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Sex, Lust and Masterbation

buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
edited September 2005 in Buddhism Basics

Hot topic, eh?

Anyway, I was over at another buddhist web site looking through their forums and was kind of appalled at what I was reading!

There were people there that were talking about feeling lust grow within them, watching pornography and then masterbating. They were also talking about how much this bothered them and that they wish they didn't do this.

Some people fended these feelings off by walking around in their house praying. Some went on long walks in nature. Some practiced forms of self-flaggelation. And I started wondering what is wrong with lust. I know there is a precept that discusses "sexual misconduct" - but I guess I think of sexual misconduct as an act which is sexually wrong against someone else - or with youself in a way that you are treating your body in a demeaning way.

I have no problem with couples having sex. As long as it is done in a consentual manner. I think this includes all types of sex - even homosexual.
I think most of these posts might have been by people that were single. I have no problem with men and women masterbating. Why have people gotten to the point where they define this as being something wrong. Is masterbation sexual misconduct? If so, how? Who is it harming? Why is a natural feeling within us (which is not something that drives us as an outside variable like nicotine, alchohol, etc.) wrong, bad or evil?

There are human conditions that are a part of us like skin and bones. I think it's about as normal to say "I'm not going to have anymore sexual desires" as it is to say "I'm not going to poop anymore."

It's part of us. If it wasn't - we wouldn't be creating hormones. We wouldn't go through puberty. Sexual organs wouldn't change if that's not what they were supposed to do.

I know some Christian religions have made masterbation into something that is wrong. To me, it's about as wrong as cooking an egg. There is no "being" that is being lost in male masterbation. If that were the case, you could say that by being a woman you're killing a life every time you have a menstrual cycle and your body discards an egg.
Some Christian religions make you confess masterbation to members of religious communities that are filled with promiscousness and pedophilia. Which does nothing other than, at the least humiliate someone or at the other end of the spectrum - titilate some pervert.

Even the Dali Lama, when asked, "where did this Buddhist aversion to homosexuality come from?" he said, "I don't know." There was no statement from Buddha that said, "Oh yeah... don't be a homosexual and don't masterbate."

So - after all of that, I'm just wondering what other people thing. What are some of your thoughts about this?



  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited July 2005
    While we were in Dharamshala, we met a couple of French film-makers. They had the audience with the Dalai Lama before ours and, at dinner that night, we swapped stories.

    Apparently, after they had finished the filmed interview, they were chatting with HHDL about feminism and sex. The subject of monastic cekibacy was discussed and one of them asked HHDL if he had found it difficult. In reply, he said, "When it got too difficult there was always this (*making masturbating movement*)" and laughed.

    Sex in itself is neither good nor bad, of course, being as empty as any other activity.
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited July 2005
    I read other posts where people stated that "lust is the craving for sex"

    Which makes sense. In about the same way that your stomach growling is "a craving for food".

    I guess I can't put these two together. I believe that desire, arousal, lust - whatever you want to call it is something your body does. I think it is mental - but it's also physical.

    Unlike the craving for wealth, power, property, jewelry, status, security, longing, loneliness, despair - that are not things your body generates. These things that are generated in the mind.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 2005
    Well, the only reason you would have to obstain from sex and/or masturbation is if you were ordained. Bhikkhus/Bhikkhunis (male monks/female monks) are not allowed to participate in any sexual activity. As for us lay-followers we have no restrictions other than making sure it is not misconduct (rape, under age, adultery, etc.).

    I believe the weight some Buddhists place on sex is the fact that it is an instinctual urge which needs to be "fulfilled". It tends to clouds the mind with "lust". Lust can disturb meditation, can cause us to act in harmful ways (i.e rape, adultery, under age, etc), and become obsessive/unmindful. Let me put it this way: You have sex once. Is this enough?
    You have sex everyday for a year. Is this enough? Do you stop having this urge? If you masturbated for a whole year (and you know you have fellas) did this free you from the craving for "sex"? When you get turned on does this state allow for clear-headed thinking? Is it easy to just forget about it and move on to other things? I hope you are beginning to see my point.

    So, as you have stated sex is natural. It is something all animals are "programmed" to do/want. But for our practice it is not necessarily a "positive" thing. It is not evil as some Christian faiths might teach, but sometimes (maybe most times) it can be a barrier in our practice. Do not take "desire" so lightly as it is the prime requesite for becoming. Tahna (Pali for desire, thirst, craving) is the cause of dukkha (unsatisfactoriness). This tahna is an all inclusive lust. It is a lust for sensual pleasures, becoming, and/or unbecoming. This is the Second Noble Truth.

    I think it deserves a little more attention than it sometimes receives. People do not like to think that the things they do and enjoy are somehow partly responsible for the unsatisfactoiness of their lives. This is one of the profound things the Buddha uncovered -- We cause our own dukkha. We run from unpleasant sensations while we run to pleasant ones. This, in part, is Samsara (the cycle of becoming) on one level. This is just on the outer levels of our conssciousness, just imagine what is hidden within the subtler regions of our mind?

