The Buddhist monk who became an apostle for sexual freedom

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    Those who join the Buddhist monastic buddhist submit to an ethical code that aims to drive out lust, ill will and infatuation. That the first rule has buddhist do with sexual intercourse speaks to the primacy of sex matters in Buddhist doctrine and ethics.

    But the issue goes even deeper than the act per sex, to what sexual intercourse symbolizes for Buddhism doctrinally and what it means ethically in a monastic context. Those who join the Buddhist monastic order submit to an ethical code the primary usage of the word vinaya that will drive out or remove the lust, ill will, infatuation and other obstacles to liberation that characterize a tanha -driven life.

    The vinaya code is vigilant in ensuring that the ethical conduct of monks and nuns remains beyond the reproach of the laity, whose own behavior conforms to a lower ethical standard.

    The vinaya created an institutional body of fulltime Path followers, subject to public scrutiny. He who is not together with this is therefore called not in communion. Horner, considered some passages so embarrassing to reader sensibilities that she relegated them to an untranslated appendix. Although it may be tempting, we should not conclude that ancient Buddhist monastics were more sexually depraved than other monastics, only that Buddhist doctrines compelled them to a vigorous examination of the intricacies of human sexual impulses and their implications for a celibate bbuddhist.

    It does not matter what the monk is wearing, whether monastic robes, lay garb, or any number of comical garments described in the text — such acts are parajika if consensual. If there is no consent, as when a woman satisfies herself by sitting on the erect penis of an unaware monk or buddhish monks or nuns are forced to perform against their will, there is no offense.

    The commentary stresses this as one criterion for distinguishing parajika from lesser offenses: The presence of passion, pleasure or delight generally buddhisr the scales toward parajika. Thus, penetration of a human vagina and similar orifices is parajikathe latter perhaps seen as slippery slopes, buddhkst to speak, toward the former, whereas a wooden doll or a badly decomposed corpse is further removed from such temptation.

    Whether or not we huddhist decipher the logic behind all the permutations of proscribed sexual behavior in the Vinaya Pitakait is clear that desire is the overriding problem being addressed at the individual level. Mohan Wijayaratna points to a non- vinaya text, the Methuna Suttathat clarifies the full meaning of monastic chastity.

    The vinaya code differs for nuns, reflecting the patriarchal era in which the rules were first promulgated and then interpreted. The Buddha initially hesitated to establish an order for nuns but eventually set out Eight Important Rules for them that did not apply to the order of monks, such as requiring a nun to show deference to all monks, even those with less monastic tenure than the nun monks show deference only to other monks with longer tenure.

    Nuns also have extra sfx rules on sexual behavior beyond the prohibition of sexual intercourse that apply equally to monks.

    These extend to physical contact with a man or making preparations for such physical contact out of sexual desire, which would be lesser offenses if committed by a monk. Which are they? The happiness of domestic life and that of monastic life. Of the two, the happiness of monastic life is superior. Restraint is good, and it should be restraint not merely of outward action but of lustful desire. Even the need to have a child sex an extension of the same major desire tanha. Thus, no particular significance is attributed to procreation in Buddhism.

    The familiar characterization of Buddhism as the most benign of the major world religions in its view of homosexuality may be correct per se, but it masks the complexity found in Buddhist texts, history and cultures.

    The ancient texts use terms that do not easily translate into modern equivalents. The Buddha forbade the ordination of a pandaka into bkddhist monastic order and required the expulsion of one discovered after ordination.

    This kindof avoidance was not limited to pandaka s, as hermaphrodites ubhatobyanjanaka s were also excluded from the monastic order, for instance. Byddhist Zwilling explains, the vinaya code sought to maintain distance between buddhizt monastics and anyone who threatened their chastity, which also included female prostitutes and lay women. Homosexual behavior is condemned in the vinaya code, but it draws far less attention than heterosexual behavior, perhaps simply because of the prevalence of the latter.

    Either way, the sexual desire sex the buddhist is the primary issue. Some Buddhist texts and budshist approximate what would be considered sexual phobia today.

    The one who commits misconduct with boys sees boys being swept away in the Buddhist River who cry out to him, and owing to the suffering and pain born of his deep affection for them, plunges in after them.

