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Jerkin' off while on retreat...

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Jerkin' off while on retreat... Alan Smithee 1/12/12 6:04 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... josh r s 1/12/12 7:48 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Alan Smithee 1/12/12 8:16 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... John White 1/12/12 10:24 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Alan Smithee 1/12/12 10:47 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... John White 1/12/12 1:21 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... josh r s 1/12/12 11:16 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Jane Laurel Carrington 1/12/12 12:41 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 1/12/12 11:01 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... N A 1/12/12 1:28 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Tom Tom 1/12/12 2:53 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Bruno Loff 1/12/12 3:01 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 1/12/12 3:04 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... tarin greco 1/12/12 10:36 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Ross A. K. 1/13/12 10:21 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Alan Smithee 1/13/12 3:09 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Daniel M. Ingram 1/13/12 7:03 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... End in Sight 1/13/12 7:10 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Daniel Johnson 1/13/12 7:15 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Alan Smithee 1/14/12 6:17 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Tarver  1/17/12 10:37 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 1/17/12 11:20 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... C T W 1/18/12 5:15 PM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Alan Smithee 6/26/12 12:03 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Bailey . 6/26/12 1:04 AM
RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat... Be Free Now 7/2/12 1:36 PM
Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 6:04 AM
Okay, this is a serious question...

Say I go off on a 10 to 14 day retreat. People are supposed to take a vow of celebacy, I imagine. I'm not sure if all places ask you to do this, and I'm also not sure if this is just a residue of trying to prevent monks from impregnating villagers, or an effort to prevent vipassana retreat romances, but anyway, I haven't gone more than a week without clearing the tubing one way or the other since pre adolescence, and I'm afraid if I went over a week I'd blow a gasket. I think it might become a serious distraction. From time to time, if I am trying to do something, like my homework for example, I sometimes find myself utterly and totally distracted by an overwhelming urge to purge. In those instances, I usually just do the deed and then I'm able to focus again...

Is it possible to jerk off mindfully? Perhaps noting the Three Characteristics the whole time?

Would this totally destroy the concentration and insight one had so carefully built up all day via heroic meditation sessions? Or is getting it done no real impediment to progress on the path? In the spirit of pragmatic dharma, I need to know the truth behind jerkin' and enlightenment...

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 7:48 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
try not doing it for a few days, ignore all the mental arguments, the pleasure you get from it is extremely fleeting. see if you can find away to relax the tension telling you to do it without actually doing it.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 8:16 AM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
try not doing it for a few days, ignore all the mental arguments, the pleasure you get from it is extremely fleeting. see if you can find away to relax the tension telling you to do it without actually doing it.


Why?

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 10:24 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Hi Alan,

for what it's worth, this is part of the application for a Goenka long course (20,30, 45 day). One needs to sit at least 5 10 day courses, plus an 8 day sattipathana course, to do a long course:

* It is expected that a meditator applying for a long course is not involved in self-sex, or is at least trying
to come out of it. A person involved in self-sex cannot hope to eradicate sexual desire as the act stimulates
and increases passion.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 10:47 AM as a reply to John White.
John White:
Hi Alan,

for what it's worth, this is part of the application for a Goenka long course (20,30, 45 day). One needs to sit at least 5 10 day courses, plus an 8 day sattipathana course, to do a long course:

* It is expected that a meditator applying for a long course is not involved in self-sex, or is at least trying
to come out of it. A person involved in self-sex cannot hope to eradicate sexual desire as the act stimulates
and increases passion.


Well, I guess I ain't never going to a Goenka long course, 'cause "self-sex" is a problem I am in no way trying to eradicate.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 11:01 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:
Is it possible to jerk off mindfully? Perhaps noting the Three Characteristics the whole time?


Why not try it + see? Try seeing all the components of it (the desire, craving, lust, mental-imagining, pleasure, after-effects, etc), how they interact, etc. The more mindfulness the better.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 11:16 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:
josh r s:
try not doing it for a few days, ignore all the mental arguments, the pleasure you get from it is extremely fleeting. see if you can find away to relax the tension telling you to do it without actually doing it.


