SuttaCentral

Truth of sexual misconduct


#1

Hi all,

Sexual misconduct according to Buddha is having sex with protected woman, others’ partner, people who have taken celibacy vow, etc.

But do things change or should we not change the teaching? Will you consider sex with sex toys a misconduct in sexuality? Some argue that using toys is unnatural therefore whoever engage in such sexual activity will be reborn as a gay person, transgender or those whose sexuality deviated.

What’s your thoughts on this?


#2

Hi SC1100. I’ve just moved this question to the Watercooler category. If you have a look at the category descriptions here I hope you’ll understand. :slight_smile: with metta 15%20pm


#3

Hi Gillian,

This is not just chat but still relevant to Buddha’s teaching in the modern days, that is the purpose. I am afraid it’ll become a useless discussion if you put into this category.


#4

Ummm… The Vinaya rule and attached explanations regarding celibacy have plenty of fetishes, sex toys, animal sex… even necrophilia described. These are to be given up by renunciates to whom the Vinaya celibacy rule applies, not by lay people.
Lay people are expected to abstain from sex only once a week on the Uposatha day.
That being said, what’s the whole point of the Spiritual Path? Is it not to transcend one’s desires?


#5

It look to me as though your question, even more so with the edit you’ve just made (!), focusses more on modern life and modern views than what is in the texts themselves.

Regarding modern views on sex and gender, it’s worth remembering that this site strongly supports gender equality. Also, if you put “gender” or “gender equality” into the search field @ top right you will find a lot of prior discussion available to be read that might provide answers around what views people have.


#6

It’s just an ordinary question, if you look at the title it’s not about gender inequality.
Edit was made to correct grammar, grammar is not perfect. I hope this discussion will work. Thank you.


#7

Can’t find any explanation on the link you provided. Sex with animal is not mentioned in lay people five precepts but we do know it’s bizarre and not common sexual activity, and I think I am pretty confident Buddha discouraged it. But lay people are not living celibate life, how do we know which one is unnatural sexual act and which one is? Toys are just variation of sexual activity.


#8

Why do you feel so? :upside_down_face:

If you read completely through the first rule, as prescribed for monastics, you will see that the Buddha has listed and was fully aware of every possible variation and permutation of sexual act - with humans, animals, sex toys, ghosts, spirits etc.
Yet, he laid down an explicit rule to abstain from all forms of sexual activity only for monastics.
If he had known/ felt any of these practices to be ‘unnatural’, don’t you think he would/ could have clearly defined them as such for lay people? After all, he clearly did define Sexual misconduct for lay people, did he not? And the varied sexual practices of which he was clearly aware, find no mention in the rules for lay people.
Truth is that the Buddha was far more open minded, inclusive and compassionate than most of us will ever be!:pray:


#9

I don’t believe that the Buddha couched things in terms of natural v/s unnatural, but rather of harmless as opposed to harmful, and wholesome/beneficial v/s unwholsome and unbeneficial.

From this perspective it is quite easy to use it as a guide.

I don’t think there is anything about having sex that has fundamentally changed. Like fashion some aspects come and go, some things are more tolerated or less tolerated in cycles etc - but everything that can be done will have already been done since the earliest societies. Also things like ‘toys’ are not modern, they have existed for millenia. Sure the materials and designs may have changed over time, but not the purpose. Since ‘toys’ are not sentient, one doesn’t have to worry about their welfare, and the only question to ask would be about how beneficial it is to oneself. If it doesn’t harm - what is the problem?

Buddhism is great in this regard as it really doesn’t have the moral hang-ups that other religions impose… For lay people it is just about harmless v/s harmful for self and others involved. Though if one is trying to break with craving the sensory world - it is not helpful at all :rofl:

Regarding re-birth… there have been many discussion here about the complexity of Kamma.

So taking the 2 points together it is hard to agree to the below view - from an EBT perspective. It sounds more like a specific set of moral beliefs being disguised as the Buddhas teaching.

As Gillian mentioned above, there have been many discussion that discuss these types of issues. By using the search function you may be able to get specific EBT references regarding different points. Keep in mind that there are huge differences regarding what is acceptable for monastics versus lay people :slight_smile:

See the link below for some relevant topics
https://discourse.suttacentral.net/search?q=sex%20sexuality

Please be careful with language and opinions in this topic, as it always generates strong views and is upsetting to some people :pray:


#10

In the vinaya we hear of a bhikkhu who plays with a wooden doll:

At one time a lustful monk touched the genitals of a wooden doll with his penis. He became remorseful … “There’s no offense entailing expulsion, but there’s an offense of wrong conduct.”

The fact the act was not deemed as bad enough for the individual to lose his bhikkhu status tells me there is not much room for a harsh moral judgement on the act by a non-bhikkhu from the perspective of EBTs.

It is also worth mentioning SN42.8 and the way it records the Buddha going against the norm of the other spiritual leaders of his time and avoiding the deterministic judgement and damnation of an individual by focusing too much on some of his/her acts.

