Brahmacariya, celibacy survival guide: it's only as hard as you make it

(This won’t look like an essay for a while, be patient.)

From the EBT

Memorize at least the verse portion of this short sutta. It’s not only a succinct summary of the entire holy life, it addresses the problem of lust in particular. A big part of samma sati (right remembering) is to memorize critically important pieces of advice, and remember to actually put the advice into practice. If under a lust attack, as a first response, just start chanting the verse (over and over as long as needed to calm down) and contemplate its meaning, figure out how to carry out those instructions better.

The first message in the thread has a link to some excellent book and video directly related to 31 body parts, 9 cemetary contemplations.

important practice tip

memorize not just the words of the 31 body parts, but also a visual image of each part. So as you chant the parts, visualize it as well in the mind's eye. Learn to do the whole sequence at various tempos, fast, slow, medium, forwards, backwards. And the important part, try to get the proper "feeling" of asubha. Doesn't have to be a negative emotion, it can simply be an equinamous feeling, a sober feeling in contrast with one inflamed by lust.

short and sweet

Under the organ-surgery subdirectory, I really like the "pin worms in colonoscopy" video in particular. It's a great way to snap out of deluded ways of perceiving the world and get more realistic, or a complete picture of what's really going on at a macro and micro level.

The Vinaya

Read the the first pārājika rule section, and at least the first two sangha disesa rules.

important safety tip!

Don't read the above vinaya sections unless you're currently in a strong, calm, un-lustful state of mind. Because those sections deal with breaking of rules of celibacy, it's describing erotic situations in great detail.

Thanissaro's BMC Buddhist Monastic Code

is an edited version of the vinaya and the Te commentary to it, the same vinaya sections cited above can be found here.

Making friends with the eminent deceased

The best way is to ordain. But if you can’t do that, consider a temporary ordination in Asia, maybe 3 months or longer. If you can’t live in a supporting environment, try to limit and slowly withdrawal from bad company completely. And by bad company, I mean anyone who is not living in a way consistent with the 8 precepts and would tempt you to do likewise. If you can’t find people keeping 8 precepts, then keep company among the eminent dead.

Reading about Ajahn Chah’s struggles with lust is particularly inspiring and helpful. If an arahant had to struggle like he describes, no less of a struggle than any ordinary person, and overcame it, so can you.

Books, and audio books in many languages of Ajahn Mun and his eminent disciples.


Trying to be celibate is very tough when you’re young. At age 30, testosterone for males starts to drop about 1% a year, so that will begin to take some of the edge off of the lust. When you’re young and horny though, it’s the erroneous thoughts you have to try to reprogram. It also helps to have some kind of vigorous exercise you can rely to disperse the manic energy incited by lust. For example, jogging, riding a bike, or even a long walk in nature at a very brisk pace, something at least 20min up to an hour, is helpful. I don’t recommend health club memberships. Most health clubs you’ll see vain, young attractive females wearing skimpy exercise attire, that will just make you go even more crazy, not to mention all the pheromones floating around in the air suffocating you subconsciously. Better to pick a solo activity like swimming, jogging, biking.

You might think playing a competitive sports would be safe as an energy outlet, but you’d be very wrong. For example, say you play soccer or basketball and a bunch of athletically fit males, running around shirtless. Even though you may not be sexually attracted to them, competing with other males in close proximity you will be assessing your own body and theirs. The violent physical exertion of competitive sportsis going to drive up your testosterone level, and obsessing about one’s own physical body, in relation to competitors, and ultimately, subconsciously or not ascertaining whether it is good enough to attract a sexual partner, is just going to amplify the lust boiling inside.

4bv (brahma vihara) practice is very helpful, especially karuna. Because the vast majority of us are going to fall off the wagon many times, you’ll need to practice forgiveness frequently. When you practice 4bv frequently, towards others, throughout the day, all the time, it becomes easy to forgive and show compassion to yourself as well.

But there should be some realistic hard limits we strive for, such as not causing unwanted pregnancy, not getting infected by horrible venereal diseases, or infecting others, and abstaining from sexual misconduct of the 5 precepts.

4/1 edit, addition:
Friend commented with a good reminder and warning: When you exercise very well and regularly, making the body healthier and stronger, this also boosts testosterone and increases the sex drive. It’s so important to change, purify, polish our right view, and seeing the true nature of lust. If you never change your view, you’ll always be bombarded with overwhelming lust and too tempted to give in when you’re in a weak state.


