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Celibacy, deep meditation and menstruation

Dear Sisters in Dhamma,
I was searching for some time to find out something about this topic, but it’s hard to get some info and unfortunately I don’t know anyone to just ask personally.

I know that Arahants can’t procreate. I suppose that it also applies to women and means that menstruation is stopped.
I was wondering if that is happening only after achieving arahantship or maybe with celibacy and lowering sexual desire also hormones are getting lower and period can become less frequent etc. I can imagine that for man it would work that way - the lesser desire the lower level of testosteron, lower production of sperm etc.

Of course if anyone would prefer to don’t post public and answer in private message I’d highly appreciate it.

:heart::pray:

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That is a misunderstanding. Arahants have removed any underlying tendency towards lust. They wouldn’t initiate or consent to sexual contact, nor take any pleasure in it if forced upon them, not even a split second of pleasure.

In nearly all cases this results in non-procreation. But because there are depraved people in this world, forced encounters remain a possibility, and some such incidents are mentioned in the scripture, so in theory procreation by arahants remains a possibility.

On another level, arahants will not generate a new birth for themselves at the end of this life, so in that way procreation is definitely finished for them.

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do you have some references please. I have been wondering myself about physiological changes that might happen in Arahants, (mainly insofar as fear is concerned, since I understood that some of our instinctive reactions of fear are determined by the amygdala, so if Arahants are fearless there are perhaps changes to their brain) but also on the question of sex. Ajahn Brahm wrote that they are ‘potently impotent’. I don’t really understand what that means, since it seems a bit oxymoronic, and I don’t understand whether it was meant to describe only male Arahants or also female (in that case I don’t know what impotent would mean applied to women).

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Exactly! I have an impression that it’s about man only…
And after all being completely not interested in sexuality must have some impact on the body.

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Thank you for that reply Ayya​:heart::pray:

You are right, most of the examples pertain to only male monks!

Just as much as an arahant has transcended egoism, he has transcended sexuality too. When Somaa, a female arahant, was rebuked by Maara the Evil One, saying that womankind with very little intelligence cannot attain that state which is to be attained with great effort by seers and sages, Somaa replied that womanhood is no impediment for the realization of truth to one who is endowed with intelligence and concentration.[31] Further, she adds that Maara must address these words to one who thinks “I am a man” or “I am a woman” and not to one like herself. This reply seems to imply that one loses even sexual identity on the attainment of arahantship. There is evidence that an arahant has undergone such transformation in body chemistry that he has gone beyond the dichotomy of masculinity and femininity. All normal physiological sexual functions seem to be atrophied in an arahant as it is said that seminal emission is impossible for an arahant even in sleep.[32]

I have yet to come across references to female arahants regarding physiological changes.

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Best I recall you’ll find examples (some real, some probably as “what if” scenarios) in the clarifications to Parajika 1.

I feel uncomfortable with the objectifying nature of the curiosity on the posts on this topic so I’m stepping back now.

Don’t be afraid of enlightenment, it’s just what happens when you dismantle the causes of unenlightenment.

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Ayya @Charlotteannun , if my post was one of the reasons for you feeling uncomfortable, I am truly sorry :pray: My intention wasn’t that to objectify the monastics , although it might have happened unintentionally.
If anyone else finds any objectionable tone or choice of words in my posts, please let me know, I would be happy to acknowledge and rectify them. :anjal:

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I’m sorry if anyone felt uncomfortable because of my question. I didn’t mean to ask about anyone’s personal experiences or something like that, just if anyone new anything about that quite interesting topic. It just came to my mind because of my own experiences of mind overpowering body’s imperfections. I just thought that Arahant’s mind has to be extremely powerful so it’s really interesting how it may affect the body and there is a lack of information about that.

Anyway that’s not really necessary to know :sweat_smile:
it’s better to spend time on practice than on that kind of discussion :blush:

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@Nipaka I think it’s a perfectly valid line of inquiry. Unless we have devas and asuras reading the forum, we’re all humans and thus require understanding of the physiological responses the body may have during practice. We can accomplish this understanding while neither celebrating nor reviling our bodies, right?

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Whilst I agree about it being better to spend time in meditation, reading on a different topic I thought of this thread when I came upon the following. It may be relevant.

The inability of arahants to engage in sex is quite explicitly stated in the following passages:

A monastic who is an arahant, with influxes eradicated, is incapable of engaging in sexual intercourse.
(DN 29: abhabbo khīṇāsavo bhikkhu methunaṃ dhammaṃ paṭisevituṃ).

A monastic who is an arahant, with influxes eradicated, is incapable … of not being celibate and engaging in sexual intercourse.
(DiSimone 2020, p. 212: abh(av)yo ’rhadbhikṣuḥ kṣīṇāsravaḥ … abrahmacaryaṃ maithunaṃ dharmaṃ pratisevituṃ).

A monastic who has eradicated the influxes and is an arahant … does not engage in sexual intercourse.
(DĀ 17: 比丘漏盡阿羅漢 … 不婬).

Anālayo, B. Meditation Maps, Attainment Claims, and the Adversities of Mindfulness. Mindfulness 11, 2102–2112 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01389-4

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The cowherd verses from MN 19 indicate two types of mindfulness, active and passive in response to strong and weak levels of the hindrances. The analogy places these in a cyclic seasonal perspective and may also indicate hindrances such as desire arise on a cyclic basis. The full moon is marked in Buddhism as a beneficial time for meditation, but what is lesser known is that every few days the moon’s influence changes as it goes through the signs of the zodiac. Some of these signs are noted for intensified sensual desire, such as scorpio and taurus. By keeping spiritual diary entries registering when the hindrances are intensified, practitioners could see if it is cyclic phenomenon.

"Just as in the last month of the Rains, in the autumn season when the crops are ripening, a cowherd would look after his cows: He would tap & poke & check & curb them with a stick on this side & that. Why is that? Because he foresees flogging or imprisonment or a fine or public censure arising from that [if he let his cows wander into the crops]. In the same way I foresaw in unskillful qualities drawbacks, degradation, & defilement, and I foresaw in skillful qualities rewards related to renunciation & promoting cleansing.”

[…]

"Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been gathered into the village, a cowherd would look after his cows: While resting under the shade of a tree or out in the open, he simply keeps himself mindful of ‘those cows.’ In the same way, I simply kept myself mindful of 'those mental qualities.’—-MN 19