Do you have faith in celibacy?

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And yet there are studies that suggest that there is a health correlation.

Study participants also provided comprehensive health and lifestyle data every two years from 1992 to 2000. The scientists found that men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month enjoyed a 33% lower risk of prostate cancer compared with men who reported four to seven ejaculations a month throughout their lifetimes.

I am not sure the greater increase in health is worth it however. There is more to life than being a daily rabbit. :thinking:

Evolution certainly does explain why there are so many of us on the planet. :scream:


Surely there must exist within contemporary Buddhist monasticism, which is committed to the practice of celibacy, some thinking about the nature of human sexual response, and about the success or lack of success of various practices for altering those responses, that is grounded in something more than 2500 year folk wisdom about the causes of erections?


That’s not to say there would be nothing of value within that folk wisdom. There are innumerable folk beliefs about what kinds of foods or substances are aphrodisiacs, and what kinds suppress the sex drive, and presumably some of these folk beliefs are true. But they can be tested.


If men are worried about getting prostate cancer, then there are larger concerns than their rate of emission: namely, aging. (As an aside, the Australian study mentioned in that article also found a correlation between marriage and developing prostate cancer. So celibate monks may not be too far off…)

But, like you said, is it worth it? Depends on your goals. I don’t think for most it’s really an issue. Celibacy is kind of up there as far spiritual goals are concerned. Most would “settle” for stream-entry, and even that is extremely difficult from what I can tell.

But for the one truly intent on the unexcelled freedom from bondage, then no, the pay-off isn’t worth it. What does AN5.57 say?

There are sentient beings who, drunk on the vanity of health, do bad things by way of body, speech, and mind. Reviewing this subject often, they entirely give up the vanity of health, or at least reduce it. This is the advantage of often reviewing this: ‘I am liable to get sick, I am not exempt from sickness’…

Living in such a way,
I understood the reality without attachments.
I mastered all vanities—
of health, of youth,

and even of life—
seeing safety in renunciation.
Zeal sprang up in me
as I looked to extinguishment.



Therefore…one abides between contact and the origin of contact.


Well that might be true in the trivial sense that contact with forms, in the Buddhist analysis, is responsible for every kind of sensory response, and for all grasping and clinging. But given that contact is not completely suspended prior to achieving the most advanced level of spiritual attainment, then the instruction, “Just say no to contact” isn’t likely to be very effective.


That’s very true. Yet since the contact happened, one can then ask what the mental state was before contact. So if we see a stimulating picture, just a moment before we may have been reading about a car accident. Skipping back and forth in our short term memories, we can replay the car wreck experience and then the stimulation experience repeatedly to notice and “bracket” the moment of contact.


A response comes to mind along the lines of:

I can’t help but think of the contemporaneous Western heretic Myself, who, on being caught smoking, replied that he wished that hunger could also be satisfied by momentary indulgence.

Did the Western heretic have his wantings for smokes quenched by the indulgence? Or did he just want more smokes later anyways?

Only I know the answer. * cough *


Thank you for this @Noahsark, and no need to apologise :anjal:
In and of itself, this is surely a worthwhile pursuit. However, we work very hard to maintain a clear and direct focus on the Early Buddhist teachings, as described in the guidelines.

Our reason for this is to provide a specific forum for this purpose (which does not exist anywhere else), and not just to duplicate existing forums - this is not the best use of our resources here.

We try very hard to steer a balanced course, but the tendency is always for discussions to drift towards general conversations and personal opinions, and so moderators have the job to try and keep things focused. There is absolutely no disagreement that there is an important role for general discussion. It is just not on “this” forum.

Thank you for your understanding and acceptance of our guidelines. This applies to ALL participants :slight_smile:



Yes,understood, that’s also why I decide to post a sutta first before discussing the meaning and how they may be applied in the present day.

I am sure that trying to moderate is not easy, because it must be hard to distinguish between the unwanted type of discussion I.e general conversations ,personal opinions, and the wanted type of discussion i.e thoughts on how EBT can be applied and thoughts about the meaning.


