Thursday, May 11, 2006

More on Buddhism and Sexuality

An anonymous reader suggested that having sex messes up one's energy. S/he provided a link to a page that provides a detailed explanation of this view through Sutras and other associated teachings.

Much of the rationale for abstaining from sex is based in the superstitious belief that semen is the source of chi and that orgasm with ejaculation reduces chi, and therefore reduces energy throughout the whole organism. Here is some of the argument William Bodri makes:
The sequence of events is that simple. Meditate -> chi rises -> sexual desire -> leakage -> start all over again.

Most men don't succeed on the spiritual path because they let sexual desire get the best of them while most women don't succeed because they attach to emotions. As I explain in Twenty-Five Doors to Meditation, the woman's body is yang on the inside while the mentality is of the yin nature; men have yin bodies while their mentality is of a yang nature from which it's much easier to cultivate wisdom. That's why women have less problems with sexual desire, and men have less troubles cultivating wisdom.

That's in general, mind you.

Now Napoleon Hill also found out something interesting regarding sexual desire. He found out in analyzing the cases of over 25,000 successful men, "the major reason why the majority of men who succeed do not begin to do so before the age of forty to fifty, is their tendency to dissipate their energies through over-indulgence in physical expression of the emotion of sex."

Why is sexual restraint so important? Because you need to cultivate chi and then shen and emptiness of the spiritual path, but chi is born from your jing. Lose your jing and presto -- all the good chi you've cultivated for the path is gone.

The good stuff is the refined stuff, and that's what's lost first.

Ignoring the sexism in these statements, this sounds more Taoist than Buddhist, but I think he is simply trying to explain -- in any way that might make sense for him -- why the Sutras are so adamant that sexual expression derails one's practice.

He's on more solid ground at the beginning of his article when he is quoting Sutras:
As Shakyamuni Buddha said in The Sutra in Forty-two Sections,

As to love and desire: no desire is as deep-rooted as sex. There is nothing greater than the desire for sex. Fortunately it is one of a kind. If there were something else like it, no one in the entire world would be able to cultivate the way.
In the Surangama Sutra, Buddha said, "The difference between the worldly and the saintly … depends solely on the elimination or not of sexual desire.

In that same sutra he also said, "If you do not stop sexual desires while you want to attain samadhi, it's like trying to steam sand to make rice. Even if you steam sand for hundreds of aeons, it will always remain sand." Specifically, Shakyamuni Buddha told his cousin Ananda,

You should teach worldly men who practice Samadhi to cut off their lustful minds at the very start. This is called the Buddha's profound teaching of the first decisive deed. Therefore, Ananda, if carnality is not wiped out, the practice of dhyana is like cooking gravel to make rice; even if it is boiled for hundreds and thousands of aeons, it will only be hot gravel. Why? Because instead of rice grains it contains only stones. If you set your lustful mind on seeking the profound fruit of Buddhahood, whatever you may realize will be carnal by nature. If your root is lustful, you will have to transmigrate through three unhappy ways … from which you will not escape. How then can you find the way to cultivate the Tathagata's nirvana? You should cut off both the sensual body and mind until even the very idea of doing so ceases; only then can you hope to seek the Buddha's Enlightenment. This teaching of mine is that of the Buddha whereas any other one is that of evil demons.
These teachings lay the foundation for all future admonitions against sexual expression. However, we must keep in mind that these teachings are from 2,500 years ago. Human beings at that time were still centered in Red egoic consciousness (at best) and likely still had a deep Purple streak in their lives and beliefs.

We now have access to more developed choices in how we express sexuality. We can approach sexual expression from a higher physical, moral, and spiritual stance. We need not approach sexual sharing from a state of lust. We can approach our partners with intent that is more pure, from a desire for intimacy and sharing.

If, indeed, lustful thoughts are a defilement, we can weed these from our minds through practice. But we cannot rid ourselves of our bodies, nor deny their energies without risking disease and a loss of vitality. Kill the roots (body) and the branches (mind) will fall.

So we must learn to transmute the energies into a quest for compassioniate sharing, loving-kindness, and transcendent relationship.

Please note: These are my views on Buddhism and sexuality and do not necessarily include an integral viewpoint.

What do you think?

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