Friday, March 20, 2009

Acid River: Updated

The sensitive issue of homosexuality in the Dharma is in the news again, with the recent revelation that a celebrated lineage-holder was basically tricked into ordaining a post-op transvestite.

This is a subject that Tibetan lamas avoid like the plague.

However, Santideva didn't and in his Siksa-samuccaya anthology, quotes the Saddharma-smrtyupasthana Sutra as follows:

"Likewise, endless varieties of punishments in a future life are described for the wrong deed of sexual intercourse between two men. The one who commits misconduct with boys sees boys being swept away in the Acid River who cry out to him, and owing to the suffering and pain born of his deep affection for them, plunges in after them."

Indeed, the only sutra where homosexuality isn't condemned is the Kama Sutra, and that one doesn't belong to us.

Although His Holiness the Dalai Lama takes pains to explain that he doesn't have the authority to unilaterally interpret Buddhist scriptures -- and while he remains open-minded and non-judgmental on the issue -- he nonetheless wrote, in his 1996 book Beyond Dogma, "...a sexual act is proper when the couples use the organs created for sexual intercourse and nothing else."

His public attitude is that homosexuality is a form of sexual misconduct. As we all know, sexual misconduct has many forms, so to single out homosexuality as "better "or "worse" misconduct seems unnecessary, and perhaps somewhat unfair. Yet, it is an area of concern when one considers there are now such things as "Queer Sangha." The recent, disturbing news that an openly homosexual, convicted child abuser has been parading around as a Tibetan Buddhist monk sheds light on the potential dangers. It leads us to the question of whether or not Tibetan Buddhism in the West holds any risk for Catholic-style abuse of young boys.

Certainly, in the context of ordinary Western "dharma centers," this doesn't seem like much of a possibility. However, we do have nominally Buddhist cults in America (and elsewhere), and because of their insular nature, it would seem the risk is potentially greater. Indeed, there is evidence that at least one such cult has come to specialize in recruiting gays, then sponsoring them for ordination by unwitting preceptors.

I do know that a large number of gay people have come to Buddhism because they feel ostracized by other religions. Exposure to Buddhism has been helpful for them and for those around them. Perhaps some of them have been able to cease defining themselves by their sexuality, and have begun to examine their own basic humanity.

I personally do not believe in discrimination on any basis. It seems to me that desire is desire. I knew a pilot once, who liked to say, "When I have to land the plane, I don't care if the runway goes north or south. I just land the damn plane."

And, to continue with the analogy, maybe it is charitable to recall that we recently had the example of a pilot who landed in a river in order to save his passengers. That close to New Jersey, and I can practically promise you things more toxic than acid were in the water.

Motivation plays a substantial role in determining the outcome of even highly unseemly behavior.

Despite use of the word "gay," it seems that many homosexual people are deeply unhappy and confused. There is a very high rate of suicide. Many become the victims of violence. If Buddhism brings them comfort, happiness, and insight, then what is wrong with that? If Buddhism becomes their refuge, isn't that what Buddhism is explicitly supposed to do?

"Gay bashing" in the name of Buddhism will never be acceptable. That much should be made very clear. However, what is worth careful examination is whether or not homosexuality -- or indeed any single-issue labeling -- should be allowed to become part of institutional Buddhism as expressed in the West.

With all due respect to "Queer Sangha," why wouldn't "Sangha" be enough?

UPDATED: Click here and resolve that which clearly needs to be resolved. In the turtle-eat-monkey-paw world of Buddhist blogging, this scholarship stands alone.


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26 reader comments:

BuddhaTN said...

First, gay men do not have sex with boys. Pedophiles have sex with boys. You need to get that corrected in your mind. Gay sanghas exist so that GLBTs can feel at ease. Most gay people have had to create a protective barrier between themselves and others because of the abuse they have endured. Would you feel comfortable if you had to keep a large part of your life hidden? A gay sangha lets us concentrate on healing. Being gay goes beyond sex. It affects every relationship we have with other people. Every time I meet someone I have to figure out if this person is going to freak out on me if I mention my lover I have been with for 10 years. In most of the United States discrimination against us is legal. Your acid bath quotation from Shantideva makes me wonder what else he said that was just bullshit. To think that eternity rests on what hole my penis goes in is idiotic. Also, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche may not be a practicing queer but he is one just the same.

