Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Monks and sex

ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran Veteran
edited March 2012 in Buddhism Basics
Maybe this is inappropriate or irrelevant to bring up, but I've always been curious to know how young male monks deal with sexual urges and hormones while respecting their vow of chastity? Are they allowed to masturbate, and if not, how do they deal with what are sometimes overwhelming urges in meditation? I suppose there are female monks who go through similar states? So far, I haven't seen or heard much about that aspect of monastic practice in my learning of Buddhism.
yuri
«13

Comments

  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran
    I think it's an interesting question.
  • weightedweighted Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2012
    Came across this which would suggest a monk (bhikku) must refrain from masturbation. I assume the same code would be in place for nuns, but I'm not sure:
    The thirteen sanghadisesas are rules requiring an initial and subsequent meeting of the sangha (communal meetings). If the monk breaks any rule here he has to undergo a period of probation or discipline after which, if he shows himself to be repentant, he may be reinstated by a sangha of not less than twenty monks. Like the parajikas, the sanghadisesas can only come about through the monk's own intention and cannot be accidentally invoked. The thirteen sanghadisesas for bhikkus are:

    1. Discharge of semen, except while dreaming, or getting someone to discharge your semen
    From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patimokkha
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    I think probably some of them do masturbate. Also there is an issue of abuse by some older monks towards younger youngs, though I'm not sure how extensive it is.

    Having sex is considered a root downfall for a monastic, causing them to be dispelled from the order. I think the literal wording is sex with the mouth, vagina or anus, so the abusive monks try to get around that by using the armpit or knee or something.

    My knowledge on this isn't very clear so some of that may be wrong.
  • ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran Veteran
    Guess it's handjobs for the young monks then?
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran
    I've been in one monk's kuti in Thailand...no ill intent. I was actually tutoring 3 monks in English. The kuti was for a single monk.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2012
    It depends on the tradition. Tibetan monks have worked out a system of mutual masturbation, that Heinrich Harrer first reported on, but since then, others have as well, including a former gelug monk in the first edition of "The Book of Tibetan Elders". Monks also jump over the monastery walls at night to see sex workers. Sexual abuse of child novices is reportedly widespread in Sri Lanka and Tibetan monasteries, and occurs in Taiwan as well, where occasionally court cases result.

    Gananath Obeyesekere, a Sri Lankan professor at Harvard has published a number of articles on this issue in his country. He's pushing to limit entry into the monastic life to those who are past high-school age:
    http://www.infolanka.com/org/srilanka/cult/13.htm On the situation in Tibetan monasteries: http://lamashree.org/dalailama_08_childabuse_tibetanbuddhistmonasteries.htm and recently, this:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/mar/09/youtube-confessional-buddhist-kalu-rinpoche
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    Guess it's handjobs for the young monks then?
    I'm not quite sure how to read this "1. Discharge of semen, except while dreaming, or getting someone to discharge your semen"

    Is it saying that getting someone to discharge your semen is the same as while dreaming or is it saying that getting someone to discharge your semen is the same as doing it yourself and the exception is while dreaming?

    Common sense would say that its the latter but the wording isn't completely clear to me.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    "except while dreaming" It means that nocturnal emissions are considered involuntary, so monks aren't held responsible. In theory, everything else incurs a penalty.
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    "except while dreaming" It means that nocturnal emissions are considered involuntary, so monks aren't held responsible. In theory, everything else incurs a penalty.
    Yes, but it was the part after the dreaming bit. Is getting someone to discharge your semen (ok, I've typed and thought about that enough for a while :eek2: ) being equated with nocturnal emissions or is it being equated with masturbation and nocturnal emissions are the only exception.
  • possibilitiespossibilities Veteran PNW, WA State Veteran
    edited March 2012
    Also there is an issue of abuse by some older monks towards younger youngs, though I'm not sure how extensive it is.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/mar/09/youtube-confessional-buddhist-kalu-rinpoche?newsfeed=true

