You can! The difficulty is only characteristics of the very beginning; it does not last indefinitely, if you practice correctly. And then it actually turns into bliss! There’s in renunciation an incomparable bliss that cannot be found in mundane life and living, and samadhi is the ‘tool’ that allows us to remain inwardly cool and unmoved by the natural compulsions of our animal substratum.
A ‘precept’ observed by forceful restraint will last as long as the restraint holds and the urge to do the opposite is weaker. I think it is better to change one’s attitude or relationship to it. But, having said that, this might work for some in removing the habitual tendencies of the mind, weaken it, and therefore overcome it. I suppose there’s no such thing as permanent lust and the need for sex must fade with time as well.
Restraint is only required until bliss lasts longer than sex.
There’s an important thing here- cherishing the bliss at the absence of defilements. It really motivates the will to do whatever is required.
I have a bit of a different take on renunciation and restraint. I have been celibate for a good 10 years now, and it was a liberation, the removal of a burden, a joy to realise that there is no necessity to engage in this highly programmed and habitual thinking and acting.
As I put the path into practice - over time the distaste for certain actions became so strong, that desire was absent > to decide to no longer be a slave to certain behaviours was the happy relinquishment of burdens and completely natural. Now I actually did this before I new what the precepts were! It was a natural consequence of the gradual training on the 8 fold path. Though I didn’t know this existed at the time either… Obviously, I was lucky enough to see that relationships, and especially intimate contact brought nothing but suffering.
My experience shows it from another angle. I never started out with the intention of restraining desire and to be celibate. I focused instead on how I felt and how my mind was affected before, during and after all kinds of activities. It was easy to see that intimate relationships really distorted the mind and perceptions, endless energy being expended by the mind and fantasies, and by the body in physical craving. Just watching these things ‘control’ so much > all for this repetitive dance round and round and round > desire, procurement, satisfaction, disappointment, desire, chasing, getting wanting more, feeling empty and dis-satisfied, wanting, fantasising, chasing, getting, dis-satisfaction, wanting , wanting, wanting, chasing, obsessing, fantasising, getting the prize, the prize is empty, start again - Again and again and again and again… ad infinitum!
Let me off - Please
So many wonderful things to be doing instead
And so I’ve found it with most of the things that the Buddha identifies as bringing about suffering - don’t be a slave > aim for liberation from habitual patterns and conditioned responses… then comes the real happiness.
Just to add, of course occasionally, after all one is still alive, with sense functions operating, certain stimulus brings about a response. But seeing the response clearly is the important thing. If one acts on this, it is interesting to note that the enjoyment is lessened… how can one enjoy it as much, when one realises it is conditioning of mind and body that fabricates and motivates the responses?? Over time, this naturally diminishes, just as Dhammarakkhita said.
However, I must add, that had I had an attitude of “that is forbidden”, I would have found it much harder to comply. The fact that it was wholly up to me, and because it was seen as reducing suffering and increasing happiness it was easy and natural. So for those in lay life who want to give it a go, I’d suggest to NOT focus on relinquishment, but to really focus on how it is ‘not self’ that is pushing one to pursue certain actions, thoughts and feelings, and to let natural Nibbida occur
Just so that I practice what I preach
At Savatthi. “Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu is practising in accordance with the Dhamma, this is what accords with the Dhamma: he should dwell engrossed in revulsion towards form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness. One who dwells engrossed in revulsion towards form … and consciousness, fully understands form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness. One who fully understands form … and consciousness is freed from form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness. He is freed from birth, aging, and death; freed from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; freed from suffering, I say.”
Following on from the Sutta reference above, here is another one that looks at using investigation rather than restraint as a method to root out sensual craving (amongst other fetters). Section of MN 48
For me it’s a bit like ice-cream. I can choose to linger in the ice-cream section of the freezer department at the supermarket, and drool over Neapolitan, or instead I can move along and peruse vegetarian frozen produce. Also I have found that ice-cream is better as an occasional treat.
For me, the more I practice, the less I think about sex. The less I think about it, the less I crave. This freedom from craving is wholly gratifying in a way that sex never was or ever could be. If those thoughts do enter my mind, I focus on all of the many troubles that pursuit has brought about in my life, and the urge soon dissipates. As I am in a relationship, there are still a few times a year where physical intimacy is expressed, but it’s of a wholly different quality. Much less carnal, much less enthusiasm, much more an expression of caring, yet still, an act which ends with a wash.
It occurs to me, that thinking on and on about celibacy seems to be (for me) not entirely conducive to living in celibacy. Worth a visit and revisit from time to time, but (for me) not a helpful Center/organizing concept for my time.
The world is on fire.
Sharing just in case there might be others in similar place.
Ah. Indeed. The world is on fire.
One consideration that may help is to ask oneself, “am I giving happiness or asking for it?” Desire is always mismatched. If both are content with giving, peace emerges … and perhaps there might eventually be a fading away…and perhaps one day there might be a cessation.
And even if asking, one might choose, “would you be so kind as to…” vs. “I need you now.”
What do you think?
“… the sentient beings who refrain from sexual misconduct are few, while those who don’t refrain are many. …” --SN56.73
@karl_lew Desire for sexual interaction rarely troubles me lately; I hesitate to theorize beyond personal experience with this. But personally it does not seem that I got there by deciding on or intellectualizing about celibacy or desire. I am not saying those can’t get one there, merely that that does not seem to be how it happened in this life.
