sacred sensuality…


Day three with only water, this one is always the worst. I wanted to post something that I have been thinking about largely because I am (a) un-satiated on many, many different levels and (b) introspective because I am doing the fasting thing. But the headache and general weakness that comes along with day three has started up. So, save as draft, meditate, come back to it.

update…

Or accidentally hit publish. Consider this a teaser. I’ll be back after some quiet time. Oh, and yeah, there is so going to be a parental advisory label on this one.

update 2… One more warning, if reading intimate descriptions about sex bothers you, do not read this post.

I am feeling better. So, sacred sensuality, get back in the zone. There are things about Buddhism that I love, hell I was practically living Dharma before I knew what it was. But there is one major aspect of it that I find untenable, that suffering is caused by desire to please the senses. My body, and the sensations that I receive from it, is the vehicle for my awakening. Living pleasurably, through all of the senses, is my raison d’être. The way that chocolate melts in my mouth, the delicate complexity of a good wine, can ease my mind almost as well as meditation. The beauty of nature inspires a contemplation and peace that is hard to duplicate. But the experience that makes the Buddhist view of sensuality completely untenable for me is sex or lovemaking (just use whichever word makes you the most comfortable). The feel of a lover’s breath on my neck, a hand holding my back, seeing the smiles that accompany awkwardness – these are the spiritual moments – when you touch someone intimately and realize that distinctions no longer exist. There is a moment, with a man inside of me, right before I come when I am… extinguished. And before that moment, as it builds, I feel as though every particle of my being is exploding into infinity. And I am not talking about sex with only people I love, this is not an emotional attachment deal for me. This is the way it is every time, every single time. All of the senses are working in unison to culminate in this one infinite moment, where/when I am nothing/everything. To experience another human being naked, vulnerable, whole and perfect; don’t tell me that anything is more sacred.

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~ by aikaterine on August 3, 2007.

24 Responses to “sacred sensuality…”

  1. ok

  2. Perhaps I’m missing something but in my readings (that have largely been about bringing Buddhist practices to the West) there is nothing incompatible with what you’ve written and living the Dharma.

    One thing that rang a bell for me was the melting of chocolate in your mouth. I read once something about chewing a raisin 100 times or I don’t know–a lot–for the pure pleasure of it! The appreciation of it! To be aware!

    It sounds like you’re very aware of things via your senses and again, I don’t see any problem?

  3. Oh, it is the underlying belief that desire causes suffering and that the path to nirvana involves moving past desire. I have the opposite viewpoint. But this is a part of Buddhism that I do not understand well. I ignored it because it did not make sense to me.

  4. I am working on a post about buddhism and desire.
    I have issues with aspects of the buddhist orthodoxy, but that is possibly just my love of sex causing a defensive reaction!
    I think it relates to how you experience and utilise sex, not sex itself.
    The discussion of sex in buddhism is a little too simplistic for my liking. But I can recognise the damage that sex can cause to one attempting to live simply.
    There is a middle way though!
    More to come…

  5. I am very interested to read it. I just have not really researched the issue, finally talking via email to a monk about it….just to make sure that I am understanding things right.

  6. I have a different take on it…”attachment” causes suffering but not “desire” as life is to be truly enjoyed.

    Attachment is defined by obsessions that we can’t let go of. But pleasures in life are not to be ruled out?

    Perhaps it’s sort of along the lines of darkentries because if it becomes part of an obsessional relationship (which it may not for you–or it may–I don’t know) then that would go against the basic doctrine.

    But desire in and of itself doesn’t?

  7. Edit–or desire for pleasure doesn’t…

  8. Yep. I agree. Nothing more sacred…
    Sex is the very purpose of life, the reason why we are here. No God or religion can tell us its not sacred.
    But ofcourse religions do.
    Anyway, I believe all religions are made my man, not God. I am coming to the conclusion that God is a feeling deep inside of me, or perhaps its the supernatural force that made the universe…but He or She has certainly no religion.

  9. PA –

    I agree with you guys as far as my own personal theory, I think….

    But in talking about Buddhism, here is the Pali (which is like the canonical text of the bible that deals with the origin of suffering (dukka):

    And this, monks is the noble truth of the origination of dukkha: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming. – SN 56.11

    and…

    If this sticky, uncouth craving
    overcomes you in the world,
    your sorrows grow like wild grass
    after rain.

    If, in the world, you overcome
    this uncouth craving, hard to escape,
    sorrows roll off you,
    like water beads off
    a lotus.

    — Dhp 335-336

    If its root remains
    undamaged & strong,
    a tree, even if cut,
    will grow back.
    So too if latent craving
    is not rooted out,
    this suffering returns
    again
    &
    again.