    Sex should be looked at the same way as anything else we do--with mindfulness. If we have sex with our partner/spouse/significant other out of love, and do not force or harm them in the act, there is no reason for us to treat it as a negative thing. The Middle Way is not about abstaining from everything, it is more about learning how to do everything skillfully. Don't forget, without sex none of us would be fortunate enough to have this human birth in which to practice in!
  • emmakemmak Veteran
    edited August 2005
    Elohim, again you have spun me out. Your brain never stops!
    Can I ask this? Are monks not allowed to masturbate?
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited August 2005
    Nope. Poor fellas:

    Parajika offense (means defeat, immediate expulsion from the Sangha)
    1. Should any bhikkhu -- participating in the training and livelihood of the bhikkhus, without having renounced the training, without having declared his weakness -- engage in the sexual act, even with a female animal, he is defeated and no longer in communion.

    Sanghadisesa offense (second highest form of offense requiring a meeting of the entire Sangha)
    1. Intentional discharge of semen, except while dreaming, entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community.

    ~From the Bhikkhu Patimokkha, The Bhikkhus' Code of Discipline
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited August 2005
    You know... I was gonna say something about this - but I'm just gonna keep my trap shut.

    If this works for some people - more power to them.

  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited August 2005
    Oh, Michael, you engage in this kind of activity?! Oh, tsk tsk!!! Shocking!

    Just kidding. Sex is just another form of desire, and desire is what keeps us turning on the wheel of death and rebirth. It's no different than desire for food or a new car or anything else which makes us feel good. So that's where the vow against sexual activity comes from for monks and nuns. The Pratimoksha vows taken by ordained people are designed to help curb desire in whatever form. It also bans listening to music or drinking alcohol because those can help breed desire as well. So it's not that sex is bad or that desire is bad. It's simply a matter of how much you want to get off that darn wheel. Taking the Pratimoksha vows, if you can handle it (and not everybody can), can help speed the process. It can also drive you bonkers if your heart's not in it, so you'd better be really, really sure before you take them, if you're contemplating it.

    Of course, living in modern society, such as in America, where you're constantly being bombarded by advertising, television, radio, billboards, magazines, etc., etc., all designed to arouse desire of one sort or another, it's much more difficult to keep the vows. Therefore, at least in our community, they have been somewhat relaxed, though still no hanky-panky with another person (or living being - or nonliving either, for that matter!). Of course, if you're fortunate enough to live in a retreat off in the mountains where you aren't constantly exposed to temptation, that's a different matter.

    As for gay sex, you're right, there is nothing at all in the sutras which particularly bans that. In fact, a lot of gay people come to Buddhism because it isn't judgmental like most Christian churches and so forth. They feel much more comfortable in Buddhism. On the other hand, not all Buddhist communities are the same. Some, particularly ethnic Asian Buddhist communities, are not so tolerant of gays, which is a reflection more of their culture than any Buddhist teachings, but for the most part, at least in Western Buddhist communities, gays are welcomed. As some one at the New York Zen Center said, it's not even an issue.

  • emmakemmak Veteran
    edited August 2005
    Aahhh, Palzang. Always a wealth of information.
    What about non - ordained people who are planning or training to be ordained?
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited August 2005
    Generally non-ordained people aren't bound by the same vows. We have something called lay ordination which is sort of a toned down version of the Pratimoksha vows. Regarding sex, for example, it says you shouldn't engage in promiscuous sex or adultery, that kind of thing, which can harm others and/or yourself. You can still drink, but you're encouraged not to drink to excess. So it's less rigid.

    There is also a type of ordination called robed genyan. Genyan vows are lay vows, but if your intention is to take ordination, then you can take these vows and wear robes similar to a monk or nun and follow essentially the same vows. At our temple, for example, our teacher is not ordained (this is not uncommon in the Nyingma tradition), so she can't give Pratimoksha vows. She can, however, give genyan (lay) vows. So if someone has the intention of taking ordination at a later time when the opportunity becomes available, she'll allow them to take robed genyan vows. While the vows are basically the same, the karmic effect of breaking the vows isn't nearly as great as they are when you take ordination, so it could also be viewed as sort of a trial period so that if you find you just can't live that way, you can still back out without any major damage, so to speak.

    To receive ordination as a monk or nun, you have to have at least fully ordained monks present. Sometimes that's kind of hard to pull off, so it make take a while for that to happen. That's why the robed genyan vows are used for someone who really has the desire to live as an ordained person.

  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited August 2005
    Okay, Palzang... I wasn't going to say anything but since you goaded me with your opening statement (and I know you were just kidding) - I thought I'd get out my soapbox. Don't get the feeling that I'm attacking you or your beliefs - I just thought I'd post some of my thoughts.

    Hem, hem....

    If I want to masterbate - I'm cool with that. I really don't think there is anything wrong with it. Being that I have a girlfriend whom I'm totally in love with - masterbation doesn't seem to be an issue with me or for us.

