Tortured by Love, Lust, a Crush? Buddhism has some advice for you.

Via on May 13, 2010

“Foulness Meditation”

“The Lord Buddha advised those who are ardent on attaining Nibbana to contemplate the body with its impurities…”


Growing up, my momma was an American Buddhist. While I appreciated the community hugely, growing up, I didn’t get into Buddhism personally until I was 16. I was graduating from high school, and figured that before I left my teenage home (Karme Choling, a Buddhist meditation center in rural Vermont) I’d say goodbye to all that in proper Buddhist style: by doing a weeklong meditation retreat. Nine hours a day, including zen-style meals, of meditation.

And I finally, personally, fell in love with Buddhism. Meditation, I belatedly realized, wasn’t just some way of avoiding living life. It wasn’t boring. It was…to use a word I generally avoid…transformative. I could begin to live and enjoy life from a clear, open, sane, relaxed point of view (and as a teenager, that was one helluva discovery).

So I canceled my plans and studied and partied and meditated and worked (as a lumberjack) at Karme Choling for a year. Along the way, I learned a whole hell of a lot.

One of the funny little things that’s stuck with me is how to wake oneself from that exquisite pain that is lust or having a crush on someone. If you’re in love or in lust or intimidated or entranced by a beautiful man or woman, you have only to remember that, just like everyone else, below that alluring exterior they’re full or blood and spit and mucus and poo and pee, like everyone else. You’re actually supposed to visiualize them going to the bathroom.

It works. You remember they’re human, and stop tripping out.

buddhism buddhist lust naked

Excerpt from a Buddhist text:

35) How to Combat and Subdue Lust and Desire

Afflictions stemming from greed, while numerous, are all included within the defilements of the “five desires” and the “six Dusts.” From the root of greed stem other evil afflictions, such as stinginess, envy, hate, fraud, deceit … known as secondary afflictions. The “five desires” refers to the five defilements, that is, the desire for beautiful forms (sexual desire …), wealth and money, fame and power, exquisite food and elegant attire, [excessive] rest and sleep.[48] The “six Dusts” are form, sound, scent, taste, touch and dharmas [i.e., external opinions and views].

The six Dusts encompass the five desires; however, the term “five desires was created as a separate expression to stress the five heavy defilements of human beings in the realm of the “six Dusts.” The concept “six Dusts” is used when speaking in general, while the expression “five desires” refers to specific afflictions. I employ the term “six Dusts” here to cover other defilements not included in the five desires, such as excessive fondness for music and songs as well as infatuation with romances, novels, etc …

When the five desires and six Dusts flare up, the general way to counteract them is through skillful visualization of four truths: Impurity, Suffering, Impermanence, and No-Self.

1. Impurity

This means that the body is impure, the mind is impure and the realm is impure. Impurity of the body means that we should reflect on the fact that beneath the covering layers of skin, our bodies and those of others are composed entirely of filthy, smelly substances such as meat, bones, blood, pus, phlegm, saliva, excrement, urine, etc. Not only that, body fluids are excreted through nine apertures (mouth, ears, nose, anus, etc.). If we stop to think carefully, the physical body of sentient beings is hardly worth cherishing.


lust buddhist buddha

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | | | | | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom


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32 Responses to “Tortured by Love, Lust, a Crush? Buddhism has some advice for you.”

  1. Hi Buddha Lovers

    We have started a group for Buddha lovers who believe in Preaching’s and sermon of Buddha and follow the truth suggested by Lord Siddhartha. We have real life instances statue of Lord Siddhartha in form of Statues. Have a look on these statues based on the truth instance of Buddha's Life.

    Tanu's Crafting

  2. DarrinYES says:

    Ok, I will play along:) It took me a while to figure out why she is on the toilet, then I finally recalled there is text-based content to accompany her graphic imagery. If that pic is supposed to help me recognize her humaneness, as Judas priest sang, "You've got another thing comin'".

    • Gina says:

      It is so that you start thinking of her as able to die, and believe me when she is dead, you won't want to touch her half as much as you want to now.

    • Ron says:

      Using an insanely attractive woman did not drive the point for me. She looks beautiful.

  3. Abigail Wick Abigail says:

    Wayne, thanks for writing this article! Thinking about a new lover sitting on the toilet seems like a healthy and effective (Buddhist) antidote to the insanely-unrealistic projections that we can't help but heap upon new loves. It's like a the proverbial cold shower. And how.

    Best of care!

  4. Padma Kadag says:

    Ok…so…tell us why this is important and what happens next.

  5. Nikki says:

    Picturing him pooping isn't working. I'm gonna have to go with vomiting and violent diarrhea!

  6. Michael says:

    Nope its not working. They are still attractive regardless of other bodily functions.

  7. Shea says:

    I have always disliked this teaching. You should not have to convince yourself that the person you desire is nasty or dirty. None of us are nasty and dirty! Instead I realize that my lust, which torments me everyday, is simply my objectification of a attractive female. Honestly I could care less if she has a great mind or personality, I just want to touch that booty. Since I know that objectification of a person is wrong, it helps tame the lust. Remember she/he has a mom, a dad, maybe kids, dreams of her/his own, talents, and student loan payments.

