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Buddhist and gay?

BlayneBlayne New
edited December 2013 in Buddhism Basics
Hello everyone,

At the moment I wouldn't consider myself buddhist as I'm still only reading up on it and watching countless videos on YouTube. I'm gay and so my question is, Can I be gay and be buddhist or is it forbidden/frowned upon ?

Comments

  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited December 2013
    You can be whatever you like, it's all in your mind after all.

    if you mean, what does buddhism say about homosexuality, nothing different then heterosexuality, it's all related to sensual craving which leads to suffering, so you are no different then myself in that regard.

    The buddha taught tolerance and compassion for all beings. I don't think sexual preference is ever mentioned in the suttas, like many topics, it just had nothing to do with suffering or the cause of suffering, so therefore is pretty irrelevant.

    here is a talk from my favorite monk, about homosexuality and specifically gay marriage

    Jainarayan
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    It's ok. :) Zen Master Soeng Hyang (Barbara Rhodes) is the School Zen Master and Guiding Dharma Teacher of the Kwan Um School of Zen, which is a very large zen school in the US and abroad. She is gay and definitely very much Buddhist. If someone tell you it's not, well then they just don't know what they are talking about.
    Jeffrey
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    Gay is just a label. Hey if you examined me in more detail I might be labelled bisexual, a suppressed homosexual or a regular heterosexual - depending on your perspective and who is making a judgement. Buddhists are people who are not attached or averse to labels… Many people come and go to buddhism because they find that they don't fit into the 'normal distribution'. Be gay, Be buddhist, Be you… However, know what it is you are trying to do - buddhists generally want to stop 'suffering themselves', is your homosexuality a cause of personal grief, or are you really ok with it and there is something else causing you grief - work with that as an object then.

    Good luck - youtube isn't necessarily the best place to start learning buddhism - loads of distractions!
    MaryAnneS_Mouse
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran
    There is no mention in the suttas about marriage/partnership amongst the laity that I'm aware of? Only reasonable, charitable, respectful and compassionate relations to all living beings.

    Sexual behavior has been a big issue in all early religions, and it makes sense because most human beings enjoy sex so much that it can (and does) become a sense-based hindrance to Waking Up/The Kingdom of God/merging with Brahman, etc. Homosexuality in particular did not produce children, a very important commodity to the leaders of peoples seeking greatness and power. Now that there may be too many humans, someone ought to check with Jehovah in case he's willing to dictate an addendum :D

    This really underscores how irrelevant one's partner preference is in the practice of the Dharma.

    Welcome :)

    Gassho :)
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Blayne said:

    Hello everyone,

    At the moment I wouldn't consider myself buddhist as I'm still only reading up on it and watching countless videos on YouTube. I'm gay and so my question is, Can I be gay and be buddhist or is it forbidden/frowned upon ?

    Blayne said:

    Hello everyone,

    At the moment I wouldn't consider myself buddhist as I'm still only reading up on it and watching countless videos on YouTube. I'm gay and so my question is, Can I be gay and be buddhist or is it forbidden/frowned upon ?

    The Sangha I'm with now has openly gay members and the Sangha before that was the same. If fact I don't know of any Sangha in my area where gays would be discriminated against.
  • There are some old texts? that say wrong orifice is sexual misconduct, but they aren't respected as much these days. Personally I don't care what kinda junk someone has between their legs :) and I am open to gays.
  • matthewmartinmatthewmartin Amateur Bodhisattva Suburbs of Mt Meru Veteran
    edited December 2013
    What religious background are you coming from? If from Abrahamic (Christianity, etc), the first thing to note is all forms of Buddhism have a different sort of ethics, in particular, the rules are *not* handed down by a god that you have to follow them because of..., well, god said so and rules are rules. Nothing like that in Buddhism, but there are ethical rules to follow and for the most part turn on if you are talking about renunciative life (monks, nuns) or lay life. For monks the goal was to not have *any* families or boyfriends or girlfriends because that got in the way of full time religious practice (not because sex was bad per se or worse than any other thing we might cling to).** So the historical Buddha assumed the Sangha would have no sex what-so-ever and the lay community would support the Sangha and do "Buddhism Lite", i.e. pursue whatever sensual life they wanted to. Buddhism originally didn't have a lot to say about sex or marriage or family life. It does have a lot to say about ethics, and what is the intention of an act and what harm it does matter more than what the act is per se. And if you break the rule, it's a matter of being unskillful (i.e. you did something that isn't helping you get to the goal of Enlightenment), again it's a non-Abrahamic ethics system, *sometimes* similar conclusions, different lines of reasoning.