    I understand what you are saying about desire. As I learn more about Buddhism, desire, craving, suffering (and I'm still what I would consider a beginner) I can see where sexual desire would cause detriment or harm to oneself.

    But, I would have to disagree with your practice and belief of Buddhism.

    And as Stuart Smalley would say, "And... that's... okay!" I'm not saying that it's wrong or that you're wrong - because we're all different people. And while you could argue that "well... much more enlightened people than you have found wisdom in these practices." - I could say something like, "A lot of sexually repressed people thought creating the Spanish Inquisition was a good idea at the time." or "a lot of trust in faiths and local communities have been destroyed based upon the unnatural repression of sexuality."

    As far as I know, there is no "eating hormone" or "music hormone" or "buy a car hormone" that the human body creates. If that was the case, then some forms of Buddhism should state something like, "Desire of a car is wrong - unless you purchase a vehicle in your sleep." And human sexuality goes much deeper than the release of bodily fluid. Human sexuality goes far beyond us as a person. Human sexuality, desire, traits, etc are things that have evolved over millions of years. How men view women, how women view men, the closeness of how eyes are set, the cut of a jaw, the ratio of hip-to-shoulder in women, the strength of a man, etc. are things that have spurred on humanity for a long, long time.

    In my minute knowledge of Buddhism I will say - I agree with Buddha's words of desire. Desire and craving does cause suffering. I don't have thousands of years of arguing philosophy like some people have that came up with these "rules" - but I don't think that discounts my thinking and what I believe is reasonable. And as with a lot of philosphies or religions - there are people making rules or "deitic" statements that "this is wrong and this is right" and you know what? Sometimes it's just their opinion. Sometimes it's just what bothers them personally - there's nothing "cosmic" about it at all.

    So, I don't have an eating disorder. Boy, it sure is easy for me to say, "To follow me or Buddha or Christ, you have to eat these foods and only this amount in a given day." What is that all about? What "cosmic enlightenment" happened that led me to the point of stating this? Did I say it because I'm hanging around with overweight people that I don't believe should be overweight and it makes me uncomfortable? So, then I hand down a decree (under the name of someone I didn't even know) saying they should act in a manner that is really no big deal for me to do?

    I'm glad things are relaxed where you're at because I don't think that cutting off something so intrinsic and systemic to us is a good idea.

    So... my point... from reading, I believe it was Elohim's statement, that some monks or nuns can't masterbate and if they do - kapoot!, they're gone - is something I can't find reason with - especially if it's just with yourself! Where is the harm? If you have the desire to do this - go for it. Get it over with. How long you gonna be doing this? 10? 15? 30 minutes? Once it's over - you've just taken care of this "human function" and now you can pursue your beliefs (not that you had to give them up for a little play time - you don't stop being a Buddhist when you eat because you're really, really hungry after working all day) without wasting time trying to repress sexuality during the day.

    Hmmm... which is more detrimental? Taking a few minutes to relieve yourself or spending hours, days, weeks, months, years trying to repress something?

    I feel desire and <insert time increment> later - it's gone -vs- I need to get rid of this desireI need to get rid of this desireI need to get rid of this desireI need to get rid of this desireI need to get rid of this desireI need to get rid of this desireI need to get rid of this desire for much more time.

    Okay... I think I've blathered on enough.

    Bear in mind, like I said earlier, I'm not saying that any persons beliefs or thought processes are wrong and I'm not attacking anyone. I'm just saying how I view things - right or wrong. If I'm wrong, I guess I just earned myself a whole bunch of "free ride" tickets on the Wheel of Dharma.


  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited August 2005
    Being oradained isn't for everyone. Becoming a bhikkhu meant you were 100% ready to do whatever it took to fully realize the teachings expounded by the Buddha. These rules were made to protect the monks, the lay communities, and their practice. I agree that they seem very strict to our standards, but you must look at them for what they are. They never say sex is bad so don't do it. They say desire, craving, and impulses drive us to act with ignorance and keep us traped in this realm of samsara (continually becoming). There is no peace, no freedom from this round of births until you stop the flow of kamma (volitional actions of body speech and mind). Monks become monks to train their minds like Marines train their bodies. If it is something that a person is not ready for they are free to leave the Sangha. That is why we also have lay followers. Lay followers are people who see the truth in the Buddha's words, but still have a worldly life which they cannot or do not wish to give up.

    There is a point when this 'horomone' response is no longer an issue, and the meditator transcends all worldly desires. Then not only is there complete peace, but there is freedom as well. They will not experience another birth in any of the realms of existence every again. Nibbana (ceasation like a fire going out).

    "Again, Ananda, without giving attention to perception of the base consisting of nothingness, without giving attention to perception of the base consisting of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, a bhikkhu gives attention to the single state (of non-voidness) dependent on (the presence of) the signless concentration of mind. His mind enters into the signless concentration of mind and acquires confidence, steadiness and decision. He understands thus: "This signless concentration of mind is conditioned and mentally produced." He understands: "Whatever is conditioned and mentally produced is impermanent and liable to cessation." When he knows and sees thus, his mind is liberated from the taint of sensual desire, from the taint of being, from the taint of ignorance. When liberated there comes the knowledge "It is liberated". He understands: "Birth is exhausted, the life divine has been lived out, what was to be done is done, there is no more of this to come."

