Dalai Lama on Women and Temptation

Piers Morgan of CNN asks the Dalai Lama if he feels tempted when he sees a woman.

Update: This is the transcript of the video below from http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1204/25/pmt.01.html

MORGAN: Do you ever feel temptation when you see a woman?

DALAI LAMA: Oh, yes, sometimes see people. Oh, this is very nice. But then thinking –thinking it’s a real job, then feel, too much problem —


DALAI LAMA: Too much dirty things like that.

MORGAN: Really?

DALAI LAMA: Really. Even my dream, this is some sort of — dreaming, some women like that. Image of the eye — I am monk. I never dreamt, in my dream, I’m Dalai Lama. I always remember, I am monk, always monk.

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39 thoughts on “Dalai Lama on Women and Temptation

  1. Somak Mitra

    We often tend to ascribe absolutes to spiritual people. Since he is the Dalai Lama, he must be absolutely perfect. People do not see that spirituality is a progressive effort that has to be worked on regularly.

    Swami Vivekananda once smoked during an interview and the interviewer told him that it seemed that he was not in control of all his desires. And he replied, “No madam, do I look it?”

    Once we see a scientist, we don’t ask him/her, “Do you know everything?” Ascribing absolutes is a totally illogical concept

    1. Sandeep Post author

      >> Swami Vivekananda once smoked during an interview ….

      Sri Aurobindo also smoked and I have heard of other sages who did. Those who have reached Self-realization smoke in order to counter the feeling of weightlessness that one experiences after ecstatic moods. For them, smoking is no longer an attachment because the mind is not tied to the senses.

      See https://auromere.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/how-can-sri-aurobindo-smoke-and-drink-while-practising-yoga/

  2. thestumblingmystic

    “Do you ever feel temptation when you see a woman”

    I wish people would stop phrasing it like that. Most men are having lustful sensations regardless of whether or not any actual women is present. Women aren’t provoking men to have those sensations; it’s just a part of male psychology that men need to deal with.

  3. mike

    “But then thinking –thinking it’s a real job, then feel, too much problem”

    Yes, it’s fortunate l’m lazy like that lol. l’ve been celibate for many years now but it was a hell of a battle. lt was only the Divine Grace that got me through, l believe. l still get hit by it every day, but not so much now. l tell myself it’s just an appearance or l call SA and Mother at the heart centre. Ultimately, l think we need a Higher realisation or the Divine Ananda etc… before the sex-impulse can be transformed or replaced. lt’s just a ‘habit’ after all – albeit a very strong one.

    l remember the Mother saying about the dalai lama [when he went to see her] that he was a good man but that was about it. l think She was saying there wasn’t much realisation in him.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Thes are Mother’s comments on the Dalai Lama from the Agenda January 20, 1973

      A truly benevolent man. Buddhist benevolence, you know, and he practices it marvelously.

      He seems to have no … no selfishness in him (there’s no word for it in French). I mean, a constant concern to do the right thing.

      Very active [mentally] – there wasn’t much of a deeper contact. That’s all.

      But on the plane where I live … he doesn’t seem to be very conscious THERE…. I don’t know. I don’t know, but in any case he has a very light presence, very light – he doesn’t impose himself at all.

      I sensed a very strong man – very strong. And harmoniously strong; his right arm was bare, you know, it gave the feeling of a strong and quiet force. But … I didn’t have much of a deeper contact…. I can’t say.

  4. ipi

    Sex, Celibacy and Spirituality: Why the Dalai Lama Doesn’t Date

    MORGAN: As a monk, you obviously subscribe to a vow of celibacy.

    DALAI LAMA: Yes.

    MORGAN: Is that hard?

    DALAI LAMA: No. If you just, you see, physically experience, then you sometimes—you may find a certain desire. But then whole picture —I often used to telling one occasion in England, some Buddhist monk. European Buddhist monk. I told them, when we watch the people who have family, sometimes I notice my first visit, another woman, another wife. Second visit, another woman, another wife. Previous wife, some children. Then another occasion, third, third wife.


    DALAI LAMA: So, these, see, really, children suffer much when divorce, when parents divorce. And I told the married people, their mental state, their emotional state, too much ups and downs. Compare that with celibate people sort of mind more steady. So, long run, we have some advantage.


    1. Sandeep Post author

      Forgot to add the significant excerpt from Dr Stephen Diamond’s article above on why the Dalai Lama doesn’t date:

      This is why the Dalai Lama doesn’t date. Does the 14th Dalai Lama really think sex is “dirty”? Well, as the saying goes, it is when it’s done right. But I don’t believe he meant “dirty” as much as messy. Not necessarily physically messy. Though surely he knows having sex can lead to contracting or transmitting diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, syphilis, pelvic inflammatory disease, herpes or HIV. (Well, he may not be familiar with all STD’s.) But he sees the bigger problem: Sex is psychologically messy. Emotionally messy. (See my prior posts.) Even dangerous. This is why there is really no such thing as the oxymoron “safe sex.” Sex always entails some risk, either physically or emotionally. Sure, we can and do try to minimize the risks in various ways. But, as the Dalai Lama suggests, sex and romantic love is not particularly conducive to peace of mind. Sex complicates life. And can be the source of immense suffering. As well as pleasure. As we all know, sex and romantic love tend to wreak havoc with our emotions, not unlike a bipolar rollercoaster ride, taking us to both the heights of ecstasy and depths of despair. Sexual love can feel like having been infected with some exotic virus or possessed by some erotic spirit or demon. Soon after meeting the beloved, the classic symptoms ensue: anxiety, sleeplessness, agitation, appetite disturbance, obsessive longing, compulsive calling, alternating elation and apprehension and countless other little signs lovers learn to live with. This potent state of intoxication is the polar opposite to psychological serenity. Daimonic passions like eros or lust tend to undermine one’s peace of mind..


      Still, sex certainly makes life much more complex. The institution of marriage, monogamy and fidelity is one way society tries to keep things simple for people regarding sexuality. Marriage attempts to control and make sex simple: one has but one sexual partner and foresakes all others. This traditional arrangement simplifies matters significantly. Or is at least intended to. But in practice, marriage is itself a complicated relationship, typically leading to children, in-laws, power struggles, financial conflict, etc. And, in a majority of modern marriages, to disillusionment, cheating, animosity and divorce. Which are anything but simple. Being single and dating is an equally complicated activity today, one which can engender significant anxiety, confusion, frustration and pain. So much so that many singles avoid dating altogether; in effect, choosing celibacy.

      1. sadhana101

        As someone who is unmarried and whose parents are still looking for a suitable bride for me, your views don’t exactly make me feed good. 🙂
        Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go through it, if that’s my Karma.
        Let’s see what life has in store, que sera sera.
        I hope the ending’s good and there’s light and wisdom at the end of the tunnel.


      2. Sandeep Post author

        As someone who is unmarried and whose parents are still looking for a suitable bride for me, your views don’t exactly make me feed good.

        Those are not my views but those of Dr Stephen Diamond and Dalai Lama.
        I’d rather not express any views on this contentious topic 🙂

      3. nizken

        noob here…. so plz bear with me! Did SA & M place a ban on sex and marriage? What about thinking about sex and romance etc since the mind finds celibacy even more hard than the body (esp when we live in a world filled with marketing & media!)

      4. Sandeep Post author

        I knew that I wouldn’t get away from this topic by saying nothing 🙂

        Did SA & M place a ban on sex and marriage?

        Only inside the Ashram and not outside!

        It is a longstanding rule that only certain people who have acquired Adhikara (aptitude) are asked to observe celibacy and admitted to the higher Yoga leading to Self-realization. The rest are asked to get married and practice moderation in their lifestyle while practising Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, etc. The Guru uses their occult perception to determine the precise path of an individual based on the Swadharma or inner law of each soul.

        This is how Anandamayi Ma operated. Her instructions to married people were different from those whom she asked to observe celibacy. See the section entitled “Be my friend” in this article

        The same for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. They rejected some people who wanted to join the Ashram and instead asked them to get married, live with their family and practice Yoga. In one case, they said “It is better to live outside and think of here(ashram), than to live here and think of the people outside”.

        See the following chapters in the Letters on Yoga for the varied advice given to different people

        Nizken: What about thinking about sex and romance etc since the mind finds celibacy even more hard than the body (esp when we live in a world filled with marketing & media!)

        Yes, the struggle with mental imagination is as bad as the struggle with body hormones. The solution is to observe witness consciousness for longer and longer amounts of time. This builds up a reserve of conscious energy which can be used to detect and stop the imaginative mind before it runs wild.

        You also have to live a spartan life – fewer movies, less eating out, decreased chatting. When you do this, your consciousness becomes razor-sharp and you gain the mental power to detect and expunge minor disturbances in consciousness before they expand and overwhelm you.

        When everything else fails, there is always prayer, which I have also found to be effective. Sometimes, it takes a special dose of Divine Grace to miraculously cure longstanding problems.

      5. Sandeep Post author

        I also want to add that there are cases where people who were married in their early youth attained Self-realization later. There is no hard-and-fast rule as to who attains Self-realization and who doesn’t.

      6. sadhana101

        Slightly off topic maybe, but I had recently come across a series of videos on youtube from 1950s about marriage compatibility:
        (See this one called “It takes all kinds” when you have some free time)

  5. mike

    “DALAI LAMA: So, these, see, really, children suffer much when divorce, when parents divorce.”

    DL is no doubt right about divorce, but children also suffer much in a bad marriage with all the bickering and arguments and disharmony. Then divorce is better, l think. l believe SA said that it was better to divorce when a marriage is like that.
    l think DL is spot on about celibacy. l don’t know how many celibate marriages there are, but l read a short while ago that celibacy is on the increase – hard to believe when we look at the at large, but hopefully true. l can well believe that the celibate marriage is more harmonious because a lot of conflict is to do with sexual gratification. But, there are many different types of marriage and the one’s based on ‘passion’ tend to be short-lived anyway.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      > l believe SA said that it was better to divorce when a marriage is like that.

      It makes sense depending on the circumstances, but I can’t find or recall SA making any such remark.
      Do you recall if it was SA or one of the disciples who said that?

      1. ipi

        as far as i have read Sri Aurobindo i have not seen made that kind of remark. It will not make sense if one is doing out of ego or thinking that divorce will get rid of all the bickering and children will be better off. many things do not go away. one gets again tempted to marry and also goes in a cycle or one gives up a marriage facing divorce issues and starts going after other women. also children start to think that its all right to follow this way.

        Generally psychology says men do not initiate divorce its women. As men requirement are basic they need physical comfort and they want women to do house work and do all. But in both cases women and men have lot in them which needs inner psychology work to identify what each one need to work on. Better to wait for a consciousness change as that will create the right environment. As much divorces happen because of ego and looking for an easy way out rather than working on real issues which can reoccur with more complexity.

        Now good news is psychology tells that men when do house work they get pleasure and bickering happens as men do not include the women, do not attend emotionally and stay aloof and do not help on house hold or child activity. Anyway both men and women need to work all have equal amount of fault to create a crack in marriage and put children into issues. Some cases men have more fault and some cases women have more fault. some cases are severe that need a psychologist help and one needs to try that.

  6. mike

    l’m pretty sure it was SA. l only read it recently, but now l can’t find it.
    l’ll keep looking though.

  7. Sandeep

    The Dalai Lama’s guidance to a young rebellious Buddhist named Telo Tulku Rinpoche, who strayed from the path to lead a “normal” life before returning as a monk

    See his wikipedia entry : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erdne_Ombadykow

    It was not an easy path. In India, the young Telo Rinpoche struggled to adapt to monastery life. He was a curiosity. “I stood out. I was this kid from America who happened to be Mongolian,” he says. “But the Dalai Lama really cared for me. The Dalai Lama said, ‘If you have any change of mind, don’t do anything without talking to me first.’ ” Those words would come to haunt him. He confesses that as a rebellious teenager, he sneaked out of the monastery at night to watch TV at a chai shop. On a visit back to Philadelphia, he welcomed release from the monastery’s iron discipline. By then, his parents had separated, and he fell in with his teenage cousins, staying out late, driving fast and ogling girls (though he kept his celibacy vow). A basketball fanatic, he says he wanted to “be as free as Michael Jordan” soaring to the hoop.


    Without telling the Dalai Lama, Telo Rinpoche left Kalmykia and shed his monk’s robes. He went back to the States and drifted westward to Colorado, where he built houses, landscaped gardens, pestered people as a telemarketer and delivered pizzas. He also fell in love. But whenever he collected enough cash, he would head back to his former monastery in India. One of his trips coincided with a ceremonial visit by the Dalai Lama, who spotted the ex-lama. “So this is what you’ve turned into,” the Dalai Lama said harshly. Telo Rinpoche blurted out, “It was all out of stupidity. I’m lost!” The Dalai Lama kept glaring at him, then burst out laughing. “O.K., O.K. Don’t worry,” he reassured him.

    As Telo Rinpoche was leaving the room, the Dalai Lama called out to him, “How’s your partner?” Telo Rinpoche was stunned that the Dalai Lama knew about his girlfriend. He stammered a reply: “She comes from a poor Tibetan family but very religious.” The Dalai Lama laughed. “She’s Tibetan? No need to worry, then. I thought you were going out with a blonde!”

    Telo Rinpoche went back to America, where he eventually married his girlfriend and had a son with her. But even as he became a layman, he grew serious about his duties as the reincarnation of Telo Rinpoche. He funded construction of a shining white Buddhist temple in Kalmykia and arranged for young men to study in India. And he occasionally returned to Mongolia, where the communists had obliterated Buddhism.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2111552,00.html#ixzz1zy3Wahwh

  8. mike

    ” lf there are arguments and disharmony the only option is divorce”

    l believe that is the full quote, but mysteriously, l can’t locate it for the moment.

  9. mike

    Yeah, l’ll keep looking.
    Your right, though. l’ll make sure SA actually said it before l put words in His mouth next time. lt leads to false assumptions otherwise.

  10. mike

    ipi. your right that divorce is based ego, but then, so is marriage in the first place [along with just about every decision we make] – most ordinary marriages, that is. l believe lot of divorce in the west is down to ‘domestic abuse’ – l mean the violent kind, l think. The one’s solely based on sexual satisfaction are doomed from the start IMO. ln other cultures, like islam and hinduism [the very fundamentalist one’s, that is] this kind of abuse is probably covered up because women are treated like second-class citizens and have very few rights inside the marriage. There seems to be a rising amount of violent ‘abuse’ [in the west, at least] which is caused by drunken husbands [although, women are catching up], and some of these women just put up with daily ‘beatings’ for years on end. l certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to stay in a marriage like this – and statistically, l believe there’s a lot of it about.
    As for psychology, personally, l wouldn’t put my trust in these people. And l would most definitely avoid psychiatrists, unless you want to be pumped full of drugs.

  11. ipi

    The cases you have mentioned above definitely are severe cases and there what you have mentioned is right. I won’t lie on the very last statement saying that psychiatrists will solve all. For above mentioned cases, there are people who are dedicated to help them and really there are some honest people working for those.

    The things i mentioned above for certain cases where with time couple can figure out things and the reason i said is that for a very long period of time if a relationship if nurtured the other person matures and things go in good path. Sometimes in couple dynamics, one finds worst but if one partner is mature one will bring out the best in other.

  12. mike

    “Sometimes in couple dynamics, one finds worst but if one partner is mature one will bring out the best in other”

    Yes, that’s true.

  13. mike

    Yes, 🙂 it’s a sad day for marital bliss lol.

    Where have all the soul-mates gone?

    What really made me laugh was a comment made in a film l saw last night.
    Apparently, it’s statistically proven that married people with 2.4 kids will live longer than a single person. l’ve noticed a lot of catholic propaganda coming out of Hollywood over the years!!

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Where have all the soul-mates gone?

      Your lament reminded me of this passage from Bridge across Forever by Richard Bach

      Why should it be that the most advanced of people, whose teachings, twisted into religions, last for centuries, why should it be that they have always been alone?
      Why never do we see radiant wives or husbands or miraculous equals with whom they share their adventures and their love? They’re surrounded by their disciples and their curious, these few we so admire, they’re pressed by those who come to them for healing and light. But how often do we find their soulmates, glorious and powerful beloveds right close by? Sometimes? Once in a while?
      I swallowed, throat suddenly dry.
      The most advanced people, I thought, they’re the ones most alone! The sky turned slow frosty clockworks overhead, uncaring.

      Do these perfect ones not have soulmates because they’ve grown beyond human needs? No answer from blue Vega, shimmering in her harp of stars. Attained perfection would not be my problem for a whole lot of lifetimes, but these people are supposed to show us the way. Have they said forget about soulmates because soulmates don’t exist?

      Crickets chirped slow: could-be, could-be.
      Against that wall of stone my evening crashed to its end. If that’s what they say, I growled to myself, they’re wrong.
      I wondered if she’d agree, wherever she was this minute. Are they wrong, my dear unknown?
      Wherever she was, she didn’t answer

      (pages 20-21)

      Some other striking observations from the book.

      1) “The depth of intimacy we feel toward another is inversely proportional to the number of others in our lives” (page 197)

      2) “Boredom between two people doesn’t come from being together, physically. It comes from being apart, mentally and spiritually.” (page 210)

      1. Samir

        Some of Bach’s writing draws me to tears. But I often wonder whether it is a vital resonance rather than anything deeper.

      2. Sandeep Post author

        Probably vital resonance. Richard Bach divorced Leslie Parrish and went with a younger woman, 44 years younger in fact. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Bach

        A conversation with Sri Aurobindo on this topic

        Disciple: In literary expression, I think, it is the inner man that counts. But that would be tantamount to saying that an insincere man can’t write things which will move readers with a genuine and concrete something.

        Sri Aurobindo: Plenty of insincere men have written inspiring things. That is because something in them felt it, though they could not carry it out in life, and that something was used by a greater power behind. Very often in his art, in his writings, the higher part of a man comes out, while the lower dominates his life.

        (CWSA vol. 27, Letters on Poetry and Art, p 730, 18th Oct 1935)

        See similar remarks on another blog post – Why are artists irregular

  14. mike

    2) “Boredom between two people doesn’t come from being together, physically. It comes from being apart, mentally and spiritually.” (page 210)

    Very true, even moreso the latter.

    The quote below is about Twinflames but at the Spiritual level these would be the perfect mates:

    When twin flames meet for the first time in a physical life, they recognize themselves in the other person. This will come as a deep surprise to both, but the recognition is immediate. At the same time you will feel that you have always known this person who is sitting in front of you. It is a feeling of home-coming, because you recognize your other self and feel very much that you have come home when you are with your spiritual twin flame counterpart. Be aware that soul mates also have a strong recognition pattern, only there will be that little voice in your head that knows the difference.

    When twin flames come together they become one, they are not like each other but they are the mirror image of the other. They think alike, they hold the same values and often their life experiences are very similar. Twin flames do not teach each other, they learn together and help each other learn the lessons that have been set before them in this lifetime. When twin flames come together they join forces and are capable of overcoming obstacles the average mortal could not begin to face. They are so filled with unconditional love they literally glow with it and have much to share with others. They are the inspiration that poets write about and singers sing about.

  15. mike

    l’ve been plagued with seagulls all day LOL. Even saw a baby one huddled against someones front door!

  16. mike

    Of course, l’m referring to:
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, is a fable in novella form about a seagull learning about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection.

    The book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is bored with the daily squabbles over food. Seized by a passion for flight, he pushes himself, learning everything he can about flying, until finally his unwillingness to conform results in his expulsion from his flock. An outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his abilities as he leads an idyllic life.

    One day, Jonathan is met by two gulls who take him to a “higher plane of existence” in that there is no heaven but a better world found through perfection of knowledge, where he meets other gulls who love to fly. He discovers that his sheer tenacity and desire to learn make him “pretty well a one-in-a-million bird.” In this new place, Jonathan befriends the wisest gull, Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous learning, teaching him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the Universe. The secret, Chiang says, is to “begin by knowing that you have already arrived.” Not satisfied with his new life, Jonathan returns to Earth to find others like him, to bring them his learning and to spread his love for flight. His mission is successful, gathering around him others who have been outlawed for not conforming. Ultimately, the very first of his students, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, becomes a teacher in his own right and Jonathan leaves to teach other flocks.

    l’ve actually felt like jonathan most of my life, because the Spiritual life can make you feel like an outcast in ordinary society. l remember reading colin wilson’s book ‘the outsider’ at an early stage [he also wrote ‘beyond the outsider’ l think].

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