Friday, January 4, 2019

Love, pleasure, sex -- in Buddhist perspective

Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda, A Happy Married Life: A Buddhist Perspective (; edited by Bhante, Ashley Wells, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly

The Nature of Love and Pleasure
"Love is what we are" (
There are different kinds of love. These are variously expressed as motherly love, fatherly love, sisterly love, brotherly love, sensual love, emotional love, sexual love, selfish love, selfless love, nationalist love, and universal (altruistic) love.

If people develop only their carnal and selfish love towards each other, such love cannot last long. In a "true love" relationship, one asks not how much one can get but how much one can give.

When beauty, complexion, and youth begin to fade, a husband who considers only the physical aspects of love may think of acquiring a younger one.

That type of love is animalistic love called lust. If a man really develops love as an expression of human concern for another being, he will do more than emphasize the external beauty and physical attractiveness of his partner.

The beauty and attractiveness of a partner is as much in the heart and mind than in the eyes. Likewise, a wife who follows Buddhist teachings will stay by a husband even as he becomes old, poor, or sick.

"I have a fear that the modern girl loves to be Juliet, to have a dozen Romeos. She loves adventure.... The modern girl dresses not to protect herself from wind, rain, and sun, but to attract attention. She improves upon nature by painting herself and looking extraordinary."  — Gandhi

Sex is not in and of itself "bad," although the temptation and obsessive craving for it invariably disturbs the peace of mind and so is not very conducive to spiritual development.

In the ideal situation, sex is the physical culmination of a satisfying emotional relationship, where both partners give and take more or less equally.

The portrayal of love in commercials and the mass media in Western culture is unreal love.

When a beast wants to have sex, it shows its "love." But after having sex, it just forgets about "love." For animals sex is an instinctive drive necessary for procreation.

But a human being has much more to offer to the concept of love. Duties and responsibilities are important ingredients to maintain unity, harmony, and understanding in relationships.
Sex is not always the most important ingredient for happiness in a married life. Those who become slaves to sex ruin the love and humanity in marriage. Apart from that, a woman must cease to consider herself as the object of a man's lust. The remedy is more in her hand than in a man's.

She must refuse to adorn herself simply to please a man, even her husband. If she wants to be an equal partner with a man, she dresses to enhance her dignity rather than to become a sex symbol. Marriage for the satisfaction of the sexual appetite is no marriage. It is concupiscence, says Gandhi.

Love may indeed be a product of sex, but the reverse is likewise true: Sex is an expression of love. In the ideally happy married life, both love and sex are inseparable.
The Buddha's Explanation

We can study the Buddha's teaching regarding the feelings men and women have for each other. The Buddha says that he had never seen any object in this world that attracts men's attention more than the figure of a woman.

Likewise, the main attraction for women is the figure of a man. It means that by usual nature, women and men give each other worldly pleasure.

They cannot gain happiness of this kind from any other object. When we observe very carefully, we notice that among all the things that provide pleasure, there is no other object that can please all the five senses at the same time beside the figure of a person.

The ancient Greeks knew this when they said that originally male and female were one. They were separated and the two parts that were divided are constantly seeking to be re-united as man and woman.

Young people by nature like to indulge in worldly pleasures that can include both good and bad (useful and harmful) stuff.

Good things -- like the enjoyment of music, poetry, dance, food, clothes, and such pursuits -- do no harm to the body.

But they distract us from noticing the fleeting nature and uncertainty of existence and thereby delay our being able to perceive the true nature of "self."
The faculties and senses of the young are very fresh and alert; they are keen to satisfy their five senses. Daily, they think about and plan ways to experience pleasure.

By the very nature of existence, one will never be completely satisfied with whatever pleasure we experience. The resultant craving in turn only creates more anxieties and worries.
When we think about it deeply, life is nothing but a dream. In the end, what do we gain from attachment to this life? Only more disappointments, worries, and frustrations.

We may have enjoyed moments of pleasure, but in the final analysis, we have to try to find out what the purpose of our lives is.
When we cease to crave for sensual pleasure and do not seek physical comfort in the company of others, the need for marriage does not arise.

Suffering and worldly enjoyment are the outcome of craving, attachment, and emotion. If we try to suppress and control our emotions by adopting unrealistic tactics, we create disturbances in our mind and our physical body.

Therefore, we must learn how to handle and restrain our human passion. Without abusing or misusing passion, we can tame our desires through proper understanding. More

No comments: