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I have a couple of questions regarding the Viewpoints of sexuality in Buddhism for lay people.

  1. Why is lust seen as being unskillful? Lay-people are lay-people because they don't want to renounce worldy life; they strive for 'heavenly realms' instead of nibbana. What's unskillful in a natural urge? Non-engagement won't decrease the urge either.

  2. In a sutta the Buddha said the consequences of an action are important, and this is the reason why he abandoned thoughts of sensuality, because it harms others and himself. It obstructs wisdom (this is true because it hinders Nibbana), but why are sensual/sexual thoughts dangerous? If I lust after a woman in a healthy, non pathological way, I see no danger there. As long as I don't sexually harass her? Maybe she has sexual fantasies as well?

  3. Samadhi is 'achieved' by the momentarily stilling of the 5 hindrances. Elsewhere it was stated that past sankharas influence present sankharas, and present sankharas in turn condition future sankharas. If past sankharas were 'kama chanda' it is likely that I engage in the present in such a manner. Suppose I do, isn't it possible to cleanse present sankharas during meditation (after some while) in order to concentrate the mind, resulting in seeing things as they are ('vipassana)?

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Why is lust seen as being unskillful?

Your question goes directly to MN1, which is a difficult sutta:

relishing is the root of suffering.

Briefly, the delusion of lust assumes that one can separate lust from the suffering and loss that follow. In other words, one might ask "how can this good feeling cause suffering?" But look at how much effort we devote to peculiar practices such as "maintenance sex" or "faking it". Seeking the eternal, we might try to immerse ourselves in lust. But it always ends. We can never escape the suffering. It is unskillful because the more you lust the more you suffer. Do addicts look happy or lost in suffering?

The urge is real. It is a biological chemical imperative to procreate honed to compel over generations of successful breeding. And when followed heedlessly leads to overpopulation. Which means that we should, perhaps, skillfully consider that very urge as "not my self".

If I lust after a woman in a healthy, non pathological way, I see no danger there.

The danger is subtle. Women will have friends, some "pretty" and some "un-pretty". And will you be kinder and more devoted to the pretty woman and less kind and devoted to the un-pretty friend? That is the trap of pretty. That we should blindly value someone for the shape of their skin rather than the clarity of their heart.

Seeing a sight with the eye, you linger in the neighborhood of a sight that’s a basis for happiness or sadness or equanimity...Therein, by relying on the six kinds of renunciate equanimity, give up the six kinds of renunciate happiness. --MN137

This will take time...

isn't it possible to cleanse present sankharas

Your question is on detailed practice with a cleansing focus. However, it might help to inform that practice with a broader knowledge of vital conditions. Also, since your inquiry is based the mechanism of delight, you might find it interesting to explore the exact point where the hook of delight sets itself in the middle. Practice might proceed better with more focus on relinquishing and not getting hooked.

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    Being human, of course we look rather on attractive beings than on unatteactives ones. If I see an attractive woman, then that's all one is seeing. On the other hand, if I engage in a "not so good looking" woman and her charakter appeals to me, then of course 'love' & lust may arise. Humans are that way. We usually treat the opposite sex, older people, and people to whom we're atteacted to better. Same goes with bodily constrained persons. But if, let's say, an old men is being unfair to me, then my position towards him naturally changes. – Mr. Jabato Dec 19 '18 at 16:22
  • Good point. Added MN137 for reference. One can be freed from human impulse. – OyaMist Dec 19 '18 at 16:36
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We don’t know what exactly Buddha’s intention when he said all those...

Over a period, people gave different meaning from their own understanding...

Same way now, from my perspective your questions are valid... but shouldn’t one be informed of superior taste... I am not saying lust is unskillful... what I am saying is one can have sex but the question is does he really need? Or can he live without it...

Eg: Buddha didn’t say to renounce eating or breathing... because he knows if one stops to do either he dies but not in the case of sex... it’s additional man can live without it... so may be that’s what Buddha might have intended...

And for the second question... yes many doesn’t want to just live with eating and breathing they want some extra pleasure which is also again given by nature, nothing wrong in it... but as you said if it is done with mutual acceptance...

Again seeing in the angle of the person who said it... yes it hinders ones vision, which you can feel it practically when people become gruesome when it comes to sex... not everyone is alike... and if we allow it in ourselves even we might become disturbed... everyone has the potential to become both angel and demon... it’s in ourselves to what we give attention to... knowing that something if not constantly checked leads to evil consequences why not remove the equation in the first place...

I am stopping here since all things cannot be said at once...

This is personal view.

  • I downvoted this answer because it is opinion based. No sutta reference was given. – Mr. Jabato Dec 19 '18 at 14:28
  • For a sutta reference, the Bhikkhuni Sutta (AN 4.159) says that eating is part of the way ("This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned") -- but not sexual intercourse. – ChrisW Dec 19 '18 at 16:28
  • @Mr.Jabato A metaphor... If I say ‘I went to a temple and met the god himself’ no one believes that even I went to a temple, everyone need is a proof but if I take a selfie in front of the temple just when crossing some temple on my way to some dance club everyone believes... so before Buddha said anything there is no sutta reference... it’s our understanding about our being and surrounding that is more important... if that happens we can be reference to some... – insidevoid Dec 19 '18 at 20:09
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Why is lust seen as being unskillful?

In Buddhism there are teachings for laypeople and teachings for monks. 'Lust' is generally unskillful for monks. For laypeople, my impression (yet unverified with research) is the emphasis is upon 'greed' being unskilful. As long as laypeople manage their 'lust' in skilful compassionate relationships (such as 'marriage'), its OK. However, for laypeople, lust without compassion is unskillful because it leads to rebirth in the animal (psychopathic), hungry ghost (addiction) & hell (suffering) realm.

