Is sexual desire always a form of covetousness?

Is sexual desire always a form of covetousness ?

Can you have sexual desire without any covetousness ?

If not, then if you respect kamesu micchacara-precept, you are bound to break the skillful action against coveting in the traditional 10 skillful actions…

Covetousness is wanting the exact thing that others have.

It’s when a certain person is covetous. They covet the wealth and belongings of others: ‘Oh, if only their belongings were mine!’
Idha, cunda, ekacco abhijjhālu hoti. Yaṁ taṁ parassa paravittūpakaraṇaṁ taṁ abhijjhātā hoti: ‘aho vata yaṁ parassa taṁ mamassā’ti.

I take it to be that if I want the house that others have, and I build the exact same house in a different place or order it to be build or buy an existing one similar to it, it’s not considered as covetousness. But if I were to scheme to get the original owner out or buy it directly from the owner, then it would be considered as one.

If I see my friend have 100 plus beverages and I stare at it, then ask if my friend if he can give me some, it’s also considered.

For sex, it’s to want exactly the wife of another. So swinging lifestyle can be said to be one, or open relationships. But being monogamous and loyal to one’s own wife is not.

But actually, it’s in the mind, so even before any action, just wanting the belongings of others to be one’s own is bad. Especially if one schemes in an illegal or immoral manner.

Yes but when a person wants to “have his spouse’s body next to him”, is it not considered as covetousness ? He wants the body of another, his wife …

“May she offer me her body !”, is it not covetousness ?

In conduct as such, it’s best to be kind and gentle, not demanding, being caring and Compassionate, being full of Metta. If even practicing the Brahmaviharas during such situations, it is not covetousness. Many aspects of Buddhism also recommend Sacred Marriage, by which one avoids sexual misconduct.

Thank you for your answer but I’m not satisfied.

Is it possible to have sexual desire without covetousness ?

If one defines ‘covetousness’ as desire, then the answer is no.
How could it be otherwise?

Let’s just go with your concern that another living being’s body belongs to them.

It’s still possible to have sexual desire without covetousness then with non-living beings, namely sex robots.

Words can be charged with different meanings. For example in the Christian Bible Paul of Tarsus denounces homosexuality by charging the term “homosexuals” with lust when he happens to use it in a certain sentence. All the while the much of the rest of the Bible Teaches Love. This has created centuries of persecution of regularly Loving gay people who deserved honor and respect even according to Biblical standards, who in turn received misunderstandings from some people in the the Christian Church because Paul used the term “homosexuals” in a way that provoked thoughts of lust instead of Love with regards to the term. But kama and Metta are not the same thing. So it was an error in transition.

So what do you mean by sexual desire? If it’s kama, or lust, then you may have some problems, but if it comes from Metta or Love, then it’s certainly possible that that is why the Buddha also deeply supports Householder and Lay followers in their Marriages and Compassionate relationships.

Non returners cannot have sex. They have eradicated all sexual desires. There’s a story of a non returner allowing his many wives to go back to their parent’s home or take another husband as he is incapable of sex anymore.

So marriage which has sexual relationship within it inherently has lust. But covetousness is more than just lust/greed.

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I think it’s highly personal. And a case by case individual basis. I am not negating your experience, I believe there are many non-returners that do not partake in that type of relationship.

However, in other forms of Buddhism such as Tantra, there are even depictions of the Original Buddha being in constant union with His spouse in Meditative Form (in esoteric Teachings and texts). I know that much is not gatherable from the EBT’s, which ask us to quiet our senses. I believe it is a sure Path to Nibbana to do so. However, silencing who you are in Truth may be a mistake. Because who you Love may be the most important thing in the world. So like I said, it’s highly personal. But Blessings on your journey. I personally think celibacy is extremely conductive to liberation, even while the Skandhas are burning like fires, so it’s important to abstain from such connections for many.

The best I can say is that it’s only symbolic of union of wisdom and compassion, not meant to be taken literally.

The worse is that that’s not Buddha’s teaching at all.

