Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Masturbation (sukkavisatthi) is the act of stimulating one’s own sexual organs to the stage of orgasm. At the time of the Kama Sutra, male masturbation was referred to as ‘seizing the lion’ (simhakranta). Interestingly, some people during the Buddha’s time believed that masturbation could have a therapeutic effect on the mind and the body (Vin.III,109), although the Buddha strongly disagreed with this. The Parajaka section of the Vinaya gives rather graphic descriptions of different ways males masturbated and also mentions a nun using a device called a matthaka, probably a dildo (Vin.IV,261). In the Kama Sutra dildos are called sahayya.
According to the Vinaya, it is an offence of some seriousness for monks or nuns to masturbate (Vin.III,111) although the Buddha gave no guidance on this matter to lay people. However, I Buddhism could agree with contemporary medical opinion that masturbation is a normal expression of the sexual drive and is physically harmless and psychologically harmless as long as it does not become a preoccupation or a substitute for ordinary sexual relations. Guilt and self-disgust about masturbating is certainly more harmful than masturbation itself.

I had tried to find a picture for yesterday’s posting on pornography but had difficulties locating an image that was appropriate for the theme and yet not offensive. I settled on the pictures of some old Man and Adam magazines ( they did a great service in the 60’s in introducing numerous young Australian males including myself to the mysteries of sex although in the most tame and innocuous way I might add). Having finished my posting I happened to find this hilarious picture. I couldn’t use it yesterday so I’m sharing it with you today.


Masta Mind said...

I ever read at an internet site(probably wikipedia)that the self-disgust and guilty feeling is caused by our baby experience. It says that a baby likes to touch or play with his own penis(I don't know about baby-girl), and his parents would yell at him that it's bad, it's disgusting - therefore this is planted at our superego or whatever it is and rises again during puberty.

This may be true. I find no moral reason(in the context of harming others or one's self) for people to feel guilty about masturbation. And don't the animals do it too? therefore St. Augustine's(and Catholicism's) condemnation of it as an act against humans' nature is baseless.

tumbleweed said...

Shravasti Dhammika,

Thank you for your writing. I've recently begun experiencing some of the early absorption states (primarily pithi/rapture) in sustained periods of samadhi/concentration practice. On retreat, I had refrained from masturbation for many days, and I can't help suspecting that there is a connection. When I began to masturbate again, much of the nimitha I had been experiencing on a daily basis seemed to be more difficult to cultivate and/or detect. I know that there are many dangers for "setting goals" in meditation, but we are also told to "incline the mind." Do you think it's possible that the experiences of Samadhi can be hindered by sexual release?

Why else would almost every deep contemplative tradition (long recording "religious" experience/absorption phenomena) maintain such rigid precepts around sexual activity? Perhaps there is a deeper, mechanical, explanation for this?



ryguy913 said...

In reply to tumbleweed, i believe the explanation for this would be rather simple.

In my limited understanding, jhana states or any other types of meditative absorption reply upon a greatly developed factor of physical and mental calm, followed by mental concentration, followed by discernment.

The stimulation of stressful bodily sensations such as arise in the process of masturbation would seem to run contrary to those factors very strongly. If sitting and focusing one's mind on the breath is the instruction, akin to getting a pool of water to settle and become level on its surface, then arousing one's sensual passion is akin to shaking the pool and intentionally disturbing the water, creating ripples and turbulence.

I hope that makes sense, and if I have understood this point incorrectly, I hope someone more learned than I will comment here and point out the fault in my words.


ryguy913 said...

Also, in reply to tumbleweed, my understanding is that nimittha are like road-signs. Imagine yourself driving along a dirt road, hoping to come to a town. You begin to notice road signs (for instance, indicating pedestrian crossing, or the name of some town ahead) along the side of the road, where before there had been none. This would be a likely sign of an upcoming civilized area, but hardly a cause for much excitement, because your goal is the town itself, a place of rest for the night, let's say.

My point is that nimittha, again in my understanding, are something that typically arise, but are nothing to get excited about at all. Some people seem to experience them, and others don't. And, as for goals, there ought to be a very clear and ever-present goal in one's practice, as far as I understand, which is the elimination of the entire mass of suffering, complete cessation, unbinding, total freedom. There's nothing wrong with being goal-oriented. It's important to have the proper goal in mind, however, and if one takes pithi or sukkha or nimittha as the goal, one is mistaken. These are all inconstant and subject to change, hence they are all involved with subtle forms of stress and therefore can be identified as other than the goal. As I said in my earlier post, they might be taken as signs that one is on the right path, and certainly are not proper causes for dejection or items for aversion. Masturbation, (especially if frequent) on the other hand, if one is serious about attaining the goal, might be a practice worth abandoning.

Please do inquire, if anything I have said here is offensive or unclear.


CompassionSensuality said...

A Suggestion for "Metta (Yes, Even Self-Pleasure) Sensuality"

Hello Shravasti,

It's nice to see someone dedicated to his Dharma who seems free of some of the (fear-based as to love-based) rules and regulations that can pervade any tradition.

I have no pretenses of having great Buddhist insights or knowledge, yet I have walked a rather long and at times quite terrifying life-path which sometimes yields some modicum of potentially wider and kinder awareness.

