Author Topic: Homosexuality in Buddhism  (Read 49934 times)

Big Uncle

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Homosexuality in Buddhism
« on: April 01, 2011, 04:35:53 AM »
I know in Christianity, majority of churches condemn homosexuality and calling it a bane for going against God's creation or something.

What about in Buddhism? There is surprisingly little information in the Sutras that mention homosexuality specifically. Perhaps, it is considered a branch of sexuality and so it increases desire. So, that is not good for us either. What do you guys think?

Vajraprotector

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2011, 08:27:40 PM »
As far as I know, homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in any of the Buddha's sayings recorded in the Pali Canon. So, many have taken this to mean that homosexuality should be evaluated in the same way as heterosexuality, in accordance with the principles of no sexual misconduct, one of the precepts to be taken during refuge. 

In modern society, where adultery is not involved and where the sexual act is an expression of love/respect/loyalty, I think it is not considered sexual misconduct if we go according to the above principles.

Also, as Buddhism does not traditionally place great value on procreation, hence sexual act that is not meant for procreation is not considered a “sin”.

What do you think? 

Big Uncle

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2011, 04:35:08 AM »
As far as I know, homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in any of the Buddha's sayings recorded in the Pali Canon. So, many have taken this to mean that homosexuality should be evaluated in the same way as heterosexuality, in accordance with the principles of no sexual misconduct, one of the precepts to be taken during refuge. 

In modern society, where adultery is not involved and where the sexual act is an expression of love/respect/loyalty, I think it is not considered sexual misconduct if we go according to the above principles.

Also, as Buddhism does not traditionally place great value on procreation, hence sexual act that is not meant for procreation is not considered a “sin”.

What do you think? 


Dear Vajraprotector,

I think you are right about this topic. I guess in Buddhism, sexuality is merely an expression of desire. And desire is not something overtly bad in itself as it does not harm others overtly. After all, we live in the desire realm and everything is motivated one way or another with desire. So it is not something the Buddha can say cut and we all cut out our attachments and desires. Hence, the Buddha very skillfully taught the Tantras for qualified practitioners to use desire in order to end Samsara.

DSFriend

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2011, 10:54:46 AM »
I came across these statistics some years back regarding suicide rates for gay youths.

It is very sad how our society have degenerated so badly and have not much tolerance at all for diversity nor in a nutshell, value human lives!! What contributed towards this? Did religion have a hand in it, when religion's role is to make us better people?!

Looking at our situation, Buddhist teachings gives me so much hope and strength that things can change for all of us.

Here's some information which may be of interest to you.

1. Extracted from Stopping Gay Teen Suicide
Source :  http://www.healthyplace.com/gender/gay-is-ok/stopping-gay-teen-suicide/menu-id-1420/

For a number of years, researchers have known that one-third of all teenagers who commit suicide are gay. In one sense, this statistic is incredibly shocking because, according to the Kinsey Report, gay teens only comprise one-tenth of the teen population. This means that they are 300 percent more likely to kill themselves than heterosexual youth. In another sense, it is predictable that gay teens kill themselves more often than other young people simply because their life chances are so limited by social and legal discrimination. Only when this discrimination is eliminated will these shocking statistics change.
....

Thus young gay individuals realize that they must hide their identity for fear of social and legal consequences which can destroy their lives. Homosexuals can be fired, evicted, kept from their own biological children, restricted from adopting children, and imprisoned for sodomy. The homosexuality of historical figures has been systematically left out of education in the public schools, giving gay youth the false impression that gays have never affected history in a positive way.


2. Buddhist perspective
Extracted from Buddhism and Homosexuality
Source : http://www.enabling.org/ia/vipassana/Archive/T/Trembath/buddhismAndHomosexualityTrembath.html

HOMOSEXUALITY AND SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

The third of the five precepts refers to sexual behaviour. In the Theravada tradition of Buddhism, with which I am most familiar, the third precept is perhaps more precisely rendered as "I undertake the rule of training not to go the wrong way for sexual pleasure". What then would constitute "going the wrong way" and would this include homosexual acts? To determine this, we need to consider the criteria which Buddhists are advised to use in making ethical judgements. From the Buddha's discourses, there can be discerned three bases on which we can make judgements about our behaviour:-

- we should consider the consequences of our actions, their effects on ourselves and others
- we should consider how we would feel if others did the same thing to us
- we should consider whether the behaviour is instrumental to our goal of Nirvana.
 
Using these criteria, Buddhist commentators have usually construed sexual misconduct to include rape, sexual harassment, molestation of children, and unfaithfulness to one's spouse. Clearly, these manifestations of sexual misconduct can apply equally to homosexual and heterosexual behaviour. The third precept is not a blanket prohibition, nor a simplistic depiction of some behaviours as wrong and other behaviours as right.

In fact, Buddhist ethics have been described as utilitarian, in that they are concerned less with "good" and "evil" and more with whether an action is "skilful", ie conducive to a good end in relation to the criteria mentioned above and whether it is motivated by good intentions (based upon generosity, love and understanding) 2.