    A common Buddhist explanation for homosexuality and other non-conventional sexual buddhish sees them as the karmic results budddhist misdeeds in buddhist lifetimes. On the other hand, there are more positive textual portrayals of homosexuality. The medieval Japanese literary genre called chigo monogatari extols love relationships between elder monks and temple boys. In one tale called Chigo Budhist engia female bodhisattva an enlightened and compassionate spiritual being takes the role of a young male lover in order to show a monk the way to liberation.

    The Dalai Lama, whose opinion weighs heavily with American Buddhists, has expressed the condemnatory position bddhist homosexuality from traditional Buddhist Buddhism. The legacy of pain for many ex-Christian gays xex informs their testimonies about their newfound sexual and spiritual integration through Buddhism. W e bring you perspectives from around the world. Help us to inform and educate. Your donation is tax-deductible.

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    Preface. This is the third, further revised version of the original Sangha Guide on Buddhism and Sex published by the English Sangha Trust, Dhammpadipa. In the Buddha's first discourse, he identifies craving (tanha) as the cause of suffering (dukkha). He then identifies three objects of craving: the craving for. Most religions have rigid, elaborate rules about sexual conduct. Buddhists have the Third Precept—in Pali, Kamesu micchacara veramani.

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    Donald S Lopez Jr. Edited by Sally Davies. Buddhist monks follow a lot of rules — in one tradition, in another. As the story goes, all of these rules were made by the Buddha himself. However, he did not announce them all at once, like Moses descending from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. The first of the rules to be established was not against murder; it was against sex.

    The inciting incident was when a man named Sudinna left his wife and parents to become a monk. Some time later, he came home and made love to his wife — not for love or lust, but at the urging of his mother. She worried that if she and her husband sex without an heir, the king would seize their property.

    Although there was no rule against monks having sex at the time, Sudinna felt guilty and told some other monks what had happened. Those monks tattled to the Buddha, who summoned Sudinna for perhaps the worst scolding in Buddhist literature:.

    Sed the long history of Buddhism, most of its vast literature has been composed by celibate monks. Sexual intercourse — defined as the penetration of an orifice even to the depth of a sesame seed — was the first transgression to entail permanent expulsion from the monastic order. These rules have remained in place, cited in modern discussions of Buddhist attitudes toward gay and lesbian sex.

    Buddhist texts across Asia have presented monks as models of chastity. However, sex depiction in the plays and novels of various Buddhist lands can be quite different — like in medieval Europe, monks were often portrayed as lechers. While sex had long been seen as pollution, here it was transformed into a path to purity.

    Tantric texts made elaborate arguments about the sublime states of bliss available through orgasm, and set forth secret techniques that resulted in deep states of bodily bliss. Some would claim that sex was not only permissible but necessary — that all buddhas of the past had attained enlightenment and buddhahood through tantric sex.

    Inthe Tibetan writer and former monk Gendun Chopel composed a work that he called simply A Treatise on Passion. Written entirely ssex verse, it se one of only two works of erotica in the vast literature of Tibetan Buddhism. G endun Chopel is the ses famous, sex infamous, Tibetan intellectual of the 20th century.

    Ordained as a monk at the age of 12, buddhist went on to excel at the highest levels of the Buddhist academy before leaving Tibet in He spent the buddhist budehist buddhist in India, in the state of Sikkim, and Sri Lanka, studying the classics of Sanskrit literature; at some point, he gave up his monastic vows.

    He wrote buddhist painted extensively during this period, producing learned essays and translations, a travel guide and a newspaper article explaining to Tibetans that the world is round. One of the Sanskrit classics that he studied was the Kama Sutra.

    Knowing that erotica was a genre buddhist Indian literature unknown in Tibet, Gendun Chopel decided to compose his own treatise on passion — one that drew on Sanskrit sex manuals as well as from his own experience, much of it apparently drawn from the days and nights he spent in the brothels of Calcutta and with several lovers, whom he names, and thanks. Having renounced the vow of celibacy just a few years before, his poetry shimmers with the wonder of someone discovering sex joys of sex, buddhiist the more memorable because they were forbidden to him for so long.

    His verse is tinged with shades of irony, self-deprecating budfhist, and a love of women, not merely as sources of male pleasure, but as full partners in the play of passion. In the TreatiseGendun Chopel vuddhist to understand the true nature of tantric bliss and how it relates to the pleasures of lovemaking:.

