Gays and East Asian Buddhism

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Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:28 pm

This was prompted by a post the other day. I know there's an ongoing thread on gay marriage, but my question is slightly different. I also did not want to post this in the "inappropriate sex" thread, because the thread itself strikes me as inappropriate (as in borderline TOS violation).

enjitsu wrote:Some of the kinds of Inappropriate Sex not supported by Buddhism are

Man + Man - Gayism
Women + Women - Lesbianism


Any confusion regarding sexual orientation. Gay'ism, Lesbian'ism, Bi-sexual'ism, Sexual Mutilation / Transgender'ism/ Transexual'ism should be cleared up beforehand.


Question for anyone who feels informed enough to answer it...

How common are attitudes such as those expressed above among Buddhists in traditions originating in East Asia? Would the above represent a mainstream view or no? It's a little hard for a Westerner to gauge.

Some teachers, such as Ven. Hsing Yun and Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh, have spoken out firmly against discrimination based on sexual orientation:

Hsing Yun wrote:People often ask me what I think about homosexuality. They wonder, is it right, is it wrong? The answer is, it is neither right nor wrong. It is just something that people do. If people are not harming each other, their private lives are their own business; we should be tolerant of them and not reject them.

However, it will still take some time for the world to fully accept homosexuality. All of us must learn to tolerate the behavior of others. Just as we hope to expand our minds to include all of the universe, so we should also seek to expand our minds to include all of the many forms of human behavior.


Others, such as Ven. Sheng Yan, take a more conservative view, while some statements attributed to Ven. Hsuan Hua are...well, perhaps the less said the better.

Is there in fact a mainstream view among, say, Chinese or Japanese Buddhists? Or is it like the situation in Christianity, i.e. a pretty wide spectrum of opinion?

Disclaimer: this post is not intended to stir up a wasp's nest; I'm just interested in knowing more about the context surrounding this issue. Also, the poster whose comments prompted my question is not necessarily someone born and raised in East Asia, or even someone hailing from an Asian community in the US.

LE
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:20 am

As to any mainstream views, I think that is difficult to pin down honestly because of the diversity and depth of numerous cultures.

But I'll say this... my impression would be that while homosexuality is tolerated in the sense that they will not expel you from the temple or curse you to hell, being open about such things would make you unpopular. An openly gay or lesbian monk or nun is entirely unheard of for example. An ordinary person being entirely open about their lifestyle would not find it easy.

Note this...

If people are not harming each other, their private lives are their own business; we should be tolerant of them and not reject them.


Again, what you do in your private life is your own business. Don't ask, don't tell. The expectation it seems is that you should keep those things behind closed doors.

Making known your activities, trying to have your gay marriage recognized and/or blessed by a temple and expecting genuine acceptance and tolerance would not be easy.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby plwk » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:22 am

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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:16 am

plwk wrote:Link 1 Link 2


This wikipedia article also might prove a useful read for some people:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_China

Look at all those pretty paintings of same sex lovers. :applause:

It was there in historical literature and art, as well as in society itself. I think Chinese folks with a particular vision of their culture will deny this, but the proof is in the artwork. You can find the same stuff (both girl-girl and boy-boy) in Japan too (even more graphic owing to the pornography industry in the Edo period).

Trying to deny it and condemn people who prefer the same sex will only lead to friction, broken families and a lot of sadness.

Still, as these block articles point out, it does not get approval and acceptance really in the Buddhist communities.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby remm » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:52 am

Others, such as Ven. Sheng Yan, take a more conservative view, while some statements attributed to Ven. Hsuan Hua are...well, perhaps the less said the better.


You know, this is kind of funny. I find that anyone who doesn't really know the Venerable Master Hua always thinks that he was out there to bash the gays and lesbians. You really have no idea what the Master was all about.

Venerable Master Hua treated everyone equally, whether they were straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gender etc., the one thing that the Venerable Master Hua warned about was the misconduct in sexual activity that goes on between homosexuals. He clearly pointed out that sexual intercourse between two men or two women caused an imbalance with energy. Oh now you may say "well, now he's just being all taoist because he's talking about energies." Well, no--he only stated what he saw. If anyone knew the Master, you'd know that his wisdom was so great that he could see where suffering arose from, the cause of such and such disease, basically he saw the cause and effect of sexual misconduct and what it could lead to. He spoke about it knowing he would be bashed and slandered, but for what reason? Out of compassion, it needed to be heard.