    ~Majjhima Nikaya 121 Cula-Sunnata Sutta http://accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/majjhima/mn121.html

    (Here sensual desires not only referes to sex, but all desires arising from the sense organs -- sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, emotions, etc.)
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited August 2005
    Hi Michael,

    Please don't worry about offending me. I've got a pretty thick skin!

    I think where you're getting hung up is about it being "right" or "wrong" or that these are are somehow repressive "rules". It's not about "right" and "wrong" or "good" and "bad". These, again, are Judeo-Christian terms that simply don't apply in Buddhism. It's about what kind of activity produces happiness and which don't. It's also about not repressing anything. Do you really think anybody could repress their sex drive?! Impossible! And it's not like some monolithic thing of saying "you must do this!" It's always your choice to do it or not do it. It's your motivation that counts, not some big father in the sky thing dictating what you have to think and so forth. Buddhism isn't Christianity. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's not a religion. It's a technology that produces lasting happiness. A way of life perhaps.

    What is really going on here is an external representation of an inner change. You realize your vows by studying the Dharma and understanding how desire causes suffering. If the only way you can hold your vows is through repression of your natural drives, it ain't gonna work. It's not an overnight thing. Like everything in Buddhism, it's a gradual understanding that arises. That's why in some traditions, such as some Zen traditions I'm familiar with, it's a five year process to become ordained just to make sure that the person is ready and can handle the vows. And there's nothing anywhere that says you have to become ordained to be a Buddhist. It is simply one way to practice. You can practice as a lay person just as well, and in the West especially where there is no monastic tradition to speak of it will undoubtedly always be the prevalent way of practicing.

    You also speak about sex hormones and it being a deep natural drive and so forth. Well, you're right there is a sex hormone, and it is a deep natural drive. There is also an eating hormone, several of them, as a matter of fact, leptin, PYY and several others (I was trained as a biologist). But you have to remember that our body arises due to desire. It's not that desire arises due to our body. The Buddha taught that desire came first. Actually it's not even desire that comes first; what comes first is our basic delusion of "self" and "other". You can't have desire unless you feel that you are lacking something. If you exist in a nondual state, then how can you lack anything? So when the notion of "self" and "other" arise, then desire arises with it because now we don't have everything anymore. We have just ourself. Do you see? So then the body develops and the five senses (or six in Buddhism which considers mind to be a sense) also arise which are based on the belief in self and other. You use your sense to detect "other" essentially. So you can't really blame it on hormones. They are just a reflection of our basic deluded belief in self and other. That may sound a little simple, but I think if you really reflect on it you'll see it's true.

    Anyway, hope that helps!

  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited August 2005
    Excellent Post, P.

    I'm going to respond to this - but I've got a bowling and dinner deal I owe my son. So, I'm off to that, but I will respond because you make some great and enlightening points I want to re-read.

    But, eating-hormone? You're going to have to do better than that. You're telling me that we eat because of a hormone? Or that we eat because our body needs nourishment and energy - otherwise it dies.

    You think about that. I want to hear more about that. I'm not talking about acids or what gets converted into hormones or even hormones that we ingest. I'm talking about wanting to hear about this "hormone" that causes us to eat.

    I can't wait to hear this! :)

    I'm going to go bowl and then re-read your earlier post again. Good stuff.

  • comicallyinsanecomicallyinsane Veteran
    edited August 2005
    crikey. This topic just points to the whole saying of the "middle way". Let's throw out all the "right" and "wrong" argument. Buddhism looks more at "actions" and "consequences". From experience when I am in the mood I have a tough time shaking the feeling. Now this might get easier with practice but I figure I am not on a path to enlightenment anyway so I just rake care of myself or if the wife is home, well you know. Then after it's done I feel better and I can get back to what I need to get done at that time. It is true that a lot of people who repress these urges do tend to go nuts and do soe pretty horrible things. I have never heard of a Buddhist monk doing this but I am sure it has happenned.
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited August 2005
    Leptin is a hormonal signal made by the body's fat cells that regulates food intake and energy expenditure. Peptide YY (PYY) is a hormone-like neural peptide that acts directly on the hypothalamus to inhibit food intake and reduce weight gain.

    BTW, there's nothing magical about hormones. Hormones are just proteins or peptides (sort of small proteins) that act through the bloodstream rather than locally, like a digestive enzyme would, for example. They're controlled usually by the pituitary and hypothalamus in the brain.

    So much for Biology 101! Now back to Buddhism...

  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited August 2005

    I have to say that after reading your post concerning this (not the eating hormone thing - the "other" thing) that I don't disagree with you. In fact, to me, whether right or wrong, it makes sense to me.

