Saturday, April 13, 2013

I don't understand the Dalai Lama's views on Sex

This is what Dalai Lama said in an interview on sex (Full Interview) and being a monk. My comments are below.

You spoke about the wife of the French president being beautiful. But Dalai Lamas don’t marry. So do you miss sex?

No, I don’t miss sex. Not only Buddhist monks don’t marry, Catholic monks don’t too. And many Indians.

How then do they satisfy their physical urges and feelings?

Sexual pressure, sexual desire is short period satisfaction. But often, it leaves more complications. One of my friends, a Canadian, was a Buddhist monk, but after some time, he disrobed. Now he complains about so much sexual pressure, that’s he’s virtually trapped (laughs). Obviously, due to sexual pressure, people marry,soon after, they divorce. Again, they marry, and may divorce again. Divorce in a marriage which has produced children is terrible. In marriage, there is short period of sexual satisfaction, but there are many ups and downs. Monks or nuns have been trained to master their desires, and there is much less ups and downs. Monks, nuns, naturally as human beings have desires for sex, it is biological. But then, those who marry always have trouble, and in some cases it leads to murder or suicide. So, that is the consolation. We miss something, but at the same time, we live better lives. More independence, more freedom.

In marriage, if you live together, happy, and get old, there is the issue of who goes first, who dies first. Human attachment to your children and partner. And it becomes an obstacle to peace of mind. Whether right or wrong, we monks think that way. What do you think? You should join the monkhood (long laughter).

The attachments bring trap. Whether it is to a person, to substances or whatever, it is a trap. Monks are detached. One of the practices in all major religions is detachment. Don’t have too much attachment, and you’ll be contented. You have it in Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, all major religions. You should be contented. Wealth, money, friend, family, contentment is best. It’s the key to peace of mind. Some of my friends are billionaires, but their minds is on more, more money. Contentment means some kind of personal check, but it doesn’t mean we no longer have desire. But attachment and desire should be separate. Without desire, then life is meaningless. Desire for good, for more service to others, desire for more benefit to others. That makes your life more meaningful. Without desire, then you’re a robot. No further progress. Genuine desire, with reasons, with logic, that’s proper desire.

Anger also can be two types. One anger comes spontaneously. That’s okay. But the anger that says this person is my enemy, I have to hit back, that is bad and is based on ignorance, lack of holistic view. If you behave well to your enemy, practice forgiveness, and reach out in all sincerity, one day the enemy and you may become best of friends. We should not close that possibility.

My take --

The good news is that anyone can reach Boddhisatva. Thats quite refreshing, and different from the Western religions - Islam and Christianity, where there is no way to become Jesus Christ or Prophet Muhammad. Jesus and Muhammad are privileged individuals anointed by "God" that will always be above the followers. There is no such thing in Buddhism. Buddha encourages his disciples to question his own writings.

Lets say I was to become a Buddhist and wanted to become the highest category there exists in Buddhism, and that is Boddhisatva. These remarks from the Dalai Lama confirm that if I were to become Buddhist, I would never be able to reach the Boddhisatva level until I go to the higher level of becoming a monk. Until I renounced all family relations including sex, there is no way to reach Boddhisttva.

I fail to understand the logic against marriage on grounds of increasing divorces. Should we give up eating and breathing because of all the food-borne and air-borne pathogens. Dear monks, you don't have a problem with just marriage. You have a problem with sex. The very activity that produced you and the only activity that can keep humanity going; but maybe that is not a concern of yours.

The philosophy of now feeds on renunciation. It compels you to forget your past, forgo your hopes, and give up all family and sex life. It is like a person who starts driving away in a car from his past, tries to forget all his loved ones, and falls in love with the highway (see the poem below):
Perpetual Motion by Tony Hoagland

The path of this person is similar to the path of the Buddhist monk. He is not accepting his family members as loved ones, how can he love strangers? My advice to Buddhist monks is to come back into the fold of humanity. If everyone became a Buddhist monk, humanity will finish within one generation because of obvious reasons. How can there be a modern path that has renunciation of sex as one of the key principles to adhere to? Its time to question Buddha. It is time to live the normal way. Accept the attachments that fall into humanity as real and optimistic.