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September 29th, 2007

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06:15 pm - Buddhism and Masturbation
Hi everyone.

What does Buddhism have to say about masturbation? Do monks quit? Is there any advantage to quitting? It seems to me masturbation has more advantages than disadvantages.

(19 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:September 29th, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, monks quit. There are hilarious monastic precepts forbidding various practices monks adopted to get around the prohibition, such as walking through long grass without underwear.

Regarding the question of advantage, it's important to remember that Buddhism is not a form of maneuvering for advantage. It's a way to end enslavement by conditioning and lead a noble life. The pressures which presumably make masturbation seem advantageous are part of the conditioning which Buddhism seeks to understand and subordinate.
Date:September 30th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
But if masturbation aids you in becoming more compassionate to others, couldn't is be seen as advantageous? And if you had a choice between promiscuous behaviour that can lead to physical, mental and emotional suffering, masturbation seems far healthier.
Date:September 30th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
The notion that masturbation leads to compassion seems rather strange to me. :-)
[User Picture]
Date:September 30th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)
This line of thought is interesting, but it doesn't really go with reality. It's like the drug addict who thinks the choice is between cigarettes and heroin, and who smokes cigarettes because it's healthier. When we tame our own minds through meditation, we have the capability to recognize all our addictions, and see when it is right to abstain. It is possible to live without pursuing sexual pleasure, whether with others or alone. I don't think a masturbation habit necessarily reduces the urge to be promiscuous or sexually unethical. It might do so in the short-term--if you're going into a situation where you'll be tempted and you masturbate before you go, you might better be able to control the momentary impulse. But masturbation doesn't stop us from mentally fixating on desires, from treating people as sexual objects, from pursuing inappropriate sexual partners.

As I said in my other comment, if you're not a monk, it doesn't really concern you. Do it as much as you like, because it is not against the rules for non-monks. But if you were a traditional monk, sleeping in the same room as many other monks, I don't think it would be compassionate to expose them to your habits.
Date:September 29th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
Everytime you masturbate, Buddha saves a kitten from cyclic existence.
Date:September 30th, 2007 01:24 am (UTC)
I want to friend you for that comment alone
[User Picture]
Date:September 30th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
It is a monastic rule, and if you intend to become a traditional monk, it's best to abstain. If you don't intend to become a traditional monk, then you shouldn't compare your life to theirs. One thing to understand about the monastic code is that many of the rules were meant to keep the peace in ancient monasteries. If you had dozens of monks sleeping in one room, sharing a bathroom, sharing laundry duties, it could cause problems if some of them couldn't help masturbating. There isn't much privacy, and cleanliness could be an issue.

So it should be clear to you that if you live alone, or at least sleep alone or have enough private time in the shower, you don't need to follow Buddha's Rules For Being A Considerate Roommate.
[User Picture]
Date:September 30th, 2007 12:29 pm (UTC)
Reason 4,5603,035 that I'm not a monastic. Yay, non-monastic Buddhism!
(Deleted comment)
Date:September 30th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
Somehow, I can relate with your comment. :)
[User Picture]
Date:October 1st, 2007 12:30 pm (UTC)
i don't really see the advantage to masturbating, er, at least not in a monastic sense or even in a buddhist sense(though i'm far from being an expert). it's just another one of those lame physical acts humans are compelled to complete for whatever reason. it's a compulsion. really, i see more advantage in having a bonus fifteen minutes to complete whatever projects you were working on at the moment.

i just picked up a copy of the communist manifesto for eight bucks, and a book about buddhism in relation to modern western materialism for fourteen. they were both red, which i thought was nice, because they look neat being the same size and roughly the same colour. some of the others in the communist party here are surprised that my interest in buddhism is what led me to become interested in socialism and socialist philosophy. but i think it's because they don't understand buddhism or socialism that well.
Date:October 2nd, 2007 03:52 am (UTC)
Hi entropicflux.

The benefits to masturbating is listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masturbation#Benefits

In a Buddhist sense though, I am interested in quitting masturbation because having no vices or unneeded desires and being clean are good, right? But after a few research, I found out that there are mode advantages to staying with it than quitting it, at least for males.
[User Picture]
Date:October 2nd, 2007 08:05 pm (UTC)
thanks for educating me!

as far as vices go, i'm of the opinion that sexuality isn't really a vice unless you're hurting yourself or others with it. but, uh, that's not typically the official buddhist position, i do not believe.
[User Picture]
Date:October 2nd, 2007 12:31 pm (UTC)
I've read that frequent male orgasms w/ ejaculation reduce the chance of getting prostate cancer, because it keeps everything moving down there.