Why?


the entire practice comes down finding other ways to resolve desire than acting on it, right? finding lasting satisfaction rather than temporary relief... i'm not totally free of acting on desire, but it seems conducive to lasting satisfaction to aim that way, with the long-term intent that you eventually don't have the desire at all.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 12:41 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Thank you ever so much for a laugh that I greatly needed (not to minimize the seriousness of the subject under discussion).

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 1:21 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan, Goenka long courses can be great retreats - I wouldn't write them off so quickly. think of it this way - you can wack off all you want during the preliminary 6 courses (with heightened awareness and sensitivity of course), then re-assess. imo self sex doesn't retard awakening too badly, though I doubt it accelerates it. then again this practitioner may disagree.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 1:28 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
First-world problems... emoticon

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 2:53 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
More important: Don't worry about this. It will work itself out either way.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 3:01 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Ahh.. the topic of "dharmabation"!

I also masturbate frequently. However, my experience during the two ~10-day retreats I made, is that masturbation becomes quite irrelevant. The super-powerful concentration I get during such a retreat results in a state of mind when mindfully noticing the lines imprinted in my hand will be far more fascinating than any wank. Of a level of fascination, indeed, that I had only experienced on LSD before.

Retreats can be quite engrossing.

Alan:

(1) Is it possible to jerk off mindfully?

(2) Perhaps noting the Three Characteristics the whole time?

(3) Would this totally destroy the concentration and insight one had so carefully built up all day via heroic meditation sessions?

(4) Or is getting it done no real impediment to progress on the path?

(5) In the spirit of pragmatic dharma, I need to know the truth behind jerkin' and enlightenment...


(1) yes, and that's true for just about anything.

(2) Ha ha :-) "This is impermanent... oooh... soooo impermanent ... ahhh... ahhh ... and unsatisfactory ... hmmm ... sooo unsatisfactory *pump* *pump* --- NOT ME NOT ME NOT MEEEEE *hmph*" he he emoticon

(3) It might make you tired due to the depressive post-orgasmic effect, or restless if you don't orgasm. But this will be dependent on many other factors. E.g. during A&P there seems to be hardly any post-orgasm fatigue.

(4) It has been no real impediment to my progress on the path... that I can tell. Also, a large part of Yoga is simply a very complicated way of masturbating.

(5) Well, if it is (*straightening my back and putting on a very pompous tone*) "in the spirit of pragmatic dharma" (hi hi), then you'll just have to uncover the truth behind (behind?) jerking off and enlightenment through the praxis of that very same dharma.

---

Maybe you're giving this wanking thing too much importance? I mean, what do a few wanks matter?

Which is not to say or imply "don't masturbate on retreat," just simply that you can try both with and without, and see what is best for your meditation. Do you get irritated and nervous if you don't act on your habit? Do you get tired and sleepy if you do? Is it indifferent? This will answer your question while giving proper importance to the important thing.

Remember that: every single moment of your retreat is extremely precious, and that your number one priority while on retreat should be to make the very best use of your time.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 3:04 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
(2) Ha ha :-) "This is impermanent... oooh... soooo impermanent ... ahhh... ahhh ... and unsatisfactory ... hmmm ... sooo unsatisfactory *pump* *pump* --- NOT ME NOT ME NOT MEEEEE *hmph*" he he emoticon

hahaha nice one

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/12/12 10:36 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
if you're going to go on your first goenka retreat, you should follow all of the instructions. part of the instructions are to maintain the code of discipline. within the code of discipline are the following precepts, which retreat attendants are expected to 'consciously undertake ... for the duration of the course'[2]:


to abstain from killing any being;
to abstain from stealing;
to abstain from all sexual activity;
to abstain from telling lies;
to abstain from all intoxicants.


