Friday, September 22nd 2017

The Dalai Lama speaks . . . about sex

His Holiness says physical love spells “trouble.” A priest responds: in its highest form, sex spells “At-One-ness.”

DAVID RICKEY — Sex is a many splendored and often-splintered thing. The Dalai Lama, in a rare interview on the subject, focuses primarily on the splinters:

Naturally as a human being, some kind of desire for sex comes but then you use intelligence to make comprehension that those couples are always full of trouble. And in some cases . . . suicide, murder.

Speaking purely biologically, sex is the sine qua non for the survival of the species.

But as human life evolved beyond the simple need to propagate our species — and relationships, then families, and finally, societies developed — the purpose and place of sex also evolved. Or at least it was “supposed to.”

Unfortunately many people are still operating from the “reptile brain,” and therefore, responding to hormones rather than living (and Loving) from a deeper place.

Early on in a human relationship, the hormonal drive and need for sex often provides the “glue” for developing the relationship in the first place. But as the relationship grows, the quality of the relationship and the role of sex in it is “supposed to” evolve.

The relationship is now about becoming more conscious, partly by looking at our own buttons as they get pushed by our partner, and doing the work around them. Sex also can become an experience, not so much of hormonal discharge but of intimacy and awareness of inter-dependency – and ultimately “At-One-ment”.

During orgasm, the “ecstatic” experience temporarily dissolves our “boundaries” – primarily ego-driven distinctions – so that there is an experience of unity. The couple is actually “making love” – creating love as a product of the “unitive” experience of oneness.

There is a somatic experience, “in the body,” of the essential truth of the unity of all life. The feeling of Love is truly the feeling of being at one with the other. Thus the couple experiences an embodiment of ultimate reality.

The Dalai Lama is speaking primarily from his awareness of monastic life and the statistical record of dysfunctional relationships.

From that point of view, the advantage of celibacy can be a shift of the energies normally devoted to intimacy between two people (and often then to the exclusion of others), to a more general awareness of deep connection to all life. In addition, most couples on this planet haven’t evolved far enough beyond the hormonal and “pain-body” energies to discover true Love.

But celibacy isn’t, therefore, superior to the expression of sexual love. In fact, celibacy can often be a way of avoiding the personal-growth challenges inherent in developing a personal love-bond between two people.

With all due respect, I think the Dalai Lama is overstating the case based on observation of what is most prevalent. That many — even most — human beings haven’t learned to move from “having sex” to “Making Love” doesn’t mean that sexual intimacy is bound to lead to trouble.

Rather, this reality points us to the need to teach more about what the spiritual role of sex is in adult, consciously-evolving, relationships. In fact, Sex and its colloquial partners — Drugs and, yes, Rock and Roll — can be compelling paths to spiritual enlightenment.

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9 Comments on “The Dalai Lama speaks . . . about sex”

  1. The main purpose of sex is to procreate. Enjoyment is there to make sure we do -- and that the mother and the father stick together to raise the children. In the current situation sex is causing a major global problem in the form of uncontrolled population explosion. And on the other hand, in the places where the population growth is declining (most 'developed' countries) sex has become a commodity in the consumer market, causing alienation, abuse and unrealistic expectations.

    I'd say Dalai Lama is pretty right when he says we should overcome our drives, or at least put them in the proper context. One can go wrong with sex, just as with over-eating. Plus the hunger for sex can lead to the subjugation of others.

    Of course, there is no reason why one should not enjoy sex within a relationship where both parties respect each other (ideally, marriage). Dalai Lama never said sex was bad as such. If enjoyed the wrong way it is just potentially dangerous for the well-being of you or your partner (not to mention the fate of the offspring).

    Sex and death are major forces in human reality, framing and defining our very existence. All religions aim to control them both for the well-being of people. Sometimes we go wrong with this (guilt) -- the Westerners have learned this the hard way!

    But I would say Buddhism has a very mature way of dealing with these fundamental aspects. Sex is seen natural and not 'sinful'; contraception is approved and even encouraged. I could not agree more on these. Sex and death should not be taken lightly. Especially since sex has a purpose apart from our craving.