    — Dhp 338

    and finally…

    Monks, any desire & passion with regard to craving for forms is a defilement of the mind. Any desire & passion with regard to craving for sounds… craving for aromas… craving for flavors… craving for tactile sensations… craving for ideas is a defilement of the mind. When, with regard to these six bases, the defilements of awareness are abandoned, then the mind is inclined to renunciation. The mind fostered by renunciation feels malleable for the direct knowing of those qualities worth realizing. SN 27.8

    So it is pretty clear that he is talking about sensuality and desire. I think.

  10. But the word used is craving…

    So I need to look up any translation issues with the Pali (which would be the language he spoke), it could be that it should translate to obsession or something like that.

  11. OK, one more explanation of the four noble truths. Mainly because it is easier for me to read on this site than in my notes…

    The first truth is the truth of ‘ill’. The Pali word is dukkha and there are many translations, none of which in English truly represent the meaning. The Buddha says “in this noble truth of dukkha described by me, immeasurable are the shades and details, immeasurable the implications “. The word most commonly used is ‘suffering’ but this doesn’t really convey the full meaning. The word should awaken in our minds the underlying instability, unsatisfactoriness and potential misery inherent in existence. The whole purpose of the teaching is the ending of this dukkha; not by ending existence on the sensual level but on the personal, possessive level. The sutta gives a list of examples of dukkha and summarises them “in a word” as “this body, the five groups based on grasping “. These five groups , being introduced here for the first time as a teaching, must have been a generally accepted way of classifying existence, here regarded from an experiential point of view. They sum up all physical and mental phenomena, i.e. sensual existence/experience, and the collective term is used to refer to:- all there is, the world, me . As regards the teaching the key factor is ‘grasping’. It is that tendency to hold or grip ‘the world’ as a personal possession, demanding that it conform to my preferences.

    The relationship implied in this grasping is that- 1, there is me; 2, there is this existence; 3, it is mine to be how I want it to be.
    The final three items in the sutta list make the shortcomings of this way of thinking clear. “Not to get what one wants is dukkha.”

    • The second truth, the cause of ill, is a more explicit expansion of the idea behind grasping. The Pali term used is ‘tanha ‘ and its usual translation is ‘craving’.
    The sutta mentions three forms of craving:
    for sensual pleasure;
    for becoming;
    for un-becoming .
    The meaning of these last two is often confused by being rendered variably as either birth or rebirth. As it is a key term in Buddhist thought I will offer my understanding of it in this context. On the immediate, experiential level I know only ‘this’, the present moment. When there is contact with a sense object suggesting the possibility of pleasure, there is likely a craving for, a wanting to own, that pleasure (object). There is then the craving to become (the owner of) that pleasure. This means, conversely, that I crave to un-become my present state (of not having/being ‘that’). Inherent in wanting-to-be-that is not-wanting-to-be-this. This movement is an inclination to the not-yet-existing future, or past, and is ‘becoming’. Thus is time born; me now and me ‘later’. I will be, then I am born as that. Becoming is birth, un-becoming is death. The ‘object’ we perceive as being the most likely source of pleasure is ourselves. This body/mind is perceived as being mine, for me; and of course it will be pleasant. However this ‘me’ is no more than another (mental) ‘object’ craved. The three forms of craving are coincident, they can be seen sequentially but arise simultaneously.

    • The third truth is the corollary of the second and is so obvious one wonders at its inclusion. A present day examination of the scriptures reveals a vast network of explanation and detail, the comprehension or realisation of which seems impossible. However underpinning all these teachings are the four noble truths. The profound simplicity of this third truth is often overlooked. We are so enmeshed in ‘becoming’ and acquisition that an alternative way of being seems inconceivable. The way out of suffering, the way to freedom, is not to become free but simply to be free. All craving, all becoming, is birth, is death, is suffering. The problem lies not in the things of the world but in our relationship to them; we want to acquire them, to own them. In this truth the Buddha is saying be a non-owner. The “giving up, forsaking, and releasing” that sums up this truth in the sutta is specifically connected to the five groups of grasping that sums up the first truth. The Buddha is saying don’t take them personally, they are not you, let them all go. It’s that simple!!! Unfortunately our selfish and possessive grip is sufferingly tight and some means of relaxing is required.

    • The fourth truth provides this means. I enjoy the inference contained in the term “fitnesses of the way” referred to at the beginning of this section. Implied in fitness is flexibility and relaxation; not attained to however without some effort and discipline. Having led the five monks through some very unfamiliar philosophical territory he now leads them back and finishes this section on more familiar ground, i.e. – the eightfold path.

