THE bhikkhus came to the Blessed One and asked him: "O Tathagata, our Lord and Master, what conduct toward women dost thou prescribe to the samanas who have left the world?"
The Blessed One said: "Guard against looking on a woman. If ye see a woman, let it be as though ye saw her not, and have no conversation with her. If, after all, ye must speak with her, let it be with a pure heart, and think to yourself, 'I as a samana will live in this sinful world as the spotless leaf of the lotus, unsoiled by the mud in which it grows.'
"If the woman be old, regard her as your mother, if young, as your sister, if very young, as your child. The samana who looks on a woman as a woman, or touches her as a woman, has broken his vow and is no longer a disciple of the Tathagata. The power of lust is great with men, and is to be feared withal; take then the bow of earnest perseverance, and the sharp arrow-points of wisdom. Cover your heads with the helmet of right thought, and fight with fixed resolve against the five desires. Lust beclouds a man's heart, when it is confused with woman's beauty, and the mind is dazed.
"Better far with red-hot irons bore out both your eyes, than encourage in yourself sensual thoughts, or look upon a woman's form with lustful desires. Better fall into the fierce tiger's mouth, or under the sharp knife of the executioner, than dwell with a woman and excite in yourself lustful thoughts.
"A woman of the world is anxious to exhibit her form and shape, whether walking, standing, sitting, or sleeping. Even when represented as a picture, she desires to captivate with the charms of her beauty, and thus to rob men of their steadfast heart. How then ought ye to guard yourselves? By regarding her tears and her smiles as enemies, her stooping form, her hanging arms, and her disentangled hair as toils designed to entrap man's heart. Therefore, I say, restrain the heart, give it no unbridled license."