Sex, ethics and the Dhamma

ray . taylor, modified 10 Years ago.

Sex, ethics and the Dhamma

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/29/10 Recent Posts
I am involved in a debate with a friend and he has made the following comment "Re sex being 'unethical' in general, I think one can't get away from the fact the Buddhism does see craving as unethical and therefore to the extent that sex is motivated by craving it is ultimately unethical from a Buddhist perspective."

Something disturbs me when i read this but I just cant put my finger on it. I think it has to do with the use of the term 'unethical'. I would appreciate some help for my own clarity..........
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Sex, ethics and the Dhamma

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
I think it's a stretch to say buddhism sees craving as unethical. This is usually the sort of dogmatic adornment that depends on who is talking. Buddhism does say that desire (craving/aversion) is at the source of suffering. This in itself isn't ethical or unethical, it is just a statement which you can yourself derive by observing the way your mind works.

The idea that sex is unethical 'in itself' is preposterous, it obviously depends on the circumstances. I'm sure you can come up with situations which are ethical and unethical.
ray . taylor, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Sex, ethics and the Dhamma

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/29/10 Recent Posts
Thanks bruno

Yes it is readily observable as you say...that desire (craving/aversion) is at the source of suffering. My friend has since come on and said .... "all phenomena are rooted in desire (from the mula sutta among others) and desire is akusala (unethical)" I have always been of the view that desire is neither ethical nor unethical but it is what i do with it that makes it so. But if I take my friends position to other extremes it would imply that even the desire for food etc is unethical, which to me doesn't make sense.
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Sex, ethics and the Dhamma

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Ray,

Give your sutta-thumping friend an assignment: let him sort out the difference between the terms "desire" (chanda) and "craving" (tanha).

Also, reflect on the way the factors of the noble eightfold path can be sorted into three categories: Morality, Concentration, and Wisdom (sila, samadhi, panna). Your friend will likely know which sutta that is most clearly presented in. I always put ethical considerations in there with the "morality" section, while observing the doings of craving goes into the wisdom section.

Finally, Bruno's advice to meditate and let some real insight arise is really good. I have actually read most of the suttas in the pali canon, and I have meditated quite a bit, and if I had to choose, I'd choose meditation over scripture-study every time.

The suttas are actually a great read if you've got a bit of insight under your belt, provided you like reading old texts like these. Without any meditative experience it's hard to tell what they are about, and you end up with absurd stuff like it's unethical to eat or have sex in general. There's even a sutta about that, called the "snake simile".

Cheers,
Florian
Disembeding Yogi, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Sex, ethics and the Dhamma

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/28/10 Recent Posts
The term kusala is better translated as ,,wholesome''- good for yourself and good for others. The whole Buddha's teachings can be condensed in 3 sentences: abstain from akusala( keep 5 precepts), perform kusala, purify your mind (surface with samatha and depths with vipassana).

All teachers staet that those intesrested in obtaining results in other two trainings, shoulkd also engage in training of morality, which is a foundation of formal meditation practice. Its obvious that generating passion in your mind by having sex, deluding and confusing your mind by telling lies, generating greed by stealing, etc. are not wholesome nor for yourself nor for others.

I find it confusing that Daniel as omeone who claims to have mastered the Three Trainings writes that an Arahat can kill, have sex, tell lies etc. Why he couid not explain without contradictrions? It means that he can do it, but doesn't, because he knows that its a source of suffering? Or he can do it because there is no ,,I'' doer involved and no sankhara(intention/volition), only a vehicle of unfinished karma?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Sex, ethics and the Dhamma

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Yeah, MCTB does directly contradict much standard Buddhist dogma, but then so does reality, so whatcha gonna believe?

Here's what I recommend, which sounds so preposterous from one point of view but is actually really doable: become an arahat, or at least an anagami, and then see what holds up to reality testing and what is just junk.

Follow standard methods, get your practice trip together, go on retreats, engage with the profundity of the teachings of insight practice and their fundamental assumptions and pointings, make progress, get stream entry by following the usual advice, progress from there as directed. Then you will see and we will have much to talk about, not that we don't now, but it will be at an entirely different level and much of it wouldn't even need to happen, given that you would see for yourself, which is really the whole point of Buddhism, however sliced.

Until then, withhold judgement, and certainly don't necessarily believe me. Do your own research, confirm for yourself. This is the way. All else is just blind faith, dogma, hearsay, etc. and of little to no value, and might even be harmful if you substituted that for your own direct comprehension.

Also, sex and practice: I don't see any particular correlation between sex and progress in insight or a lack thereof. I know plenty of celibate monks and nuns without any significant insight, and a good number of relative horn-dogs who are meditative stars.
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J Groove, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Sex, ethics and the Dhamma

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Yeah, MCTB does directly contradict much standard Buddhist dogma, but then so does reality, so whatcha gonna believe? ... I know plenty of celibate monks and nuns without any significant insight, and a good number of relative horn-dogs who are meditative stars.


Wonderful. Exactly. And hysterically funny, as usual!

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