Do you have faith in celibacy?

Of course, seeing things rightly is not common.

There is the Delighting, or feeling great about sex relations; and there is the non-delighting and dispassion in regards sex relations. Which one goes in the direction of Nibbana?

Dispassion and detachment is good. Feeling “dirty” is unwholesome aversion, and probably not good.


The thought of ‘this is dirty", sides more with dispassion.
The thought’ this is lovely’, sides more with passion.
There is a sutta exactly about this but I am struggling to find it, it about someone who says " no view pleases me" and the Buddha says that " that view pleases you, that nothing pleases you"???

If one is having sex, feeling joy or anger is besides the point, from the point of view that one is having sex.
It’s still an entanglement, whether one likes it or not. It’s bound up in the realm of greed and aversion.

To my mind, “this is dirty” expresses aversion and disgust. That’s a passionate response, just as “this is lovely” is a different passionate response expressing delight and attraction.

There is a passage in the vinaya, I believe, where the Buddha discovers a monk who is sick with dysentery, and has soiled himself with diarrhea. The other monks are revolted and do not attend to him. But Ananda and the Buddha clean him. I understand that to teach that for a sage, there is no longer any sense of aversion or disgust involving even the things many of us experience as most foul.

Clearly the Buddha taught the avoidance of sensual pleasure, and of the confusion and greed that are present in the lust-ridden mind. That means avoiding sexual arousal, trying to turn the mind and body away from them when they occur, and avoiding sexual activity. But if one is thinking of sexual activity as disgusting or filthy, one has not freed one’s mind from confusing carnal responses. One is still bound up with them and struggling with them.

The Buddha also advised, in many places such as Sn 4.14, that the sage refrains from thinking of himself as higher, lower or equal to other beings. I take this to be telling us that getting involved in conceptualizations about interpersonal comparisons and hierarchies is a mental activity in which a strong sense of self is present.


Let me just clarify. By the word ‘dirty’ that I used,I meant as a sense of being overpowered, victimised by the Craving for sensual pleasure, a sense that one has soiled oneself with lust.
I did not mean to imply that we feel purely anger towards
lust,although we might. A lot of people who decide to practice, are usually quite familiar with the sense of disappointment ( letting oneself down ) through sexual-craving -acts.

Indeed,being angry about lust is not going to work very well.

Yes, the sage should not take conceive himself in whatever way. By sage, an ordinary person is not meant.

There are hierarchies i.e one who is celibate as opposed to one who is not; one with right view and one with wrong view.

The problem of lust cannot be overcome by denying ones responsibility for its maintenance, by way of ‘not comparing oneself ( or ones actions)with what is higher, or more sublime’. If one is in a position bound up with lust, thinking that one could be free from unwholesome action of lust or that there are samanas and brahmins who have attained distinction in purity and you could also be like that, is in fact mundane right view in regards to actions and ones responsibility for them.

The path which the Buddha taught as far as I know is not taking refugue in Celibacy.

For that matter, the path which the Buddha taught as far as I know is not taking refugue in wearing robes or being ordained.

I think one should be careful not to mistake any practice exercises for the Path itself.


I think of it in terms of appropriate and inappropriate attention. :wink:


I thought that in the EBT’s there was a concept of pervasive impermanence? Thus saying “NO forever” would be delusional from a Buddhist point of view would it not? The fact that these two “feel very different” is the nub of the delusion.

Further (from my very limited reading and understanding of the EBT’s thus far), the one who makes the resolution to refrain from sex is not the same one who actually refrains from sex or indeed the same one who “gives in to that weakness of indulging in sense pleasures”.

I think that maybe understanding that these things are beyond our control is a useful way of working with these things.

In more than one formal Buddhist meditation class I have witnessed advice that suggests to make your commitments for a short time. It’s a neat psychological trick. So something like “just commit to sit here for 5 minutes” means that people who are daunted by sitting for 30 minutes can usually find a foothold to do just that with ease. Maybe it’s beneficial for some to commit for the duration of a retreat? Who knows where they might end up?

Recently I was reading some talks by Ajahn Chah where he suggested that when he decided to ordain at an early age it was just for this one lifetime. He reasoned that this was enough to give it as good go.


Please excuse the frankness of what follows, and please skip if you think it would be unwholesome for you to read some especially frank considerations.

If you’re male, there is a neurological response to not having ejaculated for a while. It causes sexual arousal to happen much more easily. This is something that every normal adult male is probably well aware of.

I would love to be able to “skip the middle [sexual activity] and arrive at the end [disinterest in sexual activity],” but in a sense it’s like wanting to skip sleep and just not be sleepy. It can be done, but not forever, and eventually the body ends up sleeping no matter what.