Simply a big fat thanks!


Ha! Just noticed today is April 1, April Fools day. And this year, April is also Easter. Here is a woman delivering a special “easter egg”:

friend shared a nice video link, “childbirth delivery”:

36 meg, 10 min long.

We’re being told a FIB all the time, (f)ooled by the (i)mperative of (b)iology. People see sex organs and fornication as something beautiful, desirable, but the FIB really is a lie, just trying to trick us into procreation. Watching the childbirth video, it reminds you of the purpose of the sexual organs, and how un-beautiful (a-subha) penises and vaginas truly are.

Don’t be fooled by the FIB, don’t fall for the FIB. For a trifling few seconds of pleasure chemicals in the brain, the motive behind seeking sexual union, people cheat, lie, steal, kill, destroy their own lives and the lives of others. It’s not worth it. See the trick of biology as it really is, and stop falling for the same trap over and over again.


Your post reminds me of Ajahn Chah’s experience with vaginas, occurring when he was around 30 years old, a monk of around 10 years. Here’s the excerpt from his newly released bio by Ajahn Jayasaro:


I think it’s important to keep this thread as gender inclusive as possible. Just as there are men who struggle with lust there are women too.

Bhante @sujato quoted an early source, at the ASA, which said that women had much more lust than men. Maybe you can link the source if I am quoting remotely correctly?

For this reason let’s not get into hate/disgusts regarding specific gender’s anatomy.


I don’t know what the source you refer to in your post is, but according to Plato (I think in the Republic) women have much more sexual pleasure than men (if I remember correctly he spoke of sexual pleasure rather than lust). In recent times, in his work Sex and character, Weininger argued that women have much more lust than men (btw that book is very controversial because it’s not politically correct, but Wittgenstein considered it one of the most important books he had read in his lifetime).
Anther interesting point (which is based on personal experience and a number of conversations I’ve had) is that for men sexual desire seems to be positively correlated to stress, so I personally found that whenever I spent time in a monastery where there is hardly any stress, I had much less desire (if any) than when living in ‘the world’ and working. From some conversations I’ve had, for women this seems not to be the case, so that a very relaxing life in a monastery does not necessarily lead naturally and in itself to less lust.



First, let me just say male and female bodies are both uniquely unattractive, and that the Buddha taught that conceiving ‘I am better, worse or equal’ based on the body is just plain silly.

I just wanted to say e.g. regarding the video of childbirth, speaking for myself at least, it’s not about hating vaginas, but seeing them from an angle that doesn’t inspire lust.

The nether regions have all these (legitimate) functions that aren’t connected to lust. I personally find it helpful to reflect on this from time to time – it’s very one-sided to only consider the attractive aspects of certain anatomy and not the many other, equally legitimate, but maybe not so attractive aspects.

Personally, I don’t see this creating any ill-will towards women in my own mind. The idea of blaming someone (or an entire gender) for their body seems like the polar opposite of the goal of body contemplation to me.

With metta! :green_heart: :yellow_heart: :orange_heart:


Beautifully put, that is what I had in mind, but could not have expressed in such a just way, thank you. :anjal:


My guess is that those two western thinkers had a bit of a struggle with explaining where their own lust originated from, and therefore found meaning in pointing at the female as having “bigger or greater lust” than them self …
It is the same energy, but I have read or heard that the female body is more sensible then male bodies and maybe that gives them higher pleasure …

When I was indulging in sex/fantasies and so on, I could easily do it all day long, but the problem for me was that I couldn’t relate it to “Love”, but only to what i consider being male dominance. I don’t know about if female monastics have more or less sexual drive, but they are potential “mothers” and that might be a force that bothers them partially …

Not agreeing without a few remarks here - There is no problem acknowledging that some form gives more delight in the eye, but one doesn’t have to “fire up the gorilla” in one self just because of an empty form that meets the eye

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The idea that women or vaginas have to be demonized because you have lust is a weak and androcentric approach.

You don’t need to look at pictures or videos to assuage your lust, look at your mind! The problem is not in those ‘objects’ (you objectify them!) it’s in your mind.