And I’m “ordinary”, please don’t think this is or that I think this is some achievement.
The reframing of thought you offer however might be helpful to others, and I appreciate how kindly you offer it. That is inspiring imo.
Renunciation and Nibbana go hand in hand. There is no Path for one who is not restraint.
Of course one might be restraint for sometime but then return to sensuality, but when that happens there is no more walking the path unless one intentionally picks up restraint again.
Celibacy or saying no to the bodie’s urges will give a perspective on craving.
Restraint( not giving in to the bodie’s desires) reveals the pain inherent in sensuality; it is not the restraint which is painful but non-restraint.
Sila is not the Dhamma,but there is no Understanding of Dhamma without sila.
Saying “no forever”, is just the attitude one has in regards to sensuality, not the view that “my saying of the NO will last for eternity and thus I am forever also”.
Determining to be restraint for a week or determining to be restraint for the rest of your life, both exert a every different pressure on the person doing the determination. E.g a person trying to give up an addiction,like eating chocolate, might say I will not eat it for a week and succeed because it does not exert much pressure, if he fails he can again try the next week,but saying no to chocolate for the rest of ones life, he will be aware of a much greater pressure. The pressure of failing,the pressure of the prospect of never again will I have chocolate and not knowing how painful it will get,or if there will be any relief in the future.
The person with the second determination, the more he succeeds the stronger he gets, he overpowers his mind, his mind does not overpower him i.e the Arahant.
The first person sets short term goals, because his mind is already overpowered by the desire for chocolate, he gives in to chocolate only a little, but he still gives in,he is overpowered by the fear of pain that giving up chocolate might result in, he is overpowered by fear.
Of course one might fail, but that prospect of failure can also be a great motivator. Trying to reach Nibbana or become an arahant is serious business, not just a hobby.
The Buddha likens Nibbana to the “other shore” and if one wants to get there,you have to set sail, and you can’t keep going back to the shore that you are already on, and you could possibly drown.
I have not come across the idea of evolution in the EBT’s, maybe you have? Let me know if you have.
Also , lust is not the body or biological. If it were, then destroying the body would mean Nibbana.
There is an account in the Vinaya, if I remember correctly, of a monk cutting off his penis,and the Buddha rebukes him saying " the idiot , instead of cutting off lust,he cuts off his penis" ( it goes something like that).
Lust is the view in regards to the body or bodily objects.
By no longer delighting in the body,one can have a perspective of what the body is, and the primordial urges which arise in/of the body.
The body might become aroused, but interfering with that arousal is what lust is i.e trying to get the pleasure from it.
The body also might NOT get aroused and one might then think that one is free from lust, but then Nibbana can easily be attained through getting old or sick.
If one knows that the body is not ones own. Then one could see that the bodies urges, arousal,heat, it’s desires are also not ones own. And so there would be no need for a masturbation management technique. Why would you lust after a bodily pleasure which belongs to the body and can never be yours? ( I’m not asking you personally)
For masturbation,sex or any other sensual indulgence to occur, there has to be a ‘giving in to the the bodies desires’, there has to be the wrong view that ’ I am that body,or that possibility of bodily pleasure is FOR ME’.
The penis may become erect,but it’s your choice to go and play with it or not; and playing with it a little does not stop the lust from occuring in the future.
The problem will just keep coming up.
Also, the fact that one resorts to masturbation is a sign that one is overpowered by lust in the first place. Just the mere prospect of being hounded week after week is enough for some to give in to lust and this is not the strength needed for Nibbana.
One gives in to masturbation out of fear and because by giving in, one gets a bit of bodily pleasure and pleasure from temporary subsiding of the fear of pain.
Anything less than the determination to give up sensuality forever, even if one lives with tears running down ones face, is just not good enough. That most likely sounds very harsh but the rewards and the dangers are very real i.e Nibbana or samsara.
Renunciation is renunciation and a little bit of lust is still lust.
Diogenes was still a slave to to his penis, which is not impressive…and even less impressive was his decision to show that off in public.
Yes. The bodie’s urges will occur and any build up of semen will be expelled through urine or ‘spontaneous’ emission in dreams.
The bodie’s arousal or production of semen is no excuse for
engaging in sensuality.
Indeed. I would say,however, rather than waiting for renunciation to turn into bliss,that one should try and recognise the bliss that is inherent in the renunciation i.e the bliss doesn’t actually come later,only ones recognition of it does.
The only bliss that a person knows is sensual and so it is based on that that one thinks of the bliss of renunciation; but it does not take part in a sensual bliss, a bodily bliss, and thus it is something that needs to be found in the renunciation that is present.
It is not something that one is used to, so it can’t even be imagined beforehand.
Time is no healer in regard to samsara.
The sexual drive might fade due to old age or sickness but the desire for other bodily, sensual pleasures will still be there.
One might get obsessed with all sorts of things in old age.
These might help but isn’t the full solution- sometimes those who don’t have much love for themselves seek it in going after physical pleasure. If they had more love towards their own self their sexual drives might be somewhat less.
Lets have a bit more reference to what the Buddha has to say please