RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Fabien, modified 2 Months ago.

daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 2 Join Date: 12/31/20 Recent Posts
Hello all,

It's been some time now that I have doubts about my sexual orientation, interest and quite don't understand what's happening and what to do with that. Add to this my questionning on what love is...
As a teenager I didn't understand what my friends were searching by looking at girls. At that time I never experienced some sexual excitement (like an erection) or any particular desire when looking at girls (neither boys actually). Maybe that was in dormancy or even blocked since the time I was shocked by the first time a pornographic movie was unexpectedly presented to me. I was interested in some girls but not sexually and anyway that wasn't reciprocal. I also prefered to stay with girls rather than boys and that earned me to be considered a faggot at that time. Well... I usually ignored that.

Later I had a girlfriend, but that created tremendous agitation so I prefered to stop the relationship after a few months.
After a retreat (Goenka tradition), by thinking at the precepts, I understood that sex is actually not forbidden. Ok. So I finally tried again but still with a feeling that this might not be good, probably some guilt. I also decided that this would be the last try. Since then I am with the same girlfriend (someone I knew before I formally started meditation). A few years ago when I found the maps in MCTB and after a very frightning experiences at a Goenka 10d course (what they call bangha, but I'm not even sure that was that and it happened on my full head, not the whole body) I went for a retreat in Mahasi style.
After looking at the maps in MCTB, I read that at some time one might have to solve problems about ones sexuality, especially bisexuality. That's probably where I am. This question started to appear after a few retreats. Maybe having read that in the maps also contributed to my questionning. Finally I felt like I have to try. I spoke about these "desires" to my girlfriend which agreed that I give a try to see if I prefer men. I started meeting some bi/gay guys, discussing with them. For the first time of my life I had the begining of an erection just by my mental projection and discussing with a guy. I also met another one, we barely touched each other (which I found very pleasant and very natural) but I couldn't get any further with him. After that I joined my girlfriend and I wanted to have sex because of some sort of excitement (agitation ?) it created. Everything was done in respect I hope since my girlfriend was aware of it, but the guys also knew my situation. It is very likely I was "in love" (new feeling I never experienced ?). But I couldn't actually go any further.

I was blocked by various things, mainly fear & agitation. Fear to break the precepts and its consequences, thought that it is not right and that in case I fell in love there would only be problems: sadness of/for my girlfriend, but sometimes also the opposite feelings. Disgust for the body (I already had that before, that's probably what kept me so long away for all that physicial stuff related to love/sex). Questionning on whether my action to try anything with guys is sincere. And also the consquences for the male partners (in case they get attached) or even for the one who already had a partner (not telling his partner he sees other guys). Since the risk to get an STD is increased in relations between two men this also blocks me which I also see like another aspect of fear (despite the ways to protect against them).
I'm not really sure that I actually have strong interest in sex. Would that mean that I'm asexual ? Does that have any sense ?
Currently when I see some men in the street I find some attractive, some aren't. I'm not sure that the sexual part does actually interest me, except maybe anatomical curiosity and have male friends with whom I could speek about anything related to sex,couple relationship. I could also simply be looking for some men's affection/relationship.

I have already discussed a few years with a psychologist about all these topics, almost tried with men to get a clearer idea, but still, something is blocking any further progress on that topic.

So basically this looks like fear and probably also a misunderstanding of the 3rd precept. What is wholesome, what is not ? I'm totally unable to say, so in some way I block everything related to it and keep maintaining things as they are.

So what is actually my question... What do those who are enlightened have to say about that ? How to deal with all that stuff and still get some spiritual progress ? I tend to think it is breaking the precepts to try with a man while already having a girlfriend even if all those involved say they agree. But does one really agree with the possible consequences (breaking a relationship for example and all its effects) ? That doesn't seem to go in the direction of happiness even though it may bring more happinness (pleasure ?) on the moment ? That may create sorrow on all sides. Okay, theoretically this sorrow will change, but still, all these desires for that ? All this is mainly unpleasant.

I probably just have to ignore all this until its strength gets lower, but it comes up periodically.

Thank you for your clarification
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Richard Zen, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 1623 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
I would be careful about labels and sexual orientation. You can get neurotic no matter what labels you use. Focus on living an interesting lifestyle alone and plan what that life would look like because it has more of an effect on the kind of people you'll end up with. Lifestyle is what most people are looking to match or complement.

Remember all desires can get boring at some point. Love is more about the tenderness that lasts between two people. Learn as much as you can about the cycle of abuse as well. That's a bigger trap that many get into because boredom and longing make people go back and forth. People want what they don't have and discount what they have.

The rest is actual sexual exploration which you do on your own as safely as you can and only you can decide what your libido likes more and be open to the libido shifting objects. This idea that libido is fixed is inaccurate for many people. It may ossiclate frequently or go through big changes in stages of life. That's why fixed labels are a kind of repression and clinging.