Backed up by suttas (note the monk does not tell the women to put on more clothes, leave the monastery, nor does he go to look at vaginas in childbirth) -

SN 8.1


So I have heard. At one time Venerable Vaṅgīsa was staying near Āḷavī, at the Aggāḷava Tree-shrine, together with his mentor, Venerable Nigrodhakappa. Now at that time Vaṅgīsa was junior, recently gone forth. He had been left behind to look after the dwelling. Then several women dressed in all their finery went to the monastery at Aggāḷava in order to inspect the dwelling. When Vaṅgīsa saw them he became dissatisfied, with lust infecting his mind. Then he thought: “It’s my loss, my misfortune, that I’ve become dissatisfied, with lust infecting my mind. How is it possible for someone else to dispel my discontent and give rise to satisfaction? Why don’t I do it myself?” Then, on the occasion of dispelling his own discontent and giving rise to satisfaction, he recited these verses:

“Now that I’ve renounced
the home life for homelessness
I’m assailed
by the reckless thoughts of the Dark One.

Even if a thousand mighty princes and great archers,
well trained, with strong bows,
were to completely surround me;
I would never flee.

And even if women come,
many more than that,
they won’t scare me,
for I stand firm in the teaching.

I heard this with my own ears
from the Buddha, Kinsman of the Sun,
about the path going to extinguishment;
that’s what delights my mind.

Wicked One, if you come near me
as I live like this,
I’ll make sure that you, Death,
won’t even see the path I travel.”

Honestly disappointed and disgusted by this thread.


Perhaps if we reflect on all the times we have been men, and all the times we have been women, strategies addressing particular issues in each case are equally useful… If not from the perspective of the past, then maybe from the perspective of future lives.

Metta :anjal:


Would you mind elaborating on how women or vaginas have been demonized in this thread or further analyzing what is problematic?

Personally, I am perceiving this whole matter in a different way, and I would like to understand your viewpoint.


I appreciate as you mention above that these images help you to see vaginas not as an object of lust but something that has a different purpose, etc.

But all of these images, videos, ideas have the intention and drive to create hate and disgust in the place of lust. This is, IMO, a poor and ineffective way to reduce lust.
Why do you have to bring the objects of women or vaginas into it? The lust is in you, not in them.

In 99.9% of the times I’ve seen lust talked about in Buddhist circles it’s by men about women. Whether or not you believe it, this does demonize women, as they are constantly seen as the source of lust. It also erases the experience of women, who also feel lust.

Sentences like “men see the vagina as something beautiful” and “seeking company with vaginas” causes us to forget the fact that humans are attached to these vaginas!
I just find the obsession with the object and the need to see the object itself as despicable and ugly as approaching the problem of lust from the wrong direction.

Women have vaginas and they have nothing to do with you. If you feel lust in your mind on account of that fact, look at your mind. Where did that defilement arise? What was it’s cause? What did you do to trigger it? Following the fruit to the branches to the roots and uprooting the desire there will be more effective that trying to douse the fire with aversion/hatred.


Do they? How can you be so sure of the intentions? Would you say the same thing about graphic depictions of penises.

I totally agree that the ultimate root is in the mind. But you might be discounting the visual nature of men’s sexuality. I won’t use the same extreme language you have; e.g. “demonizing”.

Men might be more comfortable discussing their sexuality in public forum than most women. I don’t think that’s part of any agenda. Of course, women are free to do the same.

Frankly, I am

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Yes I would.

It seems the intention is to see the object as ugly and repulsive. I don’t see how that’s disconnected from hatred/aversion.

This is quite rude and mocking.

There are very good reasons why kāya anupassana, kāyagatasati have explicit, vivid visualization of 31 body parts, physically coming into proximity with corpses and their stench, and not just doing citta anupassana. In short, if samādhi is not of high enough strength, citta anupassana is going to be superficial and not cut through the defilements.

I’ve edited the original post to be more gender inclusive, the cost is fluency. Using plain language makes the point more clear, but for the sake of harmony it was edited. Ajahn Chah insisting that the forest of vaginas be included in his book, was for that reason, plain language makes a stronger impact and easier to communicate. Bland politically correct language is hard to grok easily.

If you’re going to accuse people of demonizing women, then that would include Ariya like Ajahn Chah.


Sure, but my understanding was that these should be done on bodies as the same sex as you.

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I’m not sure that’s explicitly stated. What if you don’t “identify” with your own biological sex?