I understand. It is highly symbolic, but I don’t think full abstinence from that type of relationship is always necessary, even for a Buddha. (Edit: let me make clear I don’t endorse visual representations of such things, in fact, quite the opposite.)

The Buddha probably wouldn’t teach that one can’t participate in union with their spouse in order to become Enlightened in every single situation, as experiences vary widely, or that you soon have to die if you become Enlightened but aren’t Ordained. For example there is even a Sutta that mentioned Buddha Himself didn’t require Ordination from others, but His Awakening and Enlightenment was an Ordination for Himself. In the same way, as much as Monastic Codes and Communities are probably containing some of the highest ethical, social, environmental, and Spiritual standards, everything taught in every School of Buddhism, picked up by various Vehicles, isn’t always accurate.

But I am not arguing with you. What I mentioned is not in the Teaching of the Theravada, it came later, but it’s still a certain type of practice which has produced Enlightened beings, just like you know the Theravada has as well, by following and by method. Buddha gives a type of Medicine to each living entity according to their ailment, and although there are no discrepancies in the words of the Buddhas, there is also a high use of Skillful Means, as well as different congregations that different Teachers have preached to.

So while for many intercourse during Marriage may be considered lustful, and for some it may be only acceptable for having children for a good and Spiritual population, and others for a strong connection between husband and wife or spouse, it ultimately comes down to what one’s personal psychological dispensation is. For example in one Gospel Christ preached that divorce is a form of abandoning His Teaching, but called union in Marriage as put together by God. And in another Gospel He stated that a second Marriage after a divorce is a form of adultery. So these were the commandments for the Christians. The Theravada has it’s own Teachings on such subjects too, and so do the other Buddhist Schools. I think the best Teaching is the one you find most moral. Namaste. :pray:

There is this thing about not taking a woman protected by another person.
But then wanting a wife would mean than first we would have to covet this protected woman, and then ask for permission to have her, which seems a process that has started out of covetousness.

Then, having the wife, we would covet her body to be with us for sex or love, which is also a form of covetousness, except if we deem that her body now is “ours”.

Do you understand my reasoning ?

So basically, it comes down to the question: is it possible that a woman really “belongs so much to you” to the point that wanting her is not counted as a form of covetousness ?

If it’s never the case, then it’s impossible to have a wife without creating the unskillful kamma of covetousness.

If this art is not only for the symbol, then it’s seriously wrong and dangerous.

If this art is only for the symbol, then it’s seriously misleading and dangerous.


I think if you insist on this line of thinking, you will just encourage your disciples to marry sex robots instead of other humans.

I just thought of a possible solution. Not everyone might agree with this.

  1. Path to stream entry person already cannot do any deed by which they may go to hell, which includes all 10 unwholesome actions.

  2. Stream enterer likely is the same.

  3. Stream enterer are known to be capable of marriage and sex and producing kids. See the great female lay supporter of the Buddha, Visākhā.

  4. Therefore sexual activity within marriage is not covetousness.

I agree, that image is not appropriate for Buddhism and needs to be taken down from all places where it’s being shown, as well as similar ones. The Union of Metta between two Originally Enlightened Beings is not carnal nor is it applicable to the Realm of Form.

With regards to covetousness in Marriage however, there can be some and there can also be none. Sometimes divorce happens because one partner is too jealous for example, which can lead from a covetous attitude. Or sometimes two partners can stay together for many lifetimes over and again because they respect each other’s boundaries and feelings. If Love is a war however, Nibbana is True Peace. :smile:


No, I don’t think that sexual desire is always “excessive”. Two people can be eager to having sex with each other but when they are both married/a couple they are not breaking the third precept.

If one has sex with someone and this someone said “no” than it is covetousness (excessive) and of course harmful.

Sex is an unskillful action if it is harmful in whatever way. If one “wants to have” it’s spouses body - this is why most people have a partner. And in a normal partnership people speak about their wishes and needs. So nothing excessive (covetousness) about it.

That’s how I see it in a nutshell.

Celibacy is great and brings the least problems with it :butterfly: