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Buddhadharma : Fall 2010
15 FALL 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly TreATing sex AddicTion Paldrom Collins, a former Buddhist nun who counsels people with sex addiction, says the key is not running away from the energy and emotions that give rise to sexual compulsions. In the land of the strange but true, as a former Tibetan Buddhist nun I fell in love with and married a man who counsels sex addicts and who is a recovering sex addict himself. Joining him in his counseling practice has allowed me a look into the lives of many people who have struggled with sex and relationship addic- tions. These relationships have also impelled me to contemplate how the grace and teach- ing that I received from my Tibetan teachers can supply guidance in how to work with the compulsions and addictions that manifest in our world today. Sometimes we use activities such as imper- sonal sex or being in an unhealthy relationship as an avoidance of painful experience. The obsessive need for sexual release or the fear of being alone is simply a mistaken expression of the natural urge we all share to find peace, to return “home.” Instead, we can become more and more willing to fully experience our urges as energy, and we can learn to stand right in the middle of the discomfort. In 1988, when I was visiting Kalu Rinpoche in India, he said, “When an enemy arises in your life, even though you may kill it, another will simply arise, because all arisings are simply a mani- festation of your own state of consciousness.” I still remind myself that it won’t do any good to banish the feelings inside of me that I don’t like and don’t want to have anymore. All we can do is turn and face the perceived enemy. For example, the mother of one of our clients was inappropriate with him sexually when he was in his early teens. As an older man, he watched porn movies each weekend alone in his small condo. The transient solace of release at the moment of orgasm became his primary source of comfort. Having sex with a real live woman caused him to relive the dis- comfort he felt from the earlier inappropriate sexual innuendo by his mother. Instead, he only felt comfortable expressing his sexuality with pictures and videos. As the man began to meet the emotions and feelings that arose with his urge to watch a porn movie—to experi- ence directly the aversion and shame beneath the urge—his compulsive use of porn simply did not seem necessary. He began to date a lovely woman, whom he has now married. In working with uncomfortable feelings, a true antidote is turning, facing, fully expe- riencing. When dealing with those places that feel deeply wounded, fully engaging with such feelings can take some time. But eventually, we gain enough perspective and increase our capacity to feel the feelings we’ve previously worked so hard to avoid. We learn that the energy of these feelings will not destroy us. On the contrary, they allow us to experience the truth of ourselves in a more profound way. From “comPulsion: sex & love addiction” in inquiring minD, sPring 2010 exPressing your chArAcTer Ven. Chi Chern, a dharma heir of the late Master Sheng Yen, explains how calligraphy both mirrors and cultivates the mind. Although the art of calligraphy existed before the Chan School appeared in China, it is an example of an art form that you, as a Chan practitioner, can borrow and use as a way to cultivate the mind. You need to be very focused and precise to be expressive with just lines. If you just want to learn to write calligraphy and write pretty well, it’s quite easy. You just look at something and practice according to what nickLu