why should you follow the instructions despite not wanting to? because if you don't follow the instructions, you will have nothing to compare (the value of) not following the instructions to.

further, the hindrances to strong meditation practice are typically classified in five ways, and the classification typically begins with 'sensual desire' (which may specifically indicate, but is not limited to, lust for sexual experience). you're supposed to abandon/avoid these things. if you're new to the buddhist game, try following its rules. at the very least, you'll get a clearer sense of what the game is about.

here are two discourses on the subject of the hindrances:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn46/sn46.055.wlsh.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html (this one is quite long; see the paragraphs under 'abandoning the hindrances'.)

for the purpose of developing a meditation practice, little is as precious as are the opportunity and inclination to go on retreat. should you go, practise well, and consistently.

tarin

[1] http://www.dhamma.org/en/code.shtml

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/13/12 10:21 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
I have quite a lot of experience with this. During my 6 month stay at the Bhavana society I masterbated many times. I would last 2-3 weeks with none and then I would do the deed. I will say that the day prior to my attainment of stream entry I masterbated. Now having said that, masterbating did create some uneasiness in my conscious. Because I was breaking precepts and the rules of being a resident. In short it was being dishonest. This caused a lot of stress. I would make vows to my self like, if you do it again you'll have to leave and vowing not to do it again; only to do it again in 1-3 weeks or the next day. Looking at the core processes around the desire to masterbated is golden insight material.
My advice is to do the 10 day course abstaining from all sexual activity. On all of my other retreats which were all week long visits I had no problem abstaining.
Look at the desire, intention, motivation, attention, and any other mental or physical phenomena that may arise in association with

this in terms of the 3 charectoristics. And if you do do the deed again let it be material for investigation and penetrating ;).

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/13/12 3:09 PM as a reply to Ross A. K..
Ross A. K.:
I have quite a lot of experience with this. During my 6 month stay at the Bhavana society I masterbated many times. I would last 2-3 weeks with none and then I would do the deed. I will say that the day prior to my attainment of stream entry I masterbated. Now having said that, masterbating did create some uneasiness in my conscious. Because I was breaking precepts and the rules of being a resident. In short it was being dishonest. This caused a lot of stress. I would make vows to my self like, if you do it again you'll have to leave and vowing not to do it again; only to do it again in 1-3 weeks or the next day. Looking at the core processes around the desire to masterbated is golden insight material.
My advice is to do the 10 day course abstaining from all sexual activity. On all of my other retreats which were all week long visits I had no problem abstaining.
Look at the desire, intention, motivation, attention, and any other mental or physical phenomena that may arise in association with

this in terms of the 3 charectoristics. And if you do do the deed again let it be material for investigation and penetrating ;).


I think I could probably make ten days. If I went to the Goenka, I'd probably try to honor the rules of the retreat (which are, by all accounts, unnecessarily austere).

That being said, I don't have any negative feelings about sexuality. I think sexuality can be used skillfully as well as unskillfully. It is my supposition that monks from time immemorial have been told to abstain from sex basically because it would be bad PR for them to be knocking up the local village girls. Also, it would be a real bitch to have to deal with all the children. Also also, anything which basically draws the mind away from contemplation was banned was considered bad, which is also why "spicy foods" or "music" and "hair" have sometimes been frowned upon. I know that anything obsessively desired and craved will screw up one's meditation, but the cure is worse than the disease because if I don't jerk it for weeks at a time THAT is going to start to distract me and screw up my meditation.

The solution to Ross A.K.'s uneasiness with pullin' the pud is that retreats simply shouldn't make people abstain from slappin' the salami, and then he wouldn't have had any guilt. By all accounts, ejaculations don't block stream entry, so the whole abstinance thing is a pain in the ass.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/13/12 7:03 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
The essence of vipassana is to comprehend what arises moment to moment, on its own, and find whatever dualistic tension is therein.

All other considerations arise from some other aesthetic.

Thus, the question of pleasure or guilt or movement or tension or fear or desire is irrelevant from a very pure vipassana point of view: those are made of sensations that arise and vanish.