The main practice to use in Buddhism to help is to look at drawbacks to desires, and not like a person who is overly prudish, but one who sees relationships as something to enhance your life and not destroy it. Again I'm talking about destruction that is willfully done, not natural problems with aging or things that can't be controlled. Stay away from the cycle of abuse, superficial relationships based only on sex, and focus on the life you want to live and how you can complement others because they have to think about the same thing.

Also allow for being alone for long periods of time and instead of being in loneliness, take advantage of the time to live how you want to live.
agnostic, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 1506 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
I'm sorry to hear about your early traumatic experience with sex.

I found my sexual orientation dissolving with heavy meditation, also my desire to do anything about it. I'm 47 and married with kids though.

It seems to me like sexuality is mostly a mental and social fabrication. Obviously there are some differences between body parts, but the way they are connected up to the brain seems remarkably malleable.

I think the most important thing for a long term relationship is being good friends, as long as you can find a sexual arrangement which works for both (or all) of you.

I think it's more important to study your own mind and body than slavishly follow the precepts, although they might help you to do that.

Good luck navigating this complex territory!
agnostic, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 1506 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Forgot to add - I'm not enlightened either!
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J W, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 369 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
sobjaz:

So basically this looks like fear and probably also a misunderstanding of the 3rd precept. What is wholesome, what is not ? I'm totally unable to say, so in some way I block everything related to it and keep maintaining things as they are.

So what is actually my question... What do those who are enlightened have to say about that ? How to deal with all that stuff and still get some spiritual progress ? I tend to think it is breaking the precepts to try with a man while already having a girlfriend even if all those involved say they agree. But does one really agree with the possible consequences (breaking a relationship for example and all its effects) ? That doesn't seem to go in the direction of happiness even though it may bring more happinness (pleasure ?) on the moment ? That may create sorrow on all sides. Okay, theoretically this sorrow will change, but still, all these desires for that ? All this is mainly unpleasant.

Well I am not enlightened so maybe I am not qualified to answer, but I think you answered your own question.  It is not immoral for a man to be interested in men, it's natural. I think that your girlfriend is somewhat open to letting you explore these feelings says alot about her and her desire for you to feel happy and fulfilled.

Perhaps this is actually a part of your spiritual journey. The fact that you have so many conflicted and difficult emotions related to your sexuality means that there's likely a lot of 'stuff' there that could be explored.  There's nothing "wrong" with you.
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Steph S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 647 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Honestly, unless you want to be an ordained monk, you probably don't have to worry abou the precepts related to sex that talk about being celibate. In my understanding, for lay people unwholesomeness regarding sex would mean sex that is not consensual, like sexual assault/rape/sexual abuse. So as long as the sex you're having is consensual between all parties, then there really isn't a problem in my opinion. Go for it and do what makes you and your partner(s) happy.

I agree with Richard and agnostic that sexuality—and gender!!!—are much more fluid than many are willing to admit to themselves. There's a wide spectrum of sexualities and genders. Don't limit yourself. Reach for the stars because there's a wide, fun, awesome world with regards to all this! I'm personally waiting for the paradise on the other side of the rainbow when that idea is widely accepted by all. haha! Maybe you're bi, maybe you're bi-curious, maybe you're pan, maybe somewhere in between. Again, do what makes you happy. I have found that over the years my sexual orientation and gender have become much more fluid - if you want to put a label on it, I'm probably on the pansexual side of the spectrum and I don't really even identify as a woman - I'm more on the side of what the kids these days would call non-binary. I'm really happy with all this and see no problems with it, even if it changes again at some point.

You don't necessarily need to put a label on it or figure out an exact sexual orientation if you don't want to. Only do that if you find it helpful - one example would be if having that label would be important to you for feeling part of the larger LGBTQ+ community, or if you want to engage in any sort of activism and feel that identifying as queer would be important for that. Instead of having a strict label, you could also use a general catch all like "queer" if you want to. 

I'd also advise to keep seeing your psychologist. Shame and guilt related to sex are big ones, and not something that can be swept under the rug. These aren't things that meditation on its own can probably solve for you and so continuing with therapy is probaly a really good idea.
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Siavash, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 1198 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Also I think it's helpful to have a historical perspective.

There are no universal rules written with gold in the 7th sky by the great god. It's all just some social contracts that people have made so that they could live with each other.
Martin, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 264 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Siavash:
Also I think it's helpful to have a historical perspective.

There are no universal rules written with gold in the 7th sky by the great god. It's all just some social contracts that people have made so that they could live with each other.


+1 Siavash.

