I was listening to a buddhist monk talking about masturbation addiction and his advice about it:

When you see the human body or these sexual acts on a screen or magazine page you are not actually seeing these things. You are simply seeing light touching your eyes. And when you can come to this realization, where seeing is simply seeing, then you will have no thought of the person's hair, teeth, beasts, etc. There is only seeing. So you are able to see anything and see it simply for what it is. Thus there is no connection made. Seeing is seeing, because that's what it is. You don't see a human body and say that it is beautiful, because you realize it's ridiculous to say that, because this is simply light touching my eyes

I have difficulty to understand what the monk means by that, what is the difference between seeing a screen and the "seeing light touching your eyes"

Could you give me some pointers ?

  • That's a great insight. Might you by any chance be able to add the name of the monk?
    – OyaMist
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 15:43
  • 1
    the videos are on YouTube "Ask a monk" , the adress is: youtube.com/watch?v=W5Lg9P-VekA, but I found the reference in a book by Paul Taniguchi on masturbation addiction
    – user20021
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 19:01
  • for the previous comment, I am not sure if I violate some rules. If it is the case, please delete it.
    – user20021
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 19:22
  • The attribution seems quite proper and gives Ven. Yuttadhammo due credit for an open and inspiring lecture. Thank you.
    – OyaMist
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 21:27
  • 1
    @Makoto Are you sure you have the right link? I clicked on it and all I got was light touching my eyes and sounds touching my ear. There was nothing else. Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 21:33

6 Answers 6


Reality is our interpretation. The signs that stimulate lust (certain curves, sounds, lines, colors) take your effort to get converted into an erotic picture in your mind. If you stop applying that effort you'll just see the raw signs - shapes, colors, lines - that's it.

It's up to you to see it erotically or to see it as something else. The interpretation happens in your mind. You can learn to control it, or at least to see through it.

  • 1
    thanks a lot for your answer !
    – user20021
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 19:21
  • 1
    Andrei Volkov appears to be saying the Buddha recommended using pornography as a meditation object. Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 20:34
  • 1
    Hence it was said:'He saw the bones that were her teeth'.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 20:41

In our minds, we have the idea of "I am the thinker" i.e. the idea of the self. That's the primary object in existence in our reality. We also have the idea of non-self objects i.e. everything else. We objectify and classify everything around us, into non-self objects, according to their relationship to the self. For e.g. my hand, my car, not my friend, not my country.

When you look at the waters of the sea from up close in a boat, you may feel fear and insecurity, especially if you don't know how to swim and have motion sickness. To the sailor, it's a source of joy and adventure. To the fisherman, it's a source of livelihood and he sees it like a mine or oil field. To fish deep in the sea that has never left the waters, the concept of water doesn't occur to it at all, as it does not know any other reality.

Another example - a piece of cooked meat appears like delicious food to the meat eater, and it appears repulsive to the vegan. To a honey bee, it appears like dirt because it's not its food.

These examples go to show that objects do not have the meaning given to it by the mind. In fact, some of these are not even objects, except that they have been objectified by the mind.

What's a body of water to me is nothing at all (or perhaps everything) to the fish. The waters of the great sea, as a place to sail and swim, and as a body of liquid, doesn't really exist, except in my mind. It certainly doesn't exist in that way to the fish.

What's delicious food to me, is dirt to the honey bee. So, the delicious food doesn't really exist, except in my mind. The dirt doesn't really exist, except in the honey bee's mind.

This concept is called papanca, which is objectification plus classification, also known as reification. And it's related to anatta (the teaching that all phenomena is not self), because papanca is when non-self things are reified into objects and they are classified relative to the self. The idea of the self is also papanca.

This does not mean that things don't exist, except in my mind. It means that things don't exist as how my mind thinks it does.

From your question, you talked about seeing, let's say, attractive people on a screen. To an ant, it's just lights of different colors. If a mouse sees them - it's just an image of what it may perceive as humans - a threat. But to you, they are attractive people. So why are they "attractive people"? It's because that's how your mind objectified and classified them relative to yourself. That's how your mind reified them. That's papanca.

Fully enlightened persons like the Buddha and the arahants see things the way they are, without objectifying and classifying them relative to the idea of the self.

  • What kind of mind does the honey bee have?
    – user19910
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 16:26
  • 1
    @JadeEmpire You can get a glimpse of that (honey bee's mind) in this video.
    – ruben2020
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 16:29
  • 1
    thanks a lot for your answer !
    – user20021
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 19:21
  • 1
    @ruben2020. They are sweet and cool.
    – user19910
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 20:51
  • 2
    Good answer to convey the idea that this world of five aggregates is a personal thing. We think we live in a same world with others and expect them to see the world as we see. But this won't never happen because we don't see the objects as they are but perceive only the eye consciousness based on the capability of our own eyes. We have to understand that the eye consciousness is not the object. It's an entirely different thing than the object.
    – Damith
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 7:09

Simply zoom in, to get more clear, and what good householder will face are just pixles... "light". What's actually there to get foolish on it? Zoom even into the single pixel. More, deeper. What's there that makes one foolish? Z00m out again, look another time.

enter image description here

enter image description here

And now try the same investigation with your skin, hair... You may come to a point where all disolves.

enter image description here

enter image description here

And after this, try to investigate touch in same way.

No! Not just intellectual, no brain-masturbation now, enough. Look and see.

So once again, as it than can be also investigated in regard of ones ideas. Fetch one and dissolve it as far as possible to find an essence.

[Strict non-commercial. Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other world-binding trades but for an escape from this wheel]


The advice in the video is illogical & contrary to Buddhist principles because a practicing Buddhist will never see pornographic images (apart from when doing an internet search on another topic but sometimes pornographic images appear).

The scriptures refer to controlling the mind when a monk sees a woman or a scantly dressed woman in the village while going on alms round. The scriptures do not refer to monks visiting brothels and controlling their mind in a brothel.

Monks, even if a monk is of impeccable character, he might be suspected and distrusted as a ‘bad monk’ for five reasons.

What five? It’s when a monk frequently collects alms from prostitutes, widows, voluptuous girls, eunuchs, or nuns.

Even if a monk is of impeccable character, he might be suspected and distrusted as a ‘bad monk’ for these five reasons.

AN 5.102

Apart from the ordinary seeing of women, such as when walking down the street, a practising Buddhist should never see pornography because pornography is something a Buddhist totally avoids.

In summary, what the monk named Noah Greenspoon advised in the Youtube video is both illogical and is simply something an addict cannot practice. It is simply too advanced for an addict to practice.

The Buddhist path is comprised of sila (morality), samadhi (concentration) and panna (wisdom). A tree is climbed from the bottom and not from the top. The intellectual conceptual theoretical higher wisdom (panna) in the Noah Greenspoon's video is not possible for an immoral person to practice.

Buddhism teaches a person that does immoral things such as watch pornography will be reborn in hell; just as those actors in pornographic movies will be reborn in hell.

corrupted too with prostitutes— that’s the way to disaster’s woe.

Sn 1.6

For example, i went to school as a child with a beautiful blonde girl who later did soft pornography. She eventually committed suicide in her 30s. Recently, when I happened to connect with old school friends from childhood on Facebook, they were still lamenting her demise.

When I ran meditation retreats, I met prostitutes who ended up a psychiatric hospitals. Once a porn lady became obsessed/infatuated with me and the nuns in the monastery had to remove her from the monastery and put her on a airplane back to Europe.

If you do research, you can discover the many pornographic actors and actresses that have committed suicide, become addicted to drugs, become mentally ill or, most positively, quit pornography.

Pornography harms oneself & others and should be totally avoided, similar to how poison or poison snakes, sharks, crocodiles, etc, are avoided.

The tribal monk is the video named Noah Greenspoon appears not willing to condemn pornography and the tribal people in the industry for the evil they are.

Pornography is similar to drugs such as cocaine or heroin. A real Buddhist does not give advice: "after injecting heroin or snorting cocaine, after you feel the rush of its affect upon your mind, you just feel it as feeling".

If you can realise how fake & false the advice of Noah Greenspoon is, they you are one step closer to progress.

It appears you have a history of making wrong misinformed choices, such as the choice to watch pornography or choosing the wrong monks for advice. The scriptures, such as SN 14.14, refer to how similar elements are attracted to similar elements.