TENPA said...

Here is what Dilgo Knhyentse had to say: "We should experience everything totally, never withdrawing into ourselves as a marmot hides in its hole. This practice releases tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the process of maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life." My point with the "Acid River" post was to address the issue of referentiality. You can always find excuses and rationalization for everything, but a liberative experience awaits those who stop.

BuddhaTN said...

Our "reference point" was erected for survival. The fact that you do not see how hurtful the things you said are is another reason why gay sanghas are needed. Why would any of us want to be around you?

davcuts said...

""""His public attitude is that homosexuality is a form of sexual misconduct. As we all know, sexual misconduct has many forms, so to single out homosexuality as "better "or "worse" misconduct seems unnecessary, and perhaps somewhat unfair. Yet, it is an area of concern when one considers there are now such things as "Queer Sangha." The recent, disturbing news that an openly homosexual, convicted child abuser has been parading around as a Tibetan Buddhist monk sheds light on the potential dangers. It leads us to the question of whether or not Tibetan Buddhism in the West holds any risk for Catholic-style abuse of young boys.""""


This remark is nothing but homophobic slander. It suggest that gay men can't be trusted around children. Gay men are attracted to men. Pedophiles are attracted to children. Please distinguish between the two. There are plenty of gays and lesbians who are now ordained. They pose no threat towards children because in no way are they pedophiles. Not to mention now that they ordained, they know longer have sex. Just like monks and nuns who viewed themselves as heterosexual before they took ordination. Yet you didn't suggest former heterosexual monks and nuns pose a threat to children. This is nothing more than homophobia at it's worst.

"""Certainly, in the context of ordinary Western "dharma centers," this doesn't seem like much of a possibility. However, we do have nominally Buddhist cults in America (and elsewhere), and because of their insular nature, it would seem the risk is potentially greater. Indeed, there is evidence that at least one such cult has come to specialize in recruiting gays, then sponsoring them for ordination by unwitting preceptors.""""

I was in a cult that had a lot of gay and lesbian practitioners. They however didn't "recruit" us. All they did is make us feel welcome. You seem to suggest there is something wrong with that. Your attitude will not help gay and lesbians members of this cult at all. They won't feel inclined to leave the cult after all if they are afraid they will be discriminated against. And discriminating is exactly what you are doing, regardless of what you say.

davcuts said...

""""His public attitude is that homosexuality is a form of sexual misconduct. As we all know, sexual misconduct has many forms, so to single out homosexuality as "better "or "worse" misconduct seems unnecessary, and perhaps somewhat unfair. Yet, it is an area of concern when one considers there are now such things as "Queer Sangha." The recent, disturbing news that an openly homosexual, convicted child abuser has been parading around as a Tibetan Buddhist monk sheds light on the potential dangers. It leads us to the question of whether or not Tibetan Buddhism in the West holds any risk for Catholic-style abuse of young boys.""""


This remark is nothing but homophobic slander. It suggest that gay men can't be trusted around children. Gay men are attracted to men. Pedophiles are attracted to children. Please distinguish between the two. There are plenty of gays and lesbians who now ordained. They pose no threat towards children because in no way are they pedophiles. Not to mention now that they ordained, they know longer have sex. Just like monks and nuns who viewed themselves as heterosexual before they took ordination. Yet you didn't suggest former heterosexual monks and nuns pose a threat to children. This is nothing more than homophobia at it's worst.

"""Certainly, in the context of ordinary Western "dharma centers," this doesn't seem like much of a possibility. However, we do have nominally Buddhist cults in America (and elsewhere), and because of their insular nature, it would seem the risk is potentially greater. Indeed, there is evidence that at least one such cult has come to specialize in recruiting gays, then sponsoring them for ordination by unwitting preceptors.""""