I think humans have a natural tendency to create opinions about sexual activity, but the specific natures of the opinions change over time and differ from place to place. From an insight perspective, the arising of the ideas, feelings, rules, labels, etc. in our minds, might be as important, if not more important, than the actual activities. Then again, I wouldn't want to get too hung up about the arising of the ideas, feelings, rules, labels, etc. either, as they are just the results of conditions, and are as natural as anything else. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 5303 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Hi and welcome to the forum! What a beautiful way to write a first post, by being authentic and vulnerable and reaching out to the sangha with deeply existential concerns and how they intersect with the practice. I think you have already received some great advice (although I wouldn't necessarily advice people to stay away from casual sex when practiced with mutual respect, honesty and carefulness and not as an addiction). I'm not enlightened either, but those who I know of who are closest to it as far as I can tell, and who are not monastic, would have no issues with anything of what you have been exploring. One of my teachers is pansexual and polyamorous and genderfluid, pretty much just like me (emphasizing the openness rather than the labels, as roles and types of relationships have changed over time). I think it's wonderful that you and your girlfriend are able to talk about this in such a compassionate way and that you can have the space to explore buth sexuality and asexuality openly and without pressure. 
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Steph S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 647 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
(although I wouldn't necessarily advice people to stay away from casual sex when practiced with mutual respect, honesty and carefulness and not as an addiction).

+1
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 2437 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
hi Sobjaz, and welcome to DhO. What a beautiful post, thank you for it. It is open, honest, vulnerable, wholly authentic, and scrupulous, conscientious, saturated with deep moral considerations. It's when our practice brings us to moments like this that it seems most beautiful to me; this is why we are on the path, to bring us to such vast, rich points in our lives consciously and openly, and to find the way through them in the light of faith and practice. So thank you.

There are some wonderful views here on the thread already, and amen to them. I hope you will feel the warmth and support of this sangha, and find it a help and a support on your path.

Your specific situation brings some memories to my own mind. As a Catholic-Buddhist hybrid, I practiced Centering Prayer at various points, and I remember, when I lived in San Francisco, on a weekend retreat with Thomas Keating at the Old St. Mary's Church in Chinatown, being struck by the fact that everyone there was either a nun, a former nun, a gay man, or me. I sort of felt like a former gay nun, lol, and that's how I was treated, in the best way. The gay men were so beautiful, and getting to know them I was amazed at the depth of their equanimity in participating in a tradition in which, technically speaking, their very existence, and certainly their sex lives, were mortal sins. They had found the heart of the Christian contemplative tradition and were thriving in it, and they were more forgiving of the Church than the Church was, officially, of them! I don't think any tradition can survive without a large number of people who, at any given moment, are way better than the religion's conventional state of the art, and this is a vivid example of that. One of the highlights of that weekend for me was when the retreat ended, a group of us went out and had some drinks together. Getting a little hammered in a Chinatown bar with a bunch of nuns and gay men after a weekend of contemplative prayer seems to me about as good as it gets on the path. Those people's senses of humor were quite black, rowdy, free-wheeling, and beautiful. They knew better than anyone, from their angles, how fucked up a religion can be; and they knew better than anyone how beautiful the heart of spirituality can be.

I later moved to Virginia, and had another round or two of Centering Prayer retreats. One of the monks who came to the area periodically to give the retreats was from one of the Boston-area monasteries that were sort of the ground zero for the whole centering prayer movement getting started, and he had been in on it from the beginning. At that time, he was going through the process of very gently and consciously coming out as bi-sexual, and the way he handled it was exquisite. Last time I was in touch with him, some months ago, he had retired from the grind of going out on the road to give retreats and was living in his home monastery in his gentle and beautiful way. When I think of what a saint might look like, I think of him.

It seems like you're good, right now: doing what you need to be doing at just the pace you need to be doing it, and paying close attention to the different levels of realities and complexities and spontaneous insights that emerge as your path unfolds. It's a privilege, that you're sharing that path with us. Thank you.

love, tim
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Nicky2, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 48 Join Date: 4/18/20 Recent Posts
sobjaz:

After a retreat (Goenka tradition), by thinking at the precepts, I understood that sex is actually not forbidden. Ok. 


Hello

Its unlikely you understand what the precept is and you will get similar false responses saying things like consensual sex does not break the precept (which is not what Buddhism teaches). 

Since rape & sexual violence are against the non-religious secular law, obviously Buddhism teaches something more conservative than the current secular law. 

The Buddhist precept has little relationship to contemporary secular sexual liberal norms because the Buddhist precept, per the old scriptures, basically restricts sex to marriage. The old Buddhist scriptures teach: (i) parents protect their children until they arrange a suitable marriage; and (ii) to have sex with a person protected by their family is prohibited. There appear to be zero examples of non-married wholesome relationships in the old Buddhist scriptures. 

Sex can be a form of very intimiate personal pleasure and can cause great suffering when individuals attached to pleasure are seperated from who they love or crave for. 

Also, as a man, I have found women generally are affected more strongly from heartbreak than men. This is why, at a time in my life, I gave up having uncommitted or thoughtless sexual interactions with women. 

I suppose what i am inferring here is, as a non-homosexual man, I do not what it is like to be sexual penetrated and to have a sense of self-righteous rage and entitlement when abandoned by a lover. 

