Question Homosexuality in buddhist texts

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nomono
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Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:00 pm

Question Homosexuality in buddhist texts

Post by nomono » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:02 pm

Hello, I am genuinely interested how different traditions view homosexuality in Buddhism. I always heard that Buddhism did not diffirentiate between heterosexual and homosexual conduct. I believed that too and had the impression that Buddhism was very lgbt friendly. Now I stumbled across this wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_ ... rientation and have some questions.
How does the Theravada and Mahayana standpoints differ on this subject? Why is it that homosexual actions are talked about in various buddhist text but not lesbian actions? Do these texts or commentaries really talk about that homosexuality per se is sinful/unwholesome or were these views (particular the mahayana/tibetan ones against homosexuality in realtion to hygenie or coerceful sex with minors/boys?
How does Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana interpret the texts of Buddhaghosa, Shantideva, Asvaghosa, Asanga, Vasubandhu etc about this issue? Do these teachers draw their conclusions from canonical sutras or are these their own personal opinions?
Are the stances against homosexuality in sutras or texts like Saddharma-smrty upastana, Upasakhashila or Abidharma (are they the only ones that talk about this?) canonical? Do they really talk about this issue or are these stances merely commentaries but not in the sutras themselves?
And how do Teachers like Lama Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and others who spoke in favor of consensual homosexual relationships interpret these, if these texts highly seem to be against homosexual actions?

Thank you in advance

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Miroku
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Re: Question Homosexuality in buddhist texts

Post by Miroku » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:15 pm

Hi, welcome to DW.

Good question. Since those acts are my hobby sorta I have been searching for some answers too. It is quite an interesting topic.

First of all we must understand that there is no real trace of homosexuality as we know it in the sutras. The way we understand sexual identities is a fairly new thing and has not been around for long really. And the fact is that buddhadharma has nothing against homosexuals just like it has nothing against heterosexuals and others.

Also the understanding of misconduct is bit different. In the hinayana sutras there is not much being said about lay sexual lives really. It is usually the monks who are the focus. For lay people the general rule is to not hurt anyone.

Female sexuality is another rather interesting field as historicaly speaking it has always been put aside. Not regarded much. People usually had a hard time understanding that females can have sex without penetration (that is at least in the west).

I found An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values and Issues by Peter Harvey to be quite illuminating on many aspects of buddhist ethics. As many western scholars he focuses mostly on the so called "early" sutras but he also focuses on the real practical application in different countries and it is an interesting read.

Hope this helped a little as I do not really much about Asanga and others and have had the exact same question on my mind for some time.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.
~ Khunu Lama Rinpoche

Even non-buddhists have many virtuous accomplishments
~ Jigten Sumgon

tkp67
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Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 5:42 am

Re: Question Homosexuality in buddhist texts

Post by tkp67 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:40 pm

I would like to offer some insight and I believe this is the truth that is meant to be distilled even from non Buddhist traditions. I had to ask the question myself, not because I am gay but because a teaching that excludes a facet of humanity is not for me. It's all or nothing. That is the true meaning of equanimity one I was not willing to compromise on. My mother came out to me because she didn't feel anyone else would still love her the same way after coming from very catholic family lines.

All of that said some teachings ask us deny all sensual desire. Some do not. I would not be here if I had to conform to precepts first. It is that simple.

That is not to say homosexuality is wrong. No desire is. It is the expression of desire that can cause us to suffer unreasonably and the need to understand this is part of all practice. Even then this is not saying we need to deny desire for desire's sake.

The real predicate is to know how to remove self from driving those desires so we don't evoke narcissism in lieu of altruism. What remains after is beautiful including the union of any two lives bound by ties based on purity, equanimity, non self and eternal. To care about any other aspects than that is to view the phenomenon outside the perfect mind of buddha. How those lives embrace that love and express it at this point, whole heartily living within the means of their practices, should be understood and respected as the celebration of life resultant of the joy of liberation.

We will all in our seasons have a reason to celebrate sensuality and even experience its natural decline as old age sets in. The lives we celebrate together in sensuality have deeper bonds ones that keep our hearts tied together well after that season comes to pass.

I pray for everyone who anguishes because a part of their being is not well understood by others. Buddha understands in complete equanimity, loving kindness and compassion. Rely on him to quicken your delivery from doubt, not the hearts and minds that do not know him.

Much love and respect for the human condition that opens your hearts and minds to find such equanimity for yourselves without marginalization of others because that seems the path you traverse.

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Aemilius
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Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:44 am

Re: Question Homosexuality in buddhist texts

Post by Aemilius » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:27 am

nomono wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:02 pm
Hello, I am genuinely interested how different traditions view homosexuality in Buddhism. I always heard that Buddhism did not diffirentiate between heterosexual and homosexual conduct. I believed that too and had the impression that Buddhism was very lgbt friendly. Now I stumbled across this wiki page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_ ... rientation and have some questions.
How does the Theravada and Mahayana standpoints differ on this subject? Why is it that homosexual actions are talked about in various buddhist text but not lesbian actions? Do these texts or commentaries really talk about that homosexuality per se is sinful/unwholesome or were these views (particular the mahayana/tibetan ones against homosexuality in realtion to hygenie or coerceful sex with minors/boys?
How does Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana interpret the texts of Buddhaghosa, Shantideva, Asvaghosa, Asanga, Vasubandhu etc about this issue? Do these teachers draw their conclusions from canonical sutras or are these their own personal opinions?
Are the stances against homosexuality in sutras or texts like Saddharma-smrty upastana, Upasakhashila or Abidharma (are they the only ones that talk about this?) canonical? Do they really talk about this issue or are these stances merely commentaries but not in the sutras themselves?
And how do Teachers like Lama Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and others who spoke in favor of consensual homosexual relationships interpret these, if these texts highly seem to be against homosexual actions?

Thank you in advance
According to Sravasti Dhammika there exist a couple of words in the Vinaya pitaka denoting the lesbian behaviour, and Vinaya pitaka texts are canonical.
"females are called women of uncertain femininity (sambhinna) or masculine women (vepurisikà, Vin.II,271). Today male homosexuals are called gays while females are referred to as lesbians. According to the ancient Indian understanding, homosexuals were thought of simply as being `the third nature' (tritiya prakriti)", says Sravasti Dhammika. https://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=176

You would have to study the Vinaya pitaka to find out more about this topic, but it may be quite difficult to find authentic translations of original Vinaya texts. They contain all kinds of sensitive material, and these are usually left out completely, or something else. Anyway, if you read the old pali text translations of Vinaya pitaka (transl. by miss I. B. Horner) you will get some idea what there really is! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinaya_Pi%E1%B9%ADaka
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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