Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Having Sex with Pillows?

(8.45) Although we jealously guard our lover from others’ advances,
The Lord of Death will take him from us
And his body will be burned or buried in the ground;
So what is the point of our jealousy and attachment?

Where there is a strong attachment, usually there will arise some jealousy, too. When we see someone whom we are attached enjoying other people’s company, we become jealous. As bodhisattva’s or as Dharma teachers, we need to be particularly careful because if we develop attachment towards some, we will make others who come to us for help jealous.  We need to have equanimity for others. 

Meditation on death always works, doesn’t it?  Venerable Tharchin said we should view our life from the perspective of our death bed.  If it will not matter on our death bed, then why does it matter now?  If it will make it harder on our death bed, do not do it now.  What is the point of generating jealousy towards anybody.  At the time of death, we will be separated from all of them.

(8.46) Others’ bodies to which we are very attached
Are just collections of flesh and bone.
At any moment, they could be destroyed by the Lord of Death;
So why develop attachment to them?

(8.47) When we see a human corpse, which is a mere collection of flesh and bone,
We develop fear even though it does not move;
So why are we not fearful of living bodies, which are also just collections of flesh and bone
Moving here and there like zombies?

(8.48) Since both dead bodies and living bodies
Are mere collections of flesh and bone,
Why am I attracted to living bodies but not to dead ones?
Thinking in this way, I should stop attachment to others’ bodies.

It’s just bodies, just bodies, with holes and protrusions, here, there.  We need to remind ourselves of this, all day long, not just when we are tempted by objects of attachment.  We are all just collections of flesh and bone.  This is equally true when they’re living and when they’re dead.  So why do we prefer collections of flesh and bone when they’re living? From a physical perspective, there is no difference.  We are just collections of flesh and bone. Why do we prefer ones that move to ones that don’t? 

We need to check, what exactly is it that we are attracted to in other’s bodies.  We would happily have sex with a beautiful person when they are living; but if one minute later they died, would we still want to have sex with them?  It’s the same body.  Our engaging in sex with them is physically exactly the same.  Why the difference? 

And now on to the uncleanliness.

(8.49) Both saliva and urine come from the same source –
The intake of fluids into the body –
So why is it that we like saliva when kissing
But have no desire for urine?

Or anything else excreted from the body, for that matter.  Why do we like to one person’s excretions and not another’s.  Why do we like some types of excretions and not others?  If it is the saliva we like, then why not anybody’s. If it is the saliva we like, then why not the saliva we see on the ground?  Would we drink a cup of spit?  Would we even want to put our tongue to it, thinking it disgusting?  Yet we eagerly do so in somebody else’s mouth.  Why? 

(8.50) Although cotton is also soft to touch,
You find no sexual pleasure in a pillow.
Rather, you think the body does not emit foul smells –
O desirous mind, you are so confused about what is unclean!

(8.51) Just as we sometimes get angry at other people,
Why don’t we also get angry at pillows?
For, although they too are soft to touch,
We cannot copulate with them!

What is it about bodies? This is the question Shantideva is getting us to ask ourselves.  What is it precisely about bodies we are so attached to? What is it about the body? What is it? He’s pushing us, isn’t he, to actually acknowledge the absurdity of being attached to such an object. Is it the touch, the smell, what is it?  He is pushing us to recognize the absurdity of being attached to the body so we can drop our attachment. 

Here, he is helping us realize it is not the softness we are attached to.  There are many soft things, like pillows or flowers, but we don’t go around looking to have sex with them. 

5 thoughts on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Having Sex with Pillows?

  1. I love Shantideva!!
    We are confused! Our body is a source of suffering, we work so hard to maintain it. It’s because of this body that we work so hard to make comfort, we are completely enslaved to this body!
    The most meaningful way we can use this body is to practice loving kindness, prostration, meditation, use it to for liberation and to attain enlightenment..

    Otherwise, like Shantideva says, why do we want to copulate with a body that is flesh, bones, filled with puss, blood when we can copulate with a pillow.?
    Even our intestines are not good enough to suck!

    I love SHANTIDEVA!
    Thank you!

  2. I don’t see any male practitioners applauding Shantideva!
    What’s your advice for a female practitioner who is married to a non-practitioner. I have almost zero interest in bodies but my husband definitely does. My lack of uncontrolled desire is a source of suffering for him.

    • That is a very tough question and as a man it is hard for me to say what an empowered woman should do. I guess I would ask the question is it possible for you to be interested in sexual activity for non-attached, loving reasons? Is it possible to engage in sexual activities with your deity body instead of your walking corpse? Might that not even be better?

      • It is possible to do that. That’s what I’ve been doing for years. However he does know that I don’t match him in his passion and heat for sexual activity and he finds that upsetting sometimes. Recently I returned home from a weekend course where I had been meditating on the emptiness of the body and it was really hard to even re-engage with the body I normally see. I’m not sure my self-generation as the deity is sufficiently qualified outside the meditation. I would love to know more about how I could bring the deity body into daily activities. Thank you for daring to answer 😃

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