Thank you @Noahsark. It is certainly not easy, and we try to be flexible. One way to check is to see how far the discussion has ranged or changed direction without reference to the words of the Buddha, and relies wholly on personal opinions. That is also why Topics here are not ‘old’ in the sense that they are about information and discussion rather than immediate chat exchange, and new references and insights only add to the richness of the dialogue. Thank you for your understanding :anjal:


I would like to suggest that the reason this thread is veering from an EBT discussion is that it is preoccupied with something that isn’t in the sutta cited in the OP.

AN7.50 is a rather straightforward account of what the Buddha said a full-on commitment to celibacy looks like, how “an ascetic or brahmin who claims to be perfectly celibate” will conduct themselves. There doesn’t seem to be a heap of room for discussion around this, given the phrase “perfectly celibate”.

The title of the thread “Do you have faith in celibacy?” addresses something different. Frankly, I’m surprised to find the topic broadening so widely as to include references to personal experiences. Celibacy is one tool that can be taken up (and put down again) in the service of the spiritual life. It is also something that can be taken up “for all the wrong reasons.”

Does anyone want to read AN7.50 and express a view on what it says?


AN7.50 "But what, Master Gotama, is a break, taint, stain, or mar in celibacy?”…

Factor 7 : “…
However, they live the celibate life wishing to be reborn in one of the orders of gods. They think: ‘By this precept or observance or mortification or spiritual life, may I become one of the gods!’”

“As long as I saw that these seven sexual fetters—or even one of them—had not been given up in me, I didn’t announce my supreme perfect awakening in this world…”

The Buddha in this sutta doesn’t say anything about 'putting celibacy down again".


But in this we are taking steps along the Gradual Path (DN2) as it translates into our own particular culture. & hopefully we are finding delight in the fact that we dwelt with 8 precepts for a while.

Progress rather than Problem.


Yes,hopefully. It’s very good to intentionally keep percepts for any amount of time, however, keeping them, building up the restraint needed for clarity and then not keeping them, and potentially being unwholesome, is also then building up of non-restraint.
So it’s a bit like one builds it up and tears it down, over and over, hoping that only the building up part is contributing to ones future clarity.
The giving up of percepts is also an significant intentional action which will contribute to ones non-clarity.

The gradual path means more like a ‘building up’ gradually , i.e 5 percepts, 8 percepts, monastic percepts, but ultimately one has to go deeper than that and “see the danger in the slightest fault’” i.e one must then try not do anything unwholesome however small.

Of course breaking of the percepts can occur, one can still do an unwholesome act but because of the clarity which is there because of the restraint,one cannot turn a blind eye to the unwholesome act anymore, and so it’s less likely that one can commit a ‘heavy’ unwholesome act, an act which requires an intentional 'turning a blind eye’s, or severe inauthenticity.

There is merit in restraint but also there is demerit in non-restraint, hopefully the merit will out weigh the demerit? One way to be sure, is to never put down the restraint,to walk the gradual path, to continue to build it up and not take away what one has built up.

In DN2, if I may diverge a bit, the Buddha says:
“After some time, he abandons his accumulation of wealth, be it large or small, abandons his circle of relatives, be it large or small; he shaves off his hair and beard, puts on saffron robes, and goes forth from home to homelessness. Having gone forth, he dwells restrained in body, speech, and mind, content with the simplest food and shelter, delighting in solitude”

Here the one ‘going forth’ does not ‘go back’, he goes forth gradually, renouncing one thing after the other. This is quite different from the idea of a weekend retreat.

Again he speaks of the gradual path:
"A householder, or a householder’s son, or one born into some other family, hears the Dhamma. Having heard the Dhamma, he gains faith in the Tathāgata. Endowed with such faith, he reflects: ‘The household life is crowded, a path of dust. Going forth is like the open air. It is not easy for one dwelling at home to lead the perfectly complete, perfectly purified holy life, bright as a polished conch. Let me then shave off my hair and beard, put on saffron robes, and go forth from home to homelessness.’