  2. Dalai Lama is a realized being who is in the unique position of also being learned in letters/the intellect.

    I think he is revered because he is also a figure and practitioner of an antique, sacred discipline. But his training is so alien to the way of being of the vast majority of people around us.

    Father David is a seer through our post-modern prism.

  3. I think he means that putting a priority on sex leads to trouble. Everything in moderation. Sex leads to trouble if you suffer from sex addiction. In my opinion he means that you need to use your intelligence to think about it instead of being driven by your desires all the time. Just like if you eat or drink too much.

    I am saying this after being raised in Catholic cultures that value men and see women as slaves. They do the work, they have the children, they wait on men hand and foot, and the man has the right to beat them, and go with other women. And unfortunately that is true in a lot of places outside of Tibet. So in effect, I can agree with him that an emphasis on sex and having sex, and attitudes that you are not a man if you don't screw everything that moves, leads to immeasurable personal, cultural, political, economic and social trouble.

    He may be celibate but his training consisted of tantra.

  4. Hey,

    How do you define, "trouble"? Sex IS life. Sex leads to birth, a life is begun. Everyone who is born experiences sickness, suffering, old age, and death, a.k.a., "trouble". Without sex there is no life, hence, no trouble. With sex there is life and therefore trouble.

    Sex is very near the root of all that is good AND all that is bad in life (the ACTUAL root being the mind). Life is a constant display of polarities between what we want and what we don't want. Striving after what we want, trying to keep away what we don't want. And then it all ends and we can't keep away death. Sure, the roller-coaster ride can be awesome, but I think anyone can see why somebody (like the Dalai Lama for example) might just wanna take a step back one day and say, "I'm just done with the whole thing."

    There's gotta be a way out.

    And so the story goes like this...
    That there is a way out and it has to do with using every ounce of your energy to benefit existence. Eventually we get exhausted. Nothing left. Every being will eventually get to this point. Then...there's no more karma and all beings achieve enlightenment. Yay! (I really love this part). God, for the first time ever, gets to know itself after a severe case of multiple personality disorder. Everybody wins.

    Thx for reading.

  5. I myself have had difficult relationships, in my youth especially. I now understand that a need to be loved by someone is natural, but not necessarily good for us. We project our fears and insecurities in a relationship onto the other person, which if we are dissatisfied, emotionally insecure and underdeveloped etc. will begin to cause problems.

    It's all summed up in a simple and well known saying, "it is not possible to love another until you are loved by your own self." Sex of course is a basic and fundamental urge, as humans we must procreate. Until we have worked out our personal insecurities and have a full understanding of how damaging our Egos can be to ourselves and others and until we are lucky enough to find another who is fully understanding and on a similar path. I agree that sex and relationships can be difficult and damaging and we spend too much time believing that we can find solace and happiness with a partner.

  6. In my work with couples and my own experience, I find that the "troubles" are usually important signposts to the inner work we need to do. The troubles are inevitable, because they arise out of our wounded histories. But to therefore avoid intimate relationships is just to put off doing the work. By choosing to look within and do the work, we achieve insight and find the power to grow beyond our histories. Yes, you can't find solace and happiness with a partner, but being with a partner give you the opportunity to work so as to discover the source of true happiness within yourself. Your partner can do the same, and the results are not only a "happy" union but a new energy field that radiates out into the world.

  7. i like the dalai lama, i mean what's not to like :) but i'm not sure i want to take advice on sex and sexuality from someone who actually isn't having sex and isn't involved in a sexual relationship with another person. it's like catholic priests giving marital advice when they have never, and will never be, married!

  8. Let's face it, sex=trouble for most people. DL is just speaking to this sad fact. His vows of celibacy are not a conceit, not by a long shot. Every student of this lineage has the freedom to choose a path of sexual exploration if they wish. And if they do, it is not a dishonor. There are many great teachers who have chosen the tantric path and continue to teach the Dharma.

  9. Meditation on bliss-awareness generated through sex is fine. Attachment is trouble.


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