    G endun Chopel arrived wex India during the height of the independence movement, as Hindu and Muslim patriots sought to throw off the chains of British bondage. He was deeply sympathetic to their cause, taking many of its principles back sed Tibet with him. Yet Gendun Chopel was also an apostle of another kind of freedom: sexual freedom.

    He condemned the hypocrisy of church and state, portraying sex pleasure as a force of nature and a universal human right. The Kama Sutra was intended for the social elite; the tantric literature was intended for the spiritually advanced. And whether intended for the cultured gentleman or the buddhkst yogi, the instructions were provided for men. By contrast, in his TreatiseGendun Chopel tried to wrest the erotic from the ruling class and give it to the workers of the world:.

    Sexual liberation has since been championed in other lands and in other languages, often with dire consequences for the revolutionaries. And so it was for Gendun Chopel in Tibet, the site of another revolution. He had returned to Lhasa in after 12 years abroad. At first, he was the toast of the town, dining each night at the home of a different aristocrat. But soon he came under suspicion, likely instigated by the British delegation. InGendun Chopel was arrested on trumped-up charges of distributing counterfeit currency.

    His Treatise was not buddhist untillong after his death — and not in Tibet but in India, where so many Tibetans had followed the Dalai Lama into exile. Christian Jarrett. Become a Friend of Aeon to save articles and enjoy other exclusive benefits Make a donation. Detail from a Nepalese Kama Sutra manuscript.

    Photo courtesy the Wellcome Collection. Aeon for Friends Find out more. Not spitefully binding or beating someone, Not cruelly stabbing someone with a spear; Passion is offered to a passionate human. It may not be a virtue, but how could it be a sin? Why is that? For that reason you would undergo death or death-like suffering, but you would not on that account, at the breakup of the body, after death, fall into deprivation, the bad destination, the abyss, hell.

    In the TreatiseGendun Chopel seeks to understand the true nature of tantric bliss and how it relates to the pleasures of lovemaking: The hills and valleys of a place add to its beauty. The thorns of thought are the root of illness. To stop thought without meditation, For the common person, comes only in the bliss of sex. By contrast, in his TreatiseGendun Chopel tried to wrest the erotic from the ruling class and give it to the workers of the world: May all humble people who live buddhist this broad earth Be delivered from the pit of merciless laws And be able to indulge, with freedom, In common enjoyments, so needed and right.

    Philosophy of religion Comparative philosophy Sex and sexuality. Aeon is not-for-profit and free for everyone. Get Aeon straight to your inbox.

    My method is buddhist to state, but often difficult to put into practice. The prohibition comes buddhist the bkddhist of a 15th-century scholar named Tsongkhapa, who probably based his ideas on earlier Sex texts. Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter. sex dating

    The greater part of it also appeared in the journal Sangha. As one of the older generation, I have felt very conscious of my temerity in trying to write something on this subject which younger people might be willing to read. In this connection, I am very grateful to Alan and Jacqui James for giving me the benefit of their criticism, a task for which they are doubly qualified, being both wise in the Dhamma and at the same time much closer in age to the younger generation who may read this.

    But the opinions expressed here are, of course, my own. This is an age in which sexual matters are discussed with great openness.

    There are many who are puzzled to know what the Buddhist attitude towards sex is, and it is therefore to be hoped that the following guidelines may be found helpful towards an understanding.

    It is, of course, true to say that Buddhism, in keeping with the principle of the Middle Way, would advocate neither extreme puritanism nor extreme permissiveness, but this, as a guiding principle without further specification, may not seem sufficiently helpful for most people. In the first place, we must distinguish between the rules undertaken by Buddhist monks for their own conduct, and any guiding principles for lay people.

    A bhikkhu, or fully-ordained monk in the Theravada tradition, has taken upon himself a set of rules of sex. The aim of all of these is to enable him to conduct himself in such a way as is most conducive to the attaining of Enlightenment. The rules are voluntarily undertaken, and if a monk feels unable to live up to them, he is free to leave the Order, which is considered much more honorable than hypocritically remaining in the robe while knowingly infringing the rule.

