The Huffington Post ran a story
on Gay Marriage and Buddhism. More specifically on what the Buddhist “take” on gay marriage is. More on that later…first a comment from the Dalai Lama:
“Dalai Lama rejected same-sex relationships to the surprise of many convert Buddhists, who sometimes too easily assume that Buddhist ethics are consistent with their typically progressive views….”
Yup, he sure did. I never really much liked the Dalai Lama nor Tibetan Buddhism in general but this did sort of cinch the deal for me with that particular Buddhist sect. However, his views to seem to encourage more exploration (compared to most conservative Christian commentaries) on the subject rather than a straight out dismissal of gay marriage. And Buddhist ethics do tend to be rather vague and I think that is done for the specific reason of allowing the person to determine what they believe and not some guru or roshi.
“He did, however, advise gay Buddhist leaders to investigate further, discuss the issue, and suggested that change might come through some sort of theological consensus…”
“the Dalai Lama does not speak for all Buddhists … he speaks for one slice of the world’s Buddhist population. The vast majority of Buddhists do not practice in his tradition — however much they respect and admire him — and the Tibetan texts the Dalai Lama refers to were written centuries after the Buddha had come and gone…”
So the question is still open. What does Buddha say about gay marriage? Nothing.
Thanissaro Bhikkhu, abbot of the Metta Forest Monastery in southern California, the Buddha never forbade gay sex for lay people as far as we know. “When he drew the line between licit and illicit sex, it had nothing to do with sexual tastes or preferences,” he says, citing early texts. “He seemed more concerned with not violating the legitimate claims that other people might have on your sexual partner.”
The Buddhist ethical principle, right action, is probably the closest prohibition to sexual preferences that I can find in the Buddhist canon. The Eightfold Path contains contains this tenet which involves the body as natural means of expression and refers to deeds that involve bodily actions.
Basically bad body actions leads to bad actions of the mind and right body leads to right mind. Right action pretty much plays out like this:
- Do no harm to others.
- Do not take what is not given.
- Abstain from sexual misconduct
In respect to sexual relationships, as long as they are harmless to others (including the individuals in the relationship), go with it. I think the 5 Mindfulness Training of Thich Nath Hanh
says it best:
“Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.”
[I would like to hear more about this…if you have any information of the specifics of Buddhism and the topic of homosexuality, I would greatly appreciate your comments]
[Edit: Check this link for a BBC story on Thai Buddhists monasteries changing some internal codes because gay buddhist monks tend to act too “flamboyant” with a great commentary here via The Freethinker]