The Master himself had disciples & followers who themselves were homosexual, and he treated them the same way he would treat any other person--with compassion.

It may also come as a surprise to you, but His Holiness the Dalai Lama even spoke out against sexual misconduct when he announced: "No wrong holes!"

A lot of people may also say, well no Buddhist scriptures ever talk about homosexuality--actually--yes there is! Have any of you ever read the Lotus Flower Sutra of the Wonderful Law? One of Mahayana's most influential sutras has a chapter based on the conduct of a Bodhisattva, where he or she should never engage in homosexual activity. There is also one sutra (I forget which one) but it's one of the prajnaparamita sutras, perhaps the Pancavimsatisahasrikaprajnaparamita (not sure on this, but pretty sure it was one of the larger prajna paramita texts) text which says that the acts of homosexuality can actually break one's vajra bodhi mind.

I am not hating on homosexuals, I myself am not a homophobe, but the issue nowadays seems to just neglect these teachings simply to try and modernize Buddhism and try to have it fit well into society. It's not the case that the Buddha or any sort of Master was "conservative" in their views, its the fact that these truths about sexual misconduct are real, and it doesn't make it any less real no matter how hard you try to formulate ways to get rid of them or destroy them. Having said that, if you are a homosexual--but you are celibate, that is a completely different story.

I hope that my post has not offended anyone. If it has, I sincerely apologize, but this issue has been raised over and over so many times that it sort of bugs me. Like I said, I do not have any discrimination against a persons sexual orientation. Anyway, this was my attempt to try and clear some of these issues up. My two cents, that is all.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Huifeng » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:27 am

Hi Lazy-eye,

Lately I've been teaching some classes on "buddhist ethics", and will be venturing into all these sorts of topics. This morning I was reading Harvey's An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics, which has some good material on this (for your reference). Unforuntately, Harvey largely relies on Pali material, and though has a few modern perspectives, Chinese (and Japanese) Buddhism is definitely not his strong point. (Still, it's the best overall book on this topic as a whole.)

Lazy_eye wrote:This was prompted by a post the other day. I know there's an ongoing thread on gay marriage, but my question is slightly different. I also did not want to post this in the "inappropriate sex" thread, because the thread itself strikes me as inappropriate (as in borderline TOS violation).

enjitsu wrote:Some of the kinds of Inappropriate Sex not supported by Buddhism are

Man + Man - Gayism
Women + Women - Lesbianism


Any confusion regarding sexual orientation. Gay'ism, Lesbian'ism, Bi-sexual'ism, Sexual Mutilation / Transgender'ism/ Transexual'ism should be cleared up beforehand.


Question for anyone who feels informed enough to answer it...


... hmmm, maybe! :tongue:

How common are attitudes such as those expressed above among Buddhists in traditions originating in East Asia? Would the above represent a mainstream view or no? It's a little hard for a Westerner to gauge.


Depends. "East asia" is a big place - fully a quarter of the human population, and ranging from the very modern and wealthy, to poverty and late 19th cty standards of living.

I can't say much about Japan or Korea, but I can maybe give some pointers on Taiwan and Hong Kong, which would be maybe similar to some of the more affluent parts of the PRoC (mainly the east coast).

Some teachers, such as Ven. Hsing Yun and Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh, have spoken out firmly against discrimination based on sexual orientation:

Hsing Yun wrote:People often ask me what I think about homosexuality. They wonder, is it right, is it wrong? The answer is, it is neither right nor wrong. It is just something that people do. If people are not harming each other, their private lives are their own business; we should be tolerant of them and not reject them.

However, it will still take some time for the world to fully accept homosexuality. All of us must learn to tolerate the behavior of others. Just as we hope to expand our minds to include all of the universe, so we should also seek to expand our minds to include all of the many forms of human behavior.



Like anything, ask: What is the audience to whom this was directed?
Probably a very general audience, appearing in a popular book.

