Monday, February 25, 2008

SUICIDE GIRLS

My latest article for Suicide Girls started off as a piece for this page. But I thought it was a bit presumptuous to write about alternative sexualities here. It might lead people to assume I think that every victim of childhood sexual abuse turns out gay (or some other "non-standard" sexual preference) or that I think everyone who's gay (or... etc.) was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I don't believe either of those things, so I turned the piece into an article for Suicide Girls instead.

I'm really pleased with the response this page is getting. I appreciate your encouragement. I'm still not certain I'm up to the task I've set myself. But I don't see anyone else addressing the topic, and I feel it really does need to be addressed.

33 comments:

grisom said...

I once asked my teacher just what "sexual misconduct" meant, anyway. She said: "The intent of the precepts is the important thing: not to harm." Which I thought was pretty cool.

Incidentally, as far as I've been able to tell the only example of sexual misconduct the Buddha ever mentioned to laypeople was having sex with someone else's wife. Can anybody more conversant with the Pali scriptures confirm or deny?

Blake said...

My teacher always says that the precepts are a list of the common habits of Buddhists, not rules Buddhists must follow.

I have been known to say the same thing. Actually, I think I said it in a comment on another one of your postings?

I believe that "misusing sex" isn't about what gets you off. It refers to when you use sex as a means to an end or "because you ought to." Sex for attention or to fill an emotional void is, in my opinion, a misuse of sex.

However, I think this is true for ANY type of activity. If you do anything because you desire to be perceived a certain way or to distract your mind, you are misusing that activity.

I definitely prefer "don't desire too much" over "do not misuse sex," because it covers a lot more ground. That being said, "do not covet" is pretty close to "do not desire too much." I think a better precept #3 is "do not misuse activity."

Of course, I'm not a fan of saying things negatively. Let's just revamp the precepts, shall we?

1. Let live.
2. Take only that which is freely given.
3. Be genuine in your actions.
4. Speak only the truth.
5. Keep your mind clear.

etc...

I ramble. It's that kind of day.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

There's a guy here in LA named Kusala, whom I've found interesting. This is what he said:

What did the Buddha say specifically to lay people about sex? He said four things.

He said, do not have sex with people who are married. Do not have sex with people who are engaged. Do not have sex with people who are being supported by their parents -- children. And do not have sex with people against their will. That's all he said.


Rob

Anonymous said...

awww geee Rob--
that means a whole lotta 20 somethin' 30 somethin's wouldn't be getting any with their parents still supporting them.
But maybe that would be incentive to not only leave the nest but become self-sufficient!

I guess I have always thought it awful that folks in
all 4 of Kusala's categories you mention have to 'hide' their relationship, have to find places where they can freely express themselves and their feelings and not have it generally publicly known.

It's this practice of hiding, lying, omitting, covertly finding 'rendez vous' spot, motels, whatever.
It's not the love, it's what the love has to go through to continue, to grow, --kind of like potatoes when they sprout in the cellar or under the sink--they don't look healthful--they grow alright, but it's not the same as their being out in the open, in fresh air and sunlight.
I guess lies are like potatoe chips--bet you can't say just one! and one leads to another and then you're already down that path.
I think people try to justify these behaviors: hiding, lying, etc. by making their love 'worthy' of such behaviors. That all the bad behavior is ok price to pay for this Great Love.

I know I have been down that road, and I believe I'm just an average person--may be I'm a little quicker to learn--I only needed to go down that path once. Some of us get it before we even enter that path or as we get half-way down it. Some people are truly able to lead two lives simultaneously. I guess we get to experience life lessons as long as it takes us to 'get it.' *
And I have to admit it was worth it, because I found out that I was incapable of the situation developing ever again. The ingredients would all be there--but I wasn't forced to make only one thing from it, I found out I could be more creative than that. I gave up using ingredients to make a private supper for two to making something to share with others. I do think we are lonely sometimes in our alone-ness in our selves. I found that this alone-ness didn't go away with sex, but sex sure was a hell of a distraction. And there are an infinite number of distractions available at any given moment.

Also available at any given moment is a way to put distractions down--one, by one.

For me, that has been the practice of zazen...

Anonymous said...

What I should have added in my remarks above is that when I 'strayed' (isn't that the Christian term for it) I hurt a number of people BIG TIME and I vowed that that was enough for this lifetime but you never know...there might come a situation in which behavior I've categorized as 'don't go there, think fluffy puppy thoughts' might just be the very thing, the most compassionate thing to do, and so I really can't judge other people as they face their circumstances and choices and I sure don't want other's judging me.
We're all in this big boat together, after all.

Jules said...

He said, do not have sex with people who are married. Do not have sex with people who are engaged.

I know a lot of people follow that first one, but I never heard of the second one. Usually engaged people are doing it on the kitchen table, in the car, all over the place.

If I thought my girlfriend was going to follow those rules, I never would have proposed to her.

Anonymous said...

jules, I don't think the rule is meant for people who are engaged to each other.. It means you shouldn't be boning your next door neighbor if she is engaged to another man.