I was in a cult that had a lot of gay and lesbian practitioners. They however didn't "recruit" us. All they did is make us feel welcome. You seem to suggest there is something wrong with that. Your attitude will not help gay and lesbians members of this cult at all. They won't feel inclined to leave the cult after all if they are afraid they will be discriminated against. And discriminating is exactly what you are doing, regardless of what you say.

TENPA said...

This certainly isn't intended as slander, but obviously, in the case of the tragedy in the Catholic church, a statistically significant number of gay men who happened to be priests couldn't be trusted around children. How is it homophobia to examine whether or not that could happen in Buddhism?

davcuts said...

There's nothing wrong to examine if pedophiles pose a threat to children. The problem is you are accusing homosexual men as being pedophiles which is nothing more then homophobic slander. Yet you don't mention how heterosexual men target little girls. Could it be because you associate homosexuals with pedophiles, and not heterosexual men?. You don't seem to be able to distinguish between a homosexual men and a pedophile. Once again gay men are attracted to adult men, not children. It wasn't gay men who couldn't be trusted around children in the Catholic church, it was pedophiles. Pedophiles do target children, and there is reason to be concerned. If you still can't distinguish between a gay man and a pedophile I suggest you look deep inside yourself, and rid yourself of homophobia.

ybnF0kF2moAInJP_SY5TURBtsuR5X34WPt17V2qI said...

Since when have good teachers not offered Dharma to everyone?

Frankly, in the case of sexual misconduct for monks, as mentioned previously, there are many forms. If one does not engage in the conduct, there is no fault. This would remain true regardless of the "orientation" of the practitioner.

Therefore, whether a monk is straight or gay is of little consequence, as it is the act itself which is the fault.

If one is not ordained, then "misconduct" would have to be dependent on whatever vows one has taken, and breaking those vows depends entirely on meeting criteria defined in the vows. It does not matter what your orientation is.

It is clear that your motivation in this post is not a truly objective representation of the Dharma, but a personal, biased interpretation that demonstrates a lack of understanding of the vows themselves.

Regarding the comment about "recruiting gays, then sponsoring them for ordination by unwitting preceptors..." This statement demonstrates a true lack of understanding of the basic foundation of Buddhism, that every being has within it the the Buddha seed. How is it wrong to embrace anyone who wishes to follow the path to liberation? How is it wrong to offer ordination to a candidate that is prepared to hold the vows they are taking?

There are those of us who can see from the very structure of your thinking that you lack the compassion of a true teacher, and we are grateful that there are teachers who embrace anyone willing to practice the path.

SimonNolan said...

"Despite use of the word 'gay,' it seems that many homosexual people are deeply unhappy and confused. There is a very high rate of suicide. Many become the victims of violence."

Aside from incorrectly equating homosexuality and pedophilia, for which you have already been rightly taken to task, this statement is incredibly insulting. You seem to be trying to say that homosexuality itself is the reason for homosexuals' unhappiness, but you couldn't be more wrong. It is PEOPLE LIKE YOU that lead us to being unhappy and confused. People like you in our families, in our circles of acquaintances, in our places of work. It is people like you that continue to berate us, tell us we're evil and are going to suffer in Rivers of Acid, people like you that make us feel unhappy, feel as if suicide is the only end to our suffering.

Your generalization about gay people and their relative unhappiness is a hallmark of stereotypical, bigoted thought. Many heterosexual people are also unhappy and confused. Many heterosexual people commit suicide -- I'd wager that more heterosexuals commit suicide in a given year than homosexuals. Many, many more heterosexuals are victims of violence. By that reasoning, might we say that heterosexuality is a reason for those people's problems? To say that would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?

It should be obvious by the comments here that you have not generated metta with this post. I think you should re-examine your reasoning for making this post, and see if you did so in a true spirit of loving-kindness. While your intentions may not have been slanderous, I encourage you to personally seek out and speak with the people you have condemned with this post for help in understanding the many, many errors you have made.

oldocwoods said...

Because you assume, unilaterally, that that the priests who couldn't be trusted around children identified as gay men. Those men were pedophiles, in both action and intent. There is very little evidence that they desired to have an emotional and intimate relationship with another man--which is the hallmark of gay male relationships.

