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Thread: Is Celibacy needed for Zen Practice?

  1. #1

    Is Celibacy needed for Zen Practice?

    In some meditation practices, the importance of not losing your sexual energy too often (or at least having some control) is emphasized.

    Will Zazen - Shikantaza style practice be more effective if some amount of sexual restraint is in place? Or does it not matter at all?

    - Sam

  2. #2
    Hi Sam,

    Depends on the person. Celibacy was mainstream for the monastic community in Buddhism for most of its history, although not for "householders/lay folks". Celibacy is still the right path for some, while householding is the path for others. As well, even for householders, the Teachings emphasize not "misusing sexuality" ... in other words, keeping it healthy and not addictive, abusive or harmful.

    About 130 years ago, Japanese Buddhist clergy of all stripes (not only Zen priests) started marrying, although many had been marrying or entering into relationships for centuries before. At first, it was viewed as an attempt to weaken Buddhism (and support Shinto). However, it also has the potential to be one of the most freeing, modernizing and overall best events that ever happened to Buddhism in its history. Perhaps nothing more has served to bring these teachings "out into the world" and to "knock down the monastery walls" to drop the barriers between monks and lay folks.

    My own view is that sexuality, like our Oryoki eating, is something to be enjoyed yet held sacred. Balance is possible. One can find the beauty of these practices in the household kitchen as much as in the temple kitchen, by cleaning the children's nursery as much as cleaning a monastery altar, both in the bedroom and everywhere else.

    So, in short ... some people may benefit from celibacy in practice. Maybe all of us can benefit from time to time (or face such times whether we want them or not! ) But, no, nothing is "left out" of Shikantaza if balanced and healthy.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-13-2013 at 04:51 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Well,

    10 years of marriage and raising 3 kids, sure is a good training and practice opportunity!

    Gassho

    Enkyo

  4. #4
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    I second Enkyo!

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  5. #5
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    Well,

    10 years of marriage and raising 3 kids, sure is a good training and practice opportunity!

    Gassho

    Enkyo
    How true!!

  6. #6

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Enkyo View Post
    Well,

    10 years of marriage and raising 3 kids, sure is a good training and practice opportunity!

    Gassho

    Enkyo
    Second that!

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    >Is Celibacy needed for Zen Practice?

    Is the opposite of celibacy (whatever it's called) ever needed for zen practice? I'm looking for a new line to convince the wife with tonight... if the toddler ever goes to bed of course that is.
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  9. #9
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catfish View Post
    >Is Celibacy needed for Zen Practice?

    Is the opposite of celibacy (whatever it's called) ever needed for zen practice? I'm looking for a new line to convince the wife with tonight... if the toddler ever goes to bed of course that is.
    lol!!!

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    It is recommended to be celibate for the duration of Zazen, I believe. :-)
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  11. #11
    @Nengyo and Myozan: *ROFL*

    @Sam:
    Having sex is a natural part of being a human (and of course for most animals - and we humans are also animals, of course).
    Denying/negating sex is negating our nature, denying an important and natural part of our life.
    Zen is about life and embracing every aspect of it - and this includes sex, too.
    (Long term) Celibacy is unnatural for me, as it negates life in a certain way.

    In my arrogant opinion...

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    It is recommended to be celibate for the duration of Zazen, I believe. :-)
    Gassho
    Myozan
    LOL ... Good anwser Myozan.

    Gassho
    Shingen



    If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?
    ~ Dogen Zenji

  13. #13
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Haha! Myozan!
    迎 Geika

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    It is recommended to be celibate for the duration of Zazen, I believe. :-)
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Brilliant!



    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

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  15. #15
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    It is recommended to be celibate for the duration of Zazen, I believe. :-)
    Gassho
    Myozan
    Well, I'll try, but I'm not promising anything!
    "You yourself must strive. The Buddhas only point the way." - Shakyamuni Buddha

  16. #16
    Sam,
    Here's an interesting article from a Japanese Zen monk. Basically he says that celibacy should come natural to anyone who's practicing it and that it shouldn't be forced. He says that celibacy is natural to him, for example.
    I would think that anyone who's going the monastic route should seriously consider it but for us lay people keeping the "not missusing sexuality" precept is hard enough in its wider meaning.
    Gassho,
    Andy

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Hold on! What's this?

    image002.jpg

    We certainly don't see this in Zen.

    I used to go to an isolated and beautiful Tibetan centre for retreat in the south of Ireland (see http://www.dzogchenbeara.org/) and was always struck by this depiction, which hung on the wall of the meditation hall. They're building a full Tibetan temple there now.

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  18. #18
    For those who do not know, in Tibetan esoteric Buddhism:

    Yab-yum (Tibetan literally, "father-mother") is a common symbol in the Buddhist art of India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet representing the male deity in sexual union with his female consort. Often the male deity is sitting in lotus position while his consort is sitting in his lap.
    ... the male figure is usually linked to compassion (karuṇā) and skillful means (upāya-kauśalya), while the female partner to "insight" (praj˝ā).[1]

    Yab-yum is generally understood to represent the primordial (or mystical) union of wisdom and compassion.[3] In Buddhism the masculine form is active, representing the compassion and skillful means (upaya [4]) that have to be developed in order to reach enlightenment. The feminine form is passive and represents wisdom (prajna), which is also necessary to enlightenment. United, the figures symbolize the union necessary to overcome the veils of Maya, the false duality of object and subject.
    One would generally not see such depictions in Zen or other Buddhism. The Tibetans tend to be a bit more colorful!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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