I suppose when you play with the Christians you will have to field an interesting email or two. One, in particular, asked about “the Buddhist stance on homosexuality” and directed me to the website Evangelical.us where Evangelical Christians feel qualified and able enough to interpret the Noble Eightfold Path to consider homosexual activity an abomination. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised since … well … they have done the same thing to their own scriptures so why not spread out to the teachings of the Buddha? I especially think it ridiculous that they guarantee their readers that…
We are not saying that Buddhism is the truth faith. But, all faiths do have truth in them. Although in faiths other than Christianity that truth comes from man’s wisdom, that does not make it automatically wrong. There is agreement on the issue of homosexuality. God, who created us, says homosexual acts are wrong (Christianity and Judaism). Islam says homosexuality is wrong. Buddhism says homosexual acts are wrong.
Hey! There is no reason not to pervert other teachings to preach hate and intolerance, right f*ckers? All us heathens are going to burn in Hell for eternity anyway (according to your ignorant viewpoint) but at least we got a bead on the gays! Before anyone accuses me of walking around with Buddhist blinders …
In the time of the Buddha, there were no homosexuals [didn’t you realized that gays spontaneously generated from an old pair of pumps and GoGo’s 45 sometime during the Victorian Era ~ The Management], so our great teacher did not mention anything about this; hence it is difficult to discuss the subject from a Buddhist point of view. But I must say that the contemporary Buddhist stance is that it is not acceptable, since it is sexual misconduct,” [from The Gay Precept: How Buddhism views Homosexuality]
*Breath* So, I definitely think that there is an engaging question on what Buddhist writings (and practitioners) do actually say on this topic but its one that I am not qualified to answer (but foolish enough to approach). Besides it was done well here by Richard at My Buddha is Pink (and a brilliant post on coming out and Buddhism) and here (as a podcast) by the infallible Gil Fronsdal. For the best of my ability and knowledge it isn’t mentioned, hinted upon or discussed anywhere in the Pali Canon or the Mahayana sutras.
Society represents their temperament towards homosexuality through the religious practices of the region (as the quote above was from a monk from Thailand and represents a regional belief and not wholly a religious one). This varies from the inbred, waste-of-life insanity of the Westboro Baptist Church folk to the subtle repression and guilt inherit in many Old-World Catholic and Orthodox families. People and organizations use holey texts and God mumblings to justify their own perceptions and fears.
But the topic got me thinking about the third precept against sexual misconduct (which I assume would be the fall back for any homophobic Buddhists). I recall hearing that the third precept is superfluous and if during our sexual exploits we act non-violently (1st precept), do not take what is not freely given (2nd precept), don’t act deceitful (4th precept) and do not become “intoxicated” or addicted to sensation (5th precept) then we can roll along just fine. Generally our faults and insecurities will manifest themselves through our sex lives no matter our sexual orientation.
If we operate our daily lives manifesting dana (generosity), Sila (virtue), ksanti (patience), virya (effort…hee), dhyana (concentration…teehee) and prajna (wisdom) then the sexual ethic that is inherit in the precepts is applicable to both heterosexual and homosexual lifestyles. Buddhist A.L. De Silva comments that since…
… 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 behavior 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 behavior 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 behavior. 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.”
But lets face it ~ sex complicates and it complicates things good. The focal point of so much drama centers right on a few tabs or slots doing what tabs or slots do and a whole truck-load of dumb-f*cks insisting that its their business. Buddhist practice is less of a black and white morality and more whether something is skillful. So you can distill most teachings to the essential view of avoiding a hedonistic life of mindless pleasure. Enjoyment is still meant to be enjoyed but in a mindful manner, with thought to how your decisions affect others. I keep thinking of the comment “Hate the sinner … ” wait…oh yes .. “Hate the sin not the sinner.” A Buddhist twist on this would be to hate the craving but not the object of the craving. So sex is no problem ethically but random drunk sex is, for all purposes, not skillful. Nor is avoiding sex if it causes a huge amount of inner-turmoil and pain. This is one of points where repressing behavior is unskillful. I firmly believe that Buddha would be pro-sex education as opposed to abstinence. It just seems more practical to educate and not wrapping oneself tight in a blanket of misguided faith, fear and egotism.
So, for me, it comes down to the decision of acting destructively or acting from the paramitas. Through the internalizing of our practice and ability we approach all of our relationships like a Bodhisattva. Some Bodhisattvas dig the opposite sex and some Bodhisattvas dig the same (and some CAAAARRAZZY Bodhisattvas go both ways). Either way we approach without craving (anticipation, though, is completely fine) and with compassion, wisdom and generosity.
So what do you think? I barely scratched the surface but I would love your comments. Evangelizing or homophobic rants will be disemvoweled and mocked.
Additional Gay Buddhist Resources
- Gay Buddhist Sangha
- Transgender and Buddhism
- What would the Buddha have to say about gay liberation
- Homosexuality in the Japanese Buddhist Tradition
- Queer Dharma Vol 1&2 ~ Gay Sunshine Press