In short, heterosexual or homosexual is not relevant. I have met enough heart-broken and messed-up homosexuals, let alone heterosexuals.

If you discover homosexual sex arouses you (since you give the impression of not being strongly aroused by heterosexual sex), if you experiment with homosexual sex, then you may still fall into the sphere of getting seperated from what you love and thus a path of decline. 

I have two sets of homosexual friends who are older than 50 years old. A very promiscuous lonely man who is an alcoholic. I occassionally spend time with him with he is lonely and needs someone to talk with. An admirable heatlthy couple who have been together for 49 years. They often assist me with certain matters in life. 

As for bi-sexuality, this appears not possible under Buddhism because Buddhism instructs sexual fidelity. To be bi-sexual means having more than one partner. 

As for what others say about this & that so-called "Buddhist teacher", Western Buddhism has a history of sexual predators masquering as "teachers", such as Chogyam Trumpa, Sogyal Rinpoche, Noah Levine, Surya Das, etc, the list is endless. It best to ignore these false ideas about Buddhism. 

Buddhism is about non-harming. Buddhists practising non-harming do not have uncommitted sex and especially do not have sex with their students & devotees

Kind regards 
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 2437 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Nicky2

Its unlikely you understand what the precept is and you will get similar false responses saying things like consensual sex does not break the precept (which is not what Buddhism teaches). 


Since rape & sexual violence are against the non-religious secular law, obviously Buddhism teaches something more conservative than the current secular law. 

The Buddhist precept has little relationship to contemporary secular sexual liberal norms because the Buddhist precept, per the old scriptures, basically restricts sex to marriage. The old Buddhist scriptures teach: (i) parents protect their children until they arrange a suitable marriage; and (ii) to have sex with a person protected by their family is prohibited. There appear to be zero examples of non-married wholesome relationships in the old Buddhist scriptures. 
Nicky, it is impossible for me to understand what good you believed your post would do in this situation. Are you advocating adherence to "the precept" and to the whole of conservative renunciate Buddhist morality? This would appear to be so, here, but you characterize your own state of the art relationship as "committed." I think this could be taken as more or less a given, in most of mainstream Western Buddhist circles, that a "committed" sexual relationship is legit and poses no fatal obstacle on the path. But the hardcore reading of the marital-sex-only school would be that a committed relationship is "living in sin." So you yourself are okay with that degree of accomodation to contemporary sexual norms and that degree of variation from the strict reading of the precept(s). You wouldn't necessarily get that from this post, but you are cutting yourself slack here that you seem to allow only grudgingly to sobjaz, who is in fact in a deeply committed relationship with his girlfriend, which is part of his moral, and spiritual dilemma right now.

And what do you have to offer him, on the actual dilemma of coming to terms with his intimations of bisexuality, or possibly homosexuality? Why, that's clear from the precepts too, right?
Nicky2

As for bi-sexuality, this appears not possible under Buddhism because Buddhism instructs sexual fidelity. To be bi-sexual means having more than one partner. 

So your answer, by the book, is that his moral situation does not exist. You already did the slick switch here, because it is strictly speaking monogamous marital fidelity that Buddhism instructs, which you have rationalized in your own life as "commitment" or sexual fidelity to your partner. But that is apparently as much contemporary rationalization as you are willing to allow: the slack you cut yourself is okay, basically. This is called hypocrisy, when only your own rationalizations are valid, and you hold everyone else to the letter of the heartless law.

In fact, sexual fidelity is not necessarily confined to monogamy, in practice. I spent some years in a commune where we practiced what we called "polyfidelity," a form of group marriage in which we were sexually faithful within the family, meaning we slept only with our multiple partners in the family. It is easy enough to imagine a similar sexual fidelity, in a similarly "committed" cultural construct, for a bisexual person.

It is inhuman, I believe, to deny that there are a lot of people whose best self-knowledge tells them that they are bisexual in their natural, given, orientation. To simply dismiss these people as "not possible," as not viable morally, ethically, and in simple mundane practice, according to what amounts to a cultural construct that was more violated than honored in practice even 2500 years ago, is cruel, hypocritical, and unacceptable.

I am not going to address the misogynistic strands in your post, nor the bitter and brittle conclusions you have drawn from previous heartbreaks. We all have to work long and hard to try to get intimacy right, and yours is a labor in progress, as mine is, and everyone's is. The point of this thread is to help and support sobjaz in his labor in progress on getting intimacy right in his life and the lives of those he loves. If you can't help with that, at least be a good Buddhist here and do no harm.
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Nicky2, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 48 Join Date: 4/18/20 Recent Posts
Nicky, it is impossible for me to understand what good you believed your post would do in this situation.

Yes. It is good you identify you have a problem with moral and spiritual comprehension. 

Are you advocating adherence to "the precept" and to the whole of conservative renunciate Buddhist morality?