What follows is a response to you, yet also for those who may find sexuality (perhaps especially self-pleasure) as some so-called danger to one's spirituality.

The inclusion of the opening quotations below will make sense as the whole posting is read.

"May all beings be happy.
May they live in safety and joy.
All living beings,
whether weak or strong,
Old or young, man or woman,
smart or foolish,
Healthy or disabled,
seen or unseen,
Near or distant,
born or to be born,
May they all be happy."

~ Metta Sutra

"The most intense stimuli is the desire to express sexual energy. When combined with Love, it is the most powerful of all, and remains a virtue only to the degree that it is used discriminately with wisdom, compassion, and understanding.

With this understanding comes a responsibility to use the extra energy gained in loving and positive ways."

~ Mantak Chia

"I visited all quarters with my mind
Nor found I any dearer than myself
Self is likewise to every other dear;
Who loves himself will never harm an other."

~ Buddha, Udana 5.1

"In the practice of sacred sex, masturbation is not only a beautiful and loving act, it is also a key for learning. Eastern philosophies view the body as a microcosm of the universe: all that is in the heavens and the earth is contained in the human body. So to make love to oneself is to make love to the All."

~ Al Link & Pala Copeland

My own path has traveled through both a mostly solitary life and one in which I had to eventually go through the "close the books and open to your own soul". But also was and am someone who is not able to so-called "transcend" my love of sensuality, so I had to find a way to integrate it.

While the seeds were first noticed almost 40 years ago, one of the turning points was this thought...

"Is there really much of a difference between the atomic structure of a Buddhist prayer wheel, a rosary, a mala or any other tool used to somehow get in touch with some higher and wider state of awareness/consciousness -- or that of the human body, even the genitals?"

It is intention, not form that matters. What is "holy" is when it is of the heart or Heart.

Which then lead me to...

"What if one could use sensual pleasure--yes, even self-pleasuring--as a conduit for prayer for the release of suffering?"

I discovered Metta and the quotations above long after starting to explore and experience the above. Likewise, the definite high that sexual pleasure brings and its effects on our brains and thus perception can fool us in believing that this form of prayer, practice or offering is somehow better or superior to any other.

Not so.

The fear-based mind (ego) can both glorify or crucify anything within oneself or an other. Such "Metta sensuality" is simply an other form of prayer, service, karma yoga.

An albeit pleasant one.

Some purists may scoff at such "sensual Metta" yet in this seeming state of experience of lila/maya invites both graciousness and humility that always comes down to one thing:

To be and do it from the Heart as best one can.

Perfection isn't possible in this place.
But loving intention certainly is.

It only takes one thought.

If interested in "how" one can do this as per my suggestion above, feel free to visit my website. No catch, no hustle, no preach -- it's basically soul freeware, so to speak.


Philip Steven Knight

Unknown said...

Shavrasti Dammika

Thank you for recommending the Doniger /Kakar Kama Sutra and for other posts on your blog.

I like the calm water versus ripples comment above by ryguy913

Pradipika notes that all of creation seeks to emit semen and that this universal urge is no cause for shame.

a humble perusal of Ayurveda suggests that the source of our personal physical and spiritual vigor, a well digested diet feeds rasa dhatu (plasma) becoming in a day or two giving rise to rakta dhatu (red corpuscles) which matures in three days causing formation of mamsa dhatu (muscle) giving rise in a week or ten days to medha dhatu (body fat)which forms basis for asthi dhatu (skeleton) over a couple of weeks and this causes majja dhatu (nerves)to infuse the cavities of bone and mature into shukra dhatu in men and arta dhatu in women a month or more after the meal. this process occurs with various efficiency, depending on the diet, climate and overall state of health.
Frequent orgasm strains the nerves and drains the precious reserves that have accumulated through good dietary and karmic practices. Excessive orgasm weakens agni (digestive fire) thereby increasing ama (undigested food which blocks spirituality and causes bodily disease and stench).
Lack of orgasm can also cause spiritual/physical blockage - we just don't hear about that as much because it's not an epidemic in the West, if you know what I mean. Here more likely is that people take pills to overstimulate their exhausted bodies to superhuman levels of sensuality which pop culture demands of us.
Therefore masturbation like other sexuality is not always sinful and destructive, but just be aware of relative ability to preserve strength for the One you love.
That's why coach Grandstaff said not to beat it the night before the competition.

Kapha (juicy / young) types benefit with vigorous stimulation and the most frequency. Pitta dosha (firey / middle aged) somewhat middling. Vata dosha ( thin / frail/ older ) benefits from less frequent sex activity and are more easily deranged by oversexxing. As digestion proceeds, ambrosia wells up sushumna nadi, progressively nourishing each chakra and ultimately giving rise to the most valuable of human endeavor and civilized culture as Kundalini zeniths in Sahasrara. Draining shukra dhatu too often for one's personal situation therefore is wasteful and counterproductive to reaching one's goals in each realm -Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.

If someone will explain to me any error in my understanding, I'd be most grateful to learn correctly.
Aloha Uhuru Ma

Robert Frost said...

The article is great and I can't stop laughing after seeing the image, it says everything :D

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Anonymous said...

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obat kuat tahan lama

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