Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:26 pm

Why is he incorrect? If you don't eat you die. If you don't have sex you do not die. Hardly comparable are they?

I mean, you could say that not having sex is comparable to not eating caviar and washing it down with french champagne. That would possibly be a more valid comparison. But I wouldn't compare it to not eating at all.
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Jesse » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:35 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Why is he incorrect? If you don't eat you die. If you don't have sex you do not die. Hardly comparable are they?

I mean, you could say that not having sex is comparable to not eating caviar and washing it down with french champagne. That would possibly be a more valid comparison. But I wouldn't compare it to not eating at all.


I was referring to:

If you are seeking to justify sex, it is due to your craving and not a need such as eating. That is not meant as a condemnation, only the real situation as it actually is.


You can indeed compare them, however. Not eating causes suffering, and for many forcing the body to remain celibate causes suffering. Sure if I wanted to stretch it I could, many of the monks whom were being forced into celibacy by their religious order, felt the need to copulate with other monks and contracted HIV, and then eventually died. Celibacy directly tied to death. :shrug:
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:42 pm

many of the monks whom were being forced into celibacy by their religious order, felt the need to copulate with other monks and contracted HIV, and then eventually died


To say there is no such case would be naieve, but many? How many? Do you have any facts to back up this heavy statement or are you just being extreme to argue your point?

Your unskilful words come very close to slandering the Sangha jewel, which is unfortunate. Not because of the bad monks, but because of the good monks. Not because of ordinary beings like me in the Sangha, but the many realized beings in it.

Such speech is rather heavy karma especially since you cannot back up your statement "many" with any numbers. It was an unwise "stretch".
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:51 pm

Jesse wrote:You can indeed compare them, however. Not eating causes suffering, and for many forcing the body to remain celibate causes suffering.
For many, being without internet access for a day causes suffering. Again, I would consider this a valid comparison with celibacy: you don't die from not having interent access, like you don't die from not having sex. You do die from not eating.
Sure if I wanted to stretch it I could, many of the monks whom were being forced into celibacy by their religious order...
Many were forced into monastic institutions by their poverty, the choice to become a celibate monastic is actually meant to be a choice. If there were secular state sponsored welfare institutions then many of these kids would not end up in monastaries. They would still be having sex in these institutions though (even though celibacy is enforced in state run institutions too). Then who would you blame? The state? The kids?
...felt the need to copulate with other monks and contracted HIV, and then eventually died. Celibacy directly tied to death. :shrug:
This is a ridiculous stretch of "logic". Chill out!
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One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:55 pm

Many were forced into monastic institutions by their poverty, the choice to become a celibate monastic is actually meant to be a choice. If there were secular state sponsored welfare institutions then many of these kids would not end up in monastaries.


This is the essence of the problem, Greg, and the essence of the solution. Thanks so much for saying it so succinctly. It is not the precepts of Lord Buddha that are the problem, but the social conditions that force unsuitable people into taking such precepts. HHDL has said there doesn't need to be so many monks and nuns, just a few of very good quality is enough.

As mentioned before, 16 would seem to be a reasonable age from which to start monastic life for those with a very strong inclination. And not having pre-teens take ordination would naturally address many problems of child abuse, parents using the monastery as a day care or orphanage, etc.

There is a way to respect the institution of the Sangha and what it represents while at the same time looking at solutions to the age old problems within it. Making blanket statements and belittling the entire institution is just as destructive as wearing rose-coloured glasses.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:56 pm

Stay on topic people or the thread will go for a lock down.

The thread is not about the benefits/disadvantages of celibacy, it is about the Bhutanese governments decision to hand out prophylactics to monks.
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:56 pm

Sexual interaction of any kind is a parajika offense, expulsion from the order. As far as the public health issue, that is separate and perhaps condoms should be given freely to all members of the lay community, which is where those monks should be if they must engage in sexual relations.

