How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby JKhedrup » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:03 pm

The comment was not directed only to you, this also happened on another thread.
It was not posturing but merely an expression of my own wondering of all the various comments he made, those are the ones posted - and with no context of the broader transcript of the teaching.
If we wish to try and present his views, they should all be presented- and it will show that in fact HH does not see the issue as cut and dry at all and has repeatedly engaged in dialogue on the issue, and always been willing to do so.
But, he feels he cannot completely discount the ancient commentaries by Vasubandu et al. Which is completely understandable as he is also seen as the upholder of the textual tradition. His Holiness's various roles and their complexity are hard to overstate. I think he does remarkably well trying to honour and hear various points of view.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:10 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I think he does remarkably well trying to honour and hear various points of view.


Of course I completely agree.

_/\_
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Yudron » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:51 pm

JKhedrup wrote:The comment was not directed only to you, this also happened on another thread.
It was not posturing but merely an expression of my own wondering of all the various comments he made, those are the ones posted - and with no context of the broader transcript of the teaching.
If we wish to try and present his views, they should all be presented- and it will show that in fact HH does not see the issue as cut and dry at all and has repeatedly engaged in dialogue on the issue, and always been willing to do so.
But, he feels he cannot completely discount the ancient commentaries by Vasubandu et al. Which is completely understandable as he is also seen as the upholder of the textual tradition. His Holiness's various roles and their complexity are hard to overstate. I think he does remarkably well trying to honour and hear various points of view.


I'm guessing that the rationale in the Vasubandu text is that all inherently pleasurable activities (e.g. eating, listening to music, smelling flowers, etc...) be kept to an absolute minimum for a Mahayana practitioner, even for lay disciples. These stimuli are thought to overwhelm the disciple's capacity to avoid attachment to them, so that lay people--although not ordained--should be monkish in their approach to sense pleasures.

I sound a little baffled because I come from a Vajrayana and Dzogchen path that takes the opposite approach. Of course, I think about Theravadin lay practitioners mimicing monks and nuns as much as possible, but I honestly -- other than reading the Chinese Upasakashila Sutra--I never thought that way about the Mahayana.
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Postby CoreyNiles92 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:14 am

Shouldn't this answer itself? I'm not being rhetorical, I am actually wondering, does Buddhism not make it clear at it's core that whether you are a homosexual or not is irrelevant? That only sexually molesting, or offending others strays you from the path of the Buddha? It seems very easy to understand for me at least, that love between two men or two women, is exactly the same as love between a man and a woman, and should not even be speculated on beyond the basic idea of seeing which gender a person is.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:34 am

I think you are heading in the right direction with this reasoning.
I also wonder if there were health reasons for the prohibition.
While female homosexual acts are considered the safest sex one can have AFAIK, with male homosexual activity there is a heightened health risk.
So in the age before condoms, STD testing and Hepatitis vaccines, proscribing such acts was the best option.
But now that there are measures for people to take to protect themselves it seems a more modern approach is warranted.

I think this becomes clear also when you look at the fact that certain heterosexual activity was also prohibited. So it was more the acts themselves than the fact it was same-gender
activity.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Yudron » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:33 am

JKhedrup wrote:I think you are heading in the right direction with this reasoning.
I also wonder if there were health reasons for the prohibition.
While female homosexual acts are considered the safest sex one can have AFAIK, with male homosexual activity there is a heightened health risk.
So in the age before condoms, STD testing and Hepatitis vaccines, proscribing such acts was the best option.
But now that there are measures for people to take to protect themselves it seems a more modern approach is warranted.

I think this becomes clear also when you look at the fact that certain heterosexual activity was also prohibited. So it was more the acts themselves than the fact it was same-gender
activity.


Similar to the theory one of my lamas has, that oral sex--for example--was proscribed in the past because of poor personal hygiene. I have it one good authority that in old Tibet--where people bathed twice a year--people's genitals just reeked.