    If the whole point is to remove "desire" - then I'm cool with that. It's just that Elohim had posted something about "first offense - this happens" "second offense - you're booted"

    That seemed harsh to me. It sounded crazy to me.

    But, if the goal is to remove desire - and this is one desire you wish to remove - then isn't there a trial and error thing involved? Doesn't the effort to end something count for something? I mean, we're human. And if we're unenlightened - we're in even worse shape. We need even more help. Not that you can just spit on the rules of whatever philosophy or religion you're following - but we're only human.
    The point you made about some Buddhist thoughts even preventing someone from becoming ordained unless they've put in five years seems to make sense. You've certainly got enough time to see if this is something that works for you. Plus, you've got 5 years to work on it. Makes sense.

    Maybe these strict rules aren't what you're familiar with. Maybe Elohim was talking about one certain sect or something.

    Anyway, good post.


    P.S. I still disagree regarding the "leptin hormone/gene" argument. I can't help it - I'm an ass - which I'm sure you've figured out by now.
    Regardless of your hormones - you will need to eat. When you've spent the day working - you know you need to eat and your body tells you you need to eat because it's out of fuel.

    If a man loses his testicles - most likely, his sexual drive will reduce or even disappear. What would or could a person "lose" that would stop their body from telling them "you're not hungry"? I don't think eating and sexual drive are two valid comparisons, my friend.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited August 2005
    I'm sorry if my explanation was lacking. Since I'm not the best person for this task I thought this little introduction to the Patimokkha may be useful in your understanding of the need for rules in the monastic community.

    One of the first questions that many people ask is why the monks have rules in the first place. Since the Dhamma aims at freedom and depends on self-reliance, wouldn't it be better to let the monks develop their own innate sense of right and wrong unfettered by legalisms?
    The answer to this question lies in the fact that the monks form a Community, reliant on the support of lay Buddhists, and anyone who has lived for any time in a communal situation knows that communities need rules in order to function peacefully. The Buddha, in laying down each rule, gave ten reasons for doing so: for the excellence of the Community, the peace of the Community, the curbing of the shameless, the comfort of well-behaved bhikkhus, the restraint of pollutants related to the present life, the prevention of pollutants related to the next life, the arousing of faith in the faithless, the increase of the faithful, the establishment of the true Dhamma and the fostering of discipline.

    These reasons fall into three main types. The first two are external: to ensure peace and well-being within the Community itself, and to foster and protect faith among the laity, on whom the monks depend for their support. The third type of reason is internal: to help restrain and prevent mental pollutants within the individual monks. This last point quickly becomes apparent to anyone who seriously tries to keep to the rules, for they encourage mindfulness and circumspection in one's actions, qualities that carry over into the training of the mind.

    Rules, however, are not the only way to express ethical norms, and the Buddha also made use of principles and models in teaching the virtues he wanted his following to develop. The rules thus function in a wider context than simple legality, and work together with the principles and models formulated by the Buddha to provide a complete training in behavior, with each side making up for the weaknesses of the other.

    Principles and models serve as personal, subjective standards, and tend to be loosely defined. Their interpretation and application are left to the judgment of the individual. Thus they are difficult to enforce when an individual has blatantly overstepped the bounds of proper behavior.

    Rules serve as more objective standards, and thus are more enforceable. To work, they must be precisely defined in a way acceptable to the Community at large. This precision, though, accounts for their weakness in general as universal guides to behavior. To begin with, a clear, practical line must be drawn between black and white, i.e., between what is and is not an infraction of the rule. In some cases, it is difficult to find a practical break off point that corresponds exactly to one's intuitive sense of what is right and wrong, so it is sometimes necessary to include the areas of gray either with the black or the white.

    Secondly, the more precisely a rule is defined to suit a particular time and place, the less well it may fit other times and places. This is where principles and models come in: They indicate the spirit of the rules and aid in applying them to differing contexts.

    Thus as you look at the rules and contemplate them, you should keep in mind that they function in a larger context: the teachings and practice of the Dhamma as a whole. The Buddha's own name for the religion he founded was Dhamma-Vinaya, so remember that neither half was meant to function without the other.

    Origin of the Rules
    The Buddha did not set out a code of rules all at once. Instead, he formulated rules one by one, in response to particular incidents. The Canon reports these incidents in each case, and often a knowledge of these "origin stories" can help in understanding the reasons behind the rules. For instance, the origin story to the rule forbidding lustful conduct between monks and women shows that the Buddha did not view women as somehow inferior or unclean. Rather, the rule comes from an incident where a monk was fondling the wife of a Brahmin who had come to visit his hut, and the Buddha wanted women to feel safe in the knowledge that when visiting monasteries they would not be in danger of being molested.
    Some of the stories are classics of Buddhist literature, and show a dry, understated sense of humor together with a perceptive insight into human foibles. The element of humor here is very important, for without it there can be no intelligent set of rules to govern human behavior.

    As time passed, and the number of rules grew, some of the Buddha's followers, headed by Ven. Upali, gathered the major rules into a set code -- the Patimokkha -- that eventually contained 227 rules. The minor rules, which came to number several hundred, they gathered into chapters loosely organized according to topic, called Khandhakas.

