Buddhism and Celibacy

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A Life of Celibacy;
Buddhism and Sex

Buddhism which just may be the most tolerant religion in the world, constitutes teachings that can coexist with almost any other religions. Buddhism began with Siddhartha Gautama who lived in northern India in the sixth or fifth century B.C.E. The religion has guidelines in two forms in which Buddhist followers must follow. These are the Four Noble Truths and the Eight fold Path. Buddha taught that man is a slave to his ego and that the cause of suffering is desire, essentially the way to end suffering is to overcome desire. Buddhist views toward sex are those constituting that it is a natural part of human life, but also something that is associated with craving. As the Buddhist path involves overcoming these cravings this also means becoming less oriented towards sex. In most Buddhist traditions, devoted practitioners become celibate monks and nuns, and in traditional societies this was the only alternative to a family life. Celibacy traditionally signifies a noble, yet mystifying devotion that is difficult to understand and has become the subject of much critique, especially within the realms of Catholicism. But what are the origins of this tradition? this essay will present various sources of information on the subject from various traditions, with an emphasis on celibacy within buddhism.

Celibacy is an age-old, multi-religious practice to which both men and women, abstain from sexual relations as because of religious vows . But most monastic celibacy implies a devaluing, and hostile attitude towards the world, life, the body, sex, and the opposite gender. Which directly conflicts with both monastic and buddhist life. Monasticism as a whole often carries a reputation of being elitist in that those involved often regard themselves as spiritually superior to those that are outside of this perticular lifestyle. In fact, the Buddhist name for monastic celibacy is brahmachariya in Sanskrit that means ‘Godly conduct' . This kind of spiritual pride further devalues both the men and women outside of monastic life. Ironically, the negative attitude towards sexuality associated with the brahmachariya life style might actually be viewed as a kind of reversed attachment to sexuality. After all, aren't we as attached to that which we try to suppress as we are to that in which we favor? But before evaluating the celibate life style in totally negative terms, we must remember that it is not the only side.

The Buddha taught that as long as one is absorbed in sexual activity, one could not be interested in a practicing spiritual life. But when he gave his gradual enlightenment teaching, he also said that the sensation of lust, of sexuality, has pleasure. In this way he did not deny the pleasure. But then, that very pleasure turns into displeasure, and gradually, slowly, as the lust wears out, people begin to fight. Because out of lust arises fear, then greed, and soon anger, hatred, confusion and fighting; all these negative things arise from lust. And therefore these negative things are inherent in lust. Which is something any human being can confess to, there is a fine line between love and hate, and the same goes for lust. Whether you are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, is indifferent. As long as you are in it, you will inevitably have these problems of disappointment, anger, hatred. Therefore, because he saw the inherent problem in sexuality, Buddha said that it is better to control and discipline our senses in order to have a calm and peaceful life. But one has to do this gradually, slowly, only through understanding and not abruptly. It has to be done gradually and with deep understanding. It cannot be forced. If people do not understand this and try to stop it all of a sudden, they will get frustration, then fear and so forth. And therefore in his gradual teaching, he said that first there is the pleasure in sexual activities, and then there are the disadvantages,...
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