Navigating the world of sensuality, desire and relationship from a Buddhist perspective
In this unique series we will explore what the Buddha taught as principles for lay practitioners regarding relationship and sexuality.
We will also leap forward 2600 years to an ever-growing population of non-monastic practitioners living life in the world of sensuality, desire and relationship.
Very little is found about this in Buddhism. This course will be a beautiful opportunity to discover your own relationship to these topics and how to live life fully while causing less suffering to ourselves and others.
Buddhist Teachings on Relationship and Intimacy
With its roots and teachings mainly formed from a monastic, renunciate tradition, Buddhism can sometimes seem limited when dealing with sex, relationships and intimate communication.
Faced with her own struggles around relationship, JoAnna Harper decided to explore her personal experience of how Buddhist values of non-harming and authenticity might bring clarity into matters of intimacy and contact. And shine light on ways to live skilfully while living a full life as a committed lay practitioner.
Insights gained from her 2 years of celibacy, close study of the 5 precepts (the basic code of ethics followed by Buddhist lay practitioners), and teacher training with Against the Stream founder, Noah Levine, resulted in this unique online course.
If you have a sense that the pull and desire of sexual energy, or the difficulties of communication both within and outside of an intimate relationship could use some carefully guided teachings from a Buddhist perspective, you will find JoAnna’s style of warmth, clarity and experience very supportive.
This is a self–paced programme that you can work through as your daily life allows.
JoAnna’s 4 Module Course Includes
Four 45-60 minute teachings, including exercises for you to do at home
Filmed in high definition with an intimate and personal feel that will keep you engaged as your body, mind and heart tune in.
Each module includes a teaching from JoAnna and suggested exercises for exploring in between each session.
Module 1: The Buddha’s Historical Teaching on Relationship
In this first module, JoAnna:
- Looks at the historical context of the Buddha’s teachings on relationship and how to interpret them in modern times
- Shows how sensual desire can run deep and strong, ‘as powerful as the ocean’. Acknowledging and respecting these natural forces – not making them wrong, or something to be repressed, is explored. Cultivating compassion for ourselves and the energy within sexuality is also reflected upon.
- Reflects on the Buddha’s teachings of ehipassiko: ‘come and see for yourself’. Invites you to investigate how the teachings sit in your life, and how they are working for you. The tone of this module and those to come is one of asking questions and of guided reflections, rather than simply following instructions.
- Includes a didactic inquiry invitation – discover the power of being held in another’s presence while inquiring into your experience.
Module 2: A Modern Day Approach to the 3rd precept
Exploring how to be wise and careful with our sexuality, JoAnna offers depth and clarity to the 3rd precept: ‘I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct’ (‘Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami’ – Pali).
In this second module, JoAnna:
- Explores the meaning of the precepts from within the culture and period that it came from – compared with today’s modern interpretation
- Looks at the main tenets of the precept – to not cause harm to ourselves or others and to pay attention to the greed, aversion and delusion that are present in our cravings.
- Investigates what it is that causes the pain and suffering that leads us to act out in relationship. For some, it may be that we are trying to avoid loneliness. Explore with guided inquiry what this may be for you.
- Explores the questions: Am I causing myself harm? Am I causing others harm? Am I suffering? What are the causes and conditions?
- Looks into the into the various elements that make up sexuality, and what arises out of this primal and very natural part of human life
- Inquires into some of our intentions and cravings that lead us toward sex and intimacy: objectifying, withholding, needing, insisting, wanting love
- Looks into the issue of consent
- Explores the beauty of sex and how this precept is not about deprivation
“To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”
— Mark Nepo
Module 3: Intimacy
In the third module of the course, JoAnna invites the following reflections:
- What is happening as it is happening in each moment. How intimacy with ourselves allows us to be more intimate with others. Exercises are offered to support reconnection.
- How can I be more clear? How can I find what is really true and not run from what is uncomfortable?
- Do I alter or change myself to fit another? Do I lose the ability to see clearly when acting in this way? How can I be my authentic self and still connect with others?
- What is the difference between mental attraction and physical attraction?
- Guided Inquiry is offered in relating to feelings, sensations and thoughts. JoAnna guides you on an inner relational experience, exploring what shows up for you in this territory
Module 4: Communication
In the final module, JoAnna inquires into:
- How do we distort our authentic communication with exaggerating or expanding the truth? What other subtle ways do we get involved with trying be different or better? How does this cause harm?
- How we can develop wise speech and listening with an awakened heart. Looks at the many ways we can separate from another by not paying attention, having different views, etc.
- How can we develop true intimacy even if it’s uncomfortable? When we listen without an ulterior motive, our understanding is much deeper.
- How can we enter into a conversation without the intention of needing to win, or needing to be liked – but just to listen?
JoAnna Harper has been exploring and practicing multiple traditions since 1999. In 2005, her focus landed on Buddhism and Vipassana meditation, which is the premise for most of her current teaching. She teaches; adult and teen weeklong silent retreats, day longs and weekly classes, and works with at risk youth and non at risk youth in institutional and school settings. Helping communities and individuals that don’t typically have access to the traditional dharma settings and building multicultural community is top on her list of priorities. She is an empowered teacher in the Spirit Rock, IMS lineage and the Guiding Teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society.
We have had thousands of students take our courses online. Many of them have commented that they’ve felt a strong sense of intimacy and connection with the teacher being right in front of them onscreen and looking directly at them.
If you resonate with this material, would like to study with likeminded practitioners from around the world and from different cultures, then you will not be disappointed.
If at any point in the first 30 days after purchase you feel the course isn’t providing value or you’re not happy with the content, we will offer a complete refund.
We hope you enjoy the offering.
Price: Offered on a Sliding Scale