Buddhist Views on Sex
Sex education is an area that has been receiving a lot of airplay and being discussed in openness. However, many wonder, what views do Buddhists have on sex. Like many other religions, Buddhism has its own take on sex or sexual conduct. Buddhists have the third precept; for avoiding sexual misconduct or not to misuse sex. Nevertheless, for the laypeople, the early scriptures are hazy about what sexual misconduct sets up.
During the monastic laws, many monks and nuns abided to the many rules of the Vinaya-pitaka [a Buddhist collection of texts]. For instance, from the text, monks and nuns who engage in sexual intercourse are expelled automatically from the order. In case of any seductive comments towards a woman from a monk, the community of monks is supposed to meet and address the wrongdoing. Monks should also shun appearance of indecency by being alone with a woman while nuns should not let men touch, fondle or rub anywhere between the knees and collarbone [sexual misconduct]. Currently, many Asian schools abiding to Buddhism still rely on Vinaya-pitaka for guidance except in Japan.
Buddhists in Japan have a different perspective on sex. It all started with Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu school of Japanese Pure Land. He married and authorized the priests in the school to marry. Many centuries later, marriage for Japanese Buddhist monks was not a law; it became a not-occasional exception. During the Meiji era, Buddhist monks and priests [but not nuns] were allowed to make their own decisions on whether to marry or not. In japan today, monastic celibacy is the in-thing in the school of Buddhism.
Buddhism shows us that it is easy to release our greed and selfishness to do anything and become more kind and compassionated. This leads to growth and development of a moral society and people. Hence, we are able to shun any sexual ways that can disregard and exploit other people in the society. To Buddhist, sex is a core expression of what craving [tanha] brings to suffering [dukkha] in its train and so we should be able to bring it into control. There are many other sexually related areas that Buddhists look at while discussing sex. These include;
- Homosexuality- There are diverse views and opinions about homosexuality. Buddhism teaches us that sensual enjoyment and desire are hindrances to enlightenment. There are many anti-homosexual texts in schools of Buddhism. In some teachings Buddhism, discourages sex between men and men, but not between women.
- Marriage- Many religions like Buddhism draw a clear line around the issue of marriage. For some religion sex outside marriage is uncouth and immoral. Sex inside the marriage line is good for the couple. Buddhism draws its teachings on sex between couples who love each other and morally whether married or not. On other hand, marriages can be abusive and lead to separation, divorce and suffering of innocent children.
- Desire- Buddhism provides loads of manuscripts on desire. For instance, the second noble truth teaches us that suffering is a tanha [craving] and it should not be stifled but controlled aptly. Our passions should not control our lives.
Sex is a powerful force that can make us happy or create a lot of suffering. According to Buddhism we should avoid sexual misconduct and leave according to the Buddhist teaching of better social norms. We have to condemn any sexual activities that may influence our morals or religious affiliations.
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