But this is far from the rationale that the Dalai Lama gave.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:11 am

As I mentioned, HHDL to a certain extent as a lineage holder is expected to explain it according to how the texts state it. But we can also take into account the cultural and historical factors of the environment in which those texts were composed.
HHDL has met with Gay and Lesbian associations on several occasions. He has stated that we can take another look at the texts, but he cannot cast them aside unilaterally. The complications of his position are quite clear, also he is nearly 80 years old and did not grow up in a permissive Western environment.
I think the willingness of His Holiness to engage in dialogue with people in the homosexual community already sets him apart from the majority of religious leaders and should be lauded, with an understanding that this dialogue will take a long time.
Working as a translator and interacting with people in the context of interviews and teachings, I understand that many of the people who participate are homosexual and looking to re-spiritualize their lives in an accepting atmosphere. So I always go out of my way to make them feel welcome. And if this issue comes up, I point to the various statements of His Holiness so that they don't write him and his teachings off. Teachings which are clear, profound and beneficial for anyone interested in dharma.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby CoreyNiles92 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:44 pm

I'm wondering if this will hold any significance for anyone.

Say you were born blind, try to imagine not having ever seen a man or a woman, never experiencing beauty any which way other than in a persons personality and spirit. Try to let go of any preconcieved notion of what is beautiful and what is ugly, what appeals to you on a visual level and what does not. If you were blind, do you think you would be more understanding of a man loving another man, when the only idea you have of a man is that he is different than a woman? Not knowing physically how they are different, other than hearing the words penis or vagina, breasts or pecs? If you had never seen "curves", or feminine facial features in contrast to male, if you merely understood the idea of one group being taller than another, or more muscular, never having seen what height, or muscle are with your eyes, Would you still find it so wrong that a man could love another man, or a woman could love another woman?
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:18 pm

The fact that we find ourselves attracted by the opposite sex seems to be more a matter of biology than anything else. Some people, by not very well known reasons, also or only feel attracted by individuals of the same sex. This should have never had become a matter of moral.

It has nothing to do with right or wrong. Being homosexual is neither right nor wrong. Like being blond or having dark hair. It should have always been treated as a biological matter, nothing else. It's a sexual behavior deviant from the normative. It is not a choice. It is not harmful (unlike other behaviors that are deviant from the normative and get a free pass in our society). In a way it's like being very tall or very short or preferring very acidic flavors to sweet. It has nothing to do with right or wrong. It's just a more or less uncommon (we don't really know the numbers) characteristic.

It seems that sexual intercourse using the wrong orifices is the problem, not sexual orientation per se. The problem seems to be in terms of prana circulation and this can be corrected with proper exercises. That homosexuality scared the living daylights of puritans (whatever the religion) is not to wonder. They were scared of pretty much anything that was not prescribed by those books of theirs. So, a biological trait, completely harmless, became sinful, wrong, ugly, you name it. I hope we are past that by now. It's barbaric thinking still facing this subject on moral grounds.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Yudron » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:28 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:
It seems that sexual intercourse using the wrong orifices is the problem, not sexual orientation per se. The problem seems to be in terms of prana circulation and this can be corrected with proper exercises. That homosexuality scared the living daylights of puritans (whatever the religion) is not to wonder. They were scared of pretty much anything that was not prescribed by those books of theirs. So, a biological trait, completely harmless, became sinful, wrong, ugly, you name it. I hope we are past that by now. It's barbaric thinking still facing this subject on moral grounds.


These are Mahayana texts, I really doubt they have anything to do with prana circulation, which is the domain of the Vajrayana. As I'm sure you know, the ancient Vajrayana texts in this field are quite transgressive and many things that were considered to be dirty, wrong and bad was brought to the path as practice, including some of the things we have discussed in this thread. There is no "problem" in terms of prana circulation for any of these sexual practices, so--while I know you are trying to be helpful--please don't say there is. It implies that you have knowledge of classical tsa lung texts on the subject and they say that there is.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:28 pm

Yudron wrote:These are Mahayana texts, I really doubt they have anything to do with prana circulation, which is the domain of the Vajrayana. As I'm sure you know, the ancient Vajrayana texts in this field are quite transgressive and many things that were considered to be dirty, wrong and bad was brought to the path as practice, including some of the things we have discussed in this thread. There is no "problem" in terms of prana circulation for any of these sexual practices, so--while I know you are trying to be helpful--please don't say there is. It implies that you have knowledge of classical tsa lung texts on the subject and they say that there is.