The issue of young children and adolescents being forced into or sent to monasteries mostly against their will; that is something which needs to be addressed. That should be stopped too. But in no way should lay people be expected to support monks who openly engage in sexual activity, violating the most basic precepts.
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Astus » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:19 pm

In Thich Nhat Hanh's "Freedom Wherever We Go" (i.e. a revised pratimoksha) the precept against male masturbation is moved from "sanghavashesha" to the "payantika" rules, same level as it exists in the bhikshuni rules. So it is a minor offence for both, while in traditional pratimokshas it is minor only for nuns. On the other hand, touching or letting be touched by another person with both parties having sexual intentions is a defeat for nuns and community restoration for monks. There's hardly any way around the rules to justify the acceptance of sexual activities between monastics.

On the other hand, that's just the theory. There are also social factors to be considered, as mentioned already. In fact, the Vinaya itself was meant to harmonise the monastic community with the prevailing social norms. If the lay community is happy to support a family temple - as in Japan - it can also preserve and carry on the Dharma. There are family lineages in Tibet and they are also doing quite well. I'm not saying that the rules should be thrown out the window, but flexibility and diversity of the Buddhist clergy is a good thing. I believe that it is in agreement with the Mahayana idea to allow a greater variety of Dharma professionals than what is in the Vinaya.
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby anjali » Wed Jun 05, 2013 1:47 am

I have to applaud the Bhutanese government for making condoms available to monks. Apparently there is a health crisis that needs to be both acknowledged and addressed. Good for them. On the other hand, I have to ask--because I honestly don't know, what kind of formal training is given to Tibetan Buddhist monastics on working with sexual desires? The classic approaches (for any affliction) are suppression, transformation and self-liberation. You'd think that with such a strong natural affliction as sexual desire, it would be a primary teaching tool for "using afflictions as the path" within the monastic community.
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Huifeng » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:21 am

I think that it's a good move on the part of the govt for public health. At the same time, as breaking precepts is involved, the Buddhist orders need to clean the situation up, too. If it's breaking parajika offences, they should return to lay life with whatever prophylactics they require. If it's not a parajika, that needs to be dealt with, still. If it involves sexual abuse, whether or minors or of nonconsensual adult relations, then it needs to be dealt with according to national, as well.

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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:47 am

Huifeng wrote:If it's breaking parajika offences, they should return to lay life with whatever prophylactics they require.


I imagine this is clear to the sangha authorities involved, but for various reasons it might prove difficult.

Imagine if you're an abbot charged with looking after younger monks and then have to initiate punitive measures to eject monks for having had sex with each other. It would make you look incompetent for having let it happen, but then at the same time it wouldn't be just you, but your staff and immediate lineage as well would take a hit. If you're dealing with Tibetan Buddhism, then there's the issue of tulkus, too.

This isn't limited to Tibetan Buddhism. I remember Master Sheng Yen in his work lamenting how in his day (the 60s) there was little enforcement of basic rules. Constant scandals tarnished the reputation of the sangha, too.

So, indeed something should be done, but what can be done is another matter perhaps.
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:50 am

anjali wrote:You'd think that with such a strong natural affliction as sexual desire, it would be a primary teaching tool for "using afflictions as the path" within the monastic community.


You'd think, but I've met former monks who lamented how they were never really taught how to deal with desire. It contributed to them leaving.
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Re: Condoms Available to Monks in Bhutan

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:09 am

Jesse wrote:Anyway, I just don't see much of a point in it.


To each their own.

Complete celibacy is an important part of abandoning passions, one of which is lust. So long as lust remains, you can be reborn in the desire realm. That means the lower realms are always a possibility.

To remedy involuntary rebirth requires the elimination of lust. Celibacy is only natural if you are determined to achieve liberation. You don't even need precepts against sex, let alone vows. You just naturally avoid such things. If you're a śramaṇa, then you'll naturally seek to have pure body, speech and mind at all times. When you fail, you admit it and strive forward. Naturally celibacy can be a struggle at times, but then that's the point. A spiritual path without having to struggle will probably bear little fruit.

I don't know if this sort of thing is taught in Bhutan. If you're a monk because it is a social convention to send a son into a monastery and it is likewise the same with your peers, there will unlikely be much of an atmosphere encouraging pure body, speech and mind. It becomes more a matter of the rules rather than how do we achieve liberation.
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