    If you ask a random monk or follower about Buddhism and homosexuality, you won't likely get the Buddhist answer, you will get the answer of the surrounding culture (again, because Buddhism didn't have a lot to say about sex-- other than having none at all would free up time for meditating), as if you'd asked, what do Buddhist eat (well, kimchi in Korea). So if you ask in Burma, you'll probably hear that it is frowned up, or what ever the sexual rules are that people in Burma follow. Chinese Buddhism is very puritanical and discourages sex (but encourages kids). The Thai are not so puritanical. And so on.

    Now for some accumulated factoids.

    Homosexuality in the Tibetan tradition was informed by Tibetan culture which is very different from Europe or just about anything we ordinarily see, where they essentially followed the rules to the letter-- no sex that involved orifices, but between the thighs between male monks was fine because who ever wrote the rules hadn't thought about that. This appears to still be true in Bhutan where the monasteries have STD problems and the government has been trying to distribute condoms.
    Ref: http://gaytibet.blogspot.com/2009/08/homosexuality-marriage-and-religion-in.html (a fascinating read)

    Homosexuality in Japan-- In the Shingon Tradition, one of the 13 Bodhisattvas, Manjusri is the Bodhisattva of male homosexual love, Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manjusri#In_Japan

    FWBO aka Triratna-- Hugely controversial, the guy who founded this is gay man who thought that family life was a hindrance to spiritual progress (a common sentiment in Buddhism) and suggested that men in his Sangha should actively be encouraged to have homosexual relationships with each other so they would feel the urge to run off and start a family. I suppose that sounds progressive, where it got explosively controversial was that some of the young men weren't gay to start with and felt pressured into sex by a charismatic authority figure.

    ** tangential footnote regarding families. The Sangha was against having boyfriends/girlfriends and kids. It was not against monks taking care of sick parents, or other duties of children towards parents & the like, especially once the Sangha was in China.
    riverflow
  • DaftChrisDaftChris Spiritually conflicted. Not of this world. Veteran
    I'm gay and a follower of Dharma. So far fire and destruction hasn't rained from the skies. :)

    I truly think it doesn't matter who one is attracted to (as long as it falls in the lines consent, of course). What does matter, however, is if the person in question is being true to themselves and doing what they can to the best of their abilities.
    lobsterriverflow
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    Just a quick response to one thing you said Matthew. The buddha did not teach a "buddhism lite". He taught the same dhamma to all people according to their ability. He made many comments regarding how even a small amount of practice is worth more then a ton of rituals. There were also named famous lay persons in the pali suttas who even taught monks.

    I only say this because there is this concept in buddhism today that the lay peoples job is just to support the monks and make merit, which is not what the buddha taught but is a lot easier for people then to actually practice lol. Anyways sorry for going a bit off topic everyone.

    EvenThird
  • @Jayantha, Where does Buddha say a small amount of practice is worth more than tons of rituals?

    I never heard that.

    Also what do you consider 'practice' in the sentence bolded above?
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited December 2013
    Most traditions have no doctrinal problem with it, especially Theravada. There are are few that do, however (e.g. those that take the Abidharmakosha as authoritative); and cultural biases against homosexuality have pervaded others, including Theravada. But if anybody tells you the Buddha said anything of the sort, they're full of shit. (For more info on the definition of sexual misconduct, see this.)
    riverflow
  • Can I be gay and be buddhist
    Well you not only can be gay but you are gay. Whether you can be Buddhist . . . m m m . . . tricky . . . some of us are still trying . . . some of us are considered 'almost Buddhist' or 'partly Buddhist'.

    Maybe you could aim for definitely gay but provisionally Buddhist or dharmically agnostic? :wave:
    BhikkhuJayasaraJainarayan
  • I'm bisexual and it doesn't worry me. I figure it's more important how I conduct myself in terms of being a decent, compassionate person. :)
    lobsterriverflow
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited December 2013
    Jeffrey said:

    @Jayantha, Where does Buddha say a small amount of practice is worth more than tons of rituals?

    I never heard that.

    Also what do you consider 'practice' in the sentence bolded above?

    @jeffrey I will admit to paraphrasing, it's not a directly worded thing. Here are two sources from the pali suttas though to back it up.

    From the Dhammapada...

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.08.budd.html
    Sahassavagga: The Thousands

    Though month after month for a hundred years one should offer sacrifices by the thousands, yet if only for a moment one should worship those of perfected minds that honor is indeed better than a century of sacrifice.

    Whatever gifts and oblations one seeking merit might offer in this world for a whole year, all that is not worth one fourth of the merit gained by revering the Upright Ones, which is truly excellent.


    and this part of the Mahaparinibanna sutta(last days of the buddha)

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.5-6.than.html

    Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Ananda, the twin sal-trees are in full bloom, even though it's not the flowering season. They shower, strew, & sprinkle on the Tathagata's body in homage to him. Heavenly coral-tree blossoms are falling from the sky... Heavenly sandalwood powder is falling from the sky... Heavenly music is playing in the sky... Heavenly songs are sung in the sky, in homage to the Tathagata. But it is not to this extent that a Tathagata is worshipped, honored, respected, venerated, or paid homage to. Rather, the monk, nun, male lay follower, or female lay follower who keeps practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, who keeps practicing masterfully, who lives in accordance with the Dhamma: that is the person who worships, honors, respects, venerates, & pays homage to the Tathagata with the highest homage. So you should train yourselves: 'We will keep practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, we will keep practicing masterfully, we will live in accordance with the Dhamma.'[2] That's how you should train yourselves."


