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The first is an extract
from a seminar, in which Sangharakshita suggests that men should develop
their own inner femininity, rather than projecting it onto women, in order
to become free from (hetero)sexual desire. - see text highlighted in bold
in third paragraph:
'All our experience is influenced by, modified by, even vitiated by
the fact that it takes place within the framework of the subject-object
distinction. There's a basic, fundamental schism between subject and
object and, therefore, a sort of tension between them. You [as subject]
are either strongly drawn towards the object or [strongly] repelled
by it, or from it. The fact that there is this sort of schism between
subject and object, - [the fact] that everything is looked at in this
way, or distorted in this way, - this is ignorance, avidya. Then on
the basis of that ignorance there takes place the development of craving,
of tanha or kamaraga which basically is the impulsion of the subject
towards the object - or its repulsion by it. …
comes into the picture in this way: Kamaraga is desire or craving in
general, but it is said to be sexual craving or sexual
desire, in particular. You could say this is because the sexual object
represents the object [in general] in a special sort of way, because
when there is a sexual object [present] your tendency towards it, your
impulsion or propulsion towards it, - is strongly marked. …
'As long as you
consider yourself as a separate individual or ego there is, of course,
ignorance, and there must, therefore, be this kind of craving, - this
impulsion or propulsion towards the object, - with the continual possibility
of frustration and, therefore, of ill-will, aversion, and resentment.
It's not so difficult really to understand that one can and must change,
and really accept that: it's not so difficult to realize that it's no
use just going through the motions of change …. You start working on
your craving, which is not just ordinary desire but this basic impulsion
of the subject towards the object, [the subject] trying as it were to
complete itself, not by transcending the subject/object distinction
but by hugging the object to itself, which can only be done for a certain
length of time or to a certain extent. It's here that the sexual paradigm
is again very useful. Because why are you so attracted to the sex-object?
In the case of a woman, which is the sex-object for a man, - there's
something out there that you want because you feel that it will make
you complete. If you start developing that [woman] within yourself,
- start developing as it were your own inner femininity, - so that you
don't project it onto the sex-object and try to unite with it there,
then you'll be free, or relatively free, from that strong craving for
that particular object.'
to the Three Jewels, A Seminar on the Tiratana-Vandana’ page 84 - 86.
Transcribed by Upasaka Kulananda, Edited by Ven. Sangharakshita. Pub Ola
Leaves 1978. Words within square brackets [ ] are explanatory additions
by the editor, Ven. Sangharakshita.
The second item is
an extract from a magazine article in which Tejananda extols the benefits
of FWBO single-sex communities as a way to overcome any 'tendency to over-identify
with one's 'male-ness' or 'female-ness'', and to overcome sexual polarisation
and become more 'fully human' through 'strong mutually supportive friendships
with members of our own sex.' (highlighted in bold in text below)
The SINGLE - SEX
and communities are an important feature of FWBO practice. …
However, the FWBO's
single-sex communities are no monolithic institution: there is a wide
spectrum, ranging from 'open' communities, where members of the opposite
sex are welcome on the premises (though obviously not to move in full
time), through to completely 'closed' communities where no members of
the opposite sex are ever permitted.
But whatever degree
of 'single-sexness' is observed in a community, the point of living
in one is unquestionably to minimize one's contact with members of the
opposite sex over a considerable period of time. The effect of this
goes much further than that of a relatively short single-sex retreat:
deeper levels of sexual conditioning are laid bare, in particular, tendencies
to sexual polarization.
From a certain
point of view, the whole of Buddhist practice can be seen in terms of
developing ever-increasing degrees of unification of consciousness and
being. For human beings, the basic level of dis-unification is, precisely,
sexual polarization - that is, the tendency to over-identify
with one's 'male-ness' or 'female-ness' to the exclusion of the psychologically
complementary 'opposite' qualities. To become more 'fully human',
then, one must develop the whole range of human qualities, not just
those which appear to come naturally. It is all too easy not to do this
if one is constantly in the company of members of the opposite sex who
conveniently seem to embody the very qualities one lacks. In this situation,
these qualities can, in a sense, be experienced 'vicariously', so obviating
the need ever to develop them oneself.