Anonymous said...

when I encounter the word 'sex' I think of two things
1) gender
2) sexual activity--which (for me) turns out to be any activity with sexual energy, leading, but not always, to more and more specifically sexual acts.

But most of the time I walk around feeling genderless

I sometimes wish sex didn't exist, but then I have no idea what would replace it.

I wish sexual relations between people could be straighforward and just about sex/mutual attraction and wanting to be close and intimate with someone and not complicated with other things.

Anonymous said...

What town do you live in?

Jules said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jules said...

Anonymous said... jules, I don't think the rule is meant for people who are engaged to each other.. It means you shouldn't be boning your next door neighbor if she is engaged to another man.

Check the batteries on your joke detector, I think they might be running low.

Anonymous said...

"Check the batteries on your joke detector, I think they might be running low."

ack! you are totally correct jules. so sorry. I completely missed your joke. I thought you were just being angry at your girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"I wish sexual relations between people could be straighforward and just about sex/mutual attraction and wanting to be close and intimate with someone and not complicated with other things."

What a wonderful world that would be.
Too bad that ain't the way it is.

Anonymous said...

sex is at the crux of so many things that matter to us
layers and heaps of mental clothing cover sex so that it is really really hard to get naked with it.
Plus, to my surprise, I would find that in the midst of full sexual congress, I was alone.
I would resume 'togetherness' with my partner post climax in the cuddle up after (I'm not a smoker). I'd have to escape the tender clutches later and head for the other side of the bed--because, in truth, I sleep better when I sleep alone or as close to it as I can get.
I hated it when a partner took this the wrong way and assumed it was because I 'didn't really love them' that I didn't want to spend the whole night intertwined.
All those TV shows with the separate twin beds....
made sense to me!

Jared said...

Thought this might be relavent:

At my college here in Florida, they don't allow interdorm visitation, and the dorms are obviously seperated by gender. It's a private school, and while the administration doesn't seem to care either way, the Board of Trustees is composed almost entirely of local churches who are keeping the school afloat with the caveat that we do things their way. I suppose no one has pointed out to them that if you don't let people have sex in their dorm rooms, they'll have sex all over town outside and in cars, which are both felonies I think...

Any way, I always just thought it was sort of ridiculous. Having grown up in a Christian household, I understand their belief about premarital sex. But on the other hand, if I am expected to sign housing countracts and pay tuition as any LEGAL ADULT would, why am I not allowed to bring my girlfriend up to my room and do the dirty? Oh well...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Brad, for addressing this issue (even though you're not sure about you're own ability to handle this one).

I've practised zen for few years and I know many people who has had some sexual abuse issues in the past. In fact I've had some experiences of that also.

Even to know that there has been people that have gone through same kind of situations helps many people. For me the whole sexuality thing started really to open only when I got to the 12 step group for people from dysfunctional families.(www.acawso.org) In the country I live 12 step groups are really few and invisible, so it was a miracle I even found out that those exists.

Anyway, zen practice has been very good tool for me. For what - I do not know, but certainly it helps. :) It isn't rare for people from difficult backgrounds to come to this practice. To be still and silent, with or without other people, is a great present for anyone. Especially for we who have had to build thick defenses between us and the world.

Mike said...

I wanted to leave a commnet to the column, but I'm not a member and don't feel like signing up and paying the fee just to leave an occasional comment on one dude's column. But I was interested in the whole debate over the "rubber band" comment. I wrote something very similar in my own column for my college newspaper, and got a lot of people saying the same thing - that it isn't true. What I think that they may seem to be overlooking, and this was stated a few times in your piece, is that it's the desire to keep that high point going and to keep reaching it again and again that brings about the lows. The sadness that it's gone and the desire to have it back. I probably could have stated it more clearly in the thing I wrote, but I thought you stated that perfectly well in your column, and I think that if people didn't overlook it they'd see that what you're saying makes a lot of sense.

It seems like a lot of people who leave comments at suicide girls are really intent on trying to punch holes in your teachings or attempt to one-up you with their knowledge of the subject. I personally don't think you can punch holes in a religion that concerns itself more with acheiving results rather than quarreling over belief systems. I mean buddhism isn't a belief system as much as it's a proven way of freeing yourself from belief systems. Anyway, I think you're a nice guy and a great teacher and what you say is incredibly valid. Great column; keep up the good work.

That's my two cents.

Jinzang said...

It seems like a lot of people who leave comments at suicide girls are really intent on trying to punch holes in your teachings or attempt to one-up you with their knowledge of the subject.

Well, what Brad's saying kind of goes against the grain of American thinking. If you're not always on the prowl for the bigger and better deal, you're not living the American dream. So it's not too surprising someone speaks up. No problem, they're just saying what they honestly feel.

Mysterion said...

Thus spoke the Exalted One:

"Killing, stealing, lying and adultery,
These four evils the wise never praise."
(DN31 Sigalovada Sutta)

The Five Precepts are to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, and intoxicants which cause carelessness.

Abstain not from intoxicants, but from intoxicants which cause carelessness.

