Q106. What shall I do with my sexual desire?

A. Many people think that an ascetic life is indispensable in order to practice Zen meditation, but this is incorrect, unless you are a monk or a nun.

Why don’t you consider the same question regarding your hunger or thirst? Sexual desire is also a natural feeling that normal people have, just like feelings of hunger or thirst. What matters is how to accept it. As mentioned earlier, everything is neutral in itself. Sexual desire may either be holy, or impure lust, just as hunger may be either good or bad, that is to say harmful to us. Hunger is thought to be an essential feeling for our survival, that makes life happy, but it can also lead people to a disastrous situation if not controlled. Sexual desire should be accepted in the same way, I think.

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To have sexual desire is the evidence that you are alive, healthy and normal, that is, you are very suitable for Zen meditation. In summary, Zen meditation has nothing to do with sexual desire just as it has nothing to with hunger. What matters here is not whether to have sexual desire or not, but whether or not to realise the root of it. Just try to realise the root, which is the root of compassion.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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