:anjal:


#11

The heterodox wanderer said: “Friend Bakkula, during the eighty
years that you have been practising the path in this good teaching
and discipline, how many times do you recall having engaged in
sexual intercourse?”

The venerable Bakkula said to the heterodox wanderer: “You should
not ask such a question. Instead [you should] ask in another way:
‘Friend Bakkula, during the eighty years that you have been
practising the path in this good teaching and discipline, how many
times do you recall having had a perception related to sensuality?’
Heterodox wanderer, you should ask a question like this.”

Maybe this sheds light on what ultimately is the important thing.


#12

Thanks for your reply, appreciate it. It is an offence of wrong conduct not expulsion. By committing such offence, do you know what is the consequence laid down by Buddha?

Edit:
Take some teacher who has this doctrine and view: ‘Everyone who kills a living creature, steals, commits sexual misconduct, or lies goes to a place of loss, to hell.’ And there’s a disciple who is devoted to that teacher. They think: ‘My teacher has this doctrine and view: ‘Everyone who kills a living creature, steals, commits sexual misconduct, or lies goes to a place of loss, to hell.’ But I’ve killed living creatures … stolen … committed sexual misconduct … or lied. They get the view: ‘I too am going to a place of loss, to hell.’ Unless they give up that speech and thought, and let go of that view, they will be cast down to hell

But consider when a Realized One arises in the world, perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed. In many ways he criticizes and denounces killing living creatures, saying: ‘Stop killing living creatures!’ He criticizes and denounces stealing … sexual misconduct … lying, saying: ‘Stop lying!’ And there’s a disciple who is devoted to that teacher. Then they reflect: ‘In many ways the Buddha criticizes and denounces killing living creatures, saying: “Stop killing living creatures!” But I have killed living creatures to a certain extent. That’s not right, it’s not good, and I feel remorseful because of it. But I can’t undo what I have done.’ Reflecting like this, they give up killing living creatures, and in future they don’t kill living creatures. That’s how to give up this bad deed and get past it. (SuttaCentral)

It seems to me that the mind is the creator. It is useful to have morality to protect the world and humanity, Buddha said an innate sense of shame over moral transgression; ottappa is moral dread, fear of the results of wrongdoing protecting the world. I think I read about Hiri and Ottappa before but not sure which Sutta, I found this essay by Bhikkhu Bodhi Hiri and Ottappa.

Other than that, I think Buddhist morality is just social construct. Mind is the forerunner, what do you think? @Gabriel_L


#13

This is very typical of modern Buddhism. Another prominent story is that cheating men will be reborn as homosexual men as punishment for their wicked karma, and that therefore homosexuals and/or sex gender minorities in general are somehow still ‘tainted’ by those activities from their most recent past life.


#14

That doesn’t make sense though does it. Because that would make cheating very good karma because then one gets to be born queer. Despite the bullies trying to get you down it is such a blessing. :rainbow: :smiley:


#15

I’m not sure it’s necessarily better to be born “queer,” a homophobic term that I personally don’t use but enjoys commonplace use in universities of a leftist bent, but I appreciate the sentiments. I also don’t judge you for calling me queer, because the younger generation immediately below me believes that this word has been “taken back,” and is no longer an anti-gay slur.


#16

No, I do not think so (for laypeople). It does not bring any harm (mentally, physically and socially) to anyone. But if any sexual activities will bring harm to him/herself or to others, then, it should be regarded as sexual misconduct.


#17

Oooh I love being called the ‘younger generation’. :wink: Sorry if the word raised some bad memories for you. Funnily enough it was the guys about 10-15 years older than me in my community who suggest that they reclaimed it, so it feels a bit more natural for me.


#18

If it’s a social construct then what you basically practice is just to promote harmony not ao much about going down to miserable place, hell, as quoted above.


#19

There seems to be a third state, neither purely effort to avoid going to hell nor purely a social construct:

there’s a disciple who is devoted to that teacher. Then they reflect: ‘In many ways the Buddha criticizes and denounces killing living creatures, saying: “Stop killing living creatures!” But I have killed living creatures to a certain extent. That’s not right, it’s not good, and I feel remorseful because of it. But I can’t undo what I have done.’ Reflecting like this, they give up…[that behavior]…

Characteristics of that third: it’s taught by a Fully Awakened One; a disciple, devoted to that Teacher, reflect; they feel remorse; they recognize their past behaviors in a new way and make a new resolve; they give up that behavior.
There is more going on than simply avoiding hell. There’s more going on than simply accepting a prevalent social construct.


#20

Morality is to me a dependently originated and effective framework to guide one’s actions and choices by body, speech and mind as the factors of the eightfold path are developed.

I trust that one aspect of the knowledge and vision of things as they are which arises as natural development of the path includes a direct understanding of how the effectiveness of such moral principles guided the one attaining to that insight to that very fruition.

If this is what you mean by social construct then yes, we can say that. However if the term construct does not imply the effectiveness of choices and actions, then that would be wrong view as it would be more of a nihilistic or cynical affirmation about things than a working hypothesis based on faith and confidence on the validity of what the Buddha taught.

:anjal: