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Thread: Buddhism and Homosexuality

  1. #1

    Buddhism and Homosexuality

    This is from the blog of a western Tibetan Buddhist monk.

    Buddhism and Homosexuality

    Is homosexuality forbidden in Buddhism? Is it sexual misconduct? Let’s look at what Gautama Buddha and Tibetan Buddhism say.

    Gautama Buddha stated in one of the five precepts that lay-people should refrain from sexual misconduct. He never really elaborated on this point, only to say that a man should not fool around with a woman that is married or betrothed. He did of course say in the Vinaya, which are the rules for monks and nuns, that they have to take a vow of celibacy, but no such rule was made for lay-people.

    So he left this precept sweet and simply. In some ways this is a good thing, as I don’t think holy men and religions should concern themselves with the sexual act. However, as it is so vague it does give others the chance to interpret it in a way that suits their world view and allows them to tag all of their prejudices onto it.

    I personally believe that Gautama Buddha taught the five precepts to steer us away from cause harm to ourselves and others. It should be noted here that the precepts are not commandments, and are five things we should try to refrain from. If the sexual act is not going to cause harm it should be consensual, affectionate, loving and not breaking any marriage vow or commitment. It should also not be abusive, such as sex with an under-age person or rape, and this includes forcing your partner into having sex. So I believe in this way a consenting, loving homosexual act isn’t in any way against Gautama Buddha’s teachings.

    In Tibetan Buddhism it is viewed quite differently. In fact, Dalai Lama has come out (excuse the pun) and said that from a Buddhist point of view lesbian and gay sex is considered sexual misconduct. Now he is not deriving this view from the discourses of Gautama Buddha, but from a 15th century Tibetan scholar called Tsongkhapa. Here is a brief outline of Tsongkhapa’s medieval thinking:

    He prohibits sex between two men, but not between two women.

    He prohibits masturbation, oral and anal sex.

    He does not allow sex for anyone during day light hours, but allows men five orgasms during the night.

    He allows men to pay for sex from prostitutes.

    He gave a full list of what orifices and organs may and may not be used, and even what time and place people can have sex. (Gautama Buddha never made these distinctions).

    Continued at the link:

    http://buddhismguide.org/buddhism-and-homosexuality/


    Comments are welcome.

  2. #2
    Forums Member
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    Can you please cite actual text from Tsongkhapa? the link is a blog. Thank you.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by delaware View Post
    the link is a blog.
    Yes, I said in the OP #1 that I was quoting from a blog.

    Quote Originally Posted by delaware
    Can you please cite actual text from Tsongkhapa?
    No, I'm sorry but unfortunately I can't. The blogger hasn't given a URL link or a book reference. Maybe try Google ?

    .....I've found an excerpt on sexual misconduct from "Steps to Enlightenment. A commentary on Tsongkhapa's Lamrim Chenmo"

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=t...Chenmo&f=false

    Quoted from that same section:


    "The second type of improper sexual object is, from the man's point of view, men. This refers to both oneself and other men."
    It also mentions "improper" parts of the body, places and times.

  4. #4
    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    Good article :)

    I've never found any anti-gay sentiments in the Pali canon. The nearest I have found is the banning of "pandakas" from being ordained.


    Sadly a lot of people project their own views and opinions onto the 4th precept

  5. #5
    Forums Member Zenwanderer's Avatar
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    Gassho

    "Misconduct" is a subjective term. If a person believes an action is misconduct they should not indulge in that action.

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zenwanderer View Post
    Gassho

    "Misconduct" is a subjective term. If a person believes an action is misconduct they should not indulge in that action.


    Problem with the subjective view (or emotive) view of ethics is that what is considered good or bad depends on the individual.

    A sociopath would have a different subjective view of what is wholesome and not when compared to a non-sociopathic individual.

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    So a sociopath would see nothing wrong in betrayal and using others while another person would.

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    On a side note the Buddhas ethics are all about intentional actions that lean towards letting go and not-self.


    They are all about non-selfish acts which help support seeing the not-self. In other words they help negate the ego, while unwholesome acts are intentional acts which inflate the ego, making it bigger.


    That's why wholesome acts lead to happiness, because they help reduce "I am, me, mine" and why unwholesome acts lead to suffering, because they inflate the ego and make it grow. The more "i am, mine" etc there is, the more open to dukkha you are.

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    So the sociopath is looked at with compassion because his acts always leads to the grown of ego, and so he is lead down the path of dukkha, while the nun is viewed as worthy as her acts lead away from ego and so to happiness.


    So regardless the intention defines the morality of an action, regardless of the subjective view of it

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    It is true the HHDL has openly prohibited gay sexual relationships. But Tsongkhapa's prohibitions have a slight skew on them as he instituted celibacy (which was not practiced by other schools of Tibetan Buddhism prior to this) and scholars have attributed this shift to the fact that he had a Jesuit tutor. It has been theorized that he picked up the notion of celibacy from those Jesuit monks. Other sexual pre and proscriptions at this point I would assume are unknown.

    From my experience of living and travelling in India with exile Tibetans, the bigger issue on a practical at least level is the proscriptions about place. Absolutely no sexual relations in monasteries, monastery guest houses. I have found Tibetans to be singularly open minded about sex and in a culture with Tibetan traditional marriage (two or more brothers married to one woman or two or more sisters married to one man), their thinking sometimes would be shocking vis a vis Western mores.

    As to homosexuality, I know of lay Tibetan men who feel that all monks (in this case Gelug monks) are gay. In group travelling, they may refuse to bunk down with monks and make other accommodation. On the other hand, most of the monks that leave robes end up marrying women and settling down, monks often being sought after by Tibetan women as they have great household skills including cooking.

    On that link which Aloka posted (and which I cannot cut and paste), there is also a proscription about hermaphrodites. It brings to mind a quite unusual conversation I had with a Geshe friend about some news articles in the Indian press. Apparently there are a number of instances reported in India of young men who go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning in female gender.

    To my shock, Geshe la said that this had happened once at the monastery and the young monk (now a girl) was forced to leave and go back to his/her family. He then told me that was why final vows were not taken until age 21 so that the monastery would be sure that the monk would stay male gender.

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