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The enjoyment of no sex: Study of Tibetan monks shows benefits of celibacy

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A study of celibacy amongst monks in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries has make clear the “surprising” evolutionary benefits of the practice.

With reproduction at the guts of the evolution of living organisms, anthropologists have for long wondered how the practice of celibacy could have evolved.

In the brand new study, published on Wednesday within the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers studied the practice in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries wherein, until recently, families would send one among their young sons to grow to be a lifelong, celibate monk.

They interviewed over 500 households in 21 villages within the eastern a part of the Tibetan plateau, in Gansu province and reconstructed their family genealogies, gathering data on everyone’s history and whether any of their members of the family were monks.

Based on the gathered data, they developed a mathematical model of celibacy to know the evolutionary costs and advantages related to the practice.

Researchers say these villages are inhabited by patriarchal Amdo Tibetans who raise herds of yaks and goats, farming small plots of land.

In these communities, wealth will likely be passed down the male line. The study found that men with a monk brother were wealthier and owned more yaks.

Nevertheless, almost no advantages were found for sisters of monks.

“Surprisingly, we also found that men with a monk brother had more children than men with non-celibate brothers,” researchers wrote in The Conversation.

The wives of men with a monk brother also tended to have children at an earlier age.

Those with a monk son also had more grandchildren since their non-celibate sons faced lesser competition throughout the family for resources.

Since monks cannot own property, the study authors speculate that the practice of oldsters sending one among their sons to the monastery ended fraternal conflict.

“We show that a minority of sons being celibate could be favoured if this increases their brothers’ reproductive success, but provided that the choice is under parental, quite than individual, control,” researchers wrote within the study.

“The practice of sending a son to the monastery, removed from being costly to a parent, is subsequently in step with a parent’s reproductive interests.”

Nevertheless, they are saying while all the lads within the village may profit if one among them becomes a monk, the person monk’s decision doesn’t further his own genetic fitness.

Researchers consider the framework developed within the study is also used to know the evolution of other practices rooted in parental favoritism in other cultural contexts, including infanticide.

They’re hoping to use the model to know why the frequency of monks and nuns varies across religion and geography.

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