It is important to avoid both the sharks in the tribal pornographic industry as well as the sharks in the tribal Buddhist industry. You should take refuge in men of integrity and not anyone that is soft on the destructive nature of pornography.

In conclusion, if you are practising Buddhism, the only practise is to view an urge & thought to watch pornography as:

  1. not personal
  2. an energy or urge created by ignorance
  3. leading to suffering & harm
  4. impermanent
  5. something that arises & passes
  6. subject to vanishing

A practising Buddhist never reaches the stage of watching pornography itself.

  • Hi Dhammadhatu, thanks a lot for your detailed answer. The thing, I began to practice meditation because I did want to rely on a method based on repression, that's why I have looked for answers. The monk seems to want to help in his own way, but as I am a beginner, I wanted more explanations –
    – user20021
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 21:03
  • 1
    thanks but your ideas of "repression" & "beginner" are not related to buddhism. a buddhist does not watch pornography. the only work is managing internal thoughts & urges. i clearly said the ideas of Noah Greenspoon in the video are not related to Buddhism Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 22:42
  • thanks, I know it is not directly related to the topic, could you give me some reference for managing thoughts & urges ?
    – user20021
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 8:25
  • @Dhammadhatu Sir, Why does the first in noble eightfold path (right view) come under the last in threefold training (wisdom)? According to this answer and your comment to this answer, people practice dana and sila because of right view. buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/31206/14468
    – Damith
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 2:34
  • structure of threefold training is not as important as the structure of the 8 foldpath. right view always comes 1st Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 6:48

The expression of the monk is certainly not clear. As it actually is, we don't see the light 'touching' the retina, we just don't. We can however understand and conceive of this eventuality as a requisite condition.

It can be known that the light in contact with the eye is a requisite for what is thought about as seeing and which is named 'seeing' or 'the seen'.

One might say 'the eye is for seeing.' Not necessarily true, if a person is in a dark room then even with 2 eyes he won't see anything placed in front of him.

So the eye is not for seeing but it can be inferred that when there is eye and light, then seeing can occur.

One might say 'the eye is for seeing when there is light.' Not necessarily true, if a person is unconscious or is unconscious in regards to the eye faculty, then even in a room with light everywhere and even with 2 eyes he won't see anything placed in front of him.

So the eye is not for seeing but it can be inferred that when there is eye, when there is light, when there is eye-consciousness and with the contact that can then be delineated between eye-consciousness, the eye and the forms visible by the eye, then what is thought about as 'seeing' occurs and it doesn't occur without it's requisite conditions such as the eye and etc.

In this sense eye is for seeing but that is in as far as it is a requisite.

What one thinks about the seeing, it is in the scope of thinking about seeing or the seen. What is called 'the seen' is whatever it is except from what you think about it and whatever you name it ie 'the seen'.

There is a sutta about Bahiya, therein Buddha instructs one to let the seen just be the seen. As i understand it, rather than conceiving of a self in the seen or of a self doing the seeing, one simply analyzes the causes & requisite conditions for seeing.

Rather than asking 'what do i see?', ask the question 'how do i see?'. In asking the latter you can think about perception itself rather than getting caught up in what is thought about as being perceived.


What he means on a basic level is that porn is basically just "light from a screen", not "light reflecting from a partner". Honestly, I don't find it a good argument. The problem is, you can apply the same reasoning like this:

  • When you read the sutra's, it's just light reflected from paper, not the Buddha speaking
  • When you use the Buddhism SE, it's just light reflected from your screen
  • When I see a person, it's just light reflected from a bag of skin
  • etc.

Following the monk's reasoning, in none of the examples listed would you be able to "make a connection", as the reasoning is close to that of phenomenology.

But in fact, some people have attained enlightenment during sex (mostly in the Tantric disciplines). In some Buddhist schools, monks can get married. This surprises many Westerners, because the early Buddhist texts teach that sensual enjoyment and desire in general, and sexual pleasure in particular, are hindrances to enlightenment. However, over the centuries, Buddhism has responded to sexuality in a variety of ways, sometimes suppressing the sexual urge, sometimes sublimating it, sometimes cultivating it, and, on the highest levels, transforming it.

You must log in to answer this question.