Anonymous said...

You should be congratulated Tenpa, for being open minded and fair enough to offer the post in the first place, and then allowing uncensored comments, even if they are shrill and basically bullshit excuses for deviant behavior. Anybody who has ever spent any time around real teachers knows that they do not approve of homosexual relationships, they just keep their mouths shut but their true feelings aren't difficult to discern. Allowing gay people into the dharma should be encouraged but allowing gay people to infect the dharma with their rhetoric should be discouraged. Lets say we aren't talking about gays OK? Lets say we're talking about anybody. Why should anybody feel it is necessary to change the dharma instead of letting the dharma change them? That is the real point, and the jerks who wrote above have missed it completely.

Ben said...

"We should experience everything totally, never withdrawing into ourselves as a marmot hides in its hole. This practice releases tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the process of maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life."

Perhaps you should take your own advice? Such as by experiencing life in a way that does not involve uncritical acceptance of midieval Indian sexual mores and this catechistic sexuality that seems more appropriate to eight year olds than to adults?

Ben said...

Anonymous,

You are a coward and a fool. A coward for not revealing yourself, and a fool for putting such tripe into the words of masters who have been quite emphatic that your Talebaanic conception of morality is something that they consider irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr. Tenpa. The purpose of a sangha is to support us in Buddhist practise.

There should be no qualification to Sangha by factors which are irrelevant to practise, like sexuality or race. There are secular groups for that sort of thing.

When we approach Buddhism, we don't approach it as 'gay man' or 'straight man', but rather as sentient beings who all experience the same suffering. There is no distinction in terms of the purpose or results of dharma practise
due to one's 'Sexuality'.

Likewise, from the point of view of the dharma practioner, compassion is not based or affected by factors such as sexuality. It is impartial and concerned with the condition of sentient beings, and freeing them from the causes of suffering. Thats all.

We shouldn't colour dharma, and by extention the sangha, with what are issues that do not make a difference to one's dharma practise. When it come's to dharma, we are sentient beings first. Personally, i think all the other sh*t comes after.

oldocwoods said...

Anonymous:

Anybody who is a serious student of Buddhadharma would accept that view--that the results of the Dharma and its practice are irrelevant to the our conditioned state. Accepting that view, and working towards it are two different things. The very fact that there are 'conditioned' sangha (gay sangha, sangha of color etc) represents a failure of institutionalized Buddhism in the U.S.

Regardless,you contradict yourself. With one hand you suggest sexuality is irrelevant, arguing for compassion for all sentient beings. With the other hand you suggest that you agree with the substance of Tenpa's post, which, although ostensibly a meditation on the question of whether there should be queer sangha, is in actuality a litany against homosexuality (although with the caveat that he himself does not wish to discriminate)and a roll call of the grossest stereotypes of homosexuals.

As I understand it, Buddhadharma is first and foremost about practice, and its way. So where is the practice of compassion on this issue? If you were really concerned with finding a way to argue for the 'one-ness' of Sangha, it would seem to me that you would find a way to do this in the spirit of Right Speech, and the eightfold path (that is, you would find a way to do this without arguing against homosexuals, in general, either implicitly or explicitly).

In a nutshell, you and Tenpa just come across as mean spirited homophobic haters. Caveats aside, I dont believe you when you say you dont wish to discriminate, and that you dont bode ill will.

Anonymous said...

Oldocwoods

What you summarised in your first paragraph was what i was rather clumsily trying to get across, and what i actually would hope i sincerely believe too.

I agree with Tenpa Rinpoche in that i believe what your summarised in your main paragraph, is also what i took to be the main point of his post.

In regards to my post, I don't see i made an explicit "mean spirited homophobic hating" and if it came across that way implicitly, im sorry for my clumsy expression lol. :)

Not to bring ad hominem but i am bisexual myself (but the irony of being assumed homophobic impells me xD), and yet i stand by my point that when it comes to the issue of dharma practice, it is a total non issue either way.

Like i said, its not appropriate we approach the dharma or our sangha brothers in terms sexuality, or other 'conditioned' qualifiers, as much as we can do. But rather approach in terms of trying to resolve the same sufferings we all experience as beings of samsara.

