Homosexuality

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davcuts
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Homosexuality

Postby davcuts » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:16 pm

How does Theravada view homosexuality? Is it considered sexual misconduct? Are there any suttas that mention homosexuality?

Thanks,
David

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Will
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Will » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:21 pm

Once again Peter Harvey's book gives a good survey of the subject; here are some excerpts:

http://books.google.com/books?id=URZNk9 ... #PPA411,M1

His book is called An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics.

http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=8759
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:25 pm

The buddha didnt say that one sexuality is wrong and another is right. If it is homosexuality or hetrosexuality it doesnt matter, whichever it is it needs to be left behind if one wants to reach nibbana.

One of the precepts for lay people is "to refrain from sexual misconduct". This is a broad term which covers acts such as rape, pedophillia etc. If the sexual activity between lay people is based on mutual love then be it between same sex or opposite sex it cant be unwholesome.

However you will find that some of the pre-exisiting notions of certain cultures have crept in so there will be some thervadains in certain cultures who view homosexuality as sexual misconduct, others see it as a result of past kamma. However as i said this comes from pre-buddhist notions.

As a homosexual myself i never see any notion that the buddha condemed it itself, he just taught that any sexual passion in any form will lead to suffering and so should be abandoned.

Hope this was helpful :smile:

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:30 pm

Theravada vs Mahayana position is well summarised below:
WA Buddhists question Dalai Lama

by Asha Dyson

April 26, 2006

The holy Dalai Lama is under scrutiny by West Australians over a comment made in relation to homosexuals.

The Dalai Lama was quoted in an article (the West, April 15, p.7), “If you are a Buddhist, homosexuality is wrong. Full stop.”

In contrast to this statement, Ajahn Brahm, spiritual director of the Buddhist Society of WA stated in a letter, “The Dalai Lama is not the ‘Pope’ of Buddhism and, charming as he often is, he sometimes gets it wrong.”

Despite concerns about fuelling homophobic attitudes, ABC News Online quoted figures from an article published in July, 2005 which stated, “A new report says about 35 per cent of Australians believe homosexuality is immoral.”

“I think our society is very much hung up about getting revenge, whether you’re heterosexual or gay, we need to be loving,” said Sol Hanna, President of the Buddhist Society of WA.

“I just don’t separate gays from straights. As a Buddhist I try to live a life of harmlessness, I don’t judge people on their sexuality.

“Buddhism is about compassion and Dalai Lama is not the head of the Buddhist religion, although he is a very wise and wonderful man,” said Georgina Green, Armadale Meditation Group member.

Brahm also stated in his letter, “The Dalai Lama’s error is to look for his guidance in dodgy scriptures composed many centuries after the time of the Buddha.”

Trustee of The Buddhist Library and Education Centre said, “We would prefer to consider the words of the Buddha, Buddha was non judgemental.”

“The comment is coming from a very specific view of the world. He’s a political figure and he’s certainly no fool, and he’s not going to say anything to offend the Tibetan community,” said Venerable Bhante (Tejadhammo Bhikku), abbot and spiritual director of the Association of Engaged Buddhists Inc.

“We need to look at the way in which a person lives their life, not just single out one aspect,” he said.

http://wwwmcc.murdoch.edu.au/journalism ... tate37.htm

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:43 pm

Hi
what could be considered misconduct, the issue is in my opinion not even worth talking about as the topic of being sexually attracted to the same sex or sex in general isn't given much room if at all in the texts, besides the phrase sexual misconduct which I take to mean non-consensual or manipulated, I can not think of another referance
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Fede » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:45 pm

This said, it must be added that HH the DL has said on many occasions that he is adhering to Tibetan Buddhist Doctrine. His own personal view is to neither condemn homosexuals, nor to exclude them from practice or involvement. But he has pointed out that no matter what his personal views, he cannot, single-handedly organise or orchestrate a change or amendment to the centuries-old docrtrine which underpins Tibetan Buddhism. His views and opinions, on a personal level, may contrast greatly with the Doctrine. But he has to go with the flow.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:49 pm

Greetings,

To complement what has been said about "sexual misconduct" of which homosexuality is not explicitly specified, most of the Buddha's teachings were given to celibate monks, so the topic wasn't really all that relevant, as sexual anything was a no-no.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:02 pm

davcuts wrote:How does Theravada view homosexuality?

