And We Thank You!
I have been a subscriber to Tricycle since volume 1, number 1. The Winter 2014 issue is my cover-to-cover favorite. Thank you.
Free from Sex
Thank you for Mary Talbot’s “The Joy of No Sex” (Winter 2014). I have been a celibate layman for nearly 14 years, including a little over 2 years as a novice monk in the Drikung Kagyu tradition. I enjoy the freedom and serenity of celibacy, especially the freedom from hungry-ghost-like lust and heavy entanglement of “love” relationships based on fulfilling my own intense emotional desires. I rather prefer having love for all as a friend to all. And I am more satisfied with dharma practice and study, my friendships, and some nice tea.
Is Together Better?
First, I want to applaud Mary Talbot for broaching the subject of celibacy, and for her noble commitment. I think it’s great that celibacy seems to provide a simpler and more satisfying life for the author, and I appreciate her courage and candor.
However, we must also be careful not to hold up celibacy as the highest prescriptive standard for being a “good” Buddhist. For some—actually, I would hazard to guess for the majority—being in relationship can make them better Buddhists than they would ever be alone. Celibacy is not right for everyone, and I would predict it’s only right for a select few, regardless of spiritual path. Celibacy was not right for me as a Christian, and it’s equally not right for me as a Buddhist—and I’m sure many (married and single) will concur. The Buddha and the monastic sangha are not the norm but the rare exceptions who can make the most spiritual progress by being celibate.
I also think the author is wise in her suspicion that after she has an empty nest she will feel the full weight of loneliness. Maybe she will then reconsider her commitment to celibacy and living life alone . . . but maybe not. I thank her for opening this discussion and wish her the best on her journey!
La Crescenta, CA
Alone but Not Lonely
Thank you for “The Joy of No Sex,” a very thoughtful article on a subject that not many seem to be willing to discuss, at least in my circles. I divorced 19 years ago and have been celibate for a while now. It was not a conscious choice per se, but I did find that relationships whose sole purpose was to avoid loneliness took too much of my time and energy, which I preferred to direct toward my study of the Buddhist path.
I am also a single parent to two sons. This year my youngest went off to college, so I am now officially alone for the first time in 19 years. I want to tell Mary Talbot that my experience of being alone so far has not been a lonely one at all. I love the extra time and freedom I have. Do I miss my children? Yes. Do I have a full life without them around with plenty of social interaction? Yes. Am I lonely? Definitely not.
Will I always choose celibacy? I don’t know. But I do know that for now, I am happier than I ever was in a relationship, and I am surrounded by close friends. Many of them, like me, are entering a different phase of life as we age, and we often discuss dating, celibacy, living life alone in our later years, and the fears we have about that. I have a friend who is investigating starting a Buddhist retirement community as a result of these conversations. I think that might be a place where I could be very happy living out the “golden years.”
Kansas City, MO
Thank you for “Sea of Sorrow” (Winter 2014). I’m part of the Emergency Response Unit of the Red Cross, and we intervene after such disasters. My job is to provide items for immediate survival. My first mission was in Leogane, Haiti, after the 2010 earthquake. While I was there, there were times when I felt overwhelmed by the sadness, suffering, and sense of loss that surrounded me. It was difficult to function, and I had to bottle up my own emotions for the duration of my mission. It helped me realize the difference between empathy and altruism.
When I came back, I got the same sort of confusion the author described on seeing a room of sleeping people—a week or two afterward, while walking in a city, I saw a demolished building and it took me straight back to the ruins of Leogane. But it was more than this. For several weeks after the mission, every standing building that used to seem so solid and permanent wavered in front of my eyes in its decaying state, and I could see the ruins-to-be. And every person I came across had this suffering
Read more about pioneering Buddhist women in our current issue: http://tricy.cl/1rxzus8
-Tricycle Magazine (@tricyclemag)
@tricyclemag Jealousy. I knew it was coming with me–invited or not–so I made as much space for it as possible. had the brilliant opportunity to sit retreat with them in the spring. I could go in ad nauseam about it but this is twitter.
ok I will to say a little more. These two nuns are one my most inspirational focuses for my own motivation to practice.
-Ruth Lera (@Rlera)
What issues have you brought along to a retreat? http://tricy.cl/191jCru
-Tricycle Magazine (@tricyclemag)
@tricyclemag Jealousy. I knew it was coming with me – invited or not – so I made as much space for it as possible.
-Deanna Burkett (@onemindfulsleep)
Illustrations by Roberto La Forgia
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