Anyone who is seriously looking for absolutes in the Tri Pitaka should absolutely look elsewhere.

Sexual misconduct is ANY sexual activity in which the intention was 'misconduct.' (e.g. you did it for the purpose of conducting yourself shamefully).

I hope that says very little because that is the intention.

Jared said...

Mysterion Said:

"Sexual misconduct is ANY sexual activity in which the intention was 'misconduct.' (e.g. you did it for the purpose of conducting yourself shamefully)"

I would disagree. Being the rational animals that we are, I think it's a rare case that we can't make up some sort of rational, as irrational as it might be, for whatever we are doing. No matter how corrupt a person is, very few people seem able to perform "corrupt" or "unsavory" things without at least some sort of thinly veiled reason that it isn't corrupt or unsavory.

Also, shame is a highly subjective notion. Many people feel ashamed of things that really ought not to bring about that feeling, just like many people feel absolutely no shame for something that really ought to bring it terribly. I don't think it should be applied to the precepts, since there are so many complicated reasons to feel shame, not all of them being morally true.

Anonymous said...

But sex does get mixed up with other complicating things and it is up to each of us to unpack that baggage and travel as light as we can.

No point blaming past and rehashing what's been and was long ago done.
Just work with the present--right now, what is 'workin' for you/your parner, what isn't.

Sex as a way to be hurtful of another, sex as retaliation, sex as reward, sex as a form of blackmail,
sex as a means to control another, in any form--
isn't that what we're talking about avoiding with the precept 'do not misuse sex'?

For those of us who, for one reason or another, find ourselves in relationships where sexual misuse occurs (on our part or our partners') what can we do to release sex from our habits of misusing it?

I've asked myself that question and I think the answer comes out of zazen practice. Not just for habits of misuse with regards to things sexual, but habits of misuse with regard to all things.

Lone Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lone Wolf said...

I think if Americans rid themselves of the old puritan idea that "sex is bad," which is heavily ingraned within many of us, then there would be alot less sexual abuse in this country.

Tom Swiss said...

Well, I was going to mention Ikkyu, but somebody beat me to it.

I've been hacking out some concepts about sex and spirituality in a rough draft of a chapter for the book I'm working on - Brad, you might at least find it useful as some mistaken notions to correct:

http://infamous.net/WhyBuddhaTouchedTheEarth/node/9

Anonymous said...

I just wish we humans would let sex be sex

Anonymous said...

not much happening here for a while
just read The Gathering by Ann Enright--very interesting book--fiction, covers ground of 4 generations quickly--her take on sexuality (female perspective) is frank with no sentimentality, she conveys the carrying forward of generational 'issues': that which is unresolved, unaddressed finds new ways to go unresolved, unaddressed.

Yet another example leading one to favor the buddhist practice of 'leaving home.'

Anonymous said...

and also that which has gone unresolved gives ever new opportunities with which to resolve it

helg said...

I absolutely adore being in the nude at home. I abhor of the wearing of clothing , and also thoroughly enjoy gazing upon the Human form; be it male or female. I have always enjoyed being nude, since I was a boy. I feel that more people should try it! love you Brad.
I adore women,and love it when they go nude around their own homes...perfectly natural. I love to be home alone, and just be naked, maybe masturbate, be on computer nude,etc. To be naked is to be truly free and comfortable. My motto is: "When at Home-Bareit, Go Buddha!

Anonymous said...

kinna fizzled out.

Anonymous said...

There's a new SG article up--May--
and I wanted to respond a little more personally here than at the other blog (HCZ).

When I masturbate there is a dialogue running in my mind--I guess like a kind of 'porn film' if you will.
When I am with a sexual partner it doesn't always happen but sometimes there is also this dialogue in my mind.
I don't know if it is because I have been masturbating so long and this is a habit?
It's not that I mind it or am bothered by it, but sometimes I wonder if touching myself could just be touching myself without this string of words in my mind. I guess I kind of let the words 'run along the bottom of the screen' like on TV, and sometimes the words fill the whole screen.
I don't know when I started this stuff, but it seems entrenched now.
What I don't like about it is that I feel it somehow makes a distance between me and my partner.
I don't talk to my partner about this, and I don't particularly care for a lot of conversation during sex, I just like to focus on the wealth of sensory exchange: sex is the most amazing 'conversation' two people might have without the utterance of an intelligible word....
I guess I'm whining here...
Things are fine, really.

I have another question but I'll have to ask that one later.

Jaimal said...

Hey Brad, I've been looking for your email and can't find it. Love the blogs. I've just finished a book about Zen and surfing called Saltwater Buddha: a surfer's quest to find Zen on the sea. Wisdom, the publisher, is looking for bloggers who want a galleys. Let me know if you'd like one. Find out more about Saltwater Buddha at www.jaimalyogis.com. Keep up the good work! JY

Hence72 said...

Hi pleased to meet you

loving your blog

come pay a visit some time

Paula Lambert said...

Hi, I need to contact Brad Warner for an interview request. Where do I find his emailadress? Thanks, Paula