Buddhist philosophy on homosexuality

Homosexuality in Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhism

As a gay man, I'd like to know how Buddhism views LGBTQ people. more a reflection of cultural attitudes than Buddhist philosophy per se. homosexuality and how Buddhist lesbians, gays and bisexuals .. 5), masters degree (n = 2), and a doctor of philosophy (n = 1); and their. Rediscovering Buddhism's LGBT history of gay monks, homoerotic samurai, and gender-nonconforming practitioners and gods.

Indeed, how does Buddhism view homosexuality? I was greeted by a lecturer in philosophy and religion, Somwang Kaewsufong, a neat looking man, who. As a gay man, I'd like to know how Buddhism views LGBTQ people. more a reflection of cultural attitudes than Buddhist philosophy per se. Whether or not homosexuality, sexual behaviour between people of the same sex, No one of the Buddha's discourses is devoted to systematic philosophical​.

There Tripitaka (Buddhist scripts) refer to incidents of homosexuality is a basic foundation of Buddhism as is the philosophy of seeking inner. homosexuality and how Buddhist lesbians, gays and bisexuals .. 5), masters degree (n = 2), and a doctor of philosophy (n = 1); and their. As a gay man, I'd like to know how Buddhism views LGBTQ people. more a reflection of cultural attitudes than Buddhist philosophy per se.






One of the many differences between Homosexuality and other religions is how little emphasis it places on sexuality as a philosophy issue. While other religions place rules about sexual behavior, marriage, and sexual orientation at the homosexuality of their ethical universe, Buddhism pretty much limits its comment to the admonition not to harm others through sexuality. Obviously, there are strict rules for celibate monastics.

While traditional Buddhist buddhist are more conservative, the Buddhist community in the West homosexuality generally socially liberal and homosexiality welcoming to LGBTQ members. There are philosophy gay and lesbian teachers, and most major communities host events, meditations, and retreats specifically buddhist LGBTQ practitioners.

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Most Mahayana teachings assert that all beings who correctly practice the dharma may reach enlightenment, since all possess innate Buddha nature. Enlightenment being achievable even in a single life. Gampopa 12th century , one of the main early masters of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, followed the Indian Buddhist tradition, starting with the 3rd-century Hinayana texts of Vasubandhu , that oral and anal sex , whether with a man or a woman, are violations of the third precept regarding inappropriate sexual behavior.

Longchenpa , the 13th-century founder of the Nyingma school, citing the 3rd-century Mahayana texts of the Indian master Asanga , elaborated that inappropriate sexual behavior also include the hands among inappropriate parts of the body for sexual activity. In the same way, Gelug predecessor Je Tsongkhapa also adheres to such rules in his studies. Subsequent Tibetan masters from all five schools of Tibetan Buddhism accept all these specifications as delineated in the earlier Indian Buddhist texts.

The late Lama Thubten Yeshe , a Gelugpa Lama and founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition , indicated that he did not consider homosexuality to be sexual misconduct. This is my opinion.

The current Dalai Lama , Tenzin Gyatso, follows the traditional Tibetan Buddhist assertion that inappropriate sexual behaviour includes lesbian and gay sex, and indeed any sex other than penis-vagina intercourse with one's own monogamous partner, including oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact. In this discussion, it should be understood that the controversial topic is inappropriate sexual conduct for a Buddhist practitioner, as the Dalai Lama has repeatedly "voiced his support for the full recognition of human rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.

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," [49] while penis-vagina non-procreative sex is not considered to be sexual misconduct.

From society's point of view, mutually agreeable homosexual relations can be of mutual benefit, enjoyable and harmless. Four years earlier, he had been unsure if a mutually agreeable non-abusive same-sex relationship would be acceptable within the general principles of Buddhism. However, he had difficulty imagining the mechanics of homosexual sex, saying that nature had arranged male and female organs "in such a manner that is very suitable Same-sex organs cannot manage well.

He thinks that this is the type of issue that would need to be discussed by a council of Buddhist elders from all Buddhist traditions. Only such a council could amend issues concerning Vinaya and ethics.

The Dalai Lama also recommends the issue of the equality of women, particularly in monastic rituals and ceremonies, to be reconsidered and revised. There are pages of careful observation of Himalayan people engaged in a variety of intimate acts. In an interview with Wikinews , Tashi Wangdi , representative to the Dalai Lama, further elaborated his perspective on these views. If a person was to engage in homosexuality, "a person would not be considered as following all the precepts of Buddhist principles.