    The Patimokkha as we now have it is embedded in a text called the Sutta Vibhanga. This presents each rule, preceded by its origin story, and followed by what permutations, if any, it went through before reaching its final form. The rule is then analyzed into its component elements, to show how the factors of effort, object, perception, intention and result do or do not mitigate the penalty assigned by the rule. The discussion then concludes with a list of extenuating circumstances for which there is no offense in breaking the rule.

    The system of penalties the Buddha worked out for the rules is based on two principles. The first is that the training aims primarily at the development of the mind. Thus the factors of intention and perception often determine whether or not a particular action is an infringement of a rule. For instance, killing an animal accidentally is, in terms of the mind of the agent, very different from killing it purposefully, and does not count as an infringement of the rule against killing.
    There are a few rules where the factors of intention and perception make no difference at all -- such as in the rule forbidding a monk to drink alcohol -- but they almost always deal with situations where one would be expected to be mindful and perceptive enough to know what's going on, and so these rules too help in the training of the mind.

    In any event, the system of analyzing each offense into the factors of effort, object, perception, intention and result shows how adherence to the rules leads directly to the development of concentration and discernment. If a monk is careful to view his actions in terms of these factors, he is developing mindfulness, an analytical approach to events in the present, and persistence. These are the first three factors of Awakening, and form the basis for the remaining four: rapture, serenity, concentration and equanimity.

    The second principle used in determining penalties is based on the Buddha's observation to Ananda, one of his chief disciples, that friendship and companionship with the good is the whole of the religious life. Anyone who approaches the Dhamma seriously should be wise enough to realize that without the opportunity of associating and learning from people who are experienced on the path, it is well nigh impossible to make any progress on one's own. The monks are thus expected to value their good standing vis a vis the well-behaved members of their group, and so the system of punishments worked out by the Buddha revolves entirely around affecting the offender's status within the Community.

    The Patimokkha classifies its rules into seven levels:

    parajika, defeat;
    sanghadisesa, entailing Communal meetings;
    nissaggiya pacittiya, entailing forfeiture and confession;
    pacittiya, entailing confession;
    patidesaniya, entailing acknowledgement;
    sekhiya, trainings; and
    adhikarana samatha, the settlement of issues.
    If a monk breaks one of the four most serious rules -- the parajikas (Pr) -- he is expelled from the Community for life. If he breaks one of the next most serious classes of the rules -- the sanghadisesas (Sg) -- he is put on probation for six days, during which time he is stripped of his seniority, is not trusted to go anywhere unaccompanied by four other monks of regular standing, and daily has to confess his offense to every monk who lives in or happens to visit the monastery. At the end of his probation, twenty monks have to be convened to reinstate him to his original status.
    The next three levels of rules -- nissaggiya pacittiya (NP), pacittiya (Pc), and patidesaniya (Pd) -- entail simple confession to a fellow monk, although the NP rules involved an article that has to be forfeited -- in most cases temporarily, although in a few cases the object has to be forfeited for good, in which case the offender has to confess his offense to the entire Community.

    If a monk commits an offense and refuses to undergo the penalty, the Community may decide how seriously they take the matter. Since there is no monks' police beyond the individual's conscience, it may often happen that no one else knows of the offense to begin with, and nothing is done. If however it becomes common knowledge, and the Community regards it as a serious matter, they should talk privately with the monk to help him see the error of his ways. If he is recalcitrant, they may strip him temporarily of his status, either by censuring him, stripping him of his seniority, driving him from the Community, or suspending him from the Order of monks as a whole. If the offender sees the error of his ways and reforms his behavior accordingly, the Community may return him to his former status.

    Now of course there may be some hardened souls among the monks who are unfazed by punishments of this sort, but we should note that the Buddha saw no use for physical coercion in enforcing his rules. If a monk had to be physically forced into abiding by the training, his heart wouldn't be in it, and there is no way that he could benefit from it. Such monks the Buddha considered beyond the pale, although he allowed them to stay on in the Community in hopes that eventually their conscience would get the better of them. In the meantime, the law of karma would guarantee that in the long run, they would not be getting away with anything at all.

    The final two levels of rules in the Patimokkha do not give a particular penalty. The sekhiya (Sk) rules -- dealing primarily with etiquette -- simply state that one should work at following them. The Sutta Vibhanga explains that if one oversteps them out of disrespect, one should confess the fact. The adhikarana samatha (As) rules are not so much rules as they are principles to follow in dealing with issues that arise in the Community. If monks try to settle an issue without following these principles, their decision is invalid, and they must confess their wrongdoing to other monks who took no part in the decision.