Buddhism can be stretched to permit or forbid just about anything. Just try to see things as they really are, and act accordingly.
[User Picture]
Date:October 7th, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
It's also said that cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancers are reduced in women who have regular orgasms, as well (all that muscular contraction is healthy, apparently).
Date:June 4th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)

Buddhist Sexual Ethics - A Rejoinder

Buddhism means many things to many people. To some, it offers wise and compassionate advice on how to lessen the suffering of modern lay life. To others, it is the path to Enlightenment which ends all suffering. Mr Higgins' article in the November issue of Bodhi Leaf refers to the former kind of Buddhism only. The Buddhism which leads to Enlightenment is somewhat different, as we will now show.
The place of sexuality in Buddhism is made manifestly clear in the Buddha's First Sermon in which the Great Teacher proclaimed the famous Middle Way:

"One should not pursue sensual pleasure (KÂMA-SUKHA), which is low vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial; and one should not pursue self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble and unbeneficial. So it was said. And with reference to what was this said? The pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desire - low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial - is a state beset by suffering, vexation, despair and fever, and it is the wrong way. Disengage from the pursuit of the enjoyment of one whose pleasure is linked to sensual desire - low, vulgar, coarse, ignoble and unbeneficial - is a state without suffering, vexation despair and fever, and it is the right way. The pursuit of self-mortification… is the wrong way. Disengagement from the pursuit of self-mortification… is the right way… The Middle Way discovered by the Tathàgata avoids both these extremes… it leads… to Nibbàna."

(Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Buddha's words in The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, p.1080f)

The Buddha's declaration that the pursuit of sensual pleasures, which include sex, lies outside the Middle Way is reinforced many times in the Suttapitaka. For example, in the Simile of the Quail, Sutta No 66 of the Majjhima Nikàya, the Buddha declares:

"Now, Udàyin, the pleasure and joy that arises dependent on these five cords of sensual pleasure are called sensual pleasures - a filthy pleasure, a coarse pleasure, an ignoble pleasure. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should not be pursued, that it should not be developed, that it should not be cultivated, that it should be feared… (whereas the pleasure of the Four Jhànas). This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of enlightenment. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be developed, that it should be cultivated, that it should not be feared." (ibid p.557)

Even in the time of the Buddha, some misguided people went around saying that sexual practice was not an obstruction to Enlightenment. The Buddha rebuked them strongly with the well known simile of the snake, comparing their wrong grasp of the Teachings to a man who grasps a venomous snake by the tail, out of stupidity, and suffers accordingly:

"Misguided man, in many discourses have I not stated how obstructive things are obstructive, and how they are able to obstruct one who engages in them? I have stated how sensual pleasures provide little gratification, much suffering, and much despair, and how great is the danger in them. With the simile of skeleton… with the simile of the piece of meat… with the simile of the grasstorch… with the simile of the pit of coals… with the simile of the dream… with the simile of the borrowed goods… with the simile of the tree laden with fruit… with the simile of the slaughterhouse… with the simile of the sword stake… with the simile of the snake's head, I have stated how sensual pleasures provide little gratification, much suffering, and much despair, and how great is the danger in them. But you, misguided man, have misrepresented us by your wrong grasp and injured yourself and stored up much demerit; for this will lead to your harm and suffering for a long time." (The Buddha in the simile of the Snake; ibid p.225f)
Date:April 27th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)

Re: Buddhist Sexual Ethics - A Rejoinder

wtf? you just wrote a 3 paragraphs and you havent made clear if it is against buddhism
Date:June 4th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)



Indeed, the Buddha taught that sexual practises not only lie outside the Middle Way, but also that they are part of craving (KÂMA-TANHA, the craving for sensual pleasure) described in the Second Noble Truth as the cause of suffering, they are attachments (KÂM' UPÂDÂNA, 'the attachment to sensual pleasure'), they are a hindrance to meditation (KÂMA-CCHANDA, the first of the 5 NIVARANA), they are defilement (KILESA) of the mind, they are a fetter obstructing liberation (the fourth fetter, SAMYOJANA, is KÂMARÂGA 'lust') and they have no part in the behaviour an Enlightened being is capable of).

