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WWSD: The Compassionate Way to Have a One-Night Stand
Submitted by Lodro Rinzler on Fri, 3/4/2011, 5:42pm
Is it "anti-Buddhist" to have a one-night stand?
Before Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment he was a confused twenty and thirty-something looking to learn how to live a spiritual life. Each week in this column we look at what it might be like if Siddhartha was on his spiritual journey today. How would he combine Buddhism and dating? How would he handle stress in the workplace? What Would Sid Do? is devoted to taking an honest look at what we as meditators face in the modern world.
Have a question for this weekly column? E-mail it here and I'll probably get to it!
Last week's post on waking up next to a stranger clearly inspired this reader:
I feel like sex is a powerful thing. I love sex. Love it. But is it anti-Buddhist to have a one-night stand? - J.A.
I'm a strong believer that nothing is "anti-Buddhist." Everything you face in your world can be brought to your spiritual path if you maintain the right view. The trick is in discerning what activities you can engage in with mindfulness and compassion and which you simply can't.
The ideas of being present and open-hearted are inspiring, and particularly potent when if you are able to apply them in the bedroom. I imagine our friend Sid would not say you can do certain sexual things but not others (yes sticklers, I know of the strict interpretation of monastic precepts but I also know for a fact that you have had sex during daylight hours so shut it).
The key point our fictional hero Sid would advise you on is to discover for yourself what you are able to engage in while feeling in touch with your own basic goodness. Instead of relying on scripture or anyone's advise, you should let your own heart be your moral compass. It is up to each of us to determine what exactly compassionate sex means.
It might be particularly helpful for you to consider your view, activity, and the fruition of a one-night stand.
An essential component in any sexual activity, whether it is a casual fling or a long-term romance, is considering your own intention. Is your motivation for having a one-night stand based in the fact that you are not ready for a relationship? Is it as simple as feeling a certain type of connection with the other person? Or is it, “I’m drunk. I’m horny. They’re hot.”
Different motivations call for different activity. Some of the above may call for forgetting about sex and going for a jug of water and a good night's sleep. Before you engage in risky behavior (and let's face it, a one-night stand is risky) you need to contemplate your motivation for doing so.
Conduct is important. Say all you want for meditation, and we do, but if you get off your zafu and act like a jerk you are sorta missing the point. Sid would recommend that you engage in good conduct when it comes to sex. That means different things to different people. For you, that may mean being very open and straight-forward with your newfound friend.
I leave it up to you how to engage a one-night stand in an open and compassionate way. It could be applying the principle of being fully present with your partner. You could be explicit with your partner about your intentions. If I were to highly recommend one thing (and Sid would back me up) it's that you always practice safe sex.
Here is where the rubber meets the road. If you want to know if you can compassionately have multiple one-night stands then the simplest and crudest way to tell is to examine how you feel the morning after one. You can be inquisitive about your state of mind. How do you feel about the activity you just engaged in? Do you feel elation or humiliation?
If you do not feel good about your activity, then that's a clear indicator that you need to slow your roll and not go down the one-night stand road again. It is unfortunate that you found out a bit too late but mistakes can be powerful motivators for our spiritual path. At that point, you can commit to not engaging in one-night stands in the future.
However, if you are left with all bliss, no guilt, then you may be one of those rare people who can casually have sex.
When it comes to making love, it seems that the looser you get in terms of the relationship structure the more likely you are to cause harm either to yourself or your partner. Assuming you want both of you to feel good about whatever sexual activity you get up to, Sid would recommend you communicate openly and honestly about your intention, treat the other person with respect and kindness, and carefully examine if this sort of activity is for you. I wish you lots of luck and excellent sex.
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