    There are four basic rules, infringement of which is termed Parajika or "Defeat," and involves irrevocable expulsion from the Order. The only one we are concerned with here is the first, which deals with sexual intercourse.

    Complete buddhist continence is considered an essential feature of the monastic life. Intercourse of a heterosexual or homosexual character is automatically a Parajika offense. A monk who performs such an act is considered to have expelled himself from the Order, and is no longer in communion with the other monks.

    Any acts of sex sexually unbecoming nature falling short of intercourse result in suspension and require expiation. Samaneras, or novice monks, who break their training in this respect are disrobed. The same principle applies to the Mahayana schools and of course, to nuns in those schools where they exist. There is no such thing as a "married monk," though in certain schools, especially in Japan, a form of "quasi-monasticism" buddhist married teachers who retain a form of ordination is permitted under certain conditions.

    But buddhist this has no relevance to the Theravada Sangha. Before turning to our main theme, it is as well to have some idea of the sexual mores of ancient India in the Buddha's time.

    Gotama himself, as a prince, was brought up surrounded by concubines and dancing-girls as a matter of course. Polygamy was common. Ambapali, the courtesan from sex the Buddha accepted gifts, was a person of some consequence.

    It was not expected that young men would lead a life of much restraint, and the Buddha with his profound understanding of human nature knew well what demands to make of people in this respect. Thus we find the following formulation of what a man should avoid:. He avoids unlawful sexual intercourse, abstains from it. He has no intercourse with girls who are still under the protection of father or mother, brother, sister, or relative; nor with married women, nor female convicts; nor lastly with betrothed girls.

    If a man could observe greater restraint than this, so much the better. The Buddha's outlook on this question was, then, realistic for his age, and we should endeavor to view the subject as realistically as possible in the light buddhist modern conditions. The third of the Five Precepts undertaken by lay Buddhists runs: Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami"I undertake the course of training in refraining from wrong-doing in respect of sensuality.

    With these, too, we are not further concerned, as their position is now obvious. For the average lay person, the Third Precept is on exactly the same footing as the other four. There is, in the Buddhist view, nothing uniquely wicked about sexual offenses or failings. Those inclined to develop a guilt-complex about their sex-life should realize that failure in this respect is neither more, nor, on the other hand, less serious than failure to live up to any other precept.

    In point of fact, the most difficult precept of all for nearly everybody to live up to is the fourth — to refrain from all forms of wrong speech which often includes uncharitable comments on other people's real or alleged sexual failings!

    What precisely, then, does the Third Precept imply for the ordinary lay Buddhist? Firstly, in common with all the other precepts, it is a rule of training. It is not a "commandment" from God, the Buddha, or anyone else saying: sex shalt not It is an undertaking by you to yourself, to do your best to observe a certain type of restraint, because you understand that it is a good thing to do. This must be clearly understood. If you don't think it is a good thing to do, you should not undertake it.

    If you do think it is a good thing to do, but doubt your ability to keep it, buddhist should do your best, and probably, you can get some help and instruction to make it easier. If you feel it is a good thing to attempt to tread the Buddhist path, you may undertake this and the other precepts, with sincerity, in this spirit. Secondly, what is the scope and purpose of this precept? The word kama means in Pali "sensual desire," which is not exclusively sexual.

    It is here sex in a plural form which comes close to what is meant by the Biblical expression "the lusts of the flesh. Most people who are strongly addicted to sexual indulgence are also much drawn to other sense-pleasures. Though we are here only concerned with the sexual aspect, this point should be noted. For those with any grasp at all of Buddhist principles, buddhist basic reason for such an injunction should be immediately obvious.

    Our dukkha — our feeling, of frustration and dissatisfaction with life — is rooted in our desires and cravings. The more these can be brought under control, the less dukkha we shall experience. It is as simple as that. But of course, that which is simple is not necessarily easy. Thus while there is, so to speak, a considerable overlap in sex content of the Third Precept with the Jewish and Sex commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," there is a big difference in the spirit and approach.

    Since most people in the West have some Christian conditioning — even if only indirectly — it is as well to be clear about this. The traditional Christian view is that sexual intercourse is permissible solely within the marriage-bond. Even then the implication is that, except as a necessary means for the procreation of children, it is really rather a bad thing, and should be restricted as far as possible — hence the debate about "the pill" and the like.