Where did i write the above about "renunciation"? 

This would appear to be so

No. It is not so. You appear to be lying. What is the point of you posting about the 3rd precept when you have trouble with the 4th precept? 

, here, but you characterize your own state of the art relationship as "committed."

What?

I think this could be taken as more or less a given,

What??

in most of mainstream Western Buddhist circles, that a "committed" sexual relationship is legit and poses no fatal obstacle on the path.

So? 

But the hardcore reading of the marital-sex-only school would be that a committed relationship is "living in sin."

What? Discursive or imaginative thought above. 

So you yourself are okay with that degree of accomodation to contemporary sexual norms and that degree of variation from the strict reading of the precept(s).

What?  Buddhism teaches separation from the loved is suffering. Marriage & commitment are essentially the same thing. Marriage is merely a formalization of committment. 

You wouldn't necessarily get that from this post, but you are cutting yourself slack here that you seem to allow only grudgingly to sobjaz, who is in fact in a deeply committed relationship with his girlfriend, which is part of his moral, and spiritual dilemma right now.

Sobaz current interaction with his girlfriend appears to be sexual misconduct per Buddhist defintion. I did not read anything deeply committed. How can one be deeply committed if initiating homosexual interactions? 

As for the question below, I already posted "bisexuality" appears not compatible with Buddhism. I already posted homosexual marriage or commitment is possible. 

And what do you have to offer him, on the actual dilemma of coming to terms with his intimations of bisexuality, or possibly homosexuality? Why, that's clear from the precepts too, right?
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Nicky2, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 48 Join Date: 4/18/20 Recent Posts
So your answer, by the book

Yes, Buddhism by the book. 

, is that his moral situation does not exist.

The situation is not moral.

You already did the slick switch here

Oh dear, the 4th precept again, which is about false speech. 

, because it is strictly speaking monogamous marital fidelity that Buddhism instructs,

Its the only ideal in the scruptures, even though some men had more than one wife. 

which you have rationalized in your own life as "commitment" or sexual fidelity to your partner.

I never ever wrote i had a partner. 

But that is apparently as much contemporary rationalization

What is contemporary is unrelated to Buddhism, both 2600 years ago and today. For example, it was contemporary 2600 years ago for religious people ot engage in animal sacrifices. It is contemporary today to engage in sexual orgies. 

as you are willing to allow: the slack you cut yourself is okay, basically.

The above appears the continuation of delusional ideas. I have no partner. 

I wrote in my post i stopped having uncommitted interactions with women. I never wrote i ever got married. 

This is called hypocrisy

Again, the above is increasingly delusional. 

when only your own rationalizations are valid, and you hold everyone else to the letter of the heartless law.

The Buddhist teachings are not "heartless". They exist to prevent suffering. You sound morally confused. 

In fact, sexual fidelity is not necessarily confined to monogamy, in practice.

Irrelevant to the question of bisexuality. It would be very rare for a healthy woman to share a husband with another man. As for a man having more than one wife, this is natural, since women find contentment in having children. A man that can support more than one wife is OK in Buddhism. 

I spent some years in a commune where we practiced what we called "polyfidelity," a form of group marriage in which we were sexually faithful within the family, meaning we slept only with our multiple partners in the family. It is easy enough to imagine a similar sexual fidelity, in a similarly "committed" cultural construct, for a bisexual person.

Your personal life has no relevance to the Buddhist teachings. Instead of accusing and slandering others of unwarranted hypocrisy, you should examine your own life to find you were not engaged in bisexual interactions yet you claim having sex with multiple wives is the same as having oral and anal sex with men. 


It is inhuman, I believe,

You personal beliefs are unrelated to how Buddhism describes the word "human". For example, the old scripture compare sexual promiscuity with the behaviour of animals. 

to deny that there are a lot of people whose best self-knowledge tells them that they are bisexual in their natural, given, orientation.

It sounds like promiscuity to me. It is natural for people to become infatuated with sex until they end up in serious suffering. 

I have little interest in "identity", as you appear to do. 

I merely posted heterosexual and homosexual fidelity is possible but bi-sexual fidelity does not appear possible. 

Buddhism is concerned with suffering and its prevention. Buddhism is not concerned with "identity". 

To simply dismiss these people as "not possible," as not viable morally, ethically, and in simple mundane practice, according to what amounts to a cultural construct that was more violated than honored in practice even 2500 years ago, is cruel, hypocritical, and unacceptable.

The above is nonsense. Next you will be saying to discourage orgies, gang bangs, beastiality, pedophila, etc, is cruel, hypocrtical and unacceptable. 

The OP is confused. The OP has done some Buddhist meditation retreats. But his search for sexual identity is unrelated to Buddhism. 

I am not going to address the misogynistic strands in your post,

So are denying i have seen women in fits of rage, including smashing the windows and lights on my old motor car? 

nor the bitter and brittle conclusions you have drawn from previous heartbreaks.

