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I am trying to find sources of info of if the Buddha ever explained any reason why we as humans are afflicted by sexual desire. Conventionally we are animals so are innately afflicted with a predisposition towards reproduction, with sexual desire itself being enticed by physical pleasure. Just want to know if the Buddha explained this desire in any depth.

Obviously this issue would have come up within the sangha.

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  • Animal is related to reproduction but has nothing to do with craving desire for sex. Animals are not secondary, not with mind, so although the idea to human person comes along that animals appear to be craving it is not that way
    – blue_ego
    Jul 22, 2023 at 20:41

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Here's a sutta quote on the sexual identities and sexualities of men and women, and how it affects their mind:

A woman focuses on her own femininity: her feminine moves, feminine appearance, feminine ways, feminine desires, feminine voice, and feminine adornment. She’s stimulated by this and takes pleasure in it. So she focuses on the masculinity of others: masculine moves, masculine appearance, masculine ways, masculine desires, masculine voice, and masculine adornment. She’s stimulated by this and takes pleasure in it. So she desires to bond with another. And she desires the pleasure and happiness that comes from such a bond. Sentient beings who are attached to their femininity are bound to men. This is how a woman does not transcend her femininity.

A man focuses on his own masculinity: his masculine moves, masculine appearance, masculine ways, masculine desires, masculine voice, and masculine adornment. He’s stimulated by this and takes pleasure in it. So he focuses on the femininity of others: feminine moves, feminine appearance, feminine ways, feminine desires, feminine voice, and feminine adornment. He’s stimulated by this and takes pleasure in it. So he desires to bond with another. And he desires the pleasure and happiness that comes from such a bond. Sentient beings who are attached to their masculinity are bound to women. This is how a man does not transcend his masculinity. This is how one is bound.
AN 7.51

The seven sexual fetters, beyond the act itself, are explained in this sutta quote below:

“But what, Master Gotama, is a break, taint, stain, or mar in celibacy?”

“Firstly, an ascetic or brahmin who claims to be perfectly celibate does not mutually engage in sex with a female. However, they consent to being anointed, massaged, bathed, and rubbed by a female. They enjoy it and like it and find it satisfying. This is a break, taint, stain, or mar in celibacy. This is called one who lives the celibate life impurely, tied to the fetter of sex. They’re not freed from rebirth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. They’re not freed from suffering, I say.

Furthermore, an ascetic or brahmin who claims to be perfectly celibate does not mutually engage in sex with a female. Nor do they consent to massage and bathing. However, they giggle and play and have fun with females. …

they gaze into a female’s eyes. …

they listen through a wall or rampart to the sound of females laughing or chatting or singing or crying. …

they recall when they used to laugh, chat, and have fun with females …

they see a householder or their child amusing themselves, supplied and provided with the five kinds of sensual stimulation. …

They don’t see a householder or their child amusing themselves, supplied and provided with the five kinds of sensual stimulation. However, they live the celibate life wishing to be reborn in one of the orders of gods. They think: ‘By this precept or observance or mortification or spiritual life, may I become one of the gods!’ They enjoy it and like it and find it satisfying. This is a break, taint, stain, or mar in celibacy. This is called one who lives the celibate life impurely, tied to the fetter of sex. They’re not free from rebirth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. They’re not free from suffering, I say.

As long as I saw that these seven sexual fetters—or even one of them—had not been given up in me, I didn’t announce my supreme perfect awakening in this world with its gods, Māras, and Brahmās, this population with its ascetics and brahmins, its gods and humans.
AN 7.50

MN 75 talks about burning with sensual fever, and the more one indulges in sensual pleasures, the more the sensual craving increases. This applies to all sensual pleasures, not just sex.

"Now suppose that there was a leper covered with sores & infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterizing his body over a pit of glowing embers. The more he cauterized his body over the pit of glowing embers, the more disgusting, foul-smelling, & putrid the openings of his wounds would become, and yet he would feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction because of the itchiness of his wounds. In the same way, beings not free from passion for sensual pleasures — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — indulge in sensual pleasures. The more they indulge in sensual pleasures, the more their sensual craving increases and the more they burn with sensual fever, and yet they feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction dependent on the five strings of sensuality.
MN 75

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    Good answer! Theravada is entirely unforgiving in taking this all the way to the end!
    – user17652
    Dec 8, 2022 at 15:49
  • insane quotes haha
    – user19950
    Dec 9, 2022 at 6:40
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Most of his talks were to monks, and so -- by definition, of "monk" -- not sexual intercourse.

Instead of "being enticed by physical pleasure", I think he more often explained it as an attraction to "form", including "sight-objects".

I think it's a question of, "To what does the heart leap up?"

So some people might leap up at the sight of some body.

It's also a question of "effluents" -- having seen, there are consequences like internal dialog, like I don't know, "Oh look! Will she...? What if I...? But..."

Conversely I think that someone who is "released" is "released from effluents through lack of clinging".

And that release comes through practice.

Nava Sutta

In the same way, even though this wish may occur to a monk who dwells without devoting himself to development — 'O that my mind might be released from effluents through lack of clinging!' — still his mind is not released from the effluents through lack of clinging. Why is that? From lack of developing, it should be said. Lack of developing what? The four frames of reference, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for Awakening, the noble eightfold path.

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This answer is similar to above answer, from Ahara Sutta:

And what is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of beauty. To foster inappropriate attention to it: This is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.

And Sabbasava Sutta talks about remedies.

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  • Not really an answer to the question. The question was to WHY we have sexual desire, not how does sexual desire manifest.
    – Remyla
    Jul 13, 2023 at 10:06
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The Buddha taught everything in life is an element (dhatu). Sexual desire is also an element.

There could, Ānanda. There are these six elements: the elements of sensuality and renunciation, malice and good will, and cruelty and harmlessness. When a mendicant knows and sees these six elements, they’re qualified to be called ‘skilled in the elements’.

MN 115

On account of the element of sensuality, bhikkhus, arises a perception of sensuality, on account of a perception of sensuality arises an intention of sensuality, on account of an intention of sensuality arises a desire of sensuality, on account of a desire of sensuality arises an ardor of sensuality, on account of an ardor of sensuality arises a quest of sensuality. For the sake of a quest of sensuality, bhikkhus, an uninstructed ordinary individual conducts himself erroneously in three ways: in body, in speech and in mind.

SN 14.12

Even the thought ‘sensuality’ doesn’t occur to a stupid baby boy lying on its back, so from where would sensual desire for sensuality arise in it, even though a latent tendency to sensual passion lies latent within it?

MN 64

“Mendicants, there are these seven underlying tendencies. What seven? The underlying tendencies of sensual desire, repulsion, views, doubt, conceit, desire to be reborn, and ignorance. These are the seven underlying tendencies.”

AN 7.11

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