From the 'Buddhist' perspective, let's remember, We are lusting after an eventual corpse, gay or straight we may be lol. When we look at it that way, Sexuality isn't really something we should make a divisive issue out of huh? Suffering, and the possibility of its cessation, is what the sangha supports. Let's not qualify it by anything less.

As Tenpa Rinpoche said, and what i continue to agree with as the conclusion of his post: "With all due respect to "Queer Sangha," why wouldn't "Sangha" be enough?"

oldocwoods said...

Anonymous,

I agree, in principle, that Sangha should be enough (and in fact, would argue that it is), and that sexual orientation is a non-issue.

But I stand by my argument that:

1. We need take seriously the reasons for why there is queer sangha. If you listen to the reasons that people give, its not because they want to be 'queer buddhists,' whatever that means, but rather because their efforts to study buddhadharma are hampered by unchallenged homophobia in the sangha at large. I cant even pretend to be acting out of compassion and ignore such a proximate source of conditional suffering when I hear such complaints. I can easily see how they can be turned into impediments to practice.

2. I cant separate Tenpa's final question from the litany against homosexuality at the start of his post. Even with his caveat that he doesnt believe in discrimination, he more than adequately demonstrates such a view by his 'rant' (there is no argument to the post). If it was his intention to explore that question--why sangha isnt enough--then he should have explored it directly. He doesnt do this, but instead, acting against his own advice, gay bashes in the name of buddhism.

Look, I'm not saying that you or Tenpa are 'bad people.' What I"m saying is that this pious exercise, cloaked in the language of honesty, is profoundly dishonest. It actively slanders and discriminates against a whole class of people (by insinuating that homosexuals are pedophiles, and by implying that they potentially endanger the sangha at large).

Lets review the enumerations of right speech, and then you tell me how this post doesnt actively work against all of them:

1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully.

2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others.

3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and

4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth

Keeping this in mind, and if we really wanted to have a conversation about the principle that you and I both agree on, I cant see how starting with this premise is helpful at all.

Thank you Tenpa for hosting this discussion after the fact.

oldocwoods said...

I want to add here that as long as we are debating the issue of queer sangha, and the logic implied by that formulation, why dont we pose the further question:

If Tibetan Buddhism does not simply refer to the tradition of Vajrayana; and if Tibetan Buddhism ostensibly refers to the Tibetan Sangha, how is this expression any different from using the phrase Queer Sangha? Or even Western Sangha for that matter.

Tibetan and Queer and Western are conditional, socio-historical, political designations that are irrelevant to Buddhadharma.

I could just as easily see an argument (and in fact have heard this case made) which suggests that labeling Sangha as 'Tibetan' threatens the existence of Buddhism because Tibetan Buddhism is chocked full of 'Tibetan traditions' which are not Buddhist in origin. People argue this for 'Japanese Buddhism' for 'Chinese Buddhism' when they find aspects of those traditions they dont like. These are always decried as nationalistic, or racist.

Queer in this formulation is the equivalent of a National or Ethnic identity in that it implies public, socially recognizable roles and traditions.

If we 'allow' the other formulations, I really cant see the problem here.

Anonymous said...

I think the whole discussion is itself a demonstration of what Tenpa was trying to say (maybe there is a bit of a generation gap operating in his wording, but his heart seems to be in the right place) and if I understand him correctly, what he is saying is never mind red, white or blue dharma because dharma is dharma (and like Anonymous just said we all corpses in the final analysis). You do not have to be "homophobic" to express mores that are at odds with gay mores. To say somebody is homophobic without knowing them, based strictly on wordings, is labeling of the worst sort. You have to ask yourself, who else had the courage to wade into this topic in a public forum, and then let the discussion rage? Maybe he used highly skillful means to set up the very dialogue that seems to be taking place. Olddocwoods I seem to see more concern about the issue of homosexuality in your comments than the issue of dharma and I would just urge you to turn that around because it seems to me you are missing the point. Whether you are gay or straight doesn't mean a damn thing in Buddhism (with a few exceptions like ordination rules) because we are all sentient beings in the same pickle. If you let your "gayness" become the focus of your spirituality you will limit yourself. I will grant you that a lot of people dislike homosexuality but that doesn't make them haters. A lot of people dislike Republicans a whole lot worse but they are still Americans. So what do you want? The Republican Sangha? The Democrat Sangha? You tossed out some points on right speech, so maybe you know a little but you ignore your own speech which promotes one of the most heinous sins of all: speech that divides the sangha. That is what you are trying to do, isn't it? Divide the sangha into gay or not gay? Because that is exactly how you see the world. Try looking at the world just at sentient beings because that is a big enough job without worrying about who they fuck or how they fuck them.