You are denying women (and men) have heartbreak, which can affect them for many years and even lead to suicide? 

We all have to work long and hard to try to get intimacy right

No. You, with your obvious confused moral compass, have to work long and hard....

and yours is a labor in progress, as mine is, and everyone's is.

No. Not mine. Not everyone's. Only you and those  you may be attracted to  

The point of this thread is to help and support sobjaz in his labor in progress on getting intimacy right in his life and the lives of those he loves.

But you are work in progress. How can the blind lead the blind? How can one stuck in the mud pull another out of the mud? 

If you can't help with that, at least be a good Buddhist here and do no harm.

The issue appears unrelated to Buddhism but more a matter of personal psychology. 
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 3862 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
It would be very rare for a healthy woman to share a husband with another man. As for a man having more than one wife, this is natural, since women find contentment in having children. A man that can support more than one wife is OK in Buddhism. 

This is why following a 2,600 year-old moral code is dubious. We'd be throwing stones to kill transgressors if we were to buy into the base precepts of most organized religions.

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Ben V., modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

Posts: 342 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
I kinda have a bit of a challenge to both sides of the argument here.

Chris, when you talk of ''we would be throwing stones to kill transgressors if we were to buy into the base precepts of most organized religions'', could it be you are projecting our Western collective memory/trauma about our middle Eastern religions (e.g. Judeo-Christian religions), who literally stoned  people not adhering to their precepts, onto Buddhism?

Do people who adhere to a more traditional interpretation of the precepts in Buddhism have an attitude of ''stoning'' those who don't? Have they even done that historically?

Nicky 2, do you know the story of Uttara and Sirima? In Pali scriptures, Uttara was a stream-winner. Her husband was very lusty and prevented her from going spend time listening to the Buddha's sermon. Her solution: she hired the prostitute Sirima to entertain her husband so she could have some more freedom and time. Sirima later also became a stream-winner in the story. What do you make of your interpretation of the precepts in this story? Uttara gave a consent that her husband include another woman in the relationship, kinda like the OP's gf gave her consent for him to explore his sexuality outside their relationship...
And given the Pali scriptures seem to say the stream-winner has mastered morality, and we have a stream-winner giving her consent for including a courtesan in the relationship, doesn't that say something about what the Pali scriptures compilers thought of the sexual ethics involved in this story (that they did not consider it a moral problem)?

Also, there is no inherent conflict between bi-sexuality and monogamy. Bi-sexuality does not mean one will want both sexes at the same time.
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Chris Marti, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Chris, when you talk of ''we would be throwing stones to kill transgressors if we were to buy into the base precepts of most organized religions'', could it be you are projecting our Western collective memory/trauma about our middle Eastern religions (e.g. Judeo-Christian religions), who literally stoned  people not adhering to their precepts, onto Buddhism?

I'
m not judging any one geographic area or religion and making it the sole object of my comment. I'm talking about the ancient texts, or the morality prescriptions ensconced in any religion that suggests or recommends corporal or capital punishment for those who transgress their precepts. I was making the point that we've managed to get beyond most of that, in the west and in the east.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Ben V.:

Nicky 2, do you know the story of Uttara and Sirima? In Pali scriptures, Uttara was a stream-winner. Her husband was very lusty and prevented her from going spend time listening to the Buddha's sermon. Her solution: she hired the prostitute Sirima to entertain her husband so she could have some more freedom and time. Sirima later also became a stream-winner in the story. What do you make of your interpretation of the precepts in this story? Uttara gave a consent that her husband include another woman in the relationship, kinda like the OP's gf gave her consent for him to explore his sexuality outside their relationship...
And given the Pali scriptures seem to say the stream-winner has mastered morality, and we have a stream-winner giving her consent for including a courtesan in the relationship, doesn't that say something about what the Pali scriptures compilers thought of the sexual ethics involved in this story (that they did not consider it a moral problem)?

Ben and Nicky2, if the two of you feel like getting into a thorough debate on what the Pali scriptures say about sex and sexuality, would you please do that in a separate thread? I see a risk that a passionate debate could involve posts that might be harmful in a thread focusing on one individual's insecurities about his sexuality. I'm not willing to take that risk. I'm saying this as a moderator. 

I agree with Chris that what ancient scriptures say in detail about moral norms thankfully aren't that relevant today. The example here illustrates that very well. The husband who wouldn't let Uttara listen to the Buddha's sermon because he wanted to have sex would be considered abusive today, possibly even a rapist. Nobody is entitled to another person's body. 
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Ben V., modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Agreeing, Linda, for not getting into the direction of a scriptural debate here ( I will use just this post though to respond to you about something you said about scripture to clarify my position here, perhaps we could put this in a seperate thread?).

Sobjaz, apologies for taking this in that direction in my first post above.