    ~Taken from the Introduction to the Patimokkha Rules by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
  • edited September 2005
    I'm new here,so please don't be mad if i offend others.Some people might had also said this but anyway......
    I would say that masturbation is not allowed according to the 3rd precept.Budhhism is about getting rid of desires.Masturbation is just another type of sexual desire,and you masturbate more,you want more. Masturbation destroys the body bit by bit just like sex does,so it's basically hurting your self.
    But we are all humans and humans are born because of sexual desires,and sexual desire always exist as long as you're a human.But,we can choose not to give in to our desires.We can neutralise our desires by chanting and meditating,decrease our desires by going out in nature.Sexual desires the main cause of reincarnation and thus more suffering.By giving in to your desire,you most probably get a place in the wheel of reincarnation,we are all budhhist and what we want to achive is escape from reincarnation,so we musn't masturbate,get rid of lust and try cutting down times for sexual activities between husband and wive.
    Sex between husband and wive also brings suffering because that creates a new life,your children which you have to care and love for the rest of your life.You don't sleep well when they cry at night..You pay evrything that you work for for your children,hoping that they grow up to become a good grown up.They bring you pain when they talk rough or go against you,you become dissapointed when you had too much expectation from them which they couldn't achieve...Isi'nt all this suffering?
    Buddha set rules for us buddhist to follow and then lead us towards the path of enlightenment.Rules are to prevent us from creating bad karma.
    I'm 18 and i do masturbate,that's why i realise why sexual desire cause suffering.This probably don't occur to others but masturbation gave me mood swing,fatigue,lost in stamina,and loose concentration.That's why i will stop masturbating and get rid of it.I do my buddhism practise more now a days,and it actually helps to control my sexual desire.Chanting is the best to get rid of desires(i think).I also heard that Tibet buddhism has a way to get rid of sexual desires by changing the sexual energy into another energy or Chi and this promotes better health and can prevent sexual activities also.Try looking up on this web page i found,it help me a lot .


    I hope everyone will be able to suceed in their budhhism practise,enlightent and prevent others from creating bad Karma.
    Namo Amitabha Budhha.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited September 2005
    Good post, Light & Dark....
    Why exactly have you established that Masturbation is bad for you? Is this proved for you?
    The Buddha never said that masturbation was bad.... Sexual Misconduct is a debatable term.... and the Eightfold path is not a set of rules designed to instruct us on "Do/Don't" and "Must/Mustn't".

    What is true for you may not be true for others. This is why Buddhism is more a set of guidelines so that people may examine, experiment, discover and establish for themselves what works for them, and what doesn't.
    I personally do not determine that masturbation is a bad thing, but everyone must feel completely comfortable and at ease with their own opinions - to the point where the need to justify is redundant and immaterial....

    Sexual desire can be a wonderfully constructive thing when it is a thing cherished by one or more persons... without sexual desire, most of us wouldn't be here...!! But it's the excessive craving and unsatisfactoriness of a person chasing sexual desire for self-gratification that can be considered damaging or harmful. Providing sexual desire means that you respect and honour the dignity of the other perosn, or even your own.... and all are genuinely relaxed and happy - how can that be bad?
  • edited September 2005
    I interpret 'sexual misconduct' as rape, abuse, assault, and being unfaithful to someone whom you have exchanged vows with. I don't see how sex eats away at a person either. It is a part of the nature of all beings. Sex is a good thing which has prolonged the survival of our species. Feeling guilt I suppose is natural for many young people about sexuality. But that is partly because it is such a touchy subject in our society.
  • treetop_buddhatreetop_buddha Explorer
    edited September 2005
    man all your people have all thes big posts and mine is this itty bitty one and that the way i like it short sweet and to the point
    if u dont what it or dont "belive" it is right then dont :usflag:
    but i also see the piont of taking vows and dicussung thus is the quest for knowledge
    it but if it about every day things like that
    u have your own opions
    and i will leave it at that
    and i hope your
    evenigs go well (or mornigs)

  • edited September 2005
    sexual misconduct, i know all about misconduct, since were sangha, i'll tell. i've been to court, 3 times, i'm an experienced cutter, and am still recovering from depression. and i have, as i'm sure all the guys here have, no offense meant, masturabted. Desire, i used to give in to every whim and will, then the teachings of buddha came into play, using that i've pretty much turned my life around. and so desire does cause suffering. and sometimes when you desire something actually doing it helps, sometimes it doesn't. but back to topic, sex is bad for anyone who is under age. i don't mind if people masturbate no matter how old, and if you don't you sometimes get moody, or depressed. if your like me clutzy frosh, who couldn't get a girl if his life depended on it, sometimes you really do desire it. don't think i'm an addict, i just used some strong language to convey my meaning. and most of it, i think is normal for people my age, and for older people, but i think masturbation should be something you keep to yourself for everyone, if you want to do it in front of each other to avoid sex if your under age i think that's fine. sexual misconduct is the worst of crimes to me, but that's all my opinions, now i feel like a pervert............................. :scratch:
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited September 2005
    "A serious cutter"?

    What does that mean?

  • edited September 2005
    ever taken a knife your arm and drawn it across just to feel the blood run down your arm, or to feel the pain.
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited September 2005
    Ummm.... hmmm.... let me think....


    It is outside of my scope of understanding regarding people that are into self-mutilation.