TENPA said...

I have always, in the back of my mind, experienced a certain apprehension whenever I hear about "Tibetan" Buddhism... and this goes way beyond "benzra" versus "vajra"... extending to the whole concept of labeling that is the very cause of our bewilderment.

Anonymous said...

Okay then i think we are agreed.

Also this below, i agree with you

"1. We need take seriously the reasons for why there is queer sangha."

But then you assume the reason for a 'queer sangha' is "unchallenged homophobia in the sangha at large. " as opposed to perhaps other alternatives such as people wishing dharma to encompass or reinforce their notions 'self-identity'.

Now. There is no basis for any homophobia amongst the sangha in the buddhadharma.

Quoting HH 101 Ganden Tripa, which was quoted in an Esangha post:

"Homosexuality, like heterosexuality, are both activities of samsara. Neither seems to be particularly better or worse than the other. Whether a man or woman is straight or gay does not make him or her any particularly better or worse than the other. ... Not that, however, that there is no karma involved in homosexuality, only that it is just like heterosexuality, another activity of samsara."

So in this way we can see there is no basis for discrimination for this in dharma terms, as i think we have all agreed on anyway.

So im not quite sure what you refering to about 'unchallenged homophobia in the sangha at large'. Though Tibetan Lamas may view dharma as a force for conservatism, rather than liberalism - their views, i would assume from HH Ganden Tripa quoted above, do not come from 'homophobia', but rather an objective statement against what is 'sexual misconduct', irregardless of sexuality.

And as to your concern about 'not ignoring those complaints' I totally agree with that. But as the reason behind those complaints, whether it is indeed 'unchallenged homophobia in the sangha at large" as you presume, I'm not so sure, and certainly in my limited personal experience, have never ever encountered such.

I do agree with Tenpa Rinpoche again in that maybe it is the case that some people do identify themselves 'more with their sexuality, than their own basic humanity'. (Indeed, it is not only in terms of sexuality but it could be with racial group or religion) So I don't think it is 'homophobic' to acknowledge and explore that possibility, whatever the social reasons for it. Again, Sangha is not about, i think, relating to each other in terms of conventional issues, but rather in terms of a wider concept of our humanity, not sexuality, race, wealth, or anything like that. Making about that, I think is not appropriate.

However, as you say, we need to investigate the reasons for why things like the 'queer sangha' have come about; but saying it is 'unchallenged homophobia in the sangha at large' is something i would sincerely hope is not, and have never experienced to be, the case at all.

oldocwoods said...

1. I have never said that I thought Queer Sangha is the best idea. What I have argued is that its probably not the most ethical action to simply attack such formulations. My reason for suggesting that "Queer Sangha" was formed in response to homophobia is based on the responses of other respondents above. If that is their experience, I"m not going to attack it as incorrect. I cant see how that would do anything other than divide the sangha at large, and impede the teaching of buddhadharma. This has not been my experience. Although, if you read the posts, one other post by an Anonymous suggests that Tibetan teachers look down on homosexuals. If that is the case, again, I can see the reason behind people forming queer sanghas, because as you both say, there is no basis in buddhadharma for that attitude. My comment about the unchallenged homophobia refers to this sense by gay respondents, and the comment by Anonymous to that effect.

