered all the depression due to no fulfillment of sexual need), but I don’t think that the root of the problem isn’t sex itself. Thus they won’t solve the problem by fulfilling it. They just see it one-sided: they’re monk, they’re celibate, they’re suffering, and they long for being non-monk and married. They don’t think that when they’re married and have daily sex, probably they’ll start find other problems and probably they long to return to monastic life again. When they’re chanting at a tranquil temple probably their mind wanders to sex, but probably after they get married and have routine sexual life (which probably not as passionate or arousing as their imagination during the chanting session), their mind maybe wanders back to the temple.

Indeed sex is a great attachment (and problem), but I think that the deeper (maybe more subconscious) root is insecurity.
I just don’t believe that the core of our psyche is the desire for sex (therefore I may disagree with Freud). I think the deeper core is Fear – instinctively, based on our evolution-design, we prioritize individual survival over species (unless if we’re descended from insects). As far as I know (I couldn’t quote any Buddhist literature here – I don’t read as much as you do), in Buddhist steps of enlightenment, ignorance and fear are two that are broken last after sexual desire(and sensual), attachment to body, etc etc.

Thus what I think is, those monks, they actually subconsciously suffered insecurity, and they assume the need for what’s conventionally the most attractive (and glorified) pleasure to be the reason of their suffering.

What do you think bante?

Julia F. said...

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