Very few people can claim they follow all the principles. For instance, telling a lie. In any religion, if you ask if telling a lie is a sin — say Christian — they will say yes. Or someone who tells a lie is not a Buddhist. In Thailand, traditional accounts propose that "homosexuality arises as a karmic consequence of violating Buddhist proscriptions against heterosexual misconduct. These karmic accounts describe homosexuality as a congenital condition which cannot be altered, at least in a homosexual person's current lifetime, and have been linked with calls for compassion and understanding from the non-homosexual populace.

The key factor differentiating the divergent stances is the author's conceptualisation of the origin of homosexuality; those who, taking a liberal stance, maintain that it is a condition which is outside the conscious control of homosexual men and women and has its origins in past misdeeds, whereas those who maintain that homosexuality is a willful violation of ethical and natural principles takes an antagonistic position.

Peter Jackson argues that AIDS in the s brought about a shift of perception in Thailand regarding kathoeys , "placing homosexuality rather than gender at the focus of the concept", which was associated with "a shift in Buddhist attitudes from relative tolerance of homosexuality to condemnation. In , the supreme governing body of the Thai sangha affirmed that "gays" here translated from Thai kathoey are prohibited from being ordained. Several writers have noted the strong historical tradition of open bisexuality and homosexuality among male Buddhist institutions in Japan.

Despite the fact that isolated reports of homosexual cases date back to the earliest period of written history in Japan the eighth century AD , Buddhists were the first to engage in public rationalization of pederasty, and it is due to them, therefore, that a homosexual culture emerged in Japan in subsequent centuries.

Western Christian travellers to Japan from the 16th century have noted with distaste the prevalence and acceptance of forms of homosexuality among Japanese Buddhists [63] — Jesuit priest Francis Cabral wrote in that "abominations of the flesh" and "vicious habits" were "regarded in Japan as quite honourable; men of standing entrust their sons to the bonzes to be instructed in such things, and at the same time to serve their lust". A 17th-century Japanese Buddhist scholar, Kitamura Kigin , wrote that Buddha advocated homosexuality over heterosexuality for priests:.

It has been the nature of men's hearts to take pleasure in a beautiful woman since the age of male and female gods, but to become intoxicated by the blossom of a handsome youth Nevertheless, the Buddha preached that [Mount] Imose [65] was a place to be avoided and the priests of the law entered this Way [66] as an outlet for their feelings, since their hearts were, after all, made of neither stone nor wood.

It plagues the heart not only of courtier and aristocrat but also of brave warriors. Even the mountain dwellers who cut brush for fuel have learned to take pleasure in the shade of young saplings. A later Popular Japanese legend attributed the introduction of monastic homosexuality to Japan to Shingon founder Kukai , although scholars now dismiss the veracity of this assertion, pointing out his strict adherence to the Vinaya.

About Buddhism and homosexuality in China , scholar A. De Silva writes, "Generally the attitude has been one of tolerance. Matteo Ricci , the Jesuit missionary who lived in China for 27 years from , expressed horror at the open and tolerant attitude that the Chinese took to homosexuality and naturally enough saw this as proof of the degeneracy of Chinese society.

Venerable Hsing Yun , one of the premier figures in contemporary Chinese Buddhism , has stated that Buddhism should never teach intolerance toward homosexuality, and that people should expand their minds. Marriage is an institution that reflects the values of the society that supports it. If the people of a society no longer believe that it is important to be married, then there is no reason why they cannot change the institution of marriage.

Marriage is a custom. Customs can always be changed. We can find the same core point in this question as we have in others — the ultimate truth of the matter is that individuals can and should decide for themselves what is right.

As long as they are not violating others or breaking the laws of the society in which they are living, then they are free to do what they believe is right. It is not for me or anyone else to tell them that they must get married if they want to live together.

That is their choice and their choice alone. The same analysis can be applied to homosexuality. People often ask me what I think about homosexuality. They wonder, is it right, is it wrong?

The answer is, it is neither right nor wrong. It is just something that people do. If people are not harming each other, their private lives are their own business; we should be tolerant of them and not reject them. However, it will still take some time for the world to fully accept homosexuality. All of us must learn to tolerate the behavior of others.

Just as we hope to expand our minds to include all of the universe, so we should also seek to expand our minds to include all of the many forms of human behavior. Tolerance is a form of generosity and it is a form of wisdom. There is nothing anywhere in the Dharma that should ever lead anyone to become intolerant.

Our goal as Buddhists is to learn to accept all kinds of people and to help all kinds of people discover the wisdom of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. Hsing Yun is a best-selling author throughout the Sinosphere , as well as an advocate of Humanistic Buddhism , an approach to reform Chinese Buddhism to match the needs of contemporary laypeople.

