Gay and Buddhism

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D1W1
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Gay and Buddhism

Post by D1W1 »

Hi all,

First of all, I don't mean to offend anyone. I just want to discuss this topic open mindedly and respectfully.

As far as I am aware, in the Buddhist monastic vinaya, gay people are not allowed to be ordained. But does anyone know what is the reason? Is it because gay people cannot attain enlightement, or is it because gay people were causing problems related to sexuality in the Sangha at the time of Buddha, therefore are not allowed to be ordained? Can they really attain enligtenment, is there any answer backed by Sutta?

Lastly, does anyone know if there was Arahat gay in Buddha's time? Thanks in advance :anjali:
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr »

Greetings,

I assume you are referring to Pandakas? If so, it doesn't seem to simply mean "homosexual". For example, the men who slept with the monk were not classed as pandaka only the receptive monk was. Also, although a bit later, the commentary on the Vinaya lists different types of pandaka:
asittakapandaka - A man who gains satisfaction from performing oral sex on another man and from ingesting his semen, and only becomes sexually aroused after ingesting another man's semen.

ussuyapandaka - A voyeur, a man who gains sexual satisfaction from watching a man and a woman having sex, and only becomes sexually aroused after that.

opakkamikapandaka - A Eunuch by-assault, testicle that are annihilated by assault or violence.[3]("still could attain ejaculation through some special effort or artifice".)

pakkhapandaka - People who become sexually aroused in parallel with the phases of the moon.

napumsakapandaka - A person with no clearly defined genitals, whether male or female, having only a urinary tract, one who is congenitally impotent.
Out of these, the first 2 can ordain but the rest can not. Given that a asittakapandaka is equivalent to what we would call a homosexual man, it becomes clear that pandaka means something else. The term itself literally means "those with no balls" and so its sometimes translated as "eunuch", however i believe there are female pandakas as well which makes this definition unlikely. More likely a "no balls" was a slang like term for something else. I think its worth remembering that the concept of "homosexual" is quite a recent one. In ancient times they didnt really have a concept of a homosexual orientation. Homosexual sex was known, but it wasnt seen as being an orientation capable of long term comittment. Usually it was seen as something that men just sometimes do, as a kink of sorts. Ancient views tended to centre more around gender, which is why we find the view in ancient Greece and Rome that it was ok for a man to engage in homosexual sex if he was dominant but the receptive participant was looked down upon. One retained his masculinity, the other compromised it. Similar thinking can be seen in the Buddha's time, where the pandaka is the receptive partner whilst those laymen who were, shall we say, giving it were not classed as pandaka.

Pandaka then is a man or woman, but it seems usually a man, who is sexually deficient in someway and/or compromises their gender by engaging in emasculating acts, such as receiving during anal sex. Based on this understanding pandaka seems to be referring to a type of homosexual as opposed to all homosexuals in general. Specifically, a pandaka seems to have originally referred to gender non-conforming homosexuals before being expanded to include other men who were seen to not be "real men" due to either sexual dysfunction or kinks. This makes sense, since the Buddha was concerned with the image of the sangha as they relied entirely upon alms and donations from the laity. So, in short the prohibition applies to gender non-conforming homosexuals, the screaming queen/cross dresser kind, as opposed to masculine homosexuals as they have not compromised their gender in the eyes of the community.

Peter Harvery discusses this in his book "Introduction to Buddhist Ethics" found here for free: https://khmersharingdocuments.files.wor ... ethics.pdf

Also, Peter Jackson discusses pandaka in his article "Male Homosexuality and Transgenderism
in the Thai Buddhist Tradition" which is also worth a read: http://buddhism.lib.ntu.edu.tw/museum/T ... d08-52.htm

Hope that helps.

Metta

:)
Last edited by Ceisiwr on Thu May 14, 2020 4:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"Analysis and synthesis are praised by the wise,
liberation in the Sāsana comes from analysis and synthesis;
the purpose of the method of analysis and synthesis is the ultimate"


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beanyan
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by beanyan »

D1W1 wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:21 pm Hi all,

First of all, I don't mean to offend anyone. I just want to discuss this topic open mindedly and respectfully.

As far as I am aware, in the Buddhist monastic vinaya, gay people are not allowed to be ordained. But does anyone know what is the reason? Is it because gay people cannot attain enlightement, or is it because gay people were causing problems related to sexuality in the Sangha at the time of Buddha, therefore are not allowed to be ordained? Can they really attain enligtenment, is there any answer backed by Sutta?