  12. Interesting–part of what I’ve read and part of not what I’ve read. Sort of.

    Crap, you’re so smart. I’m getting a craving.

    Sorry, that was out of line *grin*

    We now return you to your intellectual programming…

  13. haha, I appreciate the compliment, but all I did was copy and paste. I have not really studied this information yet. So, I do not know exactly what I feel about it.

  14. I’m glad we can still play with each other dear.

    I just got home from a night of debauchery so I am going to bed. Surprisingly, I don’t feel bad. Go figure. Meds Schmeds. I know my body and brain enough?

    I just wanted to peek in on this one that I left, again before I went to bed haha.

    I have several comments but I’ll get to them tomorrow…or today that is…my time.

    Talk to you soon…

  15. Nita –

    I am on the same page, there is definitely something ‘deep inside of me’ but I am quite certain that it is not recognized by religion.

  16. I asked a practicing Buddhist his take on this issue, he responded:

    “You wrote: “sensation is the cause of suffering”. This is not what the Buddha taught. The Buddha’s second Noble Truth claims that the cause of suffering is craving — the restless tendency of the mind to latch on to pleasant sensations and to run from unpleasant ones. Even a fully enlightened being (like the Buddha himself) experiences sensations — pleasant ones, neutral ones, and unpleasant ones, alike. But unlike the rest of us, an enlightened being does not cling to them in any way. They come and they go; that is all. This is the gateway to suffering’s end.

    I hope this helps.

    peace”

    This makes a lot more sense than my interpretation.

  17. That sounds like the buddhism I try to follow. Try being the operative word here…
    Desire is not a bad thing, an immoral thing, or a distracting thing. It is just a thing. We experience it. We embrace it. We should not try to own it, or the people involved, nor try to create it, or chase it.
    There is a term here, Bonno. I have unearthed some words about it, which is easier than me having a bash.

    Bonno (Japanese) desires, illusion; mental functions which trouble the mind, passions, false views.

    “Desires are natural; they become bonno when there is attachment.” (Deshimaru, Questions to a Zen Master).

    “Desire itself is natural and is harmful or misleading only when we cling to or resist it.” (Deshimaru, The Zen Way to the Martial Arts).

    In the West, desires are treated, for the most part, differently. They are judged good or bad simply depending on the object of desire. Obsession or attachment to spiritual disciplines, for example, is “good,” whereas natural, “fleshly” desire, for example, are generally thought of as “bad” or at least, problematic. I don’t think that we can blame Judeo-Christian morality for this; it seems to be rather, a religious misunderstanding or deterioration of Judeo-Christian thought.
    But in the East, it is not the object of desire that is at issue (nor are desires so much a matter of morality); the issue is, rather, that a clinging mind is living in illusion, and is troubled by those illusions. A mind full of attachments can never be at peace. Indeed, enlightenment is the complete letting go of all such illusions.

  18. darkentries –

    Thank you so very much. That sounds remarkably similar to the way that I try to live.

    You know, the mix of the zen ‘Bonno’ and Buddhist philosophy works for me. Again, it’s not a religion and I am not saying that I am either of those, there are other issues. But in helping me to verbalize my beliefs and ethical system, this is pretty darn close.

  19. I got heavily into zen, ooh, a long time ago. 1995? It coincided with my first attempt to give up smoking, so I ended up in some kind of floaty, dissasociated withdrawn state. It was great.
    I got annoyed with all the sitting around and not-moving minds. So, as usual I just picked out the bits I liked and moved on.

  20. “…I just picked out the bits I liked and moved on”

    I think that’s the best way to go.

  21. I can’t say it any better than Nita:
    “Sex is the very purpose of life, the reason why we are here. No God or religion can tell us it’s not sacred.”

    Period.

  22. I am a Buddhist and also a very passionate person like yourself. I agree with the tone of your post and the comments of others. The idea being that desire in and of itself isn’t “bad” or “wrong.” The problem arises when become addicted to it and engage in it without pleasure or joy. I couldn’t agree more that sex is VERY sacred and a great meditation technique. It is a wonderful way to let off steam and clear one’s mind.

  23. James,

    Welcome and thank you for your insight. It is a great meditation technique. I am so grateful for everyone’s help with this issue. I feel drawn to Buddhism and will now research some of the other issues I have with it more thoroughly. There is something about it that speaks to my existence.

    We will see…

  24. Mahendra –

    It is good to read that many of us are of like minds in that regard. I think that sex lost an important aspect when the west made it strictly a vehicle for reproduction. There is so much gender discrimination and tension in reproductive issues. It is a shame that many religions find sex to be sacred only if used for procreation.

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