Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sexual Passion ...

One day, His disciple Chiba told Yamaoka Tesshu : "To really practice Zazen, one has to cut off all sexual passion" 
Tesshu laughed : "Oh really ! And how are you going to do that ? Is not sexual passion the root of all existence ?"
"I will separate from my wife and all other women - this way sexual temptation will not arise !"
"Brilliant ! Is that not a little selfish ? What about your wife? The faithful companion of these past 20 years? ... Staying away from women is no way to cut off sexual passion; it's just trying to suppress it !"
"Then how should I cut it off ? "
"Throw yourself fully into the world of sexual passion - all of them. There only you will find release from them. Love your wife with all your heart, and find enlightenment in the middle of everyday's life!"...

Tesshu's position agrees with one principle of modern psychology: the more we try to suppress something we do not like about ourselves, the more it comes back to haunt us. 

One major difficulty met by mystics of all traditions is sexuality. Denying the body's needs is a tricky thing.

If you prevent the safety valve on top of your water heater to open, the pressure builds up inside and eventually, the whole thing blows up with great damages...


This does not mean Tesshu's recommendation would safely apply to everyone of us. Actually, his wife was so unpleased with his way to deal with sexual passion that she threatened to divorce him and kill their children (she was indeed of Samurai Blood) to make him adopt a different path.

The Noble Eightfold Path does not deny sexuality but recommends to not use it in a way that could harm anyone.

We are living here and now, cravings and attachments are real, because we make them so. Believing that the satisfaction of Sexual Passion - or any other craving - can give us happiness is a mistake. Believing we can obliterate it and that this will make us happy is another one. 

1 comment:

Frederic Lecut said...

I thought I would post an exchange with Elliston Roshi on this matter :
On 2/5/2011 7:19 AM, Michael Elliston wrote:
> Believing is a mistake...
And I asked him why. Here is his answer - Please consider it.
In the sense of religious belief (or political and philosophical for that matter), clinging to it if it is not the result of consideration of evidence. For example, to say that a scientist "believes in evolution" is a corruption of syntax. A scientist may believe, in the conventional sense of the term, that evolution is the highest approximation to the truth concerning the origin of species. But if we believe in the eternal soul, we do not see the evidence in our experience that contradicts that belief. If we believe the earth is flat, based on our perspective from 5-6 feet off the ground, we do not see the evidence to convince us otherwise, which is much more subtle and indirect.

In terms of Zen practice, particularly during zazen, we set aside beliefs. Our experience may contradict beliefs about the nature of our being, our consciousness, et cetera. Granted that experience itself is in a sense based on (corrupted by) a set of beliefs about reality and existence. So our sitting practice, shikantaza, transcends our learned preconceptions about the truth, or dharma, but only if we are able to relinquish them. The monkey mind is stubborn, and defends its worldview to the death.