As such, his views may not be wholly reflective of the older Buddhist views in China. However, at an earlier point , he is quoted as remarking that "according to Buddhism, any emotional involvement, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is a form of attachment An example of an older view in opposition to homosexuality is given by the traditional master, Hsuan Hua , an important figure for Buddhism in both China and the United States.

Master Hsuan Hua stated that homosexuality "plants the seeds that lead to rebirth in the lower realms of existence". In contrast to Buddhism in Asia, modern Buddhism in the Western world is typically associated with a concern for social equality —partly as a result of its largely middle-class intellectual membership base, and its philosophical roots in freethought and secular humanism.

They stress these overarching values rather than examining specific passages or texts. As a result, western Buddhism is often relatively gay-friendly, especially since the s.

As an interpretation of what is sexual misconduct is an individual decision and not subject to judgment by any central authority, a view of accepting all peoples, but rejecting certain types of sexual acts is more predominant. However, this interpretation of sexual misconduct is only applicable to lay Buddhists or Japanese Buddhism's secular married priests.

It is a mistake to assume that it would be applied to monastics at all. In traditional forms of Japanese Buddhism, nuns are not allowed sex partners. Neither Theravada or Mahayana traditions of Vinaya traditional Buddhism allow same-gender monastics same-sex partners. They must be celibate no matter what their sexual orientation or they cannot be considered monks or nuns in monastic Buddhism.

Sexuality is not a factor in determination of a qualification of a candidate in full ordination in those traditions that follow traditional Vinaya Buddhism as set forth by the Buddha. An interesting position comes from the western scholar Alexander Berzin ,. The texts in Buddhist traditions have been written from the point of view of a heterosexual male. We need to explore the intention of the teachings on sexual misconduct, which ultimately is to eliminate attachment, obsessive desire, and dissatisfaction.

If a heterosexual male finds no bounds to these disturbing emotions, he might have sex with someone else's partner, as well as other men. We can apply the same logic and explore what constitutes boundless attachment and dissatisfaction for homosexual and bisexual males or females. For example, having sex with somebody else's partner and so on could be destructive for these types of person as well".

The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche , holder of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages, in a talk delivered to LGBT Dharma practitioners at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York , stressed that for vajrayana lay practitioners, homosexual relationships are no better or worse than heterosexual relationships and that only unhealthy relationships, in general, are to be avoided. The U. The heart of Buddhist thought is its insight philosophy, which uses critical inquiry to challenge dogma and to reveal how seemingly fixed ideas are more arbitrary than we might think.

Applying this philosophy, we see that social customs are not fixed laws but evolving conventions that serve a purpose in a particular culture and time. Marriage is one of these conventions. It is not a rigid law but a social custom that evolves. On , the Australian branch of Buddhism voiced its support for same-sex marriage in a hearing of the Australian Parliament that sought to gather views on whether to legalize same-sex marriage. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Religion portal LGBT portal. Oxford University Press , page Archived from the original on Retrieved Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight.

AN Abandoning sensual misconduct, he abstains from sensual misconduct. The lay man is told to abstain from sex with "unsuitable partners" defined as girls underage, women betrothed or married and women who have taken vows of religious celibacy. This is unskillful because it requires subterfuge and deceit, it means that solemn promises made at the time of marriage are broken, and it amounts to a betrayal of trust.

In another passage, the Buddha says that someone practicing the third Precept "avoids intercourse with girls still under the ward of their parents, brothers, sisters or relatives, with married women, with female prisoners or with those already engaged to another. Although only females are mentioned here no doubt the same would apply to males in the same position. As homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in any of the Buddha's discourses more than 20 volumes in the Pali Text Society's English translation , we can only assume that it is meant to be evaluated in the same way that heterosexuality is.

And indeed it seems that this is why it is not specifically mentioned. In the case of the lay man and woman where there is mutual consent, where adultery is not involved and where the sexual act is an expression of love, respect, loyalty and warmth, it would not be breaking the third Precept. And it is the same when the two people are of the same gender. Likewise promiscuity, license and the disregard for the feelings of others would make a sexual act unskillful whether it be heterosexual or homosexual.

All the principles we would use to evaluate a heterosexual relationship we would also use to evaluate a homosexual one. In Buddhism we could say that it is not the object of one's sexual desire that determines whether a sexual act is unskillful or not, but rather the quality of the emotions and intentions involved.

However, the Buddha sometimes advised against certain behaviour not because it is wrong from the point of view of ethics but because it would put one at odds with social norms or because its is subject to legal sanctions. In these cases, the Buddha says that refraining from such behaviour will free one from the anxiety and embarrassment caused by social disapproval or the fear of punitive action.

Homosexuality would certainly come under this type of behaviour. In this case, the homosexual has to decide whether she or he is going to acquiesce to what society expects or to try to change public attitudes. In Western societies where attitudes towards sex in general have been strongly influenced by the tribal taboos of the Old Testament and, in the New Testament, by the ideas of highly neurotic people like St.

Paul, there is a strong case for changing public attitudes. We will now briefly examine the various objections to homosexuality and give Buddhist rebuttals to them. The most common Christian and Muslim objection to homosexuality is that it is unnatural and "goes against the order of nature". There seems to be little evidence for this. Miriam Rothschild, the eminent biologist who played a crucial role in the fight to decriminalize homosexuality in Britain, pointed out at the time that homosexual behaviour has been observed in almost every known species of animal.

Secondly, it could be argued that while the biological function of sex is reproduction, most sexual activity today is not for reproduction, but for recreation and emotional fulfillment, and that this too is a legitimate function of sex. This being so, while homosexuality is unnatural in that it cannot leads to reproduction, it is quite natural for the homosexual in that for her or him it provides physical and emotional fulfillment. Indeed, for him or her, heterosexual behaviour is unnatural.

Thirdly, even if we concede that homosexuality "goes against the order of nature", we would have to admit that so do many other types of human behaviour, including some religious behaviour. The Roman Catholic Church has always condemned homosexuality because of its supposed unnaturalness - but it has long idealized celibacy, which, some might argue, is equally unnatural. Another Christian objection to homosexuality is that it is condemned in the Bible, an argument that is meaningful to those who accept that the Bible is the infallible word of God, but which is meaningless to the majority who do not accept this.

But while there is no doubt that the Bible condemns homosexuality, it also stipulates that women should be socially isolated while menstruating, that parents should kill their children if they worship any god other than the Christian God and that those who work on the Sabbath should be executed. Few Christians today would agree with these ideas even though they are a part of God's words, and yet they continue to condemn homosexuality simply because it is condemned in the Bible.

One sometimes hears people say: "If homosexuality were not illegal, many people, including the young, will become gay. It is as silly as saying that if attempted suicide is not a criminal offense then everyone will go out and commit suicide. Whatever the cause of homosexuality and there is great debate on the subject , one certainly does not 'choose' to have homoerotic feelings in the same way one would, for example, choose to have tea instead of coffee.

It is either inborn or develops in early childhood. And it is the same with heterosexuality. Changing laws does not change people's sexual inclinations. Some have argued that there must be something wrong with homosexuality because so many homosexuals are emotionally disturbed.

At first there seems to be some truth in this. In the West, at least, many homosexuals suffer from psychological problems, abuse alcohol, and indulge in obsessive sexual behaviour. As a group, homosexuals have a high rate of suicide. But observers have pointed out that such problems seem to be no more pronounced amongst African and Asian homosexuals than they are in the societies in which they live.

It is very likely that homosexuals in the West are wounded more by society's attitude to them than by their sexual proclivity, and, if they are treated the same as everybody else, they will be the same as everybody else. Indeed, this is the strongest argument for acceptance and understanding towards homosexuals. Christianity grew out of and owes much to Judaism with its tradition of fiery prophets fiercely and publicly denouncing what they considered to be moral laxity or injustice.

Jesus was very much influenced by this tradition, as have been the Christian responses to public and private morality generally.

At its best, this tradition in Christianity to loudly denounce immorality and injustice has given the West its high degree of social conscience. At its worst, it has meant that those who did not or could not conform to Christian standards have been cruelly exposed and persecuted. The Buddhist monk's role has always been very different from his Christian counterpart. His job has been to teach the Dhamma and to act as a quiet example of how it should be lived.

This, together with Buddhism's rational approach to ethics and the high regard it has always given to tolerance, has meant that homosexuals in Buddhist societies have been treated very differently form how they have been in the West. In countries like China, Korea and Japan where Buddhism was profoundly influenced by Confucianism, there have been periods when homosexuality has been looked upon with disapproval and even been punishable under the law. But generally the attitude has been one of tolerance.

Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit missionary who lived in China for twenty-seven years from , expressed horror at the open and tolerant attitude that the Chinese took to homosexuality and naturally enough saw this as proof of the degeneracy of Chinese society.