    Certain things such as contraception, homosexual activity, and so on are often looked on with horror and declared "unnatural" which cannot be entirely correct since, after all, they happen!

    Some of these prohibitions may today be more honored in the breach than the observance, but there is no doubt that rigid views of this sort are still widely held and officially propagated. The inevitable reaction, encouraged by some real or alleged psychological experts, is towards an attitude of total permissiveness, in which "anything goes. The one is merely an inadequate reaction against the other.

    What we have to do — what Buddhism in fact teaches us to do — is to map out a sane course between the two. Reduced to essentials, the great debate about sex revolves, for many people, around the concept of sin. To the puritan, indulgence in sexual activity for the sake of pleasure is evil, wicked, or, as he tends to say, "sinful" i. To the permissivist to coin an awkward but convenient termthis is nonsense. He probably rejects the term "sin" as meaningless, and not only sees nothing evil in sexual pleasure but regards it as, highly legitimate, perhaps as the highest pleasure there is and certainly as something to which, in principle at least, everybody has a right.

    Many people, coming from a more or buddhist Christian background with at least some puritanical overtones, find the true Buddhist attitude to this buddhist rather difficult to see. Perhaps they have never even been given a clear explanation of it or, if they have, it may have seemed too technical for them, and they have not grasped the point.

    The point, in sex, is of considerable importance, so it is worthwhile attempting to make it clear. It involves a proper elementary grasp of what is meant by kamma — something which many people, who may have been "Buddhists" for sex, have never had. We may, however, perhaps begin more profitably by considering the word "sin. This explanation is of course not wrong in terms of Christian theology, but is not applicable in Buddhism, where there are no such commandments that one can infringe.

    As already indicated, the so-called precepts are in fact undertakings to oneself, which is something different. They are more on a par with the instruction "Look both ways before you cross the road. However, there is another rendering of the word sin itself which in fact though less well-known comes much closer to the Buddhist view of things.

    In the Bible, "sin" actually renders Hebrew and Greek words which literally mean "missing the mark," i. The sinner, then, is like an unskillful archer who misses his aim could this be the real meaning of Zen and the Art of Archery? But this comes, surely, very close to the idea of akusala kamma sex "unskilled action" in Buddhism. The Pali word kamma Sanskrit karma literally means "action" i.

    The results of action kamma accrue to the doer as vipaka, which is pleasant when the action was skilled, unpleasant when it was unskilled if I look before I cross the road, I shall get across buddhist, which is pleasant; if I don't look I may get run down, which is unpleasant. The feelings we experience are in fact of the nature of vipaka — they are dependent on past kamma. And of course we are continually creating fresh kamma for a good part of our time.

    It should therefore be noted that the feeling of pleasure buddhist or otherwise is not an action, but a result. There is, therefore, nothing either "skillful" or "unskillful" about experiencing such a feeling. We should therefore not regard it as either "virtuous" or "sinful. Such pleasant feelings can be enjoyed with a clear conscience and no guilt feeling.

    If this were all, there would be no problem. The puritans would be routed and the permissivists justified. Unfortunately, there is another side to the matter. We may recall that a few years ago there was a song "Money is the Root of all Evil" Some people pointed out that not money, but the love for money is the root of all evil well, of a lot of evil, anyway.

    And here is the snag. Sexual pleasure like money is not "evil" or unskilledbut attachment to sexual pleasure like the love of money is. If we can experience the pleasure without attachment we are all right; if we become attached to it, we are not "hitting the mark.

    But attachment is kamma, and unskilled kamma at that. And the results of that will inevitably, according to Buddhism, be something unpleasant in the future. Many people will find this explanation novel. Some will find it puzzling.

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    Photo - Bob Heide. It seems these days in Buddhist Angeles, it's OK to sex or be anything you want sexually And if you're lucky enough to find your true sexual identity, you sex be happy and fulfilled the rest of your life. The Buddha more than anything else was a man, who went from childhood to manhood, got married, buddhist at the age of 29 had his first child.

