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October 8th, 2009

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08:21 pm - Lust in Buddhism
Has anyone out there suffered from lust and overcome it?

I'm curious about how Buddhists stop lusting. The only thing I've ever heard about this was a story of a monk who was so annoyed he decided to slice off his penis. (No joke.)

Anyway, I really want to figure out how to stop having lustful thoughts.

(53 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC)
Honestly.... I'm a good Buddhist, but stopping lustful thoughts are those things that are for those preparing for ascension to Nirvana, and the belief that lust and sexual intercourse keep the body on this plane rather than aiming toward Nirvana.

I truly believe I am not prepared for Nirvana yet, and there is nothing wrong with a lustful thought.

Just do not allow yourself to think ONLY of lust. Like the Buddha teaches, everything in moderation.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
I appreciate that view, but I'm not presently concerned with entering Nirvana. I'm just curious about how Buddhists overcome lust, and frankly I'm not enjoying my lustful thoughts even when I can use them as a trigger for mindfulness. I don't know why I'm like this, but I'd really love to stop lusting so much. Obviously I can't stop a thought from happening, but maybe there were others out there who had good results with some kind of practice or whatever.
Date:October 9th, 2009 12:34 am (UTC)
If your lust harms no-one then it is not suffering.

If you lust and harm yourself you need perspective on what you want versus what you actually need.

If you lust and act upon it unmindfully and it harms others then you suffer negative karma as well.

Lust in and of itself is a desire which can be both good and bad. It is a non-mindful emotion. However when you feel it you can transform it into positive feeling, positive thoughts, and hopefully positive actions.

I don't think it is wrong to feel.

Remember that many blisses carry a seed of suffering (ie the chocolate cake you ate last night gave you pimples today). Lust might feel good right now, but acting out every lustful thought is obviously going to be harmful. Some mindful decisions about what is karmicly feasible should help make sense of which desires are good, bad or equanimical.

[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC)
Thanks for your comment. (I actually do have a pimple from a piece of cake from yesterday btw.)

I don't harm others because of my lust, but, for example, it interferes in my mind during interaction with someone else. Yeah, it's just a feeling and no there's nothing wrong with it, but I would rather not have it and focus on other things, like conversation or making music. Meditation for me doesn't seem to have reduced the number of lustful thoughts I have though I'm better at reacting to them. I'm wondering if there's a way to actually stop lusting.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
Nothing wrong with a lustful thought, as long as it's just a thought to you. What kind of problems is it causing you?
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Honestly, I guess that's a personal question I'd be uncomfortable answering in a forum.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)

cutting off his testicles might have worked better.

don't resist, is probably the best way. just take it in stride.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)
maybe he cut off the whole thing. I remember him being upset because he kept getting erections, so I figured he cut his penis. But I don't remember the [short] story well nor where it is located.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)

You don't want to feel lust, so you're doing things to try and stop.

The effort generated is a constant reminder that you are feeling lust, which maintains the problem.

Your efforts to fix it are part of the problem. Stop trying to fix it.

Then, go one step further. Do something unexpected. Reverse the logic of the system. If trying not to feel lust = feeling lust, then why not pull a 180?

Try to feel lust, all the time. If your body isn't living up to your lustful standards and desires, try to force it to be more lustful. All the time. Try your hardest. I think you'll be surprised what happens.

If trying not to feel lust = feelings lust, then, maybe,
trying to feel lust = not feeling lust.

Can't hurt to try.

[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
Ok, I can accept that.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
i can accept this too.
Date:October 9th, 2009 02:02 am (UTC)
This is what Bodhidharma said on this matter:

"People who see that their mind is the Buddha don’t need to shave their head Laymen are Buddhas too. Unless they see their nature, people who shave their head are simply fanatics.

Student: But since married laymen don’t give up sex, bow can they become Buddhas?

Bodhidharma: I only talk about seeing your nature. I don’t talk about sex simply because you don’t see your nature. Once you see your nature, sex is basically immaterial. It ends along with your delight in it. Even if some habits remain’, they can’t harm you, because your nature is essentially pure. Despite dwelling in a material body of four elements, your nature is basically pure. It can’t be corrupted."

The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine.

And yeah, there's also this movie dealing with the matter from a Buddhist point of view:


[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
Cool links bro.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
it looks like a good movie thanks..!..
Date:October 9th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
It's a brilliant movie. I really enjoyed it. :)
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)

solution: hands

Why would you want to stop lusting?

Lust might just save you on judgement day!
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)

Re: solution: hands

To elaborate on that, since it is important (right? right?)...

Your gift of lust, and the shadows in your mind, will be the key to unlocking your spirit into eternity safely.

Like fear, it's not something you run from, it's something you face and embrace.

Through releasing (pun intended:) control, we gain a seat at the controls.
[User Picture]
Date:October 14th, 2009 10:02 am (UTC)

Re: solution: hands

I'm not really into linking buddhist practice with "eternity", but I wanted to second what you said on not facing, but embracing, just like other issues.

