Sex and Violins

A while back, I grouped pornography in with generalized negative livelihoods. By many people’s standards, martial arts fits into this category. What makes martial artists so different from “sex artists”?

One might say porn stars are simply obsessed with sex and that this is dysfunctional because they relate to the world-at-large through their sexual experience. That they are experts on sex and perceive everything in contrast to this. Maybe they become desensitized to sex or it becomes a very casual event in one’s life. Like every indulgence, sexual activity can eventually become mundane, normal, or boring.

A lot of pacifists, hippies, Buddhists, Politically Correct people, religious folks, etc. might see martial artists in a similar light. To some, it may appear that violence becomes this normal participatory activity for a martial artist. You know, that violence becomes a casual activity or development that one exposes others to without realizing how inhibited or opposed to most people may be in relation to it. That’s an understandable concern, since a lot of martial artists are complete schlemiels and might get a romanticized perspective of violence and then act dangerously stupid.

The goal, I suppose, is a balanced perspective where one has total control over desires. I personally don’t have a penchant for excessive sexual activity or violence because I find it eventually blocks out everything in my peripheral perception. Especially the sexy time!

My guess is that Sexual Tantric Yoga, or whatever those high-level Indian and Tibetan yogis seem to practice, is sexual activity where one is peripherally aware of everything while still having sex, and sexual activity where one does not ejaculate (it strikes me as a misogynistic practice). But! I am still not convinced of this tantric sex stuff as a legitimate or necessary religious goal. A cool trick, sure, and occult weirdness, yes — but that’s because the deviant Satanic stuff is more about accumulating and indulging in desires and making those desires really powerful. Going blind with power, etc.

There are a couple of legitimate reasons it is unhealthy for people to be obsessed with sexual desire. The first is obviously the attachment to the flesh, an excess of which New Agers, metaphysicists, or Buddhists believe pulls a being/soul further down into the treacherous, deep, ghoulish, desire realms. A reasonable fear, but for materialists and naturalists and so forth, that’s a moot point, because everything is a concrete, empirical construction to them. An empiricist is like the kid who closes their eyes and thinks they’re invisible or that the world has disappeared. (Although I actually think “materialists” represent teenage awareness on the plane of human perception…)

The second reason is that, although sexual urges are very powerful, not all people are strong enough to fulfill them. Or not all people can simply give in to their urges, based on their character. For some it would be self-destructive to their personality. By focusing too much (as well as too little) on sex, some people can make themselves neurotic or overly aggressive or unproductive. I guess pop psychology likes to assert the importance of a healthy sex life. But… a healthy (sex) life doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have lots and lots of sex.

The third point, and maybe the most relevant to me, is that it damages one’s vital essence, or jing in Chinese medical terminology (excess ejaculation can also cause strain on certain organs, like the bladder). Since one’s jing determines the quality of one’s qi distribution and accumulation, draining or damaging it leaves one sluggish, forgetful and susceptible to outside forces or persuasions. This is why sexual manipulation has so much potential for power: as a man depletes himself of jing, his control wanes and he becomes obsessed and addicted to lustful urges.

Obviously this is a little dramatic, but it’s where the saying, “masturbate and you’ll go blind” comes from. I can’t imagine it was actually ever meant to mean a person would lose their sensory vision. But it’s pretty relevant today, with the prevalence of pornography and so forth. I’ve actually been warned by martial arts teachers not to view much pornography because it’s damaging to your psychological and emotional health.

No surprises here! Although religious precepts talk about sex, I kinda think that stuff is all folk wisdom from old men. You know? Religious guys weren’t horny teenagers, they were seasoned mystics! I think urges often have to dissipate of their own accord alongside “practice”. Ya can’t just cut off the sex drive or ignore it. After all, isn’t that what I said happened with my penchant for intoxicants?

But then again, all of our arguments and lines of reason are just our defilements arguing for their own existence. :*(

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3 Responses to “Sex and Violins”

  1. I have to say, I’m baffled by the hostility you seem to have experienced as a martial arts practioner. I’ve not encountered this before, certainly not from Buddhists.

    As for the sex drive, I don’t think the Daoists were advising us to cut off our sexual urges as much as they were suggesting a way that they might be refined. As you probably know, the traditional path of Daoist alchmey goes from jing to qi, qi to shen, shen to xu (emptiness). The idea is that jing is channeled or harnessed for spiritual realization, rather than becoming something that ensares us and chains us.

  2. Hey Baekho! Thanks for stopping in!

    The majority of Buddhist practitioners have no qualms about what I do or my affiliation with martial arts. Actually, I suspect most Buddhists worth their salt in practice could care less! But… I have encountered Theravada groups who have mentioned how it was not a good practice. And additionally many revered teachers on the internet and elsewhere have mentioned it is an unwise or wrong practice.

    On a partially related note: did you know that in the Netherlands even wooden swords are illegal weapons and there have been discussions to try and ban martial arts? That’s a pretty scary idea.

    And yeah, you’re totally right on about the whole jing->qi->shen thing being more of a concentration method than anything else. I should be more clear about that stuff in the future.

    But if I was always right then no one would leave comments! :)

  3. Hey, thanks for letting me stop in. :D

    I’ve heard some Theravada groups can be very strict and conservative, but I think that’s just over the top extreme. I mean, for some groups like the Shaolin, martial arts is a vital component of their practice. Now granted Shaolin monks are Mahayana Buddhists and they’re from a totally different culture than Theravadans, but still. It seems fairly un-Buddhist to disparage the practices of another, if you ask me.

    As for the Netherlands, I had no idea! That is quite scary, and quite frankly I don’t see the point. I sincerely doubt there’s a correlation between martial arts and crime.

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