To the degree that you understand this, you will make progress. To the degree that you don't, you will stagnate or perhaps develop some other skill or other mental track of whatever quality.

Endless discussions spin out around the religion and ritual and rules of this and that, of cultures, of aesthetics, of identity trips around being this or that sort of person, of following this or that sort of ethic or code or whatever. None of this is fundamental, though may have other value in some other context or within some other frame of reference.

In short, if you can notice the sensations that arise and vanish when doing whatever, including such things as those discussed here, that is the path of insight, and those who say otherwise are coming at it with some other agenda. On the other hand, as it were, if you can't notice those sensations arise and vanish clearly, then this is a period of lost momentum, and those quickly erase whole hours of hard-won velocity towards your goal. This you must decide for yourself based on your own wisdom and perhaps experimentation.

Clearly, at least in males, sexual release reduces energy, but also brings tranquility and peace, at least for some period of time, but also may facilitate addictive behaviors, obsession with those behaviors, and other patterns of sensations. These are simply practical considerations, but not deal breakers.

In females, effects seem more variable, at least regarding the level of energy, but some basic similar issues remain. Again, simply practical considerations, not deal breakers.

In short, the discriminating mind can resolve both the true nature of whatever sensations and the relative practical consequences of larger aggregated patterns of action, and both types of discrimination will help directly answer the relevant questions.

Plenty of people have made great progress in insight using everything from the ascetic to the hedonistic approach and everything in-between, though people also flounder using those approaches also, as each has its downsides. You must learn directly for yourself which leads to greater clarity, wisdom, comprehension, etc. and no one else is going to be able to tell you exactly what would have been optimal in each moment except for clear comprehension, which is of perennial value.

Daniel

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/13/12 7:10 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:
It is my supposition that monks from time immemorial have been told to abstain from sex basically because it would be bad PR for them to be knocking up the local village girls.


Or, it might have something to do with subduing lust rather than encouraging it...lust being, according to Buddhism, a defilement of the mind.

A thought to consider: how much of human behavior revolves around sexual desire? (This includes not just cases where one looks for sex, but also everything from casual flirting to checking out desirable-looking people to working to have the sort of career or be the sort of person or look the sort of way that attracts the kind of partner they desire.) What are the benefits of this proportion of human activity revolving around it? What are the drawbacks?

but the cure is worse than the disease because if I don't jerk it for weeks at a time THAT is going to start to distract me and screw up my meditation.


This might provide you with some insight into why lust is considered a defilement of the mind.

On the one hand, I recommend a pragmatic attitude (pick your battles; you can't defeat all sensual desires at once), but on the other hand, if you can't conceive of the possibility of coping with this issue during a retreat in which

* your desires are restrained due to keeping your mind on contemplation
* and due to the developmental of high levels of concentration
* and where (in the Goenka tradition) genders are segregated

you might find some value in considering to what extent lust controls you, and to what extent it could be a problem.

N.B. Keep in mind that my comments are about lust, not sex.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/13/12 7:15 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:

I think I could probably make ten days.


I think it will be easier than you might imagine. Here are some tips that I think might help:

1. Slow down in general. While Goenka says that slow walking is "totally prohibited" (unlike mahasi), you can at least walk at a easy and relaxed pace. I find that in general when my body is more easeful, slower, and relaxed, there is less inclination to generate the level of agitation necessary to masturbate. It's like if you were lying on the beach relaxing in the sun and it felt so good that you didn't feel like going anywhere else.

2. Don't look at anyone that you might even vaguely be attracted to. If this is a problem for you, you may want to bring a hat or beenie that you can tuck low over your eyes so that you won't even be tempted. If you don't know if the person is attractive, don't look.

3. Use sexual fantasies, thoughts and cravings as a trigger to return to the practice. If you notice a sexual fantasy, you can say "oh look, here is a fantasy, let me take this opportunity to practice." It's like having a personal assistant there to remind you why you are on retreat and to return to the practice.