Back to Linda, just to be clear, concerning the Uttara and Sirima story, my point was certainly not to endorse the husband's behavior. I think also the compilers of the scripture assumed he was an a**hole for not wanting his wife to go out to see the Buddha, and therefore saw his behavior as unethical. There is nothing in that story that suggest the Pali compilers saw the husband's behavior as ''moral norm".  

My focus was on what Uttara did, not what the husband did. My point was to show that we don't often get a clear picture about ethics and monogamy in the Pali scriptures, that this story "allowed" even the stream-winner to do things like consenting her husband to see another woman. In other words, we cannot use scripture to disqualify the situation of the OP in saying that even if his gf consented, it is still misconduct to open the relationship.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Ben V.:
Agreeing, Linda, for not getting into the direction of a scriptural debate here ( I will use just this post though to respond to you about something you said about scripture to clarify my position here, perhaps we could put this in a seperate thread?).

Sobjaz, apologies for taking this in that direction in my first post above.

Back to Linda, just to be clear, concerning the Uttara and Sirima story, my point was certainly not to endorse the husband's behavior. I think also the compilers of the scripture assumed he was an a**hole for not wanting his wife to go out to see the Buddha, and therefore saw his behavior as unethical. There is nothing in that story that suggest the Pali compilers saw the husband's behavior as ''moral norm".  

My focus was on what Uttara did, not what the husband did. My point was to show that we don't often get a clear picture about ethics and monogamy in the Pali scriptures, that this story "allowed" even the stream-winner to do things like consenting her husband to see another woman. In other words, we cannot use scripture to disqualify the situation of the OP in saying that even if his gf consented, it is still misconduct to open the relationship.
I agree.

Thankyou for being understanding!
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Pepe, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

I agree with Chris that what ancient scriptures say in detail about moral norms thankfully aren't that relevant today. The example here illustrates that very well. The husband who wouldn't let Uttara listen to the Buddha's sermon because he wanted to have sex would be considered abusive today, possibly even a rapist. Nobody is entitled to another person's body. 

That's not even true nowadays, regarding the abortion law. Not trying to start a debate here, just saying that moral standards have been changing over time, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Pepe:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

I agree with Chris that what ancient scriptures say in detail about moral norms thankfully aren't that relevant today. The example here illustrates that very well. The husband who wouldn't let Uttara listen to the Buddha's sermon because he wanted to have sex would be considered abusive today, possibly even a rapist. Nobody is entitled to another person's body. 

That's not even true nowadays, regarding the abortion law. Not trying to start a debate here, just saying that moral standards have been changing over time, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Right. Good point. I meant sexual entitlement. I should have been more clear. 

They sure have.
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Nicky2, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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So returning to the OP: 

I was blocked by various things, mainly fear & agitation. Fear to break the precepts and its consequences,

The above is a healthy fear, called "ottappa" in Buddhism. 

thought that it is not right and that in case I fell in love there would only be problems: sadness of/for my girlfriend,

Again, the above is a perfectly valid consideration. 

And also the consquences for the male partners (in case they get attached) or even for the one who already had a partner (not telling his partner he sees other guys).

Again, the above is wise. 

Since the risk to get an STD is increased in relations between two men this also blocks me which I also see like another aspect of fear (despite the ways to protect against them).

The above is wise but also acknowledges entry into a dangers of that realm. 

So as a Buddhist, how I am to guide a man on deciding whether or not he is homosexual? 

I am going to tell him to experiment? 

So basically this looks like fear and probably also a misunderstanding of the 3rd precept. What is wholesome, what is not ? I'm totally unable to say, so in some way I block everything related to it and keep maintaining things as they are.

In summary, its 100% unrelated to the 3rd precept. The OP asked about the 3rd precept. As I answered, the 3rd precept is defined in the context of 2600 year old Indian religious society and has no relevance to the sexual liberal society that arose in the West in the 1960s. 
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Nicky2, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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sobjaz:

So what is actually my question... 

Hello again  Sobjaz

Tim took offense to my original answer so I will answer again, more directly:

 How to deal with all that stuff and still get some spiritual progress ?

Sensual desire is a hindrance to spiritual progress therefore, if your sexual life is not settled, your mind will probably remain restless and struggle with learning how to offer real love to another person in relationship. 

If we a spiritually developed, we are a secure refuge for another person in relationship. 

I tend to think it is breaking the precepts to try with a man while already having a girlfriend even if all those involved say they agree.

Yes, the above is correct. 

But does one really agree with the possible consequences (breaking a relationship for example and all its effects) ?

For me, sexual misconduct is a mutual thing. For me, two people in an uncommitted relationship I regard as sexual misconduct by both. Since your girlfriend does not appear overly attached to you and agreed to your homosexual explorations, it appears the consequences for her may not be great. You should clarify this issue with her. 

That doesn't seem to go in the direction of happiness even though it may bring more happinness (pleasure ?) on the moment ?

In Buddhism, momentary pleasure is never called "happiness". For example, getting momentarily high on drugs won't lead to happiness in the long term. 