The sayings of the Buddha, as recorded in the Pali Canon, do not I believe include any explicit reference to homosexuality or to homosexual acts. This has been taken to mean that the Buddha did not consider that one's sexual orientation was relevant to his message, which was how to escape from suffering and achieve enlightenment. If it was not important enough to mention, homosexuality could not have been considered a barrier to one's moral and spiritual development.

On the other hand, the Buddha's teachings in no way exhort us to a life of hedonistic pursuit of pleasure, sexual or otherwise. While the Buddha did not deny the existence of enjoyment in this world, he pointed out that all worldly pleasure is bound up with suffering, and enslavement to our cravings will keep us spinning in a vortex of disappointment and satiation. The Buddhist's objective is not to eliminate sensual pleasures but to see them as they are through the systematic practice of mindfulness.

One feature of Buddhism which may interest gays and lesbians is that the teachings place no particular value on procreation. Marriage and the raising of children are seen as positive but are by no means compulsory. On the contrary, celibacy is in most traditions considered to be a requirement for those seeking higher levels of development as Buddhists. Monks and nuns take vows of strict celibacy, and even pious lay people undertake to be celibate at certain times in order to pursue their mental and spiritual development. This means that from the religious perspective there is no stigma which is necessarily attached to being unmarried and childless, although there may of course be social and cultural pressures which override this.

jessicajameson

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2011, 09:17:48 PM »
Wow, this thread is getting quite deep. For me, it's quite simple:

We have been a man, animal, spirit, woman... man, animal, spirit, woman... man, woman, man, woman etc etc in our previous lives.

We have been of both sexes countless times in our previous lives.

Who said that men had to be attracted to women? Society creates all the rules. There is nothing instilled in us that we MUST choose the opposite sex. What is "natural" and "acceptable" is all subjective.

I would find it more natural if we were attracted to both sexes, since we have been both a male and female in our previous lives.

However, when it comes to tantric practice, I have not yet seen any male-on-male consorts. It's always male-and-female.

Perhaps there's a reason for that. It is still possible to reach organism (and hence open our most subtle mind) during male-on-male intercourse, so I don't see why not....


Damian.D

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2011, 11:31:09 PM »
Well in buddhism the labels don't exist so I doubt very much that homosexuality has much to do with whether or not you can become a buddha. And for myself also, sexual preference doesn't bother me at all.

Besides what I find amusing is that once people are put in prison, male or female, they all become homosexual anyways.

Outside prison you are are harassed because you are... inside your harassed because your not.

Funny that?!?


hope rainbow

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2011, 01:34:43 PM »
Thought provoking topic.
I read the comments with interest.
Eventually, I would conclude this:
in Buddhism, there is no interest in talking about homosexuality or heterosexuality, there is only something to be said about sexuality.
Why? The processes at work (mind and body) are EXACTLY the same man-man / woman-woman / man-woman.
And it is the process that interests us not the gender of our sexual partner.

Helena

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2011, 02:18:33 PM »
Personally, I don't think labels such as homosexuality and others do not matter because if we are reincarnated through many lifetimes, we would have been one or the other - male, female, gay, straight, bisexual, etc. So, it would not surprise me at all that we could be any of them in any given lifetime. And what is so great about Buddhism is that it provides a path of liberation to everyone regardless of what your sexual preference is. 
Helena

Positive Change

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2011, 03:21:41 AM »
I never really understood the obvious distinction society gives to one's sexual preference. I really do not because I believe whomever one chooses to spend the rest of their lives or even copulate (to put it bluntly!) with is really none of anyone's business. We are all sexual in nature, who we chose, if we chose at all, is irrelevant! Are we not ALL living beings?

Why we continue to put labels on everything to pigeon hole each other is really beyond me. Who really cares? On that note, Buddhism for me personally is healthy as it views everyone as who they are "inside" and that we all are striving towards the same goal (at least we hope!), regardless of gender, race, age, etc...

There is NOTHING wrong with either being in touch with our feminine side nor or masculine side whatever sex you may be because at the end of this life we are not the sum of what our sexual preferences were but who we were as a "person"... We answer only to our Karma.  :-*

Vajraprotector

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2011, 08:27:20 PM »
The February/March 1994 issue of OUT magazine quoted the Dalai Lama as saying:

"If someone comes to me and asks whether it is okay or not, I will first ask if you have some religious vows to uphold. Then my next question is, What is your companion's opinion? If you both agree, then I think I would say, if two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay."


But bear in mind that in Beyond Dogma: Dialogues and Discourses, a collection of talks and discussions from the Dalai Lama's 1993 visit to France, His Holiness also said that:
 
"A sexual act is deemed proper when the couples use the organs intended for sexual intercourse and nothing else....Homosexuality, whether it is between men or between women, is not improper in itself. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact. Is this clear?"

So His Holiness is not condemning homosexual relationship but rather homesexual sex, because homosexual activity (and heterosexual sex) through orifices other than the vagina, including masturbation or other sexual activity with the hand are considered sexual misconducts.

