Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sex, celibacy, and "purity"?

Ven. Nyanatiloka, Buddhist Manual; Amber Larson, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Just give me one chance to prove that marrying that ginger will be a big mistake!*

I've got a burning desire.
What's "love" got to do with it? With what? With "purification and purity" (visuddhi).

For a monk or nun who has undertaken additional training rules to gain enlightenment and liberation from all suffering most expediently, celibacy (brahmacariya) is incumbent on such a practitioner, meaning a "supreme" (chaste) or "pure" life.

A lay-practitioner who observes the Eight Precepts also takes a temporary vow of chastity (full abstention from sex). The highest aim and purpose of this is, according to MN 29, "unshakable deliverance of mind" (akuppā ceto-vimutti). But purity is not celibacy.

Celibacy is a means to actual purity, to purification of the mind/heart of all craving.
  • [WQ: Rather than abstaining from sex, a lay practitioners always abstains from sexual misconduct (kamesu micchacara), that is, harming anyone (even oneself) for the sake of one's own sensual pursuits. But this term "sexual misconduct" is much misunderstood and mistranslated according to our Western (Judeo-Christian) biases. Fortunately, the Buddha defined it exactly as avoiding having sex with the ten forbidden types of people (other's spouses, people under the protection of others, those unable to consent, and so on). Let us strive, then, to at least live by a simplified rule of avoiding doing harm as we pursue having sex.]
Those who become enlightened to the first three stages can still have sex. Not only that, according to the Ratana Sutra, there are only five things they cannot do, as doing so would entail a painful result that is no longer possible for them.
But I'm in the mood! - Tell it to the sign.
It may even be possible after the fourth and final stage, but it is traditionally explained that at that point one has gone beyond.

One has gone altogether beyond the necessary and sufficient sensual desire and lust that acts as motivation. One has escaped the former traps of craving and clinging to the unsatisfactory, which applies to all things.
Woodland-devas love to play.
The Seven Stages of Purification (satta-visuddhi) form the outline of The Path to Freedom (Vimuttimagga) as well as Buddhaghosa's monumental work, The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga), which is based on the former work and likely the product of the same author under the name Araha Upatissa.

The only place in the Pali canon where these seven kinds of purification are mentioned is in "The Simile of the Stagecoach" (MN 24, see The Path to Deliverance, by Ven. Nyanatiloka, §64), where their purpose and goal are illustrated.
Ah, to have a spouse like mine! (Wm. Etty)
There it is said that the real and ultimate goal does not consist of purification of virtue, or of mind, or of view, and so on, but in enlightenment and full release. Now just as one mounts the first coach and travels to the second coach, then mounts the second coach and travels with it to the third coach, and so on, in exactly the same way the goal of:
How will I cross over to "the further shore," freedom from all suffering, nirvana?
  1. (I) the purification of virtue (sila-visuddhi) is
  2. (II) the purification of mind (citta-visuddhi); its goal:
  3. (III) the purification of view (ditthi-visuddhi); its goal:
  4. (IV) the purification by overcoming doubt (kankhāvitarana-visuddhi); its goal:
  5. (V) the purification by directly knowing-and-seeing of what is path and what is not-path (maggāmagga-ñānadassana-visuddhi); its goal:
  6. (VI) the purification by knowing-and-seeing of path-progress (patipadā-ñānadassana-visuddhi); its goal:
  7. (VII) the purification of knowing-and-seeing (ñānadassana-visuddhi), but the goal of this purification is deliverance freed from all clinging.
There are supersensual pleasures.
(I) "Purification of virtue consists of the fourfold purity of virtue (catu-pārisuddhi-sīla), namely, restraint with regard to the Disciplinary Code (pātimokkhasamvara-sīla), sense-restraint (indriysamvara-sīla), purity of livelihood (ājīvapārisuddhi-sīla), virtue with regard to the Four Requisites (paccaya-sannissita-sīla)" (The Path of Purification, Vis.M. XVIII).
On these four terms, see sīla. In the case of a layperson, it entails the observance of whatever rules (five or more precepts) one has taken upon oneself.
(II) "Purification of mind is a name for the eight attainments (i.e., eight meditative absorptions), as well as for neighborhood-concentration (upacāra-samādhi; see samādhi)" (ibid.)
*The happiest people? They should be but no.
(III) "By purification of view is meant the understanding, in accordance with reality, of mind and body (nāma-rūpa)... which is founded on nondelusion (wisdom) as base and which in manifold ways determines mind and body after overcoming all belief in a personality (attā, self, ego)" (ibid.) [To understand how and why there is no personality, self, ego, see anatta.] More

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