As I posted, regardless of sexual orientation, momentary sexual pleasures will not lead to long term happiness. 

As I posted, i know five homosexual men fairly well, although only three of them are my close friends. Two of them having been in committed relationship for 49 years. The other three get very unhappy when they do not have a partner. Two of them drink a lot of alcohol; one of them, my friend, I regard as an alcoholic. 

At least one of two in partnership said to me, since he was a child, he regarded himself as homosexual. He has never had any doubts about his homosexuality. 

That may create sorrow on all sides.

You should discuss your girlfriend with your girlfriend. Obviously she is aware you may not be a lasting partner for her. She should take responsibility or ownership of her decisions and actions. 

Okay, theoretically this sorrow will change,

The above is a mis-use of Buddhist principles. We do not cause harm on the premise the sorrow will eventually change. 

but still, all these desires for that ? All this is mainly unpleasant.

You asked for an enlightened view. Sexual instability is always unpleasant. Marriage and commitment may sound boring but it is the best the sexual realm can offer. 

If you examine very wealthy famous homosexuals, such as Elton John or Freddie Mercury, they got married, including Elton John who once got married to a German woman for a short time. 

Once a person engages in the sexual ream, they become insure & lonely when they don't have a sexual partner.  

As mentioned, I have two homosexual friends who have an awesome relationship plus they are awesome humans. 

Best wishes and take care emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Nicky2, if you are claiming to come to this from en enlightened view, I beg to differ. Your subjective standpoint has been duly noted. Now, as a moderator, I ask you to please step back and give sobjaz some space. Also, questioning sexual orientations is against the forum rules. There are probably other forums out there where this kind of judgemental bullshit in the Buddha's name is allowed, but this is not one one of them. (Even in such forums, I respectfully suggest that you at least check your definition of bisexuality before claiming that it's impossible, as sexual orientation does not require an active sex life.)
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Formal interpretations of precepts vary between traditions and lineages. Personally I would be careful about formally taking any precepts that would apply outside of a retreat situation before carefully checking what interpretation is applied and finding that I can accept the terms. Interpretations are not carved in stone, as they are all filtered through sociocultural biases, but I would be uncomfortable with breaking precepts that I have willingly taken. Correspondingly, I'm of the opinion that such ceremonies should be preceded by education on what the precepts or vows entail in the specific context, and that it's otherwise unreasonable to expect people to follow any specific interpretation. 
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Niels Lyngsø, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Hi sobjaz

Thank you for your beautiful post and the important considerations. I certainly +1 with both Linda and Steph on the interpretation of the third precept. I came across a formulation of it that I like: "Do not misuse your sexual energy". You could also say "Do no harm with your sexual energy" (to others or yourself). That would be as basic buddhist as it can get.

You seem to be manuoevering this difficult territory skillfully, being open and honest, seeking consent, seeking skillful commmunication. That's the best we can do, in my opinion. We might not alway succeed, and people do get hurt in sexual relations as in all other situations. All we can do is try our best and learn from our mistakes.

PS: Fundamentalist religious bullshit is fundamentalist religious bullshit, whether it's Christian or Buddhist. I see it as harmful and as unskillful speech, and so I wouldn't pay any attion to that if I were you.

Wish you all the best,
Niels
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Ben V., modified 3 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Seems like there are two levels you are being concerned with here, psychological (questioning where you are in your sexual orientation(s), and ethical (questioning in what way you can explore this issue in a way that remains ethical according to trditional Buddhist teachings. 

For the psychological part there are of course specialized counseling services you could try.

For the Buddhist ethical part:

Although the Buddha of the Pali canon gave examples of behaviors he considered in the category of sexual misconduct, I think the most important sutta which lays the foundation of Buddhist ethics is the Rahulovadda Sutta.

In this discourse the Buddha encourages his son Rahula to always reflect on the impact of his speech and behaviors on himself and on others, and that when it leads to harm, then to refrain from it.

Here we find not an ethics of authority (a divine authority says what we can and cannot do), but rather an ethics of non-harm, where we are each responsible to reflect on the impact of our actions and chose well. 

I'm sure you can use these questions to explore the ethical dimension of your dilemma.

This being said, I think there is also a ''soteriological'' dimension to Buddhist ethics for those who aim at awakening, in the sense of reflecting not only on whether our behaviors are harmful, but also reflecting on whether our behaviors help or hinder our contemplative life toward awakening.

For example, I am not breaking any official precpets if I watch television hours every day (and may not be harming anyone), but it may hinder my development of samadhi...

EDIT:  Ps. Just re-read your original post and remembered you had asked about enlightened perspective: Just to clarify, I am not enlightened at all emoticon
sobjaz, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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Hello. Thanks to all of you for your answers.
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: daily life, keeping morality & sexual orientation

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sobjaz:
Hello. Thanks to all of you for your answers.

So, how are you doing?

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