Do you agree?

jessicajameson

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2011, 05:41:48 PM »
The February/March 1994 issue of OUT magazine quoted the Dalai Lama as saying:

"If someone comes to me and asks whether it is okay or not, I will first ask if you have some religious vows to uphold. Then my next question is, What is your companion's opinion? If you both agree, then I think I would say, if two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay."


But bear in mind that in Beyond Dogma: Dialogues and Discourses, a collection of talks and discussions from the Dalai Lama's 1993 visit to France, His Holiness also said that:
 
"A sexual act is deemed proper when the couples use the organs intended for sexual intercourse and nothing else....Homosexuality, whether it is between men or between women, is not improper in itself. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact. Is this clear?"

So His Holiness is not condemning homosexual relationship but rather homesexual sex, because homosexual activity (and heterosexual sex) through orifices other than the vagina, including masturbation or other sexual activity with the hand are considered sexual misconducts.

Do you agree?

I agree with the first quote. That if both partners agree to the sexual intercourse, regardless of the gender, then it's okay.

With the second quote, it's a little misleading. I see why masturbation and other sexual activities (using hands, mouth etc) is deemed improper and inappropriate, but what about the anus?

The quote seems to suggest that only the penis and vagina can be used for "proper" sexual activity.

IF the anus is not considered as a "proper" organ for "proper" sexual activity, then homosexual activity is improper. No?

hope rainbow

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2011, 11:26:48 AM »
The February/March 1994 issue of OUT magazine quoted the Dalai Lama as saying:

"If someone comes to me and asks whether it is okay or not, I will first ask if you have some religious vows to uphold. Then my next question is, What is your companion's opinion? If you both agree, then I think I would say, if two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay."


But bear in mind that in Beyond Dogma: Dialogues and Discourses, a collection of talks and discussions from the Dalai Lama's 1993 visit to France, His Holiness also said that:
 
"A sexual act is deemed proper when the couples use the organs intended for sexual intercourse and nothing else....Homosexuality, whether it is between men or between women, is not improper in itself. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact. Is this clear?"

So His Holiness is not condemning homosexual relationship but rather homesexual sex, because homosexual activity (and heterosexual sex) through orifices other than the vagina, including masturbation or other sexual activity with the hand are considered sexual misconducts.

Do you agree?

This is what I think:
If we talk technicalities, the proper sexual use of male and female genital organs is to come in contact, they come to their proper functions in such action, technically also with a purpose to pro-create.
Now, if one seeks sexual satisfaction otherwise, it is technically improper, just as if I was using my pencil to stir my coffee. But this does not necessarily mean un-virtuous -such as sexual mis-conduct, for as long as it is not damaging to others.
And I think His Holiness is very clear on this aspect, and I see no contradiction between HH's two statements.
And I don't see that there is a "condemnation" entailed in HH's comments, I don't see it.
There is really nothing to condemn about me using my pencil to stir my coffee is there?

Vajraprotector

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2011, 11:18:55 PM »
I read that in an interview with the French magazine Dimanche, January, 2001, the Dalai Lama said that:

“Q: Your Holiness, what do you think of homosexuality?

DL: It’s part of what we Buddhists call “bad sexual conduct.” (Pause.) 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. (He counts off on his fingers.) Between a man and [another] man, a woman and another woman, in the mouth, the anus, or even using a hand (the DL mimes masturbation)…

Q: So you share this view with Christianity?

DL: We share much more than that: the same philosophy of love of one’s neighbor, the aspiration to elevate a human being above his/her vices, compassion and forgiveness…”

Now, does that make sense in terms of karma or ethics? I'm just trying to understand the point of view of His Holiness.

Vajraprotector

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2011, 11:26:42 PM »
There is really nothing to condemn about me using my pencil to stir my coffee is there?

I think sexual activities or misconduct reaffirm the ego of sexual "fulfilment" and the attachment to sexual activities? The pencil stirring the coffee has nothing to do with reaffirming our desire? But again I may be wrong? It could be sexual innuendo for some people - this day and age there is just so many types of fetish we cannot be sure anymore  ;D

hope rainbow

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Re: Homosexuality in Buddhism
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2011, 09:49:47 AM »
I think sexual activities or misconduct reaffirm the ego of sexual "fulfilment" and the attachment to sexual activities?

Couldn't this be said equally for heterosexual and homosexual activities?
Thus... what really makes sexual misconduct? If not the basis, then certainly the delusion and also the consequences of the action: is anyone hurt in the process?

A sexual activity that has for motivation a selfish indulgence in desire, in physical pleasure, and perhaps in the ego pleasure also of seducing someone, is basically useless.
It can be between m/f, f/f, m/m, it can be masturbation, I don't see the difference...
If it hurts nobody, if it does not consist of a sexual misconduct, then doesn't it fall in the category of "idle gossip" kind of non-virtuous activity?

Interesting topic we have here... I wonder how many readers this topic gets...