Yes, there are mental disciplines that can lessen or counteract lust, but lust exists for an evolutionary reason, which means that it’s not easy to wish out of existence.

In this context I have to wonder about the training rule that forbids masturbation. Isn’t it better to spend a just couple of minutes experiencing lust – and then be done with it for a long time – rather than spending many days experiencing lust, and hoping for it to resolve itself in one way or another?

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The practice isn’t about wishing and hoping, though. It’s about a targeted and persistent effort to root out affliction.

By comparing masturbation to sleeping, do you consider masturbation to be necessary for the functioning of the human body? (It’s not a rhetorical question, though for some reason it sounds like that.)

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I consider that ejaculating is going to happen one way or another, just like sleep. It can be with tons of lustful thoughts for days on end, if I avoid masturbating. Or it can be with a brief interval of lustful thoughts, if I don’t avoid it.

Oh ok, I understand. Well, I definitely have a different take on it: I think it’s possible for a normal adult male to both not masturbate and not be with tons of lustful thoughts for days on end. I can’t say if it’s possible for everyone, but that’s been my experience.

It would be interesting to get an honest perspective from someone who has “successfully” been celibate from quite some time—though the nature of the question makes it very personal and therefore difficult to get a direct response on.

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The anti-lust meditations in the suttas are indeed helpful, and I’ve been using them as I strengthen my practice. But eventually they seem to be less and less effective.

I can’t help but think of the ancient western philosopher Diogenes, who, on being seen masturbating, replied that he wished that hunger could also be satisfied by rubbing. Simpler even than relying on alms, no?

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Well. That is certainly a very interesting one. Notice that masturbation is not forbidden to laity. And admittedly, celibacy does get easier with age, to your point about hormonal urges. So what is a young monk to do?

The training rule forbids voluntary engagement with sex. If there is a dream of lust with consequences, then that is allowed. So really, the training rule is truly about not identifying with hormonal urges. It is exactly the same with not eating after midday. Hunger and sex are powerful urges. If we define ourselves by these urges, then we suffer.

So the first struggle is to relinquish the immediate sense of urgency of sex. Reading AN4.79 can help with that abatement and relinquishing. Later, there will come another struggle. The struggle to let go of dreams of sex.

The training rule isn’t really about masturbation. It’s about restraining and relinquishing impulses and craving. Evolution has nicely packaged us with a great teacher.

And what that teacher teaches is often quite surprising. Suppose one sees a sensual picture and the cycle begins. Well, we all know where that cycle ends. But stop for a moment and do something else. Wash dishes. Clean house. Make the bed. Cook dinner. Etc. Keep doing that and something interesting happens. The desire fades. Then go meditate. The desire fades a bit more. Then look at the sensual picture again. The desire increases. And THAT experience should be enough proof that more than biology is happening. The mind is involved. It is a grasping aggregate.


Just a suggestion: The precepts are training rules, and don’t “forbid” anything. When one recites them, one says “I undertake the precept to refrain from … etc.” The Buddha was not a theocratic god laying down divine commands. He wasn’t even a lawgiver king laying down a legal code. He was a wandering, renunciate begger who thought he had found a path to the end of suffering, and taught a system of training for those who wanted to follow him along that path.


Of course the training rules don’t forbid anything categorically. Still, as a layperson who has developed a fairly intensive meditation practice, I have begun investigating which behaviors support the practice, and which ones hinder it.


Yes, the same here. The precepts are very important to me and integral to the whole practice. But they aren’t a legal code. The point isn’t to decide whether or not some behavior is or is not a “violation” under the code, but to understand what influence the behavior has on your mind, and how to steer away from things that harm you, and lead you into more suffering rather than away from it. Also the precepts are just broad and imprecise statements. They are a starting point.

I say this only as a lay practitioner. Since I am not a monk, I do not belong to a sangha with its own separate set of disciplinary rules and regulations, criteria for “defeat”, expulsion, etc.


Yes, and we have a choice about which states of mind to indulge in. Right Effort basically.


I’m not a monk either but I think the bhikkhu’s rules are voluntarily taken for the good of oneself and others in the monk’s community.

As mentioned there is conscious control of some degree but it isn’t total control- therefore there will necessarily have to be a certain ‘give-and-take’ and total suppression is unlikely to be fruitful on the longer run. Working with defilements (or psychological issues) often an effective model is to alter the underlying unconscious thought behind the emotion, for example if someone is anxious in social situations there might be a unconscious/subconscious thought that being rejected in such a situation means that they are failure or un-loveable, worthless etc; such thoughts also do not reflect the reality of the situation. This same principle can be applied to thoughts of lust- an attractive person might trigger the thought of sex/love/acceptance forever, without that necessarily being about it. It’s just a visual image which I have layered with a lot of meaning and expectation without it being necessarily so.

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.