    One of the reasons (but not the only reason) human developed nerves is so that we could discern when something is harming the body. Likewise, they also allow us to sense pleasure.

    I've never been able to mix the two. When something feels good I say, "Thanks you sir! May I have another?"

    And when something hurts - I want it to stop.

    But then - there are people that get off on this. It's just not for me.

    And really - you need to find another outlet. Infections, bleeding, scabs, tissue/nerve damage...

    How about taking up music? I'll sell you a bass at a good price!

  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited September 2005
    Are you getting help and support, Sufferer?
  • edited September 2005
    yes i've gotten into some support groups and my parents, friends, and people at school are all helping, though people at school still shy away from me, cuz i'm like, oooh creepy guy with scars. i'm pretty much better now, though i'll go into greater detail, you don't want suicide because that would make everyone sad and then they'd be like you, so you just have to be satisfied with pain and
    my arms still have the scars.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited September 2005

    What an appropriate name. I am glad to hear that you have had some support for situation. I have also spent a few years involved in self-mutilation. As far as I can recall, it was from the ages of 18 to 20 for the serious cutting and from 20-23 for the ocassional minor cutting. Most people who know me do not know that on New years Day of 1997-98 I was at a mental health care facility in Michigan. I spent two weeks there.

    It can be so easy to judge others for their actions, but that is only because the defilements separate us from one another. We tend to fear what may get in the way of "our" happiness.

    What are the reasons for people to do such things to themselves? Anger. Sadness. Confusion. You name it. The ways in which a person can deal with their emotions are endless. I myself have dealt with them by repression, drinking, drugs, self-mutilation, violence, rebellion, screaming, sitting and staring at a wall (not in meditation), and almost every other unskillful means possible.

    The Buddha, however, shows us skillful ways of dealing with these emotions. That is why I am here. The mind is not unlike a vast maze of suffering whether we realize it or not. One wrong turn and you are in for a very real experience of a "hell realm". I know this from many, many personal experiences.

    To heal I have discovered that I must change that maze to fit with the Truth, not the illusions and fantasies that greed, hatred, and delusion construct. The Buddha is my guide, my structural engineer if you will. I am attempting to rebuilding my mind without the supports of greed, hatred, and delusion.

    It is not an easy road to recovery, and it is usually traveled alone because the majority of others just cannot understand. Words cannot convey what it feels like for us deep inside, and how the world apears through the eyes of depression and alienation. That is one of the many important tasks of the Sangha, to help support those that need it.

    Even if we cannot understand another person's actions our compassion does not need to be based on understanding if we can clearly see that person's suffering. Scars, physical and mental, can clearly be seen. They ask for only one thing - Help.

    There isn't a lot that I can really offer, but I can at least offer my support sufferer.

  • edited September 2005
    sufferer...if you don't mind me asking, how old are you? It makes me sad to think about how young people are so angry, sad, confused, etc, that they turn to these things. Don't get me wrong...I turned to drugs at one point in my "younger years" to get rid of pain, but it is just heartbreaking to see young kids doing these things (or anyone for that matter!).
  • edited September 2005
    thanks for the advice and support everyone, it's comforting to know there are people in the world whom you don't even truly know but still care, i nearly cried when i read your guys posts, thank you so much, and i'm 14
  • treetop_buddhatreetop_buddha Explorer
    edited September 2005
    :banghead: it just, i dont know, it seems to be harder now days to be happy now days

    when my dad ran out an us i got depressed and then expperimanted with drugs :zombie: to make me happy always felt like crap after wards and befor

    got throen into rehab wher i got da crap kicked out of me

    now im always angry and get even angrier if people tried to help i would thim that this is my problem and that they looked down on me and i should help my self i tried praying but i just get frustrated when he wouldn't answer and i read the bible and just got angrier when i didnt understand what to do :confused: and i still dont some times well that my life story sorry to bore u wit it

    tree top
  • SimonthepilgrimSimonthepilgrim Veteran
    edited September 2005
    Treetop, my brother!

    First off, it sounds as if you have had an extra dose of the First Noble Truth : life's a bitch! And, from every 'normal' point of view, you have every 'right' to be angry.

    Examining and calming anger is a well-trodden Buddhist path. It is based on the general truth that we can make choices about where we apply our energy. BUT we can only do this when we have brought our attention under control.

    It's like aiming an arrow: you have to look where you are pointing the bow.

    This is one of the beneficial outcomes of a regular practice of meditation, although it can also be speeded up if we add some reading and study as well.

    And, above all I have come to believe, the support of a community, even one as potentially illusory as an Internet sangha, can be a real plus. It is always good to know that we're not alone.
  • edited September 2005
    This thread reminds me,

    I need to masturbate more often.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited September 2005
    .....More information than we needed....!! :o :lol:
  • edited September 2005
    ok................ :whatever: floats your boat man!
  • edited September 2005
    and treetop, if you do need me man, u know i'm here for ya!! (inside joke) and you and me still need to be around to build that bus!!!!!! :mullet:
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