SuttaCentral

Perceiving women as relatives? (SN35.127)


#1

I have a vague recollection of a sutta where the Buddha or one of his disciples teaches the monks to perceive women as their relatives in this sort of fashion (or something similar) to aid in the removal of lust for form and the cultivation of kindness toward beings:

A woman old enough to be one’s grandmother can be perceived as such.
A woman old enough to be one’s mother can be perceived as such.
A woman old enough to be one’s sister can be perceived as such.
A woman old enough to be one’s daughter can be perceived as such.

I could be totally off the mark as to the source of this but I know I’ve heard it somewhere. Thanks!


#2

SN 35.127

“Master Bharadvaja, what is the cause and reason why these young bhikkhus, lads with black hair, endowed with the blessing of youth, in the prime of life, who have not dallied with sensual pleasures, lead the complete and pure holy life all their lives and maintain it continuously?”
“Great king, this was said by the Blessed One who knows and sees, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One: ‘Come, bhikkhus, towards women old enough to be your mother set up the idea that they are your mother; towards those of an age to be your sisters set up the idea that they are your sisters; towards those young enough to be your daughters set up the idea that they are your daughters.’ This is a cause and reason, great king, why these young bhikkhus … lead the complete and pure holy life all their lives and maintain it continuously.”

Bhikkhus consistently address women as “sister” in the suttas, so it seems that they took this advice to heart. :grin:


#3

Funny thing but when I saw this now the thought came: That way of regarding all females was exactly the attitude this little boy had before he grew up.

Thanks for reminding us! :slight_smile:


#4

I think in removing lust there is a usefulness in knowing the brain was capable of not thinking with lust for a good decade, before the teenage years took over and it is possible use the memory of that way of thinking even afterwards. It is a good reminder when it may feel like it is impossible to have a non-sexual (platonic?) relationship with the opposite sex.

with metta


#5

This is probably the reason why everyone in Sri Lanka calls others from the same culture uncle/brother, sister etc.!
Actually I noticed this in other cultures too, like some African countries!