  8. Blake Wilson Blake says:

    I tried this and I only fell in love with blood and poop.

  9. Don says:

    The Buddha also said to find the beauty in all things

  10. James Garcia says:

    My problem is that I love this woman for her personality not her appearance. I don't care what she looks like. What do you do then?

    • Guest says:

      Personality is impermanent. One minute your full of compassion, the next minute there is raging anger.

      • Cathy says:

        Ok, i have gone past the appearance issue and (most times) do not objectify the human body, tho' I still have issues with mainaing my own. I need to move everyday, but I guess that's just healthy. But I really need to

        • Cathy says:

          Oh damn I didn't finish my comment. Ahm, well.. I meant if I'm not hooked on neither body nor personality, how do I fall in love with someone? I understand that falling for someone for their gentle compassionate peaceful caring nature is also a as they can get angry and sorrowful and maybe after months or so when you press one of their buttons/issues as most people have them, they could be raging. What do I do then, do I turn away disconcerted or disappointed? Or maybe find someone whose so beyond all that, that they keep being so balanced all the time?
          But then again is it love if it is conditional? But would you really fall for someone who consistently agresses you verbally or has a temper or . On WHAT CRITERIA would you fall for them? If I consider unconditional love, the one I harbor for all beings, then I could just choose any odd person as a mate and accept them as they are and try to support and nurture them through their life experiences with a Mother Theresa attitude.

          • Cathy says:

            Do I choose someone who I want to make happy? Someone with similar goals and visions? Someone who has thus far been supporting me in my affairs and vice-versa and who creates a great space for inner growth? It's all goal based, impermanent, relative and somewhat selfish.

            And what's the alternative? The nunnery (not that I'd mind).

            And isn;t a woman's responsibility to find a good father for her children, kind, compassionate, loving, peaceful, honest, wise, etc.. We are all people and we were moulded by the context of our lives so there's no blame for anyone there, but isn't romantic love by default conditional?

  11. onecuriousyogi says:

    FYI: "… for the rest, click here." link is a dead end. My curiosity is peaked! I want to read the rest! But I can't! *exhale with a big sigh*

  12. TDHawkes says:

    As a human physiology student, I see the body as a miracle. The obsessive definition of the body as defilement is not something I can understand. Love and lust are just two possible ways to relate to another miraculous being.

    • Guest says:

      The obsession with beauty is so great that the opposite is needed to counter it at the start. Eventually obsession with both beauty and ugliness is abandoned and equanamity gained.

  13. […] by love, lust, a crush? Buddhism has some advice for you. […]

  14. happydog1960 says:

    This kind of rubbish is why I could never follow a Buddhist path. Life-hating garbage.

  15. SPS says:

    Totally stupid. We are not impure, nor are rocks, mud, or thorns. How about you just gather yourself together and tell yourself it's just a crush? Wait, is there something wrong with having a crush? Geesh!

  16. Katherine says:

    Or you can just remember how hurtful all of the lies, and cheating of the past 4 decades have been. That usually resolves the issues for me.

  17. Karen says:

    I find this very helpful and the link, 'for the rest, click here', is working for me and I will be reading it later. The Buddhist texts were written a very long time ago and I don't know, but I imagine they were mainly aimed at monks, who had to really put the brakes on any desire completely, so perhaps the teachings were a good tool for them to achieve this. Most of us do not need to crush our desires so radically, but there are occasions when we do need to get a grip on our feelings, and it can be a tough job, so thanks for the above Waylon, because someone has hijacked my head and I can't get him out, it's driving me crazy!

  18. Laura says:

    Great topic! How about acknowledging the feeling of lust, breathing into it, and just accepting it as part of being human? I'd rather accept it than try to deny it, reject it, fight it, or manipulate it into something else. I find that my lustful feelings usually fade especially if I am fortunate enough to get to know the person I lust after. Thanks for the brief insight into Buddhism's perspective.

  19. jeen says:

    if the crush is simple there should be no worry
    if the crush becomes obsession then outside help is needed.
    its all in your hands .
    ppl can suggest things. Your life your will.

  20. explorer says:

    I have another way of looking at a human body. I feel all matter are on a constant path in a transformations. I tend to think what could be the status of the attractive female in 50 yrs, 100 yrs, 500 yrs , 1000 yrs. Then it helps me to realise that they break down to the basic element levels and then they combine in other proportions to form other matter . We take pleasure looking at things that exist for a brief period of time in a universal scale of time. As Achan Cha once told what all the things in the world are saying to us is that they are changing in every second. We do not understand the language of universe and hence we fail to grasp the truth.

  21. Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.

  22. Jennifer says:

    Where is the rest of the article?

  23. Ron says:

    Using such a beautiful girl in the picture was not the way to go. She is very attractive.

  24. Kayla says:

    Awesome, now I’ve developed a golden showers fetish. Thanks, Elephant!

  25. Darryl says:

    Its not denying lust & desire, its working with the underlying energy in a more productive way so as to loosen our grasp on it…but first we must see the reality of it coz we tend to attach a storyline to our emotions when that energy arises & follow it blindly

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