Those who decide
to live in single-sex communities in the FWBO do so very much as a means
to an end: the end being to overcome this one-sidedness and sexual
polarization, to stop depending on others, and to develop 'complementary'
qualities in themselves.
However, for many
people, this may still beg a few questions, such as those of one-sidedness
and escapism with which I opened my article. Then, there are the questions
of what people in single-sex communities do about sex, assuming they
are not celibate, whether single-sex communities are a satisfactory
alternative to family life and, finally, how single-sex communities
work in practice.
I have stated that
single-sex communities are an excellent antidote to sexual one-sidedness.
But perhaps the opposite view is more current because many familiar
kinds of single-sex institution in our society seem to promote one-sidedness:
the army, for example, or single-sex public schools.
The great difference
between these and single-sex communities in the FWBO lies in the fact
that our communities work according to Buddhist principles: above
all, the principle of spiritual friendship. Single-sex living
is not simply a question of reducing contact with members of the opposite
sex: much more important than this is the opportunity it grants us to
develop strong, mutually supportive friendships with members of our
own sex. It is only in this context that a person can develop the 'complementary
opposite' qualities I have discussed, there being in the single-sex
situation no obvious sexual polarization to inhibit us from doing so.
This raises an important
point: the benefits of a single-sex life-style can be enjoyed to a very
large extent without actually undertaking complete celibacy. Celibacy
is undoubtedly of great benefit, and is perhaps the most satisfactory
lifestyle from the point of view of overcoming sexual polarities within
oneself, but as Sangharakshita indicated in the last issue, celibacy
not as an 'absolute', either/or affair, but a matter of degree. Living
in a single-sex community may not mean giving up sex altogether, but
it will mean relegating sex and sexual relationships to a more peripheral
position in one's life and scale of priorities, whilst one's practice
of Buddhism takes an increasingly central position.
From 'The SINGLE
- SEX experience', an article by Tejananda, published in the FWBO magazine,
Golden Drum, Nov - Jan 1987/88 No. 7, pages 8 -9
The third item is
a short extract from Subhuti's book 'Buddhism for Today', expressing similar
views to Tejananda's above.
Both men and women
must, if they are to be real individuals, develop within themselves
both the masculine-aggressive and the feminine-nurturant qualities.
Each does possess both characteristics latent within, yet each tends
to experience only that which is connected with his or her biological
gender. When men and women are with members of the opposite sex this
tendency is reinforced. They tend to polarise, to experience their own
basic characteristic more strongly and to see the other embodied in
the opposite sex. In this way the latent underdeveloped quality is not
brought into play. When simply with members of one's own sex it is far
easier - though it is not an inevitable occurrence - to experience and
realise both qualities within one in the absence of any opportunity
to project and polarise. Most people's experience of single-sex activities
is that it is far easier to be oneself in a deeper and more relaxed
way. Those who choose to live and work in that way do so because they
have found it to be the best way for them to live.
for Today', by Subhuti, pub FWBO/Windhorse 1983 rev. 1988, p 91,
The fourth item is
a dissenting view from a non-FWBO member:
i think the 'single
sex ideal' is a massive rationalisation of certain unconscious and biased
attitudes of sangharakshita's, which maybe he no longer even holds.
i don't know. but i do know that when fwbo publications say that in
single sex situations participants are able to get in touch with their
feminine (in the case of men) or masculine (in the case of women) attributes
more effectively than in mixed-sex situations because there is no possibility
for them to be projected, this is not consistent with anything i have
read and just sounds like psycho-babble and a massive rationalisation.
i have studied a
little of jung and he would say that *unless* there is a possibility
for undeveloped attributes to be projected, to first be discovered in
'an other', there is no possiblity for them to be encountered at all
- in other words we *only* discover these attributes if we have a possibility
for first projecting them and then re-owning these projections. the
fwbo has come out with something that sounds roughly like this, but
on closer inspection has turned it completely on its head. in other
words, it is, in my opinion, a false view and if all false views have
an emotional basis then what is that basis in this case?
Posted by 'Buddhaz
with Attitude', Wed 22 Nov 2000 in article <8vgnb7$oOiemail@example.com>,
in thread 'FWBO', in newsgroup talk.religion.buddhism