It almost feels inevitable that talk about religion – any religion – inevitably turns to their views on sex, even when you’re talking about a faith that prides itself on enlightenment like Buddhism.
People want to know, though, whether or not Buddhists are allowed to have sex and if they are, whether are there any restrictions on their personal sex lives as well as how their sex lives influence their relationship with their faith.
Yes, Buddhists are allowed to have sex. There are no rules in Buddhism that encourage believers to abstain. At least not just for the sake of abstention, anyway.
Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?
Are Buddhists Allowed To Have Sex?
Though it is certainly true that Buddhist monks and Buddhist nuns have traditionally refrained from having sex, that has a lot less to do with the religion itself discouraging this kind of behavior and instead more of a pursuit of self-control over human impulses on the pathway to enlightenment.
Yes, there are lots of Buddhists that choose (with choose being the operative word) to abstain from sex, sometimes for short durations, sometimes for longer blocks of time, and some even take this to the extreme and abstain completely.
Most of these Buddhists, though, decide to walk this path only to improve their own self-control and to show themselves that they and they alone are able to have power and influence over their body and their actions.
This can be hugely beneficial for folks in the Buddhist faith, especially those that are looking to unlock even more karmic power as they approach their next rebirth.
All that said, there are no spiritual punishments that Buddhists can anticipate from sex – though there are obviously things linked to sex that can certainly cause negative karma and a less than ideal rebirth moving forward.
Can Buddhists have sex before marriage?
Yes, pre-marital sex is okay in Buddhism as long as you’re committed to one another and in a loving relationship.
Can Buddhist Monks Have Sex?
Sex as a Buddhist monk is almost always something to be avoided, particularly for monks and nuns that are choosing to follow the rules established by the Vinaya Pitaka.
These rules state that any monk or nun that chooses to engage in sexual intercourse is considered to have been “defeated”, with those individuals expelled almost automatically from that monastic order.
Interestingly enough, however, Japanese Buddhist monks seemed to take an almost complete opposing view of sex to this one.
In fact, Buddhist monks in Japan were often very heavily associated with enjoying sex, having a lot of sexual relationships, and even maintaining sexual relationships with prostitutes as well as geishas.
Once again, this all circles back to the idea of Buddhism not having strict rules and guardrails but instead encouraging people to lead lives that they themselves would consider enlightened.
Those wishing to deal with any potential negative (or positive) karmic actions upon their rebirth can choose their own path.
The more “mainstream” view of sex through the lens of Buddhism is that individuals should neither be particularly attached nor crave sex, but shouldn’t abstain just to abstain or punish themselves, either.
After all, abstention done to punish the mind or the body is really evidence of a lack of control and a lack of enlightenment.
Many modern Buddhists have sex without shame or fear of spiritual reprisal through this lens.
Buddhism on Homosexuality
The view that Buddhism has on homosexuality (and other “alternative” sexualities) is a little bit muddied.
On the one hand, Buddhists teach that sensual desires in general are hindrances on the pathway to enlightenment when they burn uncontrollably.
The Third Precept of Buddhism also admonishes followers against what is described as sexual misconduct – but is defined no further than that.
There are certain sects of Buddhism that do not believe in or embrace homosexuality or other alternative sexualities.
There are other groups, though, that fully embrace these kinds of sexual lifestyles so long as they are engaged in on the path to enlightenment and not just for pure carnal pleasure.
Buddhism is a lot less stringent in regards to sex than a lot of people realize, and that a lot of people would probably assume.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Buddhists take a “free-for-all” view on sex and sexuality, but like most things, Buddhists believe that the individual path toward enlightenment is the individual’s path and nothing more.