Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby jmlee369 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 9:51 am

Malcolm wrote:
Huseng wrote:
I think it has more to do with the widespread fear among Chinese Buddhist bhikṣus about Tibetan Buddhism.



Which is fundamentally based on racism against Tibetans.


Actually, the biggest criticism of Master Hua regarding Tibetan Buddhism was largely centered around consort practice. Master Hua was a firm upholder of the Vinaya, and the notion that enlightenment requires the breaking of precepts (especially monastic parajikas) was something that he did not accept. On this matter, he was very much orthodox, and was simply agreeing what the Shurangama Sutra, which he taught widely. I'm not saying Master Hua was right to say what he said, but he also had things other than racism on his mind.

As for the Taiwanese group that protests HHDL's teachings, they too base themselves on the teachings of the Shurangama (and other) Sutra in criticising consort practices. That is their main arguement, that Anuttara Yoga Tantra and Tibetan Buddhism is not legitimate Buddhadharma. There are even articles urging people not to study the Lam Rim Chen Mo because they consider it a preparation, grooming if you will, for sex. They do have some legitimacy to their points in that so-called Tibetan masters have been known to have affairs with women in Chinese communities (the scandals seem more common in such places). Now, a huge part of the problem is the confusion between who is a monastic and who is a lay teacher, as well as a general lack of understanding of Tibetan Buddhism. This allows people to be more readily taken advantage of. The abundance of sexual imagery further complicates things. It does not help that texts like Lama Tsong Khapa's Ngag Rim Chen Mo has been available for a while in Chinese translation, from which people can quote things out of context. The groups are definitely making huge generalisations, and they are certainly slandering good, honest practitioners. All the more reason for tantra to be kept out of public view, but that's not going to happen any time soon. So the issue is not really as clear cut as one would hope.

As for homophobia, I think perhaps we are need to restore some balance to our views. As I mentioned earlier, one of the best things someone interested in this matter could do is to contact direct disciples of the Master, such as Ven. Heng Sure, as I mentioned previously. Also, I remember reading an account of how Master Hua met with gay people, and he would advise them in regards to reducing desires, in much the same way that he counseled his other students to reduce their desires. So perhaps it is not as much of a double standard as it seems. As mentioned previously by another poster on this thread and by myself in another thread, only 8th bhumi bodhisattvas and above are beyond the state of retrogression. I'm not claiming that Master Hua was either below or above such a state, but it's something to keep in mind.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby undefineable » Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:56 pm

Jnana wrote:
undefineable wrote:The main impression I'm getting, though, is that you see meditation as some kind of psychedelic trip with no potential relevance to one's everyday life.

Then you clearly don't know much about what I think.


Fair enough :thumbsup:
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Astus » Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:38 pm

If we look at the question from a scriptural point of view, there is no statement regarding homosexual acts as acceptable within the third precept. On the other hand, there are quite a few works on the contrary. As a sexual misconduct then, it can lead to lower birth.

Now, this doesn't mean that such a view is definitive. But some may believe so. Just because they think so, it doesn't mean they are against the Buddhist teachings.

Let me give another example of Hsuan Hua's interpretation of precepts,

"People who smoke will fall into the hell of Flames after they die. The hell of Flames is especially prepared for smokers. Whoever likes to smoke has the chance to go down there." (source)

In his view, smoking is covered under the fifth precept against intoxicants. Can we find statements against smoking tobacco? No, as tobacco did not exist in Asia. So what is his interpretation based on?

Regarding homosexuality he refers to Chinese philosophical interpretations, like the yin-yang system. That is not Buddhist. He talks about the end of humanity, which is an argument commonly used against celibacy and not homosexuality.

What can be learnt from all this is not that Hsuan Hua was a false teacher and such, but the old teaching about not relying on the person but on the Dharma.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Indrajala » Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:47 pm

Astus wrote:If we look at the question from a scriptural point of view, there is no statement regarding homosexual acts as acceptable within the third precept. On the other hand, there are quite a few works on the contrary. As a sexual misconduct then, it can lead to lower birth.


As far as I know the works that state homosexuality is sexual misconduct are either Abhidharma or commentary literature.

These same works incidentally say even with your wife it is sexual misconduct to have anything other than vaginal intercourse at the "right time" in the "right place". As I said earlier I believe this reflects contemporary laws and social norms.



In his view, smoking is covered under the fifth precept against intoxicants. Can we find statements against smoking tobacco? No, as tobacco did not exist in Asia. So what is his interpretation based on?


The Buddha permitted smoking in the Vinaya:

《四分律》卷43:「爾時有比丘患風。醫教用煙。佛言聽用煙。」(CBETA, T22, no. 1428, p. 877, a12-13)

“At that time there was a bhikṣu suffering wind. The doctor instructed him to use 'smoking'. The Buddha said using 'smoking' was permissible.”



The character yan 煙 is unclear. I imagine it means either opium or cannabis.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Astus » Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:15 pm

Abhidharma and commentaries are in the Buddhist canon. However, Hsuan Hua does not quote them. It seems he just presents his interpretations as orthodox, and people accept it because he said so.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

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True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Lotus415 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:33 pm

Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:If we look at the question from a scriptural point of view, there is no statement regarding homosexual acts as acceptable within the third precept. On the other hand, there are quite a few works on the contrary. As a sexual misconduct then, it can lead to lower birth.


As far as I know the works that state homosexuality is sexual misconduct are either Abhidharma or commentary literature.

These same works incidentally say even with your wife it is sexual misconduct to have anything other than vaginal intercourse at the "right time" in the "right place". As I said earlier I believe this reflects contemporary laws and social norms.



In his view, smoking is covered under the fifth precept against intoxicants. Can we find statements against smoking tobacco? No, as tobacco did not exist in Asia. So what is his interpretation based on?


The Buddha permitted smoking in the Vinaya:

《四分律》卷43:「爾時有比丘患風。醫教用煙。佛言聽用煙。」(CBETA, T22, no. 1428, p. 877, a12-13)

“At that time there was a bhikṣu suffering wind. The doctor instructed him to use 'smoking'. The Buddha said using 'smoking' was permissible.”



The character yan 煙 is unclear. I imagine it means either opium or cannabis.



Interesting, since Hsuan Hua said in the comments on smoking provided in the link above that, " during that time when the Buddha was in the world no one knew how to smoke."
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Lotus415 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:39 pm

Also, in the link Astus provided a few posts prior regarding smoking, we find these comments from Hsuan Hua on another subject:

"Caging a bird is the same as putting the bird behind bars. The bird will start chanting the mantra, "retribution, retribution…" In the future, the bird will go before the Jade Emperor, who is the Lord of the Heavens, and will file a suit against the person who caged it. The Heavenly Lord will say, "Okay, this person has not been fair. He shall undergo the retribution!" You will then go to jail in future lives."

Jade Emperor? That is Taoism. While I know many Chinese practise a combination of both Taoism and Buddhism, I was never aware of any strictly Buddhist teachers referring to Taoist deities like the Jade Emperor, especially in the sense that he has the capacity to judge and "file suits"against beings and bring about punishment for them. Now I am even more confused about Hsuan Hua!

Does this mean we should not have caged birds as pets?
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Jikan » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:41 pm

Jnana wrote:
Huseng wrote:I still have to wonder where he got the idea that most Lamas have AIDS.

I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with hearing about the situation surrounding Ösel Tendzin.


If so, then he's clearly generalizing from the particular, and therefore speaking carelessly.

Time will tell.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Jikan » Sun Aug 12, 2012 10:46 pm

Just speculating here:

I know many elderly people who have a very difficult time distinguishing consensual same-sex relations and relationships, particularly between two men, and pedophilia. I wonder if Hsuan Hua's comments might make more sense if taken in this context, as an admonition against raping boys through the broader category of homosexuality.

This approach would make rhetorical sense if pedophilia is a subject the master could not address in more direct or specific language, perhaps due to social taboo. I don't know if that's the case; I'm ignorant of contemporary Chinese culture generally and Chinese attitudes on this subject in particular.

/speculating
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby jmlee369 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:21 am

Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:If we look at the question from a scriptural point of view, there is no statement regarding homosexual acts as acceptable within the third precept. On the other hand, there are quite a few works on the contrary. As a sexual misconduct then, it can lead to lower birth.


As far as I know the works that state homosexuality is sexual misconduct are either Abhidharma or commentary literature.

These same works incidentally say even with your wife it is sexual misconduct to have anything other than vaginal intercourse at the "right time" in the "right place". As I said earlier I believe this reflects contemporary laws and social norms.



As mentioned previously: I have managed to come across a scriptural reference to sexual activities which are considered sexual misconduct beyond the definitions in the Pali Suttas. It is found in 佛說優婆塞五戒相經(The Buddha Speaks the Upasaka’s Form of the Five Precepts Sutra) volume 24, #1476 in the Taisho.
[0943a01] 「若優婆塞與人女、非人女、畜生女,三處行邪婬,犯不可悔;若人男、非人男、畜生男、黃門、二根,二處行婬,犯不可悔。若發心欲行婬,未和合者,犯下可悔;若二身和合,止不婬,犯中可悔。

[0943a06] 「若優婆塞婢使已配嫁有主,於中行邪婬者,犯不可悔;餘輕犯如上說。

[0943a07] 「三處者,口處、大便、小便處,除是三處,餘處行欲皆可悔。
http://tripitaka.cbeta.org/T24n1476_001


As far as I my limited Chinese allows me to understand, non-vaginal sex is deemed misconduct by the Sutra. While Master Hua did not use this line of arguement, the text is still relevant to some degree.

As for the Jade Emperor reference, it is true that the Master sometimes used Chinese Folk Religion references. If I remember correctly though, in his commentary on the Shurangama Mantra, he equated the Jade Emperor with Indra.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby rory » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:25 am

Speaking as a lesbian I was thrilled to see this; many thanks Huseng! Taiwan's first Buddhist gay wedding
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28NIrUu0Yjc
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:02 am

Lotus415 wrote:Interesting, since Hsuan Hua said in the comments on smoking provided in the link above that, " during that time when the Buddha was in the world no one knew how to smoke."


They knew how to smoke and clearly did. It was part of Ayurveda. Again, it wasn't tobacco, but probably opium or cannabis. Also, this was for medical reasons, not to get high. :smile:
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Indrajala » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:06 am

jmlee369 wrote:As mentioned previously: I have managed to come across a scriptural reference to sexual activities which are considered sexual misconduct beyond the definitions in the Pali Suttas.



This scripture shows a lot of influences from another time period long after the Buddha. I'm aware of it. It also states you need to get the permission of your king to receive layman precepts. The prohibitions here again reflect morality and perhaps hygiene concerns of ancient India. The Arthaśāstra likewise makes the same prohibitions, and this was a secular text concerning law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthashastra
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:35 pm

Yes it is good to see than Master Hsuan Hua's are just one extreme example of the attitudes towards homosexuality, and that Chinese Buddhism has those on the other end of the spectrum, as noted above.

For me this was also tough because I really enjoy many of Master Hsuan Hua's writings, many portions of his commentary on the Avatamsaka Sutra are in my opinion clear and based on deep knowledge and experience. His monastic Sangha follow a strict Vinaya lifestyle and are required to really cultivate deeply, and attend hours of prayers and meditation daily.

But now I am not sure if I can recommend his books to people comfortably as I have not read all of them so I don't know where the tirades against homosexuals, Tibetan Lamas, women etc... might be.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Yudron » Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:00 am

Andrew108 wrote:
Compare this with Dilgo Kyentse's 'Dzogchen Prctice in Everyday Life'

''The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and
openness to all situations and emotions, and to all people, experiencing
everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that
one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.''


Just a side note about this long ago post. This quote circulated widely on the internet as part of a beautiful concise set of pointing out instructions. It was erroneously ascribed to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, but it was later corrected: this is really Chogyam Trungpa's instruction.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby rory » Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:11 am

Here is a very touching quote from the Buddhist master who officiated the Taiwanese wedding:

Master Shih Chao-hui shared, “I would like stand up to give blessings to the couple because I hope my step can embody the spirit of Buddhism spreading compassion throughout the world. As a matter of fact, Buddhist teachings do not discriminate against gays and lesbians and do not consider human desires as a sin although they do call for restraint.”
http://theseattlelesbian.com/first-ever ... acy-group/

it's this kind of compassion we need. I may be the only person in this discussion who is trying to help friend an Asian lesbian, who has taken up with a man as she just can't tell her parents. It's a train wreck, 10 or 20 years from now she'll wake up & come out & the fallout will be so painful for everyone in her life. If more Buddhist monks, nuns and priests were this compassionate you can see how their lives would change.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Andrew108 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:10 am

Yudron wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:
Compare this with Dilgo Kyentse's 'Dzogchen Prctice in Everyday Life'

''The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and
openness to all situations and emotions, and to all people, experiencing
everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that
one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.''


Just a side note about this long ago post. This quote circulated widely on the internet as part of a beautiful concise set of pointing out instructions. It was erroneously ascribed to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, but it was later corrected: this is really Chogyam Trungpa's instruction.

Interesting thanks.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby undefineable » Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:45 pm

Jnana wrote:What I will offer, though, is some very unromantic realism. We are all human beings who are much better at being human, warts and all, than at being buddhas.


The main reason I prefer to see realisation as something 'supramundane' (i.e. going above and beyond our ordinary selves) is that I sense and wish to believe that there's ways and means for mine and others' current experience of life to improve. Chogyam Trungpa, for one, labelled such 'wanting things to be different to how they are' as the 'basic aggression' that maintains samsara, but Buddhism on the whole accepts that dharma-related aspiration and inspiration -particularly where this is limited to just freeing up your mind to apply yourself wholeheartedly to life while telling yourself 'this meditation is the thing to do right now'- is a useful and (even) necessary part of (atleast) the near-end of the Path.

If I were to see realisation as a psychedelic, academic or 'any-other-"ic"' exercise with little potential positive input from, consequences for, or bearing on the rest of one's inner life, I wouldn't care for Buddhism over and above any other 'arts-and-humanities'-type concern. Others, on the other hand, may prefer to say something like 'those so-called enlightened beings are no different to me', so as not to intimidate themselves with tales of superhuman achievement, so it depends what works for an individual-? Ofcourse, both 'supramundane' and 'no different' are held to be true of enlightenment _ _
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Jnana » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:31 pm

undefineable wrote:The main reason I prefer to see realisation as something 'supramundane' (i.e. going above and beyond our ordinary selves) is that I sense and wish to believe that there's ways and means for mine and others' current experience of life to improve.

Sure. The bodhisattvayāna involves a developmental process: five paths & ten stages.
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Re: Hsuan Hua on Homosexuality

Postby Music » Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:27 pm

It appears that religious people of all backgrounds have something in common.
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