Let hear the view point of homosexuality in Buddhsim from Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche.
From the Buddhist point of view, is engaging in a gay relationship or gay sexual activity a Breaking of the Precepts? … ((Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, Love & Relationship Q & A)
Question: One more question; this is a popular topic. Just adding onto the gay issue – from the Buddhist point of view, is engaging in a gay relationship or gay sexual activity - a breaking of the precepts?
Rinpoche: NO, that’s easy. (Laughter). And this is; I need, I need to build my answer for this one otherwise a partial answer might miss, make you, mislead you.
Every religion has an enemy; looks like. Like Christians and Muslims, they have like Satan and so on and so forth – right, every religion. And Buddhism also has one – that, that devil of Buddhism – and what is that? It’s called DISTRACTION.
Constant distraction – that is the Satan of Buddhism, so this. So understandably the main quintessence of the Buddhist practices – obviously, MINDFULNESS; this is where mindfulness is taught in the Theravada tradition, in the Mahayana tradition, in the Vajrayana tradition. Mindfulness is the thing, okay.
So what I want to say is this. Eh, that, that’s one part; I want you to keep that in your head. - okay. Distraction is the main problem, okay. Now in connection to that, in Buddhism morality is secondary, wisdom is the primary. Shantideva said (Tibetan phrase) – a morality without the wisdom is a pain in the neck. It is, it actually makes you hypocritical, it makes you judgmental; it makes you puritanical, so on and so forth.
This is true, you know. When I was growing up, my tutors – they used to really, you know like “Watch out for this, you know like Western girls. They’re immoral, they’re, you know, they’re like blah, blah, all of this; you know like American girls, you know English girls, they’re immoral. American girls are so immoral, they wear short skirts, all these blah, blah, you understand.”
They used to tell me this. Much years, years later when I went to America, for my surprise, I found out and I realize Americans are much more moralistic. American society, American value is so much into more moral, moralistic; this is why, if you can recall, the whole nation debated where, where Clinton’s cigar went in – remember? Who cares? (Laughter)
As long as he’s doing his job, good as a President, who cares what he, did with his cigar. But Americans care so much about morality; so this is the thing.
Actually in Buddhism, wisdom is much more important. Without the wisdom, everything makes you proud, makes you hypocritical – basically it’s pain. You got that. I want to keep that in your head to answer this question.
So, in Buddhism, generally they; these are general, you know, very, very general sort of rule; such as like, eh, you should not kill, you should be generous, you should not steal, so on and so forth – so-called non-virtuous action and virtuous action. You must have heard this before: ten non-virtuous actions and ten virtuous actions and so on and so forth.
But how do you define what is virtuous and what is not? If an act, if an act brings you closer to the truth, it’s a virtuous action in Buddhism – okay. If an act; okay, so if an act of whatever, for instance, if in order to save like these two; let’s say these two are being chased by a, you know, murderer. In order to save these two; the murderer asks me – have you seen these two? I say no; that’s a blatant lie. There’s an act “lying” but I’m saving them. Such kind of act; see outwardly it’s a non-virtuous but actually it’s bringing you closer to the truth, through the compassion, love and all that.
So therefore, especially in Mahayana Buddhism, action that brings you closer to the truth is virtuous. Action that does not bring closer, that brings you further from the truth, even though it may be seemingly virtuous such as going to Bodhgaya and do hundred thousand prostrations; and making sure anybody looking at you so that you become famous, whether anybody is taking photographs of you, you know, to cherish all of that. This brings you further from the truth.
That is not virtuous. So therefore there are categories - such as non-virtuous and virtuous. In the non-virtuous there is something called, you know, like sexual activities are generally considered non-virtuous. But it’s never specified without what orientation; even on the Mahayana level. I am even talking about the Tantra; that’s, that’s even more beyond our normal thinking; but even on the Mahayana level.
So it doesn’t matter what kind of orientation you belong to. As long as you have this kind of sexual activity that takes you away from the truth – yes, it is non-virtuous action. But that could be anything; it could be shopping too. It could be, I don’t know, anything that takes you. So, bottom line – my answer this is; my answer to you is that, eh, what you call it; Buddhist sutras and shastras would not say, eh, heterosexual is lesser non-virtuous than, you know, homosexual, understand. That, there is no this, you know what you call it, eh, discrimination like that.
Having said that though - Buddhism is influenced by culture a lot; a little bit unfortunate but unavoidable. So when Buddhism travelled to Tibet, Japan, China, of course India, that’s where it originated – the cultural value may have an influence, right. So this is why even in Singapore, I’m sure many of the Mahayana Buddhists; I don’t know whether any are here today; when Tibetan Buddhism come here with these hideous thangkas, you know, like thangkas with the father and mother consort embracing – basically PORNOGRAPHIC, you understand. (Laughter)
So, so the Mahayana people go bananas – oh, what is this? What is, THIS is Buddhism? Can’t be; this is some, you know, Hindu, I don’t know, some cult stuff. So culturally, you know, I cannot wipe out that problem. That is so much into the culture. So, of course, the tantric method of this practice of consort and the deities with the consort is not; eh, it has amazing wisdom, amazing, amazing wisdom.
Eh, if you want to make a fire, what do you need? - Wood. If you want to make, if you want to bring wisdom, what do you need? – Emotion. That is the intuition. And if you have water inside your ear, what do you do? The simple and most economic way is put more water, and it comes out. Likewise if you want to get rid of emotions, what do you? - The best and the simplest way – practice emotion, so on and so forth. But those are, eh, X-rated; the best, exclusive, only exclusive, only for people who can chew it basically, who can digest it.
Yes, we have problems with mm, eh, more orthodox, you know, thinking, of course but you know, like, it’s quite interesting actually, it’s really interesting. When you go to places like Sri Lanka, they have like Avalokiteshvara, they have like Manjushri also, but they are treated as, you know, like, eh, clerk; you know, like go for the boys. You know like - oh, yeah, they’re Buddha’s students, you know, those lay people. They happen to be one of those nice boys, but they didn’t have the guts to renounce the world, so they still wear jewels, they’re still lay people basically - but, so that level.
But now we come to Mahayana, Mahayana places like China, Japan; of course Avalokiteshvara, even the Taoist shrine, you find her, you know like great bodhisattvas; accepted even though they are not a monk, accepted as an object of refuge – right. Even in the Mahayana monastery the monks shave head, all of that – they prostrate to Kuan Yin, who is a woman, with all the jewels and all of that. Mahayana - so the wisdom is much more different. But in the Vajrayana, also it’s much more different than that level; that, that depends on the culture and how much you can; you know different culture, acceptance and stuff like that. Okay one more question and then I think we can end. Two more questions, is it?
Transcribed from YouTube video: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on Love & Relationships - Q&A section, 8 April 2012, Singapore.