“After some time he abandons his accumulation of wealth, be it large or small; he abandons his circle of relatives, be it large or small; he shaves off his hair and beard, puts on saffron robes, and goes forth from home to homelessness.

“When he has thus gone forth, he lives restrained by the restraint of the Pātimokkha, possessed of proper behaviour and resort. Having taken up the rules of training, he trains himself in them, seeing danger in the slightest faults. He comes to be endowed with wholesome bodily and verbal action, his livelihood is purified, and he is possessed of moral discipline. He guards the doors of his sense faculties, is endowed with mindfulness and clear comprehension, and is content."

One cannot get to “right mindfulness and clear comprehension and be content” by excluding bits and pieces
or by jumping straight to the end of this gradual path. However, I do believe we can replace the word ‘patimokkha’ which ‘precepts’.

There is as you can see,that there is no mention of " he keeps or abandons the precepts for a short time" .


Always? … Could it be imposed? (Just thinking) … by e.g. compassion for others?

Edit: Actually, in my own experience, on retreats where the leader gave us the 8 precepts at the beginning the same leader ‘returned’ us to 5 precepts on the final day. So I’ve never seen that as “intentional backsliding” or similar.


Well, observance of the uposatha and its eight precepts is recommended in the suttas for laypeople, e.g. AN8.41. It’s clear from the suttas that full renunciation is the more ideal path, but temporary uposatha celibacy is said to be “of great fruit and benefit” for laypeople.


Sure, I understand that your intentions were good, but its not really the same commitment as described in the gradual path.

I am sure you intended to go on retreat and listen and do whatever( within reason) what the leader said, and thus you will be responsible for whatever you did there on account of your intentional act.
You chose to do what the leader said i.e take the 8, then take the 5.

You were not forced to partake in the retreat, if you see what I mean?
And nobody can ‘make you keep precepts’, without you deciding,choosing to take them in the first place.
It’s the same with the idea that someone can give you the precepts, as though you can be given your ‘intention to be restraint’.
One decides for oneself to keep precepts or not, and the responsibility for doing it is not someone else’s.
If it was someone else’s act and not yours i.e ’ your keeping of precepts’, then you would not reap the rewards for keeping the precepts, someone else would.

But it is oneself that is responsible for ones actions, decisions and intentions, and it is oneself that will experience the results.


It is recommended in that sutta to laypeople who are ‘noble disciples’/ ariyasavakas,and thus it is of great fruit and benefit because they emulate one who has walked the path that they are also on ( they are ariyasavakas), and by emulating the restraint and virtue of an arahant ,they will quicken their development for which they are already destined , i.e full renunciation, Nibbana.

One can take on all sorts of percepts, but without having understood the Dhamma,it will not be of GREAT fruit, because the precepts in and of themselves will not make you into someone who is free from suffering.
However, the understanding of the Dhamma cannot be understood without the necessary basis of restraint being developed to the necessary extent.

One should, even though one might be an ordinary person/ putthujana, keep precepts, but then one should also make serious efforts towards understanding the Dhamma and not just hope for the precepts to do all the work somehow.


Sure, being a dedicated lay disciple, at minimum, is assumed, I guess. However, I’m not sure the benefit, from the suttas, can be restricted to just “noble disciples”. For example, in AN10.46, the Buddha berates Sakyan lay followers (that it was to their misfortune) for only inconsistently observing the uposatha (no mention of “noble” and presumably some were not yet noble). And we’re not saying practice of the uposatha, by itself, is sufficient (doesn’t mean it’s not useful and of benefit though). And presumably the pattern of uposatha practice in early Buddhism was spending the day in the presence of monastics, hearing about the Dhamma and doing meditation (basically living like a monastic for a day, so a rather complete rounded practice).