    The article links to the video. Kalu Rinpoche is not just an average monk but supposedly a reincarnation of a much revered high ranking monk -- meaning, if this type of sexual abuse happened to a young monk who was regarded as special, what about those who are not in such a privileged position......
    Edit: (Dakini posted this link already while I was typing/finding the story....)
  • ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran Veteran
    That then leads to me wonder why this prohibition is necessary if it is causing these problems in which monks are violating one of the Five Precepts regarding sexual misconduct and creating suffering for those they're trying to liberate? Has anyone not found enlightenment because they had sex and conversely are there those who have a sex life who find enlightenment and can carry on in a spiritual path? I've always thought chastity was unnecessary in Catholicism, but is it absolutely necessary in Buddhism?
  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    Different traditions treat it differently. In Tibetan Buddhism there's tantra, which holds that the path to Enlightenment in one lifetime is via sexual yoga. But if you look at the Vinaya, it's pretty clear that the Buddha felt chastity was necessary, and he had a difficult time enforcing it. On the other hand, he had householder followers who did reach Enlightenment. Whether or not those householders gave up relations with their spouse after joining the Buddha's movement, I don't know.

    Monks in some Zen sects marry. Whether or not by so doing they expect to forfeit reaching Enlightenment in this lifetime or the next, I don't know.
  • ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran Veteran
    It would seem you could find enlightenment through sex if you knew what you were doing?
  • Lady_AlisonLady_Alison Veteran Veteran
    You mean like an orgasm? That's not enlightenment Please explain.
    It would seem you could find enlightenment through sex if you knew what you were doing?
  • ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran Veteran
    (I tried to make a funny. Apparently I need to add emoticons to my attempts at humor).
  • Lady_AlisonLady_Alison Veteran Veteran
    You know what happens when there are too many rules?

    Too many loopholes.
  • Lady_AlisonLady_Alison Veteran Veteran
    Oh...haha! We need some emoticons, don't we.
  • Lady_AlisonLady_Alison Veteran Veteran
    Btw :wave: good seeing you!
  • ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2012
    There are no rules in Buddhism, only guidelines! If you're suggesting there's too many guidelines in Buddhism, I suggest you go practice some mindfulness meditation to be with those thoughts.

    :-P
  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    You know what happens when there are too many rules?
    Too many loopholes.
    She may be referring to the Vinaya, the monks' vows.

  • Lady_AlisonLady_Alison Veteran Veteran
    I wasn't talking about the 4, 5 and 8 guidelines...I was talking about dogma...as well as in other religions. I didn't intend for that to offend. (Sigh) ...there's my train!
  • ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran Veteran
    I've heard The Buddha used to laugh a lot. I imagine someone who understood all reality and his past lives would have a keen sense of humor.
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
  • 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
    a vow taken by a monk, is just the same as any other vow, and if you think taking a vow of celibacy is a bigger deal than any other - try living by monks' vows. sex will soon become the last thing on your mind.
    Celibacy is part of the whole package, and there are other vows which are much harder to keep.

    if you think going without sex of any kind is a huge problem - then it's a huge problem for you.
    Not the monk.
    funny how the only people who post about celibacy, abstaining from sex, or porn - are men.
    I have yet to come across a thread from a woman discussing sexual urges, celibacy or ordination as a nun, and worrying about going without sex.

    first worry about the impact of sex, on your own minds, before being concerned about monks.....
  • andyrobynandyrobyn Veteran Veteran
    It is interesting that refraining from sex is seen as a gender issue - maybe it is a social thing in the West that males discuss need more and woman discuss more sexual abuse. As Brad warner discusses in the video above in other cultures there is a different emphasis.
  • ThailandTomThailandTom Veteran Veteran
    It is interesting that refraining from sex is seen as a gender issue - maybe it is a social thing in the West that males discuss need more and woman discuss more sexual abuse. As Brad warner discusses in the video above in other cultures there is a different emphasis.
    I do not consider it a gender issue pesonally, I am fully aware that women can easily have problems with that precept, especially just before ovulation. However everybody is different, I really think that I could go without sex or masturbation, Like federica said, if you look into what a monk or nun has to accept and commit to, sex is just as much of a problem as many of the other precepts, maybe lesser than some of them.
  • pineblossompineblossom Veteran Veteran
    I find it interesting that people who are not monastics are interested in what monastic might or might not do.
  • andyrobynandyrobyn Veteran Veteran
    Maybe they are considering if they could approach the decision to ordain? Too much thinking I think - lol.
  • 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 March 2012
    yeah, but why is 'sex' always the stumbling block?