Lastly, does anyone know if there was Arahat gay in Buddha's time? Thanks in advance :anjali:
because they would have sex in the montastery.
beanyan
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by beanyan »

beanyan wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:52 pm
D1W1 wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:21 pm Hi all,

First of all, I don't mean to offend anyone. I just want to discuss this topic open mindedly and respectfully.

As far as I am aware, in the Buddhist monastic vinaya, gay people are not allowed to be ordained. But does anyone know what is the reason? Is it because gay people cannot attain enlightement, or is it because gay people were causing problems related to sexuality in the Sangha at the time of Buddha, therefore are not allowed to be ordained? Can they really attain enligtenment, is there any answer backed by Sutta?

Lastly, does anyone know if there was Arahat gay in Buddha's time? Thanks in advance :anjali:
because they would have sex in the montastery.
also the permiscuousness that would have sex eith the same sex means there attachment to sex is too high that they cannot attain enlightenment.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr »

Hi beanyan,
because they would have sex in the montastery.
That would depend on the fortitude of the homosexual and his/her ability to refrain from engaging in sexual thoughts and acts.

also the permiscuousness that would have sex eith the same sex means there attachment to sex is too high that they cannot attain enlightenment.
Not all homosexuals are promiscuous. Gay culture can certainly be a hook-up culture, but not all gay men and women engage with that kind of lifestyle.

Metta

:)
"Analysis and synthesis are praised by the wise,
liberation in the Sāsana comes from analysis and synthesis;
the purpose of the method of analysis and synthesis is the ultimate"


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Ceisiwr
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr »

D1W1

Can they really attain enligtenment, is there any answer backed by Sutta?
I’m not aware of any sutta that addresses it. I can’t see any reason why a homosexual can’t become a stream-enterer, once-returner, non-returner or an Arahant.
Lastly, does anyone know if there was Arahat gay in Buddha's time?
There was a monk who was infatuated with the Buddha’s appearance, possibly indicating that he was gay. However, we obviously can’t say for sure.

Metta

:)
"Analysis and synthesis are praised by the wise,
liberation in the Sāsana comes from analysis and synthesis;
the purpose of the method of analysis and synthesis is the ultimate"


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robertk
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by robertk »

.
Lastly, does anyone know if there was Arahat gay in Buddha's time?

check out Dhammapada commentary about Soreyya who was a man, desired an arahat bhikkhu and changed to a woman.
Changed back to a man, entered the order, and became an arahat.
Dhammapada Commentary, involved a young man named Soreyya, who was the son of the treasurer in the city of the same name. One day the youth Soreyya was driving out of the city in a carriage, en route to a bathing spot together with an intimate friend and a merry band of companions. Just as they were leaving the city the Venerable Maha Kaccana was standing at the city gate, putting on his outer robe before entering to walk on alms round. When the youth Soreyya beheld the golden-hued body of the elder, he thought to himself: "Oh, that this elder might become my wife! Or may the hue of my wife's body become like the hue of his body!"

At the very moment this thought passed through his mind, Soreyya was instantly transformed from a man into a woman
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Vakkali was a gay monk and committed suicide. Buddha said he attained parinibbana. ;)
Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife.'..."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife.'..."
SN35.88
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rhinoceroshorn
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by rhinoceroshorn »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 4:23 pm
Lastly, does anyone know if there was Arahat gay in Buddha's time?
There was a monk who was infatuated with the Buddha’s appearance, possibly indicating that he was gay. However, we obviously can’t say for sure.

Metta

:)
I don't see another reason not to consider Vakkali as gay. Why would a man want to see another man's body? :thinking:
Without resistance in all four directions,
content with whatever you get,
enduring troubles with no dismay,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.
Sutta Nipāta 1.3 - Khaggavisana Sutta
Image
But if they hit you with a stick...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't hit me with a knife.'..."
"But if they hit you with a knife...?"
"...I will think, 'These people are very civilized, in that they don't take my life with a sharp knife.'..."
SN35.88
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dylanj
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by dylanj »

Ceisiwr wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:33 pm Greetings,

I assume you are referring to Pandakas? If so, it doesn't seem to simply mean "homosexual". For example, the men who slept with the monk were not classed as pandaka only the receptive monk was.
Having sex with a man isn't the same thing as being a homosexual.
Born, become, arisen – made, prepared, short-lived
Bonded by decay and death – a nest for sickness, perishable
Produced by seeking nutriment – not fit to take delight in


Departure from this is peaceful – beyond reasoning and enduring
Unborn, unarisen – free from sorrow and stain
Ceasing of all factors of suffering – stilling of all preparations is bliss
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dylanj
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by dylanj »

I'm a gay man. I'm not convinced that paṇḍaka doesn't simply refer to homosexual. The commentarial explanation is irrelevant, the commentary is very late & gets lots of things wrong. In the vinaya when the term is used the paṇḍaka in question is clearly a homosexual man. It might refer to a specific type of homosexual or a sexual non-conformist, it might not. I definitely don't see any reason, though, why homosexuals would be incapable of enlightenment. If anything this rule would in my opinion in place because it causes sexual issues within what's supposed to be a celibate community. I've considered ordaining myself & the question of how skillful it would be to maintain celibacy while surrounded by men has troubled me, I think it's a legitimate concern.
Born, become, arisen – made, prepared, short-lived
Bonded by decay and death – a nest for sickness, perishable
Produced by seeking nutriment – not fit to take delight in


Departure from this is peaceful – beyond reasoning and enduring
Unborn, unarisen – free from sorrow and stain
Ceasing of all factors of suffering – stilling of all preparations is bliss
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr »

dylanj wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 5:05 pm
Ceisiwr wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:33 pm Greetings,

I assume you are referring to Pandakas? If so, it doesn't seem to simply mean "homosexual". For example, the men who slept with the monk were not classed as pandaka only the receptive monk was.
Having sex with a man isn't the same thing as being a homosexual.
I agree.
"Analysis and synthesis are praised by the wise,
liberation in the Sāsana comes from analysis and synthesis;
the purpose of the method of analysis and synthesis is the ultimate"


Nāmarūpapariccheda
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr »

dylanj wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 5:09 pm I'm a gay man. I'm not convinced that paṇḍaka doesn't simply refer to homosexual. The commentarial explanation is irrelevant, the commentary is very late & gets lots of things wrong. In the vinaya when the term is used the paṇḍaka in question is clearly a homosexual man. It might refer to a specific type of homosexual or a sexual non-conformist, it might not. I definitely don't see any reason, though, why homosexuals would be incapable of enlightenment. If anything this rule would in my opinion in place because it causes sexual issues within what's supposed to be a celibate community. I've considered ordaining myself & the question of how skillful it would be to maintain celibacy while surrounded by men has troubled me, I think it's a legitimate concern.
It’s certainly does raise some questions for guys like you and I. Still, on the whole I don’t see why we couldn’t be a good monk as long as we were mentally prepared, which is something those seeking ordination should be anyway. I think the main reason why there was a ban against pandakas was to maintain the image of the sangha in the eyes of the laity. If so, if a gay man isn’t obvious about his sexuality and is more “masculine” I can’t see how the ban applies.
"Analysis and synthesis are praised by the wise,
liberation in the Sāsana comes from analysis and synthesis;
the purpose of the method of analysis and synthesis is the ultimate"


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Ceisiwr
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by Ceisiwr »

dylanj
I'm not convinced that paṇḍaka doesn't simply refer to homosexual.
The problem with that is that “homosexual” is a modern term with a modern understanding. Even assuming that people back then had a concept of “homosexual” like we do, only the monk who was receiving during anal sex is labelled as a pandaka. Those who had sex with him were not. The text treats them as two different classes of being. Instead of saying a pandaka was defiled by some pandakas it states that a pandaka was defiled by some laymen. This tells us something about their understanding of “pandaka”and who it applies to. If pandaka means a certain type of homosexual then it parallels the views of gender roles and gay sex in other ancient societies. I think this makes for a compelling argument for pandaka meaning a type of homosexual instead of homosexual in general.
"Analysis and synthesis are praised by the wise,
liberation in the Sāsana comes from analysis and synthesis;
the purpose of the method of analysis and synthesis is the ultimate"


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Dan74
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Re: Gay and Buddhism

Post by Dan74 »

Hopefully more knowledgeable people will chime in, but isn't it accepted that many (most?) of the Vinaya rules were introduced in order to deal with existing problems and not because of some absolute? By implication, at least some of them would have to be specific to that time and culture.
Last edited by Dan74 on Thu May 14, 2020 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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