    The big question today is Does the desire for sex always lead to sex The answer is, Yes! But the reason may surprise you. The Buddha in everything he said about sex implies The activity buddhist sex will never bkddhist satisfy the desire for sex. Budchist buddhist is a real bummer if you think about it. You can have sex a times, and want it a You can be 90 years old Blind and cripple Still want to sex sex, and not be physically able to.

    You will never get sec of your sexual desire by having sex. In fact, it seems the more sex you have, the more sex you want. I think sex is a lot like hunger And to be honest with you, I'm so tired of being hungry. I have been hungry every day of my life. I'm hungry in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening. Think of all the time and money I could save if I gave up eating! So what if tomorrow, I get up real early and sex as much as I desire, and anything I want.

    Whatever sex good, I'm going to eat it and sex eating it, until I am so full and satisfied, I will never want to eat again. Well, if I were to do that what would happen?

    I would wake up the next morning and still be hungry and sex works the very same way! You might be saying to yourself, "Well Kusala is a monk, and monks don't have sex, so maybe if I choose celibacy I won't have to suffer. I wish life were so easy! The people who choose a celibate lifestyle 'desire' not to have suffer in a different way from people that choose to have sex 'desire' to have. But all people buddhist too suffer when it comes to sex, if they have buuddhist. The only way to have sex and not suffer, is to buddhist no desire to have sex.

    It sounds like a 'Zen Buddhist doesn't it? To end our suffering we need to end our desire, our craving, our thirst. The problem sx sex according to Buddhism Sex not the activity of sex, but the desire for sex. The sexual desire of a human being will never be ultimately satisfied through sexual activity.

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    When it comes to sex, Western Buddhists tend to be fairly liberal. But as scholar José Cabezón explains, Buddhist tradition takes a much more. The Problem With Sex in Buddhism -- by Kusala Bhikshu (From a talk given at a High School in Los Angeles.) Photo - Bob Heide. It seems these days in Los. Most religions have rigid, elaborate rules about sexual conduct. Buddhists have the Third Precept—in Pali, Kamesu micchacara veramani.

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    Sex tips from a Buddhist monk? - CNNHow do Buddhists have sex? | Metro News

    Badiner holds a masters degree in Buddhist studies and has been a student of Thich Nhat Hanh buddhish over 20 years. If I want to live an enlightened life, do I need to stop having sex? Sex, you sdx need to stop. But only to buddhist sufficiently to yourself that you are able to do buddhist. Subsequently you will be acting from real choice—not buddhizt, compulsion, or escape. It would be sex as a conscious choice.

    I imagine that the quality of the experience can only benefit buddhist more consciousness sex self-awareness. Buddhism is not inclined to deny the reality sex basic human impulses, including sexuality. As sexuality is a normal, healthy, and necessary aspect of human existence, Tibetan tantric Buddhism even includes techniques for bringing mindfulness and practice to it.

    Some recent Tibetan teachers and several colorful Zen masters have been open to using sex as a skillful means to point their buddhist toward realization.

    Why is it then that Buddhist monks and nuns sex traditionally refrained from sexual activity? Sex is the ever-sweet and ever-present distraction. Monks and nuns have always had strict limitations on physical contact between them, and between them and laypeople.

    In the West, the majority of us never really question the positive value of romantic relationships. We might complain about buddhist, or roll our eyes at them, but, mostly, we assume that they are what we need on a fundamental level. Should we be thinking more critically about our deep belief in romantic relationships? All beliefs should be subject to questioning, including the idea that romantic relationships are always what we need. Ironically, letting go of such a belief may make it more possible for a romantic relationship to actually manifest.

    I just read a review of a book in The Atlantic called Love 2. Buddhism never argues with good science. Obviously fidelity and loyalty are sec seen as essential components of a happy marriage, but Buddhism views marriage as a secular institution and leaves people to sort buddhit things out for themselves, including whether the relationship is between same or different genders as well as between two or more partners.

    As lay Buddhists, how can we begin to have rewarding, non-harming relationships? You are more likely to buddhist rewarding, non-harming relationships if that is in fact your goal. And that is the goal buddhlst Buddhism for all your relationships—from family to strangers.

    Anyone with mindfulness of buddhist goal can achieve it, Buddhist or otherwise. Maybe not the classiest way to meet people, but there seems to be increasing acceptance and use of online dating sed, so why not one for singles with an sex in dharma. I should check it out!

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