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Sex in Bodhi-city – part 1

Just to be clear, this isn’t a post about sex scandal in Buddhist circles but rather an attempt to talk about sex in Buddhist context.

Sex is part of a layman’s life and I believe this discussion can be healthy instead of being taboo. Perhaps more appropriate for discussion amongst lay people than having the monastic communities delving in.

It is said that when one is enlightened, one no longer crave for sensual enjoyment. I think many people wrongly concluded this as an aversion for sex. I do not think aversion exist in enlightenment. Following this line of thoughts, having sex does not make us less worthy in the eyes of the enlightened beings (Aka. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Arhants). If you have a Sunday Buddhist class or group sutra recitation, it doesn’t make it inappropriate to have a romantic Saturday evening. You do not have to go to the temple on Sunday feeling guilty, sinful or dirty. That sexual escapade on Saturday night will not sabotage your Sunday Buddhist practice, a distracted mind is the real culprit.

How do we reconcile the fact that Buddha prescribed abstinence from sex in the monastic codes of conduct? Doesn’t that mean, celibacy is being celebrated?

A straight and short answer is yes. Celibacy is preferred in the cultivation of Buddhist spirituality because one wish to be non-attached to physical sensuality or crave for sensual pleasures.

However, a layperson has roles/duties/commitment as lay people and part of that involves a healthy sexual relationship with our spouse or partner. One famous monk jokingly made it a point to announce that he never ever advise his lay disciples to abstain from sex. Therefore if anybody is experiencing a bad sexual relationship after their partner become his (the monk) disciples, it is not due to Buddhism. I guess someone must have complained?

If our partner is also Buddhist and supports abstinence from sex on Saturday night because of Buddhist activities on Sunday, then there is no problem. But if our partner isn’t Buddhist or does not share the same zeal for sexual abstinence, then we need to evaluate our position. As mentioned, a layman need not be celibate.

It is unwise for us to confuse our roles or try to imitate the monastic community when our secular life doesn’t permit it. We will end up messing up both our secular and religious affairs.

To further this point, I hope you remember a previous post regarding a female stream-winner with 7 sons. She attained the 1st stage of enlightenment (stream-winner) when she was 12 years old while listening to the Buddha’s sermon. A stream-winner’s mind has unchained certain fetters and will have a maximum of 7 more rebirths before gaining the ultimate enlightenment. Someone as accomplished as her could get married and have seven sons. (and no, there was no miraculous conception)

Therefore, we shouldn’t be shameful about healthy and proper sexual relationship. In summary,

  • A layman need not abstain from sex
  • We do not have to feel inferior or feel guilty about have a sex.
  • Sex does not hamper our meditation or spiritual development, craving and aversion in our mind do.

I’ll discuss about being asexual in the next post.

May all be well and happy.

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