    why not the only eating before noon?
    or not dancing and singing?
    or not sleeping on an elevated bed?
    or having to dispense with familiar clothing, personal belongings and shaving their hair (i'm generalising now....)

    why do men seem to think that celibacy will be such a stumbling block?
  • SabreSabre Veteran Veteran
    Interesting question. One that does not only apply to monks, I think. Personally I'm intending to do without sexuality as a lay person as well, because I personally think masturbation is not a skillful way to handle sexuality. It's going all right, and I'm convinced one can overcome sexual urges totally, but I must admit it is not always as easy. I once asked a monk about this and he advised two specific trainings:

    1. Contemplation of the body. A body is not beautiful, it is just a bunch of fluid, bones and stuff. It is what we add to it that makes it attractive. In the Visuddhimagga I was reading about this also; the advice was to try and see female bodies as sacks of bones. :D

    2. See all females as your mothers and sisters.

    A third one he did not mention, but I remember somewhere in the suttas (and also is quite intuitive):

    3. The mind needs an alternative pleasure. What I mean here is the pleasure of the dhamma; of virtue, confidence and meditation.
    The Buddha said: "Even though a noble disciple has clearly seen with perfect wisdom that sensual pleasures give little satisfaction and are fraught with suffering and misery, rife with greater danger, if he does not achieve a rapture and happiness apart from sensual pleasures, apart from unwholesome states, or something more peaceful than this, then he is not beyond being enticed by sensual pleasures."
    http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha267.htm
    (By the way, this advice was towards a lay deciple, but the same would apply to monks as well. Read the link for some more words on this.)

    Other teackers also mention transforming sexual energy into creativity, but I have not found any practical advise on how to do this. If anybody has more information on this, please share :)

    With kindness,
    Sabre
  • andyrobynandyrobyn Veteran Veteran
    My only, possibly useful, thought ( at the moment ) is that online that is what western men ask.
  • ThailandTomThailandTom Veteran Veteran
    yeah, but why is 'sex' always the stumbling block?

    why not the only eating before noon?
    or not dancing and singing?
    or not sleeping on an elevated bed?
    or having to dispense with familiar clothing, personal belongings and shaving their hair (i'm generalising now....)

    why do men seem to think that celibacy will be such a stumbling block?
    I have a very short range of clothing at present, as you all know, no TV no fridge even lol. I love to sleep on the floor, it is cooler and hard so feels good on the spine, I don;t listen to music anymore as the urge has vanished from within me, I have gone days with one meal a day (not through choice), but those days were happy days, content days. The whole sex thing also, I don't find it an issue. I have had regular sex for some years as I have had long term relationships and do not like to 'hop around', but if I were to go celibate I would, but I have a partner as of now. So, as I have said before, when the conditions are right, it is ordaining time for Tom.
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran Veteran
    One of the main reasons I'm against grabbing young children and proclaiming them reincarnated monks or shoving anyone not an adult into a robe is the prohibition against orgasm. Even masturbation, which any competent psychologist will tell you is completely natural and harmless, is proscribed compeltely. If adults struggle with such an unnatural restriction, then teenagers have no chance. So sex in some form happens anyway, since the sex drive always finds a way. And yes, according to reliable reports from the female side, women in places where sex is prohibited have just as much trouble.




  • andyrobynandyrobyn Veteran Veteran
    I can say that too, Tom, And because of my previous commitments to children and husband it is not what is happening now.
  • 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
    Interesting question. One that does not only apply to monks, I think.
    no, but specifically, the thread is on that topic, which is why i'm addressing it as I am.....
    My only, possibly useful, thought ( at the moment ) is that online that is what western men ask.
    I - know - that....
    the question, is still

    'why'...?


  • ThailandTomThailandTom Veteran Veteran
    I can say that too, Tom, And because of my previous commitments to children and husband it is not what is happening now.
    Sorry this has gone straight over my head...
  • 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
    ...And yes, according to reliable reports from the female side, women in places where sex is prohibited have just as much trouble.
    in all my years as a Buddhist, i have never come across this topic as being as high-profile as it is with men.
    to my recollection, i have never seen or heard any evidence of this.
    please could you cite or link these 'reliable reports'....?

    i am convinced this is an almost entirely male gender based issue.... and as such, a clear indication of how different, gender priorities can be!

  • andyrobynandyrobyn Veteran Veteran
    I guess it is for each of us to contemplate for ourselves. We can not always understand clearly others motivations and they may not be aware of them that succinctly either ????
  • A third one he did not mention, but I remember somewhere in the suttas
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.127.than.html

  • SabreSabre Veteran Veteran
    yeah, but why is 'sex' always the stumbling block?

    why not the only eating before noon?
    or not dancing and singing?
    or not sleeping on an elevated bed?
    or having to dispense with familiar clothing, personal belongings and shaving their hair (i'm generalising now....)

    why do men seem to think that celibacy will be such a stumbling block?
    I've heard and read on multiple occasions that the lack of sensuality is one of the two biggest reason to disrobe (the second is boredom). Also saw somewhere on the internet that -just as an example- Ajahn Chah struggled with sexuality as well, while the rest of the path was quite smooth sailing for him apparently - this was said by Ajahn Jayasaro if I'm correct. Also I recall the Buddha said that sensuality is one of the most difficult things to overcome. He referred to all the sense pleasures here, but obviously sexuality is a big one. So all this suggests there is some reason behind seeing sexuality as a possible stumbling block. Apparently, this is realistic.

    Why it is so? Because that's the way people are conditioned, apparently. If you see all the hurt that is done in the world because of sexuality, you can only agree it is wise to consider it appropriately.

    Metta,
    Sabre
  • 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 March 2012
    @andyrobyn, No, my point is that it truly is a 'man' thing.

    women do not seem so preoccupied with the physical aspect of abstinence and celibacy - the women who had devoted themselves to a lifetime of ordained or committed devotion, that i have spoken to, all claimed that the hardest thing for them to do was to leave their families, loved ones and at times, relationships, and give up on the standard 'trappings' of being a woman.
    sex was never mentioned as being missed.
    but the togetherness of family, and the identification of womanhood, seemed to be hard to give up.

    EDIT; @Sabre hits on the crux of the matter when he mentions 'conditioning'.....
  • SabreSabre Veteran Veteran
    A third one he did not mention, but I remember somewhere in the suttas
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn35/sn35.127.than.html

    Nice find, thanks. :)
  • SabreSabre Veteran Veteran
    EDIT; @Sabre hits on the crux of the matter when he mentions 'conditioning'.....
    For clarification, I don't just mean conditioned by environment - I mean it in the way that all attachments are conditioned. It seems since day and age men have had more sexual urges than women. It doesn't really matter if this conditioning is done by environment, by gender, by biology, evolution or whatever, you could defend all these positions. But the thing is, it just is there and we should all find our way to approach it in a way that we feel is appropriate.


  • 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 March 2012
    No, quite.
    I'm with you on that.....
    thanks for the clarification.
    It's just interesting to me that it just seems to be such a huge stumbling block for one gender, and apparently not even thought about, by the other.

  • edited March 2012
    women do not seem so preoccupied with the physical aspect of abstinence and celibacy - sex was never mentioned as being missed

    EDIT; @Sabre hits on the crux of the matter when he mentions 'conditioning'.....
    buddha did not see there was much difference:
    I heard thus. At one time the Blessed One was living in the monastery offered by Anàthapiõóika in Jeta's grove in Sàvatthi. The Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus and said:

    1. ßBhikkhus, I do not know of a form that captivates the mind of man as that of woman. The form of a woman indeed captivates the mind of a man. This is the first.

    2. Bhikkhus, I do not know of a sound that captivates the mind of man as that of woman. The sound of a woman indeed captivates the mind of a man. This is the second.

    3. Bhikkhus, I do not know of a smell that captivates the mind of man as that of woman. The smell of a woman indeed captivates the mind of a man This is the third.

    4. Bhikkhus, I do not know of a taste that captivates the mind of man as that of woman. The taste of a woman indeed captivates the mind of a man. This is the fourth.

    5. Bhikkhus, I do not know of a touch that captivates the mind of man as that of woman. The touch of a woman indeed captivates the mind of a man. This is the fifth.