The same as it views heterosexuality.

Is it considered sexual misconduct?

A prediliction (liking sex with men) is not a conduct. I assume you mean to ask if homosexual acts are sexual misconduct. The answer is no. Sexual misconduct is basically defined as adultery and sex with minors.

Are there any suttas that mention homosexuality?

No. However, the Vinaya lists various homosexual acts as included in the monastic rule to abstain from all sexual activity. From this we can know the Buddha was aware of homosexuality.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Individual » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:22 pm

Homosexuality is not considered sexual misconduct, no.

Peter wrote:A prediliction (liking sex with men) is not a conduct. I assume you mean to ask if homosexual acts are sexual misconduct. The answer is no. Sexual misconduct is basically defined as adultery and sex with minors.

Also: rape, incest, bestiality, and extreme sexual addiction (prostitutes, radical sex addiction harming one's life), right?
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jan 27, 2009 3:54 am

Individual wrote:
Peter wrote:Sexual misconduct is basically defined as adultery and sex with minors.

Also: rape, incest, bestiality, and extreme sexual addiction (prostitutes, radical sex addiction harming one's life), right?

I have not seen any of these mentioned in connection with sexual misconduct in the scriptures. If you have a scriptural reference to the contrary I'd be curious to see it.

We should remember though, the five precepts do not encompass all unwholesome acts. In other words, an act may be unwholesome while not violating any of the five precepts.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:26 am

ive only seen no sex with animals listed for monks and nuns, not lay people
prostitutes i believe are kosher (wasnt there even an enlightened prostitute? or is that only a mahayana story?) but there is some stipulation i believe
rape i think is covered under the 5 precepts
insest i dont think matters as long as it doesnt break any of the other conditions in the 5 precepts

basicly anything that is between willing adults is okay.
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby cooran » Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:34 am

Hello all,

Sexual Acts between consenting adults who are not promised to another, or under vows, are not sexual misconduct.

I believe one should look on bestiality as Sexual Misconduct - in the same way as one considers sex with minors ~ the misuse of power with a being who cannot obtain protection and does not fully understand the unwholesome nature of what is being done.

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Element » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:11 am

Chris wrote:Sexual Acts between consenting adults who are not promised to another, or under vows, are not sexual misconduct.

I disagree.

Whilst not implicity written in the texts, the teachings imply there is social sexual misconduct and spiritual sexual misconduct.

Social sexual misconduct is what is listed in the moral teachings, such as no adultery, sex with those in the care of parents, those betrothed, etc.

Spiritual sexual misconduct is personal, can lead to both harming others and harming oneself through birth in the lower realms.

If one is hetro or homo and sexuality leads to say hungry ghost existence (addiction, fear, etc,), I suggest that is a form of unskilful sex.

The word 'consent' implies free will. Many human beings have sex due to fears, loneliness, vulnerability, feeling unloved, etc. These human beings pass the 'consent test' but not the 'free will' test.

Skilful sex leads to birth in the higher realms, where nurturing love and virtues are developed and maintained.

Kind regards

Element

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 27, 2009 8:28 am

Greetings Element,

You seem to be differentiating between what is beneficial, versus what is permissable in the context of the precept about sexual misconduct.

Just because something is permissable according to the precepts, doesn't mean that it's a wholesome or positive thing to do.... remembering what the Buddha taught Rahula in...

MN 61: Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"What do you think, Rahula: What is a mirror for?"

"For reflection, sir."

"In the same way, Rahula, bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions are to be done with repeated reflection.

"Whenever you want to do a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any bodily action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Homosexuality

Postby davcuts » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:44 pm

Do the suttas state anal and oral sex is sexual misconduct? What about masturbation do the suttas consider that sexual misconduct?

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David

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:04 pm

I think there is a Mahayana sutra forbidding those acts, but not in the Pali Canon (except for monastics, who are celibate), which could suggest that they are acceptable for lay people, keeping in mind that not everything permissible is necessarily wholesome, as retro mentioned (addiction possibilities, for example).

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:05 pm

Greetings David,

They'd all be sexual misconduct for a monk.

None of them would be sexual misconduct for a lay follwer, taking into account the caveats mentioned above by others.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:12 am

David,

davcuts wrote:Do the suttas state anal and oral sex is sexual misconduct? What about masturbation do the suttas consider that sexual misconduct?


To begin with, I should make it clear that Buddhist precepts are not equivalent to commandments in that precepts are training rules that are voluntarily undertaken rather than edicts or commands dictated by a higher power and/or authority. In essence, these precepts are undertaken to protect oneself, as well as others, from the results of unwholesome actions. Actions are considered unwholesome when they arise out of the mental defilements of greed, hatred and delusion.

In regard to Buddhist sexual ethics, the third precept states: "I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct." That, of course, will naturally lead one to the question, "What is the definition of sexual misconduct?" To answer that question, however, we must take into account the other four precepts. In other words, the five precepts are an intergrated whole, and each precept supports the others. The other four precepts are (1) to refrain from harming living beings, (2) to refrain from taking what is not given, (3) to refrain from false speech and (4) to refrain from taking intoxicants that lead to carelessness.

Therefore, generally speaking, sexual misconduct means any sexual conduct that involves violence, manipulation and/or deceit. As the Ven. S. Dhammika elaborates, "If we use trickery, emotional blackmail or force to compel someone to have sex with us, then this is sexual misconduct. Adultery is also a form of sexual misconduct because when we marry we promise our spouse that we will be loyal to them. When we commit adultery we break that promise and betray that trust. Sex should be an expression of love and intimacy between two people and when it is it contributes to our mental and emotional well-being."

To summarize, from what I have been taught by my teachers, as well as from what I have read in the suttas, sexual misconduct includes any sexual activity that leads to self-affliction, to the affliction of others or to both, or that involves any person who is (1) already in a committed relationship (e.g., engaged, married, etc.), (2) protected by law (e.g., under age, etc.), or (3) under religious vows entailing celibacy (e.g., monks, nuns, etc.). So, in general, sex between consenting persons of legal age who are not already in committed relationships and have not taken vows of celibacy is not considered misconduct in Theravada.

One reason for this that I think should be noted is that, in Theravadin countries, marriage is seen as a secular contract as opposed to a sacred union ordained by a higher power. Marriage is certainly taken seriously, and it is still seen as a deep and powerful commitment to be sure, but it is not considered to be a prerequisite for sex. Personally, I think that a lot of the views concerning marriage and sex are influenced more by cultural, religious and social norms than by any universal constant. For a few quick references, please see Buddhist Sexual Ethics, Good Question, Good Answer and The Healing Power of the Precepts.

In regard to anal and oral sex, there is a prohibition against sex concerning "inappropriate orifices" (i.e. anal and oral) that can be found in Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosabhasyam, as well as a few other Sarvastivadin texts, but there is no such prohibition found in any Theravadin source. As for masturbation, nowhere in the Pali Canon is masturbation labeled as sexual misconduct. I repeat: nowhere in the Pali Canon is masturbation or homosexuality labeled as sexual misconduct.

Jason
Last edited by Jason on Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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davcuts
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Re: Homosexuality

Postby davcuts » Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:05 am

Elohim wrote:In regard to anal and oral sex, there is a prohibition against sex concerning "inappropriate orifices" (i.e. anal and oral) that can be found in Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosabhasyam, as well as a few other Sarvastivadin texts, but there is no such prohibition found in any Theravadin source. As for masturbation, nowhere in the Pali Canon is masturbation labeled as sexual misconduct. I repeat: nowhere in the Pali Canon is masturbation or homosexuality labeled as sexual misconduct.

Jason


This is good to know. It sounds like there is no Southern Baptist guilt when it comes to sex with Theravada. Tibetan Buddhism however views sex much like the Pope. It's only intended for those who are trying to conceive. It's best to lose the attachment to sex I know, but with the Theravada it seems you can have sex and not feel like a sinner for doing so.

Thanks,
David

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Re: Homosexuality

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:24 pm

He avoids unlawful sexual intercourse, abstains from it. He has no intercourse with girls who are still under the protection of father or mother, brother, sister, or relative; nor with married women, nor female convicts (?-or nuns); nor lastly with betrothed girls.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el225.html

-this is what I remember about the third precept- sorry not sure where in the suttas the quote comes from- doesnt seem to be easily available on the net- possibly a description of bodily misconduct.
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