Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/21/2017

Methuna Sutta (AN 7:47)

Then Jāṇussoṇin the brahman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One, “Does Master Gotama claim to be one who leads the holy life?”

“If, brahman, one could rightly say of anyone, ‘He leads the holy life without gap, without break, without spot, without blemish—perfect & pure,’ it would rightly be said of me. I lead the holy life without gap, without break, without spot, without blemish—perfect & pure.”

“But what, Master Gotama, is a gap, a break, a spot, a blemish of the holy life?”

“There is the case, brahman, where a certain contemplative or brahman, while claiming to be one who rightly follows the holy life, doesn’t actually engage in copulating with a woman but he does consent to being anointed, rubbed down, bathed, or massaged by a woman. He enjoys that, wants more of that, and luxuriates in that. This is a gap, a break, a spot, a blemish of the holy life. He is called one who lives the holy life in an impure way, one who is fettered by the fetter of sexuality. He is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrows, lamentations, pains, griefs, & despairs. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

“Or… he jokes, plays, and amuses himself with a woman. He enjoys that, wants more of that, and luxuriates in that.…

“Or… he stares into a woman’s eyes. He enjoys that, wants more of that, and luxuriates in that.…

“Or… he listens to the voices of women outside a wall as they laugh, speak, sing, or cry. He enjoys that, wants more of that, and luxuriates in that.…

“Or… he recollects how he used to laugh, converse, and play with a woman. He enjoys that, wants more of that, and luxuriates in that.…

“Or… he sees a householder or householder’s son enjoying himself endowed with the five strings of sensuality. He enjoys that, wants more of that, and luxuriates in that.…

“Or… he practices the holy life intent on being born in one or another of the deva hosts, (thinking) ‘By this virtue or practice or abstinence or holy life I will be a deva of one sort or another.’ He enjoys that, wants more of that, and luxuriates in that. This is a gap, a break, a spot, a blemish of the holy life. He is called one who lives the holy life in an impure way, one who is fettered by the fetter of sexuality. He is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrows, lamentations, pains, griefs, & despairs. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

“And, brahman, as long as I saw that one or another of these seven fetters of sexuality was not abandoned in myself, I did not claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Māras, & Brahmās, with its people with their contemplatives & brahmans, their royalty & commonfolk. But when I did not see any one of these seven fetters of sexuality unabandoned in myself, then I did claim to have directly awakened to the right self-awakening unexcelled in the cosmos with its devas, Māras, & Brahmās, with its people with their contemplatives & brahmans, their royalty & commonfolk. Knowledge & vision arose in me: ‘Unprovoked is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.’”

When this was said, Jāṇussoṇin the brahman said to the Blessed One, “Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Gotama—through many lines of reasoning—made the Dhamma clear. I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the Saṅgha of monks. May Master Gotama remember me as a lay follower who has gone for refuge from this day forward, for life.”

Further:

1. BONDS OF SEXUALITY The Methuna Sutta is a definitive statement on the early Buddhist concep-tion of the “holy life” (brahmacariya). Although brahmacariya is often translated as “celibacy,” this is only one aspect of the holy life. Central as celibacy may be to the holy life, there are other even more vital aspects, and these are listed in the sutta as the abstaining from these 7 “bonds of sexuality” (methuna-saṁyoga):

(1) enjoying physical contact;
(2) socializing (especially for the sake of entertainment);[1]
(3) lusting after the physical form;
(4) distracted by pleasurable sounds;
(5) delighting in frivolities with others;
(6) approving of others indulging in physical pleasures; and
(7) living the holy life for the sake of going to heaven.

These 7 “bonds of sexuality” are so called because they still bind us to thinking about sexuality and sense-pleasures even though externally there is a façade of sexual abstinence and austerity.

2. ALL KINDS OF SEX. The fact that the Methuna Sutta refers only to a heterosexual context, does not imply that it is not against other forms of sexual behaviour, especially homosexuality.[2] The point is that all forms of sexuality, overt and covert, any misuse of the senses, are to be avoided in the holy life, that is, when one has taken up monastic training or a religious life of celibacy.

In the case of lay Buddhists, the basic parameters for proper sexual relationships are at least as fol-lows. that is, sex should be:

1. Age-appropriate, that is, treating our juniors as children, our equals as siblings, and our seniors as parents, as explained in the Pindola Bhāradvāja Sutta (S 35.127), SD 27.6a(2.4).

2. Person-appropriate, which is essentially respect a person’s and not taking someone merely as a source of sexual gratification, but sexuality as being a natural and healthy (bodily and mentally) expression of a wholesome and mutual love between free, mature and appropriate individuals[3]

3. Time-appropriate: , that is, sexuality fits into a proper list of priorities in our lives, and knowing the time for abstention (such as during precept days, sacred occasions and meditation retreats).