    6. ßBhikkhus, I do not know of a form that captivates the mind of woman as that of man. The form of a man indeed captivates the mind of a woman. This is the sixth..

    7. Bhikkhus, I do not know of a sound that captivates the mind of woman as that of man. The sound of a man indeed captivates the mind of a woman. This is the seventh

    8. Bhikkhus, I do not know of a smell that captivates the mind of woman as that of man. The smell of a man indeed captivates the mind of a woman This is the eighth..

    9. Bhikkhus, I do not know of a taste that captivates the mind of woman as that of man. The taste of a man indeed captivates the mind of a woman. This is the nineth.

    10. Bhikkhus, I do not know of a touch that captivates the mind of woman as that of man. The touch of a man indeed captivates the mind of a woman. This is the tenth.

    http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara1/1-ekanipata/001-Cittapariyadanavaggo-e.html
    the thing about nuns in monastaries is often they attach themselves emotionally to a male monk or guru and this emotional attachment can support them. this is the same reason why churches and monasteries are generally supported by lay women. but, in the end, it is all a form of sexual instinct. i listened to a dhamma lecture by a bhikkhuni who said when she was a young nun & a monk helped her, the thought that arose in her mind was "marry me"

    just because a woman's sexual instinct is more designed around nest & relationship building rather than physical gratification it does not mean the woman's attitude is not sexuality based. men are designed by nature to be ignorant about sex & quick triggered. if they were not, they would have no interest in woman. why would a wise man be interested in a woman? having a woman is like having a daughter. just a psychological dependant plus having to work to look after & protect her children

    there are young Christian men who have developed the spiritual path but in the middle age married women, simply out of compassion, because many Christian sects believe this is the will of God. but Buddhist men free of sexuality generally do not do this

    trust me dear Fede. buddhist men that are free of sexuality never look at a woman sexually again. they look upon all women as mothers & sisters. so how would it feel if all men attained the buddhist state? a world full of men with no sexual interest in women?

    :werr:
  • Understanding Ven. Ratthapala's acquiesence, his father went to his house, addressing Ven. Ratthapala's former wives, he said to them, "Come, daughters-in-law. Adorn yourself in the ornaments that our son, Ratthapala, used to find dear & appealing."

    Then, early in the morning — putting on his under robe and carrying his bowl & robes — Ven. Ratthapala went to his father's house and, on arrival, sat down on the seat made ready.

    Then, clasping each of his feet, Ven. Ratthapala's former wives said to him, "What are they like, dear master-son: those nymphs for whose sake you lead the holy life?"

    "Sisters, we don't lead the holy life for the sake of nymphs."

    'Sisters' he calls us!" And they fell down right there in a faint.

    :lol:

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.082.than.html
  • SabreSabre Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2012
    No, quite.
    I'm with you on that.....
    thanks for the clarification.
    It's just interesting to me that it just seems to be such a huge stumbling block for one gender, and apparently not even thought about, by the other.

    It is interesting indeed. What you point out seems to be true also in my environment; men see celebacy as a problem more often. But it would only be ignorant to not consider it, if you know it can be a problem. Sometimes I also consider ordination, and don't think this will be the biggest issue for me, however it will certainly be one of the many interesting challenges.
  • "I have yet to come across a thread from a woman discussing sexual urges, celibacy or ordination as a nun, and worrying about going without sex."

    Maybe its because women are shy about discussing their sexual urges in public.

    I know of two women who have told me they have orgasms just looking at men they find wildly attractive.

    .

  • cazcaz Veteran Veteran
    Good Monks meditate strongly on renunciation of desirous attachment and hence do not feel uncontrollable sexual urges.
  • RichardHRichardH Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2012
    Not having sex, not maturbating, is not easy for monks. It is a huge barrier to overcome and one of the most common deal breakers. The idea that (a male at any rate) monastic can just take vows and put sexual urges aside is silly. I've heard stories of Theravadin monks who pull all kinds of stunts to "accidentally" find relief, including self fellating during yoga.:eek2: Once a monk has gotten through it , however long that takes, sexual frustration is no longer a problem. But the idea that just taking a vow and setting your mind right will make go away is not true.

    ...also, to say that is a failure of male moral fiber in some way... is a personal issue.
This discussion has been closed.