I wasn't talking about the texts mentioned. My comment was to the post prior to mine. Why in Mahayana anal/oral sex was considered unwholesome beats me. Perhaps something related to the customs of the time, I don't know.
In terms of the circulation of prana, using the wrong orifices makes it flow in the wrong direction. If this can be used in some practices for some purpose - Vajrayana is vast- I don't know, but the explanation of the reason why using the wrong orifices can be harmful is this.
By the way, I'm not trying to be helpful. I don't believe someone needs help here but those whose views are not very well adjusted, if anyone. I'm just stating my mind about this issue. As for the Mahayana justification, I have no idea, as I said. My take is that it was a prescription related to a specific time and place.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby dakini_boi » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:36 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:In terms of the circulation of prana, using the wrong orifices makes it flow in the wrong direction.

Could you share the source of this info?
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:42 pm

Personal teaching from more than one lama. But ask Malcom. I'm sure he can give you references for you to look it up.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby udawa » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:30 pm

I posted a link to Jose Cabezon's article in Buddhadharma earlier. I think it's worth reading in full, but this extract seems relevant here http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issues/2009/summer/sex.php.

The obvious historical question then becomes this: If the early doctrine of sexual misconduct is so simple and elegant, when and why did it get so complex and restrictive? That is, when do we find the transition to organ/orifice mode? The answer to when is simple. We don’t find any examples of the more elaborate formulation of sexual misconduct before the third century. The answer to why requires us to think about the identity of the Indian authors who compiled the more complex versions of the doctrine. Those authors were, first of all, celibate monks, and secondly, scholastic philosophers—men who thought in terms of lists, and who wanted to cover all the bases. And why did theologians like Asanga, Vasubandhu, and others begin to elaborate lay sexual ethics precisely as they did? I believe that they chose these terms—partners, organs, orifices, times, and places—because these are the terms with which they were familiar. And why were they familiar with these categories? Because they were the categories used to discuss the breaking of rules in the monastic code, the Vinaya.

So what an historical analysis shows us is that Indian authors began to read lay sexual ethics through the lens of monastic discipline, reading monastic norms (like where penises can and cannot be inserted) into lay behavioral codes. In their exuberance to elaborate, I would argue, they went overboard, on the one hand leaving behind the earlier, more elegant, and simpler formulation of sexual misconduct, and on the other inappropriately reading lay sexual ethics through the filter of monastic discipline. The result was to make lay sexuality increasingly more restrictive and monastic-like.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:48 pm

It's possible. But such opinions risk being a little condescending with the great sages who wrote those treatises. I believe the answer is anything but simple, unlike the author, as these things seldom are so clear cut. I'm sure a lot of influences took part in this process that is likely to be more complex than a simple collage of monastic rules to the laity. I prefer to imagine that these sages though a little about the consequences of their writting. At least I prefer to think that. Thus, considering these sages to be advised and compassionate, I think "their exuberance to elaborate" may fall short for an explanation that certainly has much more to it. But I may be wrong. Sometimes things that seem complex are simple and the author may be describing a scenario close to what happened.
Certain to my mind is that homosexuality by itself doesn't seem to qualify as unwholesome by any Mahayana standards. Where is it harmful or more of an obstacle to enlightenment that heterosexuality? Beats me.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:20 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:Where is it harmful or more of an obstacle to enlightenment that heterosexuality? Beats me.


We'll never know.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Ikkyu » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:04 am

So considering everything one has to ask, are all the Buddhist texts (sutras, tantras and suttas) true? And to what extent? To what extent are they allegorical or literal, metaphorical or culturally/historically irrelevant to our times? Can we cherry-pick the texts? As someone on here mentioned, this prohibition may be because of "Brahmanical sexual rulings" (I may have slightly misquoted but this seems to have been the basic statement). How much of the sutras do we take inspiration from? How much not? When I see Buddhist monks or priests lift up the sutras in reverence, are they believing word for word everything? I like Stephen Batchelor, author of "Buddhism Without Belief"'s approach, although despite how much we can secularize Buddhism or abstract the texts or look at them in a cultural context, they seem to be quite clear about the inferior status of women and homosexuals, as well as promoting sexual repression and austerity as the only way to be truly happy, thus eschewing a healthy sex life, and positing the existence of supernatural beings (devas, Buddhas and bodhisattvas) that we cannot prove exist through any epistemological investigation or Socratic deduction. They posit karma an rebirth and enlightenment, which cannot be proven as true.

Look: I'm playing the Devil's advocate here for a reason: I like Buddhism. There are aspects of it that make sense to me. But before I even slightly accept any belief I like to test and prod and debate. A Zen priest once told me to exercise "great doubt", so that's what I'm doing. Don't take my statements as an attack on Buddhism. Any good philosophy should be tested on a proving ground of evidence and reason.

I am eagerly awaiting your responses and I have enjoyed the ones posted thus far. :smile: :namaste:
"Nothing can be known, not even this."
-- Arcesilaus (but I'm not sure)
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Ikkyu » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:07 am

lobster wrote:How do gay Buddhists explain this one?
http://www.fwbo-files.com/satires/sec_teach.htm

You mean people is people? Well, well . . . takes all sorts
of Buddhas to make a pureland . . .

Follow the teaching and your common sense . . .


This is interesting. However what are the lama's views on this specific passage?
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:23 am

Ikkyu wrote:So considering everything one has to ask, are all the Buddhist texts (sutras, tantras and suttas) true? And to what extent? To what extent are they allegorical or literal, metaphorical or culturally/historically irrelevant to our times? Can we cherry-pick the texts? As someone on here mentioned, this prohibition may be because of "Brahmanical sexual rulings" (I may have slightly misquoted but this seems to have been the basic statement). How much of the sutras do we take inspiration from? How much not? When I see Buddhist monks or priests lift up the sutras in reverence, are they believing word for word everything? I like Stephen Batchelor, author of "Buddhism Without Belief"'s approach, although despite how much we can secularize Buddhism or abstract the texts or look at them in a cultural context, they seem to be quite clear about the inferior status of women and homosexuals, as well as promoting sexual repression and austerity as the only way to be truly happy, thus eschewing a healthy sex life, and positing the existence of supernatural beings (devas, Buddhas and bodhisattvas) that we cannot prove exist through any epistemological investigation or Socratic deduction. They posit karma an rebirth and enlightenment, which cannot be proven as true.

Look: I'm playing the Devil's advocate here for a reason: I like Buddhism. There are aspects of it that make sense to me. But before I even slightly accept any belief I like to test and prod and debate. A Zen priest once told me to exercise "great doubt", so that's what I'm doing. Don't take my statements as an attack on Buddhism. Any good philosophy should be tested on a proving ground of evidence and reason.

I am eagerly awaiting your responses and I have enjoyed the ones posted thus far. :smile: :namaste:

Nothing in Buddhadharma is actually true in the ultimate sense. It's a raft. Means to an end. What matters is if it works, meaning if it takes you from ignorance to enlightenment, whatever illusions you need to be told to such effect. A set of illusions to cut trough the biggest of them all. If I get worried when a supposed scientist starts talking about intelligent design, for example, it doesn't worry me the least if a Buddhist teacher uses ancient cosmogony to make a point. The aim is different. While science will try to provide you an accurate description of what you experience as real, Buddhism will shatter your notion of reality. It will get you to the realization that this life is a dream. So, more important than if this or that text is true in similar terms of those used in science, what matters most is if it works. That you can only find out for yourself, hopefully with the help of the experts in this. Buddhadharma is loka samvriti satya, not paramartha satya. It is not Sadharma, the fruit of the practice. It is the finger pointing, not the moon.
In a certain way we all cherry pick as nobody practices all the methods available. We need to find out the one that works better according to our circumstances. Now, if we dramatically change the teachings, we may be left without a working method, just because we took Buddhadharma for what it isn't. That's Batchelor's case, when he misunderstood the aim of Buddhism and mixed it with a competing metaphysical system. It is not good for science or Buddhism and Batchelor isn't an expert in any of them. His hybridized version of the Dharma doesn't worth the paper where it is written. It's a finger pointing to his self image. If you like his work, and you have every right to do so, try to be critical about it too for your own sake. Btw, your post is quite a legitimate inquiry. I don't find it offensive in the least.
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Re: How do gay Buddhists explain this one?

Postby Ikkyu » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:39 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:So considering everything one has to ask, are all the Buddhist texts (sutras, tantras and suttas) true? And to what extent? To what extent are they allegorical or literal, metaphorical or culturally/historically irrelevant to our times? Can we cherry-pick the texts? As someone on here mentioned, this prohibition may be because of "Brahmanical sexual rulings" (I may have slightly misquoted but this seems to have been the basic statement). How much of the sutras do we take inspiration from? How much not? When I see Buddhist monks or priests lift up the sutras in reverence, are they believing word for word everything? I like Stephen Batchelor, author of "Buddhism Without Belief"'s approach, although despite how much we can secularize Buddhism or abstract the texts or look at them in a cultural context, they seem to be quite clear about the inferior status of women and homosexuals, as well as promoting sexual repression and austerity as the only way to be truly happy, thus eschewing a healthy sex life, and positing the existence of supernatural beings (devas, Buddhas and bodhisattvas) that we cannot prove exist through any epistemological investigation or Socratic deduction. They posit karma an rebirth and enlightenment, which cannot be proven as true.

Look: I'm playing the Devil's advocate here for a reason: I like Buddhism. There are aspects of it that make sense to me. But before I even slightly accept any belief I like to test and prod and debate. A Zen priest once told me to exercise "great doubt", so that's what I'm doing. Don't take my statements as an attack on Buddhism. Any good philosophy should be tested on a proving ground of evidence and reason.

I am eagerly awaiting your responses and I have enjoyed the ones posted thus far. :smile: :namaste:

Nothing in Buddhadharma is actually true in the ultimate sense. It's a raft. Means to an end. What matters is if it works, meaning if it takes you from ignorance to enlightenment, whatever illusions you need to be told to such effect. A set of illusions to cut trough the biggest of them all. If I'm worried when a supposed scientist starts talking about intelligent design, for example, it doesn't worry me the least if a Buddhist teacher uses ancient cosmogony to make a point. The aim is different. While science will try to provide you an accurate description of what you experience as real, Buddhism will shatter your notion of reality It will get you to the realization that this life is a dream. So, more important than if this or that text is true in similar terms of those used science, what matters most is if it works. That you can only find out for yourself, hopefully with the help of the experts in this. Buddhadharma is loka samvriti satya, not paramartha satya. It is not Sadharma, the fruit of the practice. It is the finger pointing, not the moon.
In a certain way we all cherry pick as nobody practices all the methods available. We need to find out the one that works better according to our circumstances. Now, if we dramatically change the teachings, we may be left without a working method, just because we took Buddhadharma for what it isn't. That's Batchelor's case, when he misunderstood the aim of Buddhism and mixed it with a competing metaphysical system. It is not good for science or Buddhism and Batchelor isn't an expert in any of them. His hybridized version of the Dharma doesn't worth the paper where it is written. It's a finger pointing to his self image. If you like his work, and you have every right to do so, try to be critical about it too for your own sake.


He seemed fair to me. But I'll have to look over his stuff again.

The only thing that concerns me about what you said is that we need, "A set of illusions to cut trough the biggest of them all." Self-deception can certainly help a particular cause, yes, (I tend to think of, for example, the Siege of Antioch, when a Christian monk essentially made up a story about finding the spear that pierced Christ's side beneath a church in the city to bolster the morale of the defending army against their attackers... and, not surprisingly, they came out victorious although they were quite outnumbered) however I see no reason why we need to lie to ourselves about grandiose metaphysical matters in order to achieve personal liberation. How does believing in Avalokiteshvara make me any more compassionate than I am already, say, in instances when I see a beggar on the street or a sick child in need of help? How does vowing to save devas and beings I on't even know exist extend my commitment to the Bodhisattva path when I can simply vow to help those who I know are in real need of help in this world? Sure, you can argue, as others have to me on this site, that, "Avalokiteshvara is as real as we are," (i.e. not much at all -- given annica), but this seems like a cop out. Under this pretense unicorns are real, and so are meatball monsters and giant floating coffee cups from Neptune. I just find uncertainty to be a much safer and more tenable position than epistemological uncertainty. Other Buddhists have told me to meditate and that I will eventually experience different realms and beings, but y'know the contemplative Christian monks say they experience the Holy Spirit and Sufis experience the presence of Allah and Hindu sadhus experience Shiva's presence when they smoke hashish and sit by the Ganges. Can we really make an argument from religious experience when so many religious experiences differ?

I don't want to go off topic from the issue of homosexuality too much, but that's just my two cents. And that's why I'm a skeptic about bodhisattvas, rebirth, devas, hell realms, and, to a lesser extent, enlightenment and karma and the possibility of a Buddha even existing.
"Nothing can be known, not even this."
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