3. TIME-CONSUMING. In the (Devatā) Samiddhi Sutta (S 1.20), sexuality is said to be “time-con-suming” (kālika) in the sense that it keeps us in the vicissitudes of samsara.[4] The quest for the gratification of sexuality generates lust (rāga), greed (lobha) and covetousness (abhijjhā). Sexuality invariably entails sense-desire (taṇhā), and in this lustful quest, whatever that is perceived it as opposing would generate hate (dosa), ill will (vyāpāda) or aversion (paṭigha). All this feeds bhava (existence and becoming) and prevents us from seeing beyond the delusion (moha) that make it all appear worthwhile.

4. KEEPING TO OUR VOWS. The Alaggadûpama Sutta (M 22), records how Ari Ariṭṭha wrongly thinks that it is all right for monastics to indulge is sex since some of the sensual pleasures are permissible to lay-followers, even those who are stream-winners.

The Buddha’s reply is very clear:

“Indeed monks, it is impossible that one can indulge in sensual pleasures without sensual desires, without the perception of sensual desire, without the thought of sensual desire!”

(M 22.9/1:133) = SD 13

5 SEX IN PROPER CONTEXT. Early Buddhism does not regard sex, or any physical pleasure, as being bad or “evil” in itself.[5] In the Mahā Vacchagotta Sutta (M 73), for example, lay followers are referred to as “white-clad laymen who are brahmacharis,” that is, those who voluntarily keep to the rule of celib-acy, in contrast with the laymen “who enjoy sense-pleasures” (kāmabhogī). And both kinds of laymen are said to be capable of being accomplished in the Dharma.[6]

The third of the five precepts concern the training to abstain from sexuality (kāmesu micchâcārā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṁ) , that is, neither abusing the physical senses (that is, the body) and respecting the person of others. Married partners and those betrothed couples should be loyal to one another. Even in societies where marriage is loosely defined or undefined, sexuality is only healthy (physically and mental-ly) in the context of commitment to a partnership.

6. COMMITTED LOVE. Sexuality between committed and loving partners should be a part of the process of mutual acceptance and healthy partnership, or better, the basis for a happy and productive family life. The third precept is based on the value of freedom, that our partner has the right to say no to sexuality, and this has to be respected. In this manner, both parties rise above their sexuality and accept each other unconditionally as being capable of awakening. Between healthy loving individuals, sexuality can be a meaningful expression of momentary selflessness. Otherwise, sexuality easily becomes the basis for the expression of the most selfish of human emotions.

7. MORAL VIRTUES

7.1 The brahmachari. In the Methuna Sutta, the Buddha defines the brahmachari as follows: “he lives the perfect and pure brahmachari life, unbroken, untorn [consistent], unmixed [not altering the rules], spotless,”[7] and which applies to him, too [§1]. The usual and fuller stock is: “virtues dear to the noble ones, unbroken, untorn, unmixed, spotless, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, giving rise to concentration.”[8]

7.2 Virtue dear to the noble. These are said to be the “virtues dear to the noble ones” (ariyakantani sīlani)[9] because, says the Saṁyutta Commentary, the noble ones do not violate the five precepts; hence, these virtues are dear to them (SA 2:74). They are said to be “ungrasped” (aparāmaṭṭha) in the sense that they are not kept to with craving or wrong view.[10]

7.3 Unbroken, untorn, unmixed, unblotched. The state contrary to that of the brahmachari’s moral virtue is stated as “the break, the tear, the mottle, the blotch of the holy life” (brahmacariyassa khaṇḍam pi chiddam pi sabalam pi kammāsam pi) [1§]. The epithets “broken” (khaṇḍa) and “torn” (chidda) is a cloth imagery: bad cloth is broken or torn; “mixed” (sabala) and “blotched” (kammāsa) refers to cows that have mixed patterns or blotched patterns on its hide. A good piece of cloth is “unbroken, untorn” (akhaṇḍaṁ acchidaṁ) and a good cow is “unmixed, spotless [unblotched]” (asabalaṁ akammāsaṁ) (DA 2:536; MA 2:400; AA 3:345).

8 RELATED SUTTAS. The Methuna Sutta is related to a number of other suttas dealing with sexuality, with which it should be studied. Some of such suttas are listed here.

The Aggaññā Sutta (D 27) uses mythological narrative to humorously explain how sexuality first arise when society re-evolves after the universe returns into being[11]

The Saññoga Sutta (A 7.48), explains in psychological terms how sexuality arises in a woman and in a man, and that they should rise above being mere sexual beings.[12]

In the Ambaṭṭha Sutta (D 3), the Buddha—in close reference to the seven bonds of sexuality of the Methuna Sutta—charges, in a historical perspective, that the brahmins of his time, unlike those of ancient times, live luxurious and abandoned lives.[13]

The “description of moral virtue” chapter of the Visuddhi Magga quotes the Methuna Sutta’s section on the seven bonds of sexuality in full.[14]

http://zugangzureinsicht.org/html/lib/authors/tanpiya/methuna_en.html


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