    This paragraph clinches it for me. You have the heavens and earth "paying homage" to the buddha, but he says " yeah , na, how you really honor me is by living in accordance with the dhamma, with dhamma practice. Of course "dhamma practice" means different things in different traditions, but for Theravada it means straight up "the practice" of meditation(samadhi), morality(sila), and generosity(dana).
  • I am gay, even legally married to another man, and have begun practicing Buddhism. I have no conflict. Rather, being at a "societal disadvantage" (let no one say we're not!), I think it should make me more understanding and compassionate. Moreover, when HHDL spoke on it he said, while homosexual sex is often proscribed, he does noy know of the source, or what, if any text proscribes it. It may be in a historical and/or cultural context.
    riverflow
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited December 2013
    Jayantha said:

    Jeffrey said:

    @Jayantha, Where does Buddha say a small amount of practice is worth more than tons of rituals?

    I never heard that.

    Also what do you consider 'practice' in the sentence bolded above?

    @jeffrey I will admit to paraphrasing, it's not a directly worded thing. Here are two sources from the pali suttas though to back it up.

    From the Dhammapada...

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.08.budd.html
    Sahassavagga: The Thousands

    Though month after month for a hundred years one should offer sacrifices by the thousands, yet if only for a moment one should worship those of perfected minds that honor is indeed better than a century of sacrifice.

    Whatever gifts and oblations one seeking merit might offer in this world for a whole year, all that is not worth one fourth of the merit gained by revering the Upright Ones, which is truly excellent.


    and this part of the Mahaparinibanna sutta(last days of the buddha)

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.5-6.than.html

    Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Ananda, the twin sal-trees are in full bloom, even though it's not the flowering season. They shower, strew, & sprinkle on the Tathagata's body in homage to him. Heavenly coral-tree blossoms are falling from the sky... Heavenly sandalwood powder is falling from the sky... Heavenly music is playing in the sky... Heavenly songs are sung in the sky, in homage to the Tathagata. But it is not to this extent that a Tathagata is worshipped, honored, respected, venerated, or paid homage to. Rather, the monk, nun, male lay follower, or female lay follower who keeps practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, who keeps practicing masterfully, who lives in accordance with the Dhamma: that is the person who worships, honors, respects, venerates, & pays homage to the Tathagata with the highest homage. So you should train yourselves: 'We will keep practicing the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma, we will keep practicing masterfully, we will live in accordance with the Dhamma.'[2] That's how you should train yourselves."


    This paragraph clinches it for me. You have the heavens and earth "paying homage" to the buddha, but he says " yeah , na, how you really honor me is by living in accordance with the dhamma, with dhamma practice. Of course "dhamma practice" means different things in different traditions, but for Theravada it means straight up "the practice" of meditation(samadhi), morality(sila), and generosity(dana).
    ********************************
    @Jeffrey says;
    Interestingly I find some rituals to BE practice.
    for a moment one should worship those of perfected minds
    (that's from your quotation)

    That quote ^^^ is what I am getting at. There is room for worship. There is room for rituals and mantras and prostrations.


    There is a part of the diamond sutra where Buddha says that teaching 2 versus of the diamond sutra (said by commentators to require an alive living teaching) is worth more than donating millions of chiliocosms of precious jewels. (again a commentator says that a chiliocosm is not necessarily of literal huge scope. A chiliocosm could be on the head of a pin)
  • I am very serious about keeping the five-precepts, and personally, I think being gay is fine. The main thing is you feel good about yourself and about being gay. What is not right is to feel guilty about it. But this is only my personal opinion, I don't speak for Buddhism.
    vinlynriverflow
  • Blayne said:

    Hello everyone,

    At the moment I wouldn't consider myself buddhist as I'm still only reading up on it and watching countless videos on YouTube. I'm gay and so my question is, Can I be gay and be buddhist or is it forbidden/frowned upon ?

    In Taiwan, there once was a gay marriage conducted by a Buddhist nun.http://dhammadelights.blogspot.com/2012/08/gay-talk.html
    I don't know for sure if it is generally accepted by Buddhists all over the world but the fact that Buddhists claim to love life and animals too, not encouraging killing and all that, I am led to believe that gays should be treated just as well. It's up to you to interpret but it is important still to accept yourself.
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