4. Resolve and do your best. The resolve may help you through the tough times. But, as you may notice while on retreat, things come and go and come and go. So, you may find that as quickly as a sexual urge comes, it also leaves that quickly and new sensations arise. It may be difficult in one moment, but in the next it may be easy as cake. The practice is about learning to remain equanimous through the ups and downs.

Finally, if you do masturbate, don't make a big deal of it. Just keep going with the practice. It's just more sensations.

Those are my tips, for what it's worth.

- Daniel

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/14/12 6:17 AM as a reply to Daniel Johnson.
Wow, this thread really generated a lot of thoughtful responses. Thanks to everyone for contributing their perspective, which was, truth be told, pretty diverse and nuanced. I flat out knew I wasn't the first person on Earth to ponder the ol' "to spank or not to spank" on retreat question, so I figured I'd defer to the resources and brain-power of the Dharma Overground for some advice. My girlfriend read this post and half jokingly commented that I sounded like a 17 year old chronic masturbator, but, I assure you, I am of relatively normal libido, and by no means have horrific control issues, but, I know for a fact, that after two weeks or so of abstinence I'd probably start reverting to my 17 year old self, in terms of the degree of time and energy my fantasies would begin to colonize my "should be meditating" mind. Thanks all!

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/17/12 10:37 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:
I think I could probably make ten days. If I went to the Goenka, I'd probably try to honor the rules of the retreat (which are, by all accounts, unnecessarily austere).


I have been to three Goenka 10-days, and will soon attend my fourth. One of my most powerful experiences at my first course was overcoming the urge to masturbate by instead examining the sensations that comprised that urge. It took me a while to clue in that I could apply the technique to this, but once I did, what had seemed moments before like an unstoppable force of nature just broke up and dissipated and I actually fell asleep a very short time later (this was at night). It was a profound breakthrough for me, valuable in an enduring way like no mere orgasm could ever hope to be. I enjoy my sexuality tremendously, but my capacity to do so is increased dramatically in proportion to the extent to which I can truly be at choice about it.

I think of the "unnecessary austerity" of Goenka centers as a kind of neutral sanctuary, where everybody can safely suspend their judgments, beliefs, morals, religions, etc., and nothing bad will happen. I may be sexually quite liberal, and I can practice beside someone who is very conservative, and I don't care and don't even have any way of finding out, and for the duration of the course it becomes totally irrelevant. I was actually surprised to find myself grateful for the sexual segregation at times, as it helped me focus on what I was there to do.

There are other trainings that focus explicitly on sexuality, at which the active engagement and exploration of these aspects of the human experience are entirely appropriate and safe, because that psychological container is deliberately designed to make it so.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/17/12 11:20 PM as a reply to Tarver .
I enjoy my sexuality tremendously, but my capacity to do so is increased dramatically in proportion to the extent to which I can truly be at choice about it.
I think this is well considered for desire/compulsion, generally. Thanks.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
1/18/12 5:15 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
This thread is gold. I haven't laughed this much in weeks. I have only now started practice, and I have only some vague idea where I fall on the map (I could use some more opinions in my Dharma diagnostic thread) , but wherever it is, I have noticed my sexual urges have begun to peter out ( Sorry, couldn't resist a bad pun). It's interesting to observe the transient nature of something that is purported to be an integral portion of the human experience.

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
6/26/12 12:03 AM as a reply to C T W.
For the curious out there, I went the whole retreat without jerkin' it.

From time to time it did indeed rise, but then I'd simply watch it pass away...

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
6/26/12 1:04 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
haha awesome dude! congrats

RE: Jerkin' off while on retreat...
Answer
7/2/12 1:36 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
You can definitely go longer periods of time (60-90 days) while on retreat not masturbating.

Just see the urge as the suffering and that satisfying the urge is not going to lessen the urge in the long-run.

Yes, also don't look at the other sex while on retreat, however difficult this may be.