Elsewhere, Ven Hsing Yun indicates that traditionally (in Chinese society in general) it was regarded as "not normal" - not necessarily condemning it at all, though, but we need a modern perspective. Then, he points out that the emotions - sexual emotions, mainly, I guess - involved, are problematic - but!, no more so than hetersexuality. (Foguang Text Book, vol. 9)

Others, such as Ven. Sheng Yan, take a more conservative view, while some statements attributed to Ven. Hsuan Hua are...well, perhaps the less said the better.


I don't see Ven Sheng Yen being particularly conservative about it, though. eg. in his large classic Sila and Vinaya Studies, he never says that homosexuality is "sexual misconduct". This book is almost a Taiwan standard for in depth analysis of the precepts. If he wanted to say it, it would definitely say it here. He doesn't.

Is there in fact a mainstream view among, say, Chinese or Japanese Buddhists? Or is it like the situation in Christianity, i.e. a pretty wide spectrum of opinion?


Probably somewhere around that of Ven Hsing Yun and Ven Sheng Yen, as probably the two greatest and most influential Buddhist leaders in Taiwan of the latter half of the 20th cty and start of the 21st. They also have a fair influence in the PRoC, too.

The Chinese wiki on "Homosexuality and Buddhism" clearly states that there is no explicit Buddhist teaching indicating that homosexuality is sexual misconduct.

There are some other interesting sources, like this:
http://big5.jiexieyin.org/show.aspx?cid=11&id=453

Of course, there will be other views, too. More leaning towards considering homosexuality as "unnatural" etc. sort of argument.

A lot of it is due to confusion about what a "pandaka" is. Harvey indicates that it is someone who is almost of "neutral gender", lacking either male or female organs from birth, though often has a kind of passive homosexual role. It is definitely not all homosexuals, at all!

Another source of confusion is using monastic vinaya discipline and reading it into lay precepts as a whole. Of course, monastic vinaya states that any sort of homosexual intercourse is a very serious transgression, not to be tolerated at all. However, it says exactly the same thing about hetero or other forms of sexuality too...

Lastly, many of those who oppose it are very hardcore meditator types. Again, often people take their talks from retreat situations and generalize them. In a retreat, naturally any sort of lust or craving is an obstacle, sexual lust no exception. I've heard and read some real scathing criticisms of hetero sexuality too in such talks. These are not necessarily criteria for daily lay buddhist practice, however.

Disclaimer: this post is not intended to stir up a wasp's nest; I'm just interested in knowing more about the context surrounding this issue. Also, the poster whose comments prompted my question is not necessarily someone born and raised in East Asia, or even someone hailing from an Asian community in the US.

LE


If you can translate the wiki page above, should just about cover it all!

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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby plwk » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:26 am

Have any of you ever read the Lotus Flower Sutra of the Wonderful Law? One of Mahayana's most influential sutras has a chapter based on the conduct of a Bodhisattva, where he or she should never engage in homosexual activity.

There are a number of stuff mentioned in that Chapter that a Bodhisattva should not...
http://www.buddhistdoor.com/oldweb/reso ... otus14.htm
"What is meant by the Bodhisattva Mahasattva's range of association?
Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas do not draw near to kings, princes, great ministers, or officials.

"They do not draw near to externalists-brahmacharins, nirgranthas, and the like-or to writers of worldly literature, to those who sing praises of externalist writings, to lokayatas, or to the opponents of lokayatas.

"They also do not draw near to violent amusements such as boxing and wrestling, to displays of martial arts that involve mutual attack, to natas, or to any entertainment that uses magic.

"They do not draw near to chandalas; to those who raise pigs, sheep, chickens, or dogs; or to those who hunt, fish, trap, or engage in any other evil activities. If such people should on occasion come to them, they speak the Dharma for them, but they have no expectations.

"They also do not draw near to those who seek to be Hearers, whether Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas, or Upasikas, and they do not make a half bow to them. They do not remain in a room, a promenade, or a lecture hall with them. Should such people sometimes come to them, they speak Dharma as is appropriate, but seek nothing in return.

"Manjushri, moreover, Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas must not regard women's bodies as objects of desire and speak Dharma for them. They do not take delight in looking at women. If they enter the homes of others, they do not speak with young girls, maidens, widows, and so forth.

"Further, they do not draw near to the five kinds of unmanly men or become friends with them.

"They do not enter others' houses alone. If for some reason they must enter alone, they single-mindedly recollect the Buddha.

"If they speak the Dharma for women, they do not smile or laugh and let their teeth show, nor do they expose their chests. Even for the sake of the Dharma, they do not become familiar with them, much less for the sake of other matters!

"They take no delight in raising young disciples, Shramaneras, or children, and they do not take pleasure in sharing the same Master with them

Now, at first glance, it looks kinda condescending and patronising isn't it? But without an explaination of their clear intent and meanings, then one is going to go off tangent naturally.

Can someone elucidate what are the 5 kinds of 'unmanly men' and in what context of 'drawing near' or becoming 'friends'?

As far as I have know, I have friends in SGI and I recall even in E-Sangha's Nichiren/SGI Forum, they being the upholders of the Lotus Sutra, had never made any fuss nor policy that would discriminate anyone based on sexual orientation or gender. See: http://www.gakkaionline.net/Experiences/HeardGLBT.html

Perhaps, there is a need to remember the difference between those who use their sexual orientation and gender to cause unskillful and unwholesome results to self and others as opposed to one who is naturally inclined to a sexual orientation other than what is 'acceptable' to the masses who oft confuse and equate a sexual orientation with misconduct i.e causing unskillful and unwholesome results to self and others.

Ven Huifeng has given us a good brief on this topic and some of what he mentioned is also what I have also known and read from various sources, so I really do not know what seems to be the 'problem' with some that they need to keep harping on this non-issue like a broken old record other than the usual play up on political, cultural, patriarchal biases and when asked for logical and evidential answers, we usually get 'uh, oh, hmmm, maybe....'. Perhaps, they feel a need to be compatible with the hard line stances of those in theistic systems?

Perhaps, some may have forgotten that we are addressing the common laity here, householders and as much as we might love/want to see them practice sila as perfectly as possible, we are in samsara, the epitome of imperfection, and besides that all sentient beings have intricate karmas of their own and how oft it is also intertwined with others and all it takes is a little bit more compassion and wisdom to understand their world and assist them when they need/ask for it and deeply reflect back on my own causes and conditions, that I am still mired in imperfections.

I agree with Remm on the late Ven Master Hsuan Hua. Where I live, I know some use to love quoting his words from a little booklet entitled 'The New Pneumonia' (if I find the online version, I will post here) to justify their own agendas without understanding his mind nor his skill in means but went around like hate mongers and cause such a negative image of him. I recall a thread in the now defunct E-Sangha and aside from angry comments, it seems that the conclusion was no one seem to know if those were the exact words of the Ven Master himself and they advised the OP to check with CTTB. Another example which can be taken out of context is here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_topic ... e_Buddhism
Master Hsuan Hua stated that homosexuality "plants the seeds that lead to rebirth in the lower realms of existence." However, this statement does not clearly explain whether it is the status of being a homosexual that causes the seeds, or whether the seeds are associated with homosexual desires. Master Hsuan Hua was known for his strict traditional Buddhist positions on morality, and against desire in general, which is viewed as a force of saṃsāra. In his commentary on the Sutra of Forty-two Chapters, he described homosexuality as behavior caused by confusion, as the product of sexual desires.

These are the times where I find recourse in verses like:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html
What does womanhood matter at all
When the mind is concentrated well,
When knowledge flows on steadily
As one sees correctly into Dhamma.

One to whom it might occur,
'I'm a woman' or 'I'm a man'
Or 'I'm anything at all' —
Is fit for Mara to address.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Huifeng » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:03 am

The term "unmanly men" is probably from "napumsaka", which appears to mean somebody who does not have either male or female genitals or some abnormal form of them (as opposed to hermaphrodites, who have both). It may be a type of "pandaka", which I explained above.

Neither of the words napumsaka or pandaka mean "homosexual".

And, the main reason for not allowing them to ordain (which is a different question to that of relationships in general), is that having people which such sexual characteristics amongst all male or all female celibate communities is problematic for the other people (rather than because such a person is themselves somehow inherently defiled).

But, as I have said above, a few people have misread texts, and mistakenly think that these terms refer to homosexuality, which is incorrect.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:56 am

Huifeng wrote:I don't see Ven Sheng Yen being particularly conservative about it, though. eg. in his large classic Sila and Vinaya Studies, he never says that homosexuality is "sexual misconduct". This book is almost a Taiwan standard for in depth analysis of the precepts. If he wanted to say it, it would definitely say it here. He doesn't.


Venerable, are you talking about 戒律學網要?

If so, he is pretty clear that besides the male-female relationship between a married man and wife, anything that is not recognized as legal or moral by social standards is lewd and depraved (邪淫).

The first page on the sexual misconduct precept (p.107) reads in Chinese:

除了夫婦之間男女關係,一切不受國家法律或社會道德所承認的男女關係均稱爲邪淫.

On page 108 he also notes the first condition for a heavy violation of the precept (which is not something one is able to confess 成重罪不可悔) as being between an unmarried man and woman.

That means any kind of homosexual activity immediately violates the first condition. Ergo it would constitute sexual misconduct.

He is quite insistent that any sexual activity outside of a married heterosexual relationship is a violation of the precept.

So while it seems he never writes that "homosexuality is sexual misconduct", at least according to his interpretation it would follow that any kind of sexual activity between two men or two women would by default constitute sexual misconduct. In his interpretation being gay or lesbian is only fine provided you don't go under the sheets with it.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Huifeng » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:34 am

Huseng wrote:
Huifeng wrote:I don't see Ven Sheng Yen being particularly conservative about it, though. eg. in his large classic Sila and Vinaya Studies, he never says that homosexuality is "sexual misconduct". This book is almost a Taiwan standard for in depth analysis of the precepts. If he wanted to say it, it would definitely say it here. He doesn't.


Venerable, are you talking about 戒律學網要?

If so, he is pretty clear that besides the male-female relationship between a married man and wife, anything that is not recognized as legal or moral by social standards is lewd and depraved (邪淫).

The first page on the sexual misconduct precept (p.107) reads in Chinese:

除了夫婦之間男女關係,一切不受國家法律或社會道德所承認的男女關係均稱爲邪淫.

On page 108 he also notes the first condition for a heavy violation of the precept (which is not something one is able to confess 成重罪不可悔) as being between an unmarried man and woman.

That means any kind of homosexual activity immediately violates the first condition. Ergo it would constitute sexual misconduct.

He is quite insistent that any sexual activity outside of a married heterosexual relationship is a violation of the precept.

So while it seems he never writes that "homosexuality is sexual misconduct", at least according to his interpretation it would follow that any kind of sexual activity between two men or two women would by default constitute sexual misconduct. In his interpretation being gay or lesbian is only fine provided you don't go under the sheets with it.


Let me translate:

除了夫婦之間男女關係,一切不受國家法律或社會道德所承認的男女關係均稱爲邪淫.
Apart from the male-female relationship in a marriage, all male-female relationships that are not in accord with the law of the country or social ethics are all "sexual misconduct".

1. This only says "all male-female relationships". So, doesn't actually include homosexuality.
2. This prohibits only that which is illegal or socially unacceptable. If homosexuality is either legal or socially acceptable, then it doesn't fall within the range of this statement.

And by his criteria on pg. 108, if gay marriage was legal, then it wouldn't be a problem either.

So we can see that his criteria are somewhat inconsistent across various statements. This is partly because he is making his own conclusions for a lot of it, and not citing texts. So at one point it is "only male-female in marriage", then it's "other than one's spouse" (forgetting that this could include same-gender marriages, and elsewhere "anything not legal".

The definition of "marriage" can be blurry, where I come from, it can be fairly standard under law for straight or gay couples to be "common law / de facto spouses", if they have been together for some time but not legally married. This is a standard accepted social situation.

His reference to law and social norms as criteria all mean that this is shifting. Maybe to him he thinks that it is socially unacceptable, but Taiwan is a fairly liberal society these days, and not 1940s China.

Therefore I said: "I don't see Ven Sheng Yen being particularly conservative about it". If he wanted to say "all homosexuality is all sexual misconduct", he could have said it quite clearly here. He isn't exactly liberal about it either, though, but I'm not suggesting that he is.

Not a definitive answer, there seldom are such things, but hopefully providing some more information for the topic of "gays and east asian Buddhism" as per the OP.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Will » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:39 pm

Master Hua knew the hidden causes that produce visible effects - good and bad. Homosexuality is a cause for suffering, so he compassionately pointed this out.

Of course motive qualifies any action, but male-female polarity is screwed up by homosexual acts. I think that is one reason the Vajrayana (the Tibetans) clearly say to avoid homosexuality.

While certainly true there are anti-gay folk who are fond of bashing gays, there are also gays & their supporters who will not tolerate the slightest non-support (much less criticism) and bash their critics.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Astus » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:06 pm

"male-female polarity is screwed up by homosexual acts"

What does this mean? I know there are two specific dharmas within rupa-dharmas in the Theravada abhidharma for masculinity and femininity but such is not found in Vasubandhu's Hundred Dharmas Treatise. I don't see what kind of polarity can there be established in Buddhism for males and females, so it'd be good if you could point it out.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Will » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:35 pm

Astus wrote:"male-female polarity is screwed up by homosexual acts"

What does this mean? I know there are two specific dharmas within rupa-dharmas in the Theravada abhidharma for masculinity and femininity but such is not found in Vasubandhu's Hundred Dharmas Treatise. I don't see what kind of polarity can there be established in Buddhism for males and females, so it'd be good if you could point it out.


Will try to find a source; but probably this was picked up orally from a Tantric practioner.

Does not one wonder why all the Tibetan tankas & statues show only male & female in sexual union? Vajrayana deals with energy currents within the body and polarity is important.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Astus » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:11 pm

"Does not one wonder why all the Tibetan tankas & statues show only male & female in sexual union?"

Is this a gay thing then, all three man, two with long hairs? :tongue:

Image

But I'm unsure how much it is appropriate to bring in tantric concepts.
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Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
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This face, the face at birth."

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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby ronnewmexico » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:14 pm

I have several statements on this.

First those of other school of buddhism should not be interpreting what those other schools of buddhism's master teacher or lineage holders are stateing, except with qualification such as....they may not really know what they are talking about.

Here are those of other school makeing statment as regards Master Hua, and the inverse HHDL, interprreting both and making conclusion based on personal interpretation.
Leave it to the school members to do so...otherwise you invariably create error and misspeak. Which generates a defilement.

Secondily on this board we now have about 4 or so current active threads on this same topic.

Who or what is so obsessed with sex that this becomes a focus of such importance.
If a outsider were to view such a board they would think buddhists are all obsessed with sex.
This is not true....it is western culture that is generally obsessed with sex not buddhism. One aspect of our very complex lives not this.

If you are gay or not gay it is not the most important thing in the world. If you don't like gays or do it is also not so important.
One thread...this issue deserves one thread that is it, so the sexually obsessed can talk and talk and talk to their hearts content.
This is simply not a great great concern in buddhism. Householder...sure a concern, but even then not a great great thing.

Buddha, fully enlightened beings...they don't after enlightenment, have sex. Of any kind...get used to it, it is fact.

This place is a comedy.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:44 pm

At least it's not another rebirth thread! :applause:

I can understand your impatience with the multiple threads, Ron. It seems to me, though, that they have been informative and useful for clarifying some questions that come up now and again. Ven. Huifeng, Huseng, Jacx and others have done us a great service by locating the pertinent sources and explaining the cultural/historical contexts.

This way, anyone interested will get some idea of what the scriptures say and what various teachers, schools and traditions say, and why. Thanks to DW, all this information is in an easily accessible place. You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to find it elsewhere on the web.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby Indrajala » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:40 am

Astus wrote:"male-female polarity is screwed up by homosexual acts"

What does this mean? I know there are two specific dharmas within rupa-dharmas in the Theravada abhidharma for masculinity and femininity but such is not found in Vasubandhu's Hundred Dharmas Treatise. I don't see what kind of polarity can there be established in Buddhism for males and females, so it'd be good if you could point it out.


Gender is governed by indriya.

In the Abhidharmakosa in the "Indriya" chapter we see discussion of male and female indriyas which are unique to the genders. Moreover, there is a discussion of how abhorrent a hermaphrodite is as they somehow have both. The two genders are uniquely defined and identified due to having different indriya.

See the following:

(p.154 of the English translation)


ib. Four predominate with regard to two things;

ii. Four indriyas, namely the two sexual organs, the vital organ, and the mental organ are each a predominating influence with regard to two things.
1. The sexual organs are the predominating influence (1) with regard to the distribution of living beings; it is by reason of these two that living beings form the categories of male and female; and (2) with regard to the differentiation of living beings; by reason of these two organs, there are, among the sexes, differences of physical form, voice and manner of being.



However, Vasubandhu notes some do not accept this explanation due to certain qualities deities in the higher realms possess -- namely being without gender. In any case, down here in the desire realm we indeed do have unique genders determined by the indriya.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby ronnewmexico » Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:32 am

The problem with multiple threads on one subject is the problem of repeating the same materials over and over again, or in each thread having differing participants coming to radically differing conclusion...with no final conclusion.

Statements have been made about Tibetan Buddhism. This link addresses the context which I mentioned in another thread on this subject. YOu cannot basically seperate the issue with the spiritual teacher's context in which they respond on this issue. This link identifies a bit that context in historic tibet. Others may disagree with content, I have found other source to reflect this view and suspect in the main the content is not far off mark. Though I am certainly no anthropological master of historic tibet. To be absolutely clear I find many western buddhist conceptions of historic tibet as being a perfect mandela of religious perfection(as one esteemed american author and educator is inclinded to say)..are far off the mark. It was for all intents and purposes a feudal society. Which means as the article mentions.... no personal rights of the sort enjoyed in the west. You are part and parcel of someone else unless you join a monestary run away or pay off your liege holder. Such is the context of this issue in historic tibet and the context is in part to my opinion the response by tibetan religious leaders. We cannot essentially seperate the statements from the context and then apply the statements in isolation to other context. It is quite complex.

http://gaytibet.blogspot.com/2009/08/homosexuality-marriage-and-religion-in.html
I will caution those that want only positive mentions of historic tibet not to read it,

Certainly all here are great assets in consideration of this issue, however keep in mind that there has been a significant application of this is varying context over the years and history of buddhism. From homosexuality being encouraged seemingly by some teachers that held lineage(Japan)a to strict prohibition against(China). The keeping in mind part is....if it was so clear and set in stone such as the prohibitions against killing a mother or father for instance....such variance would not be possible.

So good luck with finding a definitive answer on this thing in scriptures. So much variance is present in what is authentic scripture(sutra sutta, and foundational authors writings) what qualifies as such and nuance to such as such is a issue of complexity... those looking for a definitive answer will to my opinion always be left in some gray area.

I personally have no iron in this fire and care not a fig. If one seeks enlightenment sex is irrelevent and not at all important. As tantric act it is very rare and to my personal opinion greatly overrated as to effect. To my opinion mostly it is tantric sex excuse for behavior. To my opinion it is as clear as day. If one is greatly concerned about sex in any manner it is a impediment to the path towards enlightenment. At some point it has to become totally a waste of time, objectification being necessary for its pursuance.

But honestly quite often these threads are used by some as excuses for homophobia, and expounding of those opinions. And that is a harmful thing. Or expressions of their particular schools view and supporting of their school view as being superior, which is also a harmful thing.
So I don't relish their presence. Those on boards for as many years as I have participated will know exactly what I am talking about.

As a aside of sorts...in Tibetan Buddhism the essential nature of reality is described by some, as being a joining of Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri which are the expressions of awareness and emptiness. This is not really a gender type thing more a expression of a composite nature to our reality our perceptions and such things. All foundational buddhas/wisdom aspect, dieties, and such, have corrospondingly dual composite parts as representative of this essential composite. Much art reflects this. Point being.... I would not put to much into that observation as it relates to this issue. The composite nature is the issue not the specific of gender. Though they are considered as real as anything may be considered real.
Hair is a connotation of the monastic or,, tulku tradition to my opinion. Many of the latter are householders but some may be monks. Monks are generally reflected in a superior spiritual position as to my personal opinion it is mainly monks who paint the paintings and write the history. Gampopa and others, monks generally hold a superior position of internal tibetan spiritual progression. But both spiritual traditions exist compatably. Sometimes the distinctions blur but hair length may speak to such issues.
A solitary retreatant may for instance grow their hair, but returning to the world to teach may cut it. So there are cultural nuances internal to Tibet reflective of hair length. But a monk if he were to grow his hair may be thought of as growing his ego or becoming wordly... currently. While a tulku may not

Religious Art may reflect cultural nuance of meaning.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby shinchan » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:19 am

http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vo ... ality.html

I found this article from the Western Buddhist review to be very informative. Strictly speaking, it's more concerned with pederasty (sex between an adult male and an adolescent boy), which is considered immoral even by most liberal modern thinkers, but it still falls under the definition of homosexuality.

This article really made me appreciate how 'sexual misconduct' is very, very relative to time and culture. In Japanese Buddhism, sex with boys was not something that was kept undercover, like it is in the Catholic church, but was out-in-the-open acceptable! Apparently the boys consented, just as they did in ancient Greece.
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Re: Gays and East Asian Buddhism

Postby fragrant herbs » Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:06 pm

ron, your link to gay tibet was most informative, and speaks differently about gays.

I have often said that if it were of upmost importance to the Buddha or even to Christ, both would have mentioned it often enough, and Christ never had. Not every Buddhist group had all of the sutras, so I would have thought that it would have been taught throughout. And as for me, I often question which suttas were spoken by Buddha. But here are some other points:

1. Not all gays practice penetration.
2. If we are speaking of energy in the Taoist concept, then what kind of energy would a gay man be able to produce with a hetersexual woman? I believe that gays are born gay, and if so, that would be an odd energy for a gay man to try to sleep with a woman, or a lesbian with a man. Also do we expect gays to always be celibrate if they become Buddhists? I would think this would only pertain to the monastics.

3. I think Thich Nhat Hanh, who was mentioned here, has a very loving and compassionate answer.

And while I believe that the Dalai Lama is a compassion being, I don't think that he understands that gays are born this way, and when it is proven to be so, I imagine that a lot of people will change their views.

The Dalai Lama states in an interview with the French magazine Dimanche,
“It’s part of what we Buddhists call “bad sexual conduct. Sexual organs were created for reproduction between the male element and the female element–and everything that deviates from that is not acceptable from a Buddhist point of view.”

In the same interview, he specifically said he was “for” (heterosexual) sex with condoms or the pill. That is, it’s fine for heterosexuals to have non-procreative, recreational sex–as long as it doesn’t involve foreplay with other areas of the body.



So any sex that isn't used for reproduction is wrong? Or as in the last paragraph, enjoyment is wrong?

I think our world has too many people in it already, and that the compassionate thing for people to do is to not have so many children, but by these standards they would not be having sex either.

This subject is also being played out on many other forums, but usually because the people starting these topics are anti-gay and desire to squash human rights, all but their own. I believe those on the Buddhist forums more often than not just want to know for whatever reason, some because they are gay, and then threads get lost in the shuffle, and so one after another keep showing up.

As for me, I see nothing wrong with homosexuality as long as the partners are not harming each other in any way. What I do find harmful is when religions begin defining for others what their sex should be, who they should love, etc., thereby, making them wrong or evil and excluding them from the Dharma or God.

And as someone else wrote on another website:

The early Buddhist sangha was centered around monastics, for whom the vinaya prescribed celibacy. The prescriptions around sexuality for non-monastics were essentially based on the social conventions of the time, with a certain element of asceticism thrown in. The Dalai Lama here is merely repeating the tradition. However, the essence of Buddhism is not primarily about maintaining a certain behavioral code. While Buddhist communities might frown upon certain forms of sexual expression, there is nothing that essentially cuts one off from considering onself Buddhist if one’s sexuality deviates from some social ideal.


http://nihilobstat.info/2009/08/10/the-dalai-lama-is-not-gay-friendly/
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