The Buddha realised that such Teachings would hardly be received enthusiastically by most, for He said shortly after the Enlightenment:
"The world, however, is given to pleasure, delighted with pleasure, enchanted with pleasure. Truly, such beings will hardly understand the law of conditionality, the Dependent Origination. (PATICCA-SAMUPPÂDA) of everything; incomprehensible to them will be the end of all formations, the forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving, detachment, extinction, Nibbàna." (Ven. Nànatiloka's translation in the Word of the Buddha, p.2)

But then, it is better to be true than to be popular.

Ven. Ajahn Chah, the teacher under whom we both trained for many years, similarly taught that sexual practises had to be given up if one aspired for Enlightenment. For example, I remember a Westerner coming to see Ajahn Chah once and saying that he was sexually active but without being attached to the sex. Ajahn Chah completely ridiculed the statement as an impossibility, saying something like "Bah! that's like saying there can be salt which isn't salty!" Ajahn Chah taught all who came to him, monastic and lay, that sexual desire is KILESA (defilement of the mind), it is a hindrance to success in meditation and an obstruction to Enlightenment. He taught that sexual activity should be abandoned if one wants to end suffering. He would never speak in praise of sex. He would only speak in praise of letting go.

by Ajahn Brahmavamso
Ajahn Nanadhammo

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Date:August 28th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)

Re: hjh

Han-san relates the following story [note: In Japanese, "bobo" is apparently a word for intercourse, and of course "roshi" means master]:

Bobo-roshi is a Zen master, but different. If you like I'll tell you what I know, but I don't know if it's all true; I only know about him by hearsay and I have only met him once. He seems to be an ordinary man but he laughs a lot and he has a very deep voice and he dresses strangely. He never wears the Zen robes but usually dresses in a simple kimono, like artists do, and sometimes he wears western clothes, jeans and a jersey, like you do. They say he has spent years in a Zen monastery, in the southern part of Kyoto. It's a severe monastery, the rules are applied very strictly, more strictly than here. For instance, I believe they get up at 2 a.m. every day. He is supposed to have been a very diligent monk, rather overdoing things even, making extra rules for himself and all that. But he didn't understand his koan and the master was hard on him; whenever he wanted to say something the master would pick up his bell and ring him out of the room. He was treated that way for years on end. He was doing extra meditation, sleeping in the lotus position, trying everything he could think of, but the koan remained as mysterious as ever. I don't know how long this situation lasted, six years, ten years maybe, but then he had enough. I don't think he even said goodbye, he just left, in ordinary clothes, with a little money he had saved, or which had been sent to him from home.

Now you must realize that he had been a monk a long time and didn't know anything about civilian life. He had never climbed the wall at night [i.e. sneaked out of the monastery as many did for less, umm, spiritual pursuits]. He was a real monk, sober, quiet, always in command of himself. And there he was, in a sunny street, in a busy city, thousands of people all about, all doing something, all going somewhere. He wandered about the city and found himself in the willow quarter, perhaps within an hour of leaving the monastery gate. In the willow quarter there are always women standing in their doors, or pretending to be busy in their gardens. One of the women called him, but he was so innocent that he didn't know what she wanted. He went to her and asked politely what he could do for her. She took him by the hand and led him into her little house. They say she was beautiful; who knows? Some of these women aren't beautiful at all but they are attractive in a way, or they wouldn't have any earnings.

She helped him undress - he must have understood then what was going on. She must have asked him for money and he must have given it to her. Then she took him to her bath, that's the custom here. Your shoulders are massaged and you are dried with a clean towel and they talk to you. Slowly you become very excited and when she feels you are ready she takes you to the bedroom. He must have been very excited after so many years of abstaining. At the moment he went into her he solved his koan. He had an enormous satori, one of those rare satoris which are described in our books, not a little understanding which can be deepened later but the lot at once, an explosion which tears you to pieces and you think the world has come to an end, that you can fill the emptiness of the universe in every possible sphere. When he left the woman he was a master."--Janwillem van der Wettering, "The Empty Mirror"

So Bobo-roshi became a master. However, unlike most fishermen, he was not a master baiter.

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