2. Anonymous 2: I find it amusing that you assume I'm gay because I dont defend this post. The point of this post was homosexuality (and thus the title, Acid River refering to Shantideva). If the topic had been on the logic of splitting the dharma by conditional designations, then I would be discussing that. It wasnt, it was homosexuality. My arguments against this view are not based on a worldview which pivots around gay or straight, as you assert. My efforts here are not aimed at dividing the sangha into gay and straight. None of my posts have argued for this. Rather, what I'm suggesting is that the Buddhadharma is too big to be hampered by conditional designations. Queer Sangha is sangha, just as Tibetan Sangha, Japanese Sangha, Brazilian Sangha is all Sangha in that as students of the Tathagata, they all participate in the Buddhadharma. At some point, hopefully, we can all be Sangha members without such conventional designations as gay, straight, Tibetan, Japanese, American etc.

3. Homophobia is defined as fear, aversion, or discrimination against gay men. Judging a statement as homophobic doesnt tell you much about the total character of a person. It tells you that that line of thought discriminates against a whole class of people, regardless of their qualities, behaviors, or habits. Homophobic statements (just as racist statements, or sexist statements) are antithetical to the buddha way. If anything I have been arguing that the line of reasoning Tenpa displays in this post is homophobic. This doesnt tell me anything about his character, which seems to me to be rather generous, as you say, for displaying this exchange (for which I thanked him).

4. It is possible to suggest that people identify too much with their sexuality, both gay and straight. But consider this: say you have a homosexual sangha member who is celibate, but discusses casually his past relationships or hardships living in a society which discriminates against gay men. Because he is a homosexual, is he identifying too much with his sexuality? There has been on this post a generalized blending of sexuality, sexual orientation, and cultural roles. A gay person, meaning a person who is generally drawn to an emotional, affectionate, and sexual relationship with someone of the same sex, is still culturally and psychologically a homosexual regardless of whether or not they are having sex. That doesnt mean that they are identifying with their sexuality. It means that they are socially identifiable as gay--again, regardless of whether they are acting on sexual desires. It is absolutely homophobic to argue that because they are socially, or culturally gay that they are akin to pedophiles, or that they are as a class of people, unhappy or confused. Furthermore, its homophobic to imply that homosexuality is 'sexual misconduct' Its the equivalent of suggesting that heterosexuality is sexual misconduct because most heterosexuals engage in oral or anal sex. It is hyperbolic, and unkind to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Tenpa I have read this whole thing and I think you are way too kind. All I see is you telling the simple truth and a bunch of squealing fairies trying to convince people that they are not perverts but "normal." Forget it. Buddhism doesn't need this.

oldocwoods said...

Anonymous:

Perhaps now is a good time to reflect on these stanzas from the Metta Sutta:

"May all beings be happy.
May they live in safety and joy.
All living beings, whether weak or strong, old or young, man or woman, smart or foolish, healthy or disabled, seen or unseen, near or distant, born or to be born, may they all be happy.

Let no one deceive or despise another being, whatever their status.
Let no one by anger or hatred wish harm to another.

As parents watch over their children, willing to risk their own lives to protect them, so with a boundless heart may we cherish every living being, bathing the entire world with unobstructed and unconditional loving-kindness."

Nice, isnt it? I'm sorry, but I"m not really sure how your comments about perversion, normality, or the very violent "squealing fairies" description jibes with these lines from the Metta Sutta, which I take to be one of the very basic ethical sentiments of the buddhadharma.

Anonymous said...

The use of "sexual intercourse" and "boys" seems to indicate ONLY two aspects of homosexuality are involved, and these two aspects are not essential to homosexuality as a whole. Within context, "sexual intercourse" seems o refer to anal sex and "boys" seems to refer to pedophilia. Does this mean that ONLY these two aspects of homosexuality are prohibited, since homosexuality covers much more ? For instance, is it OK to have sex with an adult male without anal sex (sexual intercourse) by mutual masturbation ?

Anonymous said...

Aclthough the pedophile-gay connections is obvious, I think a little sexism is involved in the idea of why it is gay men. Women usually aren't seen as rapsts, and the target is not female. I might say that a few, only a few (cough cough) would prefer a little girlto be raped, or even condone it. A little of an exageration, but...