Lay-people are lay-people because they don't want to renounce worldy life; they strive for 'heavenly realms' instead of nibbana. What's unskillful in a natural urge? Non-engagement won't decrease the urge either.

Lust without long-term commitment (such as marriage) leads to many kinds of sufferings, social problems, personal problems & even STDs. Refer to DN 31.

In a sutta the Buddha said the consequences of an action are important, and this is the reason why he abandoned thoughts of sensuality, because it harms others and himself. It obstructs wisdom (this is true because it hinders Nibbana), but why are sensual/sexual thoughts dangerous?

Sensual/sexual thoughts hinder Nibbana. They are also suffering (frustrating). That is why the world is full of frustrated, tormented & desperate sex & porn addicts.

If I lust after a woman in a healthy, non pathological way, I see no danger there.

The above is impossible.

As long as I don't sexually harass her? Maybe she has sexual fantasies as well?

Women generally have casual sex because they are lonely. Healthy women have sex to have babies and be mothers; or otherwise long term relationship. Refer to AN 6.52.

Samadhi is 'achieved' by the momentarily stilling of the 5 hindrances.

No. Samadhi is achieved by dissolving hindrances. AN 10.61 says the food of the five hindrances is the three wrong actions.

Elsewhere it was stated that past sankharas influence present sankharas, and present sankharas in turn condition future sankharas. If past sankharas were 'kama chanda' it is likely that I engage in the present in such a manner. Suppose I do, isn't it possible to cleanse present sankharas during meditation (after some while) in order to concentrate the mind, resulting in seeing things as they are ('vipassana)?

No. AN 10.61 says action is the food of the hindrances. If sex is no longer engaged in, past kama chanda will arise and, when not nourished by more action. will starve and die; but only when there is wisdom.

A person that ignorantly believes: "If I lust after a woman in a healthy, non pathological way, I see no danger there" is probably wasting their time pursuing Buddhism because to practise Buddhism requires wisdom. The world is full of wounded, desperate, heart-broken, suffering, damaged &/or feral women; what the Buddha called rebirth in defilement & degradation. If this can't be seen, one is blind. 25% of Western women over 40 years old take some type of anti-depressant.

I once saw an article & video on the world's most famous porn star, who gradually became nut case due to drugs, alcohol, plastic surgery, broken marriage and loss of custody of her children. These things occur because wrong sex wounds women but women have the defilement of 'saving face' and hide their wounds from blind & gullible men (until they hit the wall over 40 years old).

In Buddhism, we view women as mothers, daughters, wives & sisters. The Buddha said sexual promiscuity is rebirth as an animal in the animal kingdom:

Bhikkhus, these two bright principles protect the world. What are the two? Shame and fear of wrongdoing. If, bhikkhus, these two bright principles did not protect the world... the world would have fallen into promiscuity, as with goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, dogs and jackals..."

AN 2.9

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Dec 25 '18 at 1:11
  • "who gradually became nut case due to drugs, alcohol, plastic surgery, broken marriage and loss of custody of her children. These things occur because wrong sex wounds women" How do you know that pornographic 'wrong sex' (as you asserted) is the cause? That's ridiculous. If a woman divorces & loses custody that doesn't "make" her an alcoholic/drug addict. It's her nutty thinking. Similarly, "plastic surgery" doesn't make one "nut case" either. You have strong value judgments & your views sound like a typical christian to me. Parental neglect CAN often be a reason for depression butnot porn – Mr. Jabato May 15 at 11:48
  • Best wishes with your explorations of buddhism and overcoming the hindrances. – Dhammadhatu May 15 at 20:42
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Non-engagement won't decrease the urge either.

I think your question turns on that assumption, and perhaps it's untrue.

Other urges (anger, drugs, selfishness, self-pity) increase through engagement or repeated practice, habit -- and decrease accordingly, don't they. So sexual urges may too, imo.

I'm sure you can find counter-examples, of people who are celibate and have urges, but I doubt that's universal.

There is a sutta (AN 4.159) which talks of "breaking off" or "cutting of" sexual intercourse.

You probably already know that, e.g. when you write in the OP that ...

"Lay-people are lay-people because they don't want to renounce worldy life; they strive etc."

Further, there are different degrees of cutting off ... perhaps (only) of actions initially, and eventually of urges (and/or "effluents") and so on too.

If you want to say "sex is fine for lay-people", I guess the 3rd precept is for you, is meant to be the minimum standard -- not to avoid dukkha and so on altogether, but perhaps to minimize being harmful.

Also I think that, per this answer, "external appearance" is considered an "unreliable" although "traditional" way to choose a partner, and that you'd do better to consider their character, compatibility, similarity instead.

Maybe she has sexual fantasies as well?

Does trying to fulfil people's fantasies work out well -- does that lead to eventual happiness?

If past sankharas were 'kama chanda' it is likely that I engage in the present in such a manner. Suppose I do, isn't it possible to cleanse present sankharas during meditation ...

I don't know? Maybe ask that as a separate question?

In terms of general advice I've read people say that it's good (maybe necessary) to improve or to perfect sila before training for samadhi.

And the sutta which sticks with me (i.e. which I remember) is AN 10.1, which starts with sila leading to "no remorse" and so on.

I don't know how that works with someone who doesn't feel remorse when they should -- perhaps they're described somewhere as "untrainable"! :-) That begs the question though, e.g. perhaps you're asking, "why should I feel remorse?"

There are Buddhists, perhaps schools of Buddhism too, who maybe talk about having relationships without undue attachment (how "lust" might fit into that doctrine, I have no idea). And I think there are others who say that isn't possible.

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