I found for a long time that I considered sexual issues as somehow different from other issues I was dealing with. Realising they were actually identical to every other issue, and could be addressed with the same core buddhist principles, was a very big step for me.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)

Yesterday i came across this sutta, which seems to deal with this kind of thing:


The first couple of options sound like ways i approach lustful thoughts sometimes - think of something else or dwell on just what was wrong with those lustful thoughts anyway.

I don't really understand what is meant by "attend to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts", unless it's that 'meditate on the feeling and just be with it' idea people often mention.
Date:October 9th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
Self-mutilation is probably not the best route to take.

Keep in mind that one needs to be realistic. Very few people can just stop having thoughts of lust in a single day. Monks have to work on it too.

There are various meditation techniques that monastics in particular utilize to eliminate lust, but unless you have a trained teacher it might be better to not attempt such practices, though that does not mean you cannot investigate them.

If you watch porn, cut it out and see what happens.
Date:October 9th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
Thoughts have a conditioned existence, born from ageless ignorance. If a thought you call "lustfull" comes, then it comes, and it will go. All conditioned existences rise and cease, they come and they go. Watch the lustfull thoughts like you're watching a train going past a platform you're sitting on, like a train that you don't get on, but just watch.

The thought you call "lustfull" rises up and passes on, it's just a form of Thought, it isn't Lustfull Thought, it's just Thought, and so it just means you're alive.

I have had tormenting thoughts, thoughts which made me do things I'm not proud of. I have also had extremely violent thoughts about peeling the skin off of people, which I haven't acted on. Having a thought doesn't mean you need to repress the thought or act on it, it just comes and goes. This is karma. But karma doesn't mean your actions are fated.

Lusting is just another face of Thought. Whatever you've done to reinforce it, by giving in to it with your actions or by repressing it and so giving it more power, you don't have to do that anymore. Just don't. Just watch the thought. See what happens to it. No matter how many times you give in, just start again with the mind of a beginner, as if it's the first time every time, and just watch the thought come and go. Let the train pass through the station, and you will remain. More thoughts will come and go, always, that's part of being alive. But you can decide what to do about them, and you can just sit in the station and watch.

Just sitting in the station and watching, at its most refined, is how I practice Zazen. The forms of how to sit, you can find online, it will help if you try it. You don't have to sit in the station if your thoughts aren't pulling you every which way and causing suffering, just knowing you don't have to ride every train at once helps ... but if you want to know what you are when you're just sitting in the station, you should practice Zazen.

I hope that helps. Take care.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 05:55 am (UTC)

One of the Vajrayana practices...

Imagine the object of attachment as peeled of skin...ick.

I have an Object of Desirous Attachment. He is someone whom I barely know, but sets my panties on fire, really for no reason. Even now, I am *still* attracted to him, in another continent and two years later. Thinking of the ODA peeled of skin however, er...ick.
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 11:02 am (UTC)
you can stop the lustful thoughts if you want to. I don't really know if it's good or bad to have them stopped, but you'll be more at peace with yourself, which you know already.

If you want to stop them, you have to forget about stopping them, or just don't try to stop them, but try to observe them instead. Whatever you are doing, you can be observing the thoughts as they come and go. Usually when a lustful thought arises, we are focused on the object of that thought, rather than the thought itself. If you turn the attention inwards and are watching the thoughts themselves, then they lose their power.

It is important not to try to stop the thoughts, because the ego will kick your head in, no doubt. So we just observe them. Then they lose their power, and then they just drop away.

When you get used to watching thoughts, they may just refuse to come out altogether. I've had this experience. It is like a naughty child -- when you have your eye on the child he behaves well and is quiet, but as soon as you turn your back he is misbehaving.

This technique really works in my experience. Sometimes when the thoughts are cleared away, it is like uncovering a rabbit hole to the nature of mind, and your mind just might be filled with bliss.

Good luck with your lust. I just masturbate these days.
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:28 pm (UTC)
It sounds like you have already conquered half the problem, which is to realise that you have a problem!

I am dealing with the same issue. It causes me suffering, and reduces my ability to interact properly with those I am lusting about. It makes me ashamed that I am not living up to the standards I set my self.

So far I have made some progress, through the following:

1) No intoxicants at all.
2) Make a really strong determination not to lust (in my case look at images of women - not necessarily porn, but yes sometimes). I do this after sitting.
3) When lust arises, try to observe the sensations that are associated with it, not the object of lust itself - I guess your ability to do this will depend on how your mediation practise is, and if it focuses on bodily sensations. This will help you see the unpleasant nature of lust.
4) If/when you loose the balance of your mind to lust, just acknowledge what happened, forgive yourself and try and learn from so next time it is weaker or shorter.
5) I also give some attention to the sections of the Mahasattitpattana Sutta that deal with the body, and how to deal with lust. If it arises when I am sitting I try to break down the image in my mind to its constituent parts, and see the human body for what it really is.

I have definately made some progress, but it is slow. My aim is to get to the point when I can have an interaction with a woman that I would have founda attractive without any thoughts of lust, and appreciating that she is essentiallly just the same as me - i.e. empty and impermanent, nothing more. There's a fair way to go though!
[User Picture]
Date:October 9th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you have the right idea. I do think metta with regard to oneself is very important. I know we are very hard on ourselves in these matters, so it's good to be at peace with the journey, and not putting all our happiness into the goal.

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