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I am wondering about the nature of lust and its remedies. I know Buddhism posits that lust depends on the sense organs, and contact with an object. Thus, I've read it promotes decreasing this contact and guarding the senses.

Yet, I find myself experience lust seemingly detached from contact, or rather, lust with a subjective emphasis. It is my imaginations that flare and cause me to experience lust, but only at certain key moments. I specify this because most of the time, I do not experience lustful thought processes. Only at certain moments does it almost seem like my guard is down, and my mindfulness absent, and lust resurfaces in an almost obsessive way.

I have not managed to find a way to decrease the periodic surfacing of lust I describe. It seems more inherent to myself as a subject than caused by objects intrinsically.

In terms of remedies:

(1) I wonder whether natural masturbation without erotic material is bad. Could it potentially reduce these types of surfacing lust? Or, rather, would abstinence decrease lust more effectively. I feel in this second case the libidinal drive might simply increase, whereas in the first libido is kept even. But perhaps I am wrong.

(2) Is there any Buddhist information on interior causes for such lust?

Thanks for any answer.

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The YouTube video "Ask A Monk: Pornography and Masturbation (and Addiction in General)" by Ven. Yuttadhammo may be helpful to you.

He discusses "interior causes for such lust" from the perspective of Dependent Origination in the video.

He says that we can break the cause of the arising of lust through wisdom.

One way suggested by him is to mentally take apart and analyze the parts of the body (the so-called contemplation on unattractiveness or asubha). You can find some info in this question and this question. But also see this answer - this type of contemplation should be replaced with the mindfulness of breathing if it triggers negative thoughts of suicide.

The other technique he proposes is to watch your mind for triggers and observe how lust arises in the mind and recognize it (basically insight meditation). You can find more info on this in his chapter entitled "Daily Life" of his booklet "How To Meditate".

In any case, this summary that I wrote, does not cover all the details discussed in the video. So, it's better to watch it completely.

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    I found this video very useful. The Ven. Yuttadhammo does an excellent job of explaining this touchy subject (no pun intended) in terms that even this layman (me) can understand. I had left my view of that at the doorstep of merely accepting bodily urges as an event that happens and by just addressing it directly and not giving it too much thought. Like taking a breath. But Ven. Yuttadhammo convinces me of another train of thought. Good reference and answer. Thank you so much!! – Kauva Aatma Sep 28 '17 at 22:42
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I know Buddhism posits that lust depends on the sense organs, and contact with an object. Thus, I've read it promotes decreasing this contact and guarding the senses.

No. Lust depends on ignorance. Guarding the senses does not mean decreasing sense contact. It means having wisdom at sense contact.

It is my imaginations that flare and cause me to experience lust, but only at certain key moments.

This is due to ignorance or a lack of wisdom.

I wonder whether natural masturbation without erotic material is bad. Could it potentially reduce these types of surfacing lust?

Masturbation will not reduce lust.

Or, rather, would abstinence decrease lust more effectively.

Wisdom & metta decrease lust.

I feel in this second case the libidinal drive might simply increase, whereas in the first libido is kept even. But perhaps I am wrong.

Ideas about 'libido' are materialism. Lust arises from wrong view. For example, if right view knows the most beautiful sex object in the world has a sexual transmitted disease, lust would not arise in relation to that object. This shows how view determines lust.

Is there any Buddhist information on interior causes for such lust?

Buddhism explains lust arises from the sign or theme (nimitta) of 'beautiful' or sexual objectification. The mind views or thinks about a sense object only in terms of sensual pleasure. The mind does not view or think about the drawbacks, unsatisfactory &/or suffering aspect of the object. The mind does not have metta-karuna (loving-kindness & compassion) towards the object; therefore lust arises.

The Bharadvaja Sutta offers three methods for reducing or ending lust:

  1. Loving-kindness (viewing women as mothers, sisters & daughters).

  2. Meditation upon the non-beautiful

  3. Guarding the senses, by not grasping at any themes, such as the theme of 'beautiful'.

I doubt the last two methods can work well without mastering the 1st method.

  • I dont disagree with your answer, it just saddens me. I am saddened that the method to deal with beautification is to remove the appreciation for aesthetic beauty. This is the part of discipline where I draw the line. I do see beauty in the human form or in a rainbow or in a soft kitten. I sense it. I may even desire it. And I feel that taking joy in the limited senses we have in this form is a positive. I know this is a view I must get past. It is a burdensome dilemma (which is part of the suffering it creates). – Kauva Aatma Sep 28 '17 at 22:49
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    @KauvaAatma - I don't think this has to be seen in such a negative light. The trick is to appreciate beauty but not as an object of lust or desire (or aversion).. The Buddha, when tempted, is said to have turned Mara's dancing girls into cherry-blossom. Iow, he retained the beauty but abstracted the lust. . . – PeterJ Apr 9 at 11:15
  • @PeterJ Isn't it important to appreciate a person's virtue (good behaviour, good intentions, skill)? Don't you find that "grasping the signs" of how handsome or otherwise a person's form is, is a distraction from discerning anything about their character, motive, and so on? This says specifically that "external appearance" is an "unreliable" way to "evaluate" a person. – ChrisW Apr 9 at 11:25
  • @ChrisW - All fine, I'm not disagreeing with any of that, I wasn't suggesting grasping at anything. Good point about physical features distorting our discrimination and discernment. . – PeterJ Apr 10 at 10:51
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I know Buddhism posits that lust depends on the sense organs, and contact with an object ... I find myself experience lust seemingly detached from contact ... It is my imaginations that flare

Buddhism posits six sense organs: like the eye contacts visual objects, the mind contacts mental objects (ideas).

So I think that's consistent with your saying it's triggered by "imaginations".

Or, rather, would abstinence decrease lust more effectively.

My experience is that any habit (or intentional action) is difficult to stop once started. If I have a cigarette, I want another later. If I have an alcoholic drink one evening, then I want another the next evening (because a thought occurs, like, "Suppose I have another drink, now, like I did previously?").

Conversely the longer it has been since stopping, the easier it is to stay stopped -- even if the thought reoccurs, when you have learned to stop, you can be aware of the thought if it arises but let it go again without its entraining more intentional action (i.e. without deciding to act on it, with deciding not to act).

I feel in this second case the libidinal drive might simply increase

I think that Buddhism teaches that (at least for monks and nuns) sexual intercourse (even when alone) is to be cut off completely ... which I think says something about (everyone's) human physiology.

It's not like hunger: you need "food" and if you don't get it, then... But "lust" isn't in that same category.


Maybe there are some components of sexual intercourse that can be wholesome: social intercourse, physical exercise.

I hesitate to say so because a monk may teach that social intercourse and physical exercise are for the birds, but, whatever.

My point was that if you feel you need something, maybe what you need is something wholesome (like, I don't know, social intercourse; or physical exercise). So if you do view lust (or libido) as a need, maybe identify/disentangle wholesome (or less harmful) components/activities to practice.

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Actually if your conditioning is tough then its better off that you make some kind of clearance before you silently meditate because your mind is not silent it has a lot of noise.I recommend dynamic meditation prioritized by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the 70's where you move your whole body releasing all the bent up tension while staying as a watcher in the process.

here are links:

https://www.oshorajneesh.com/osho-meditation-music-download.htm http://www.oshodynamic.com/five-stages.html

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