Homosexuality

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doublerepukken
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Homosexuality

Post by doublerepukken » Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:36 pm

Hey all,

While reading, I came across this quotation which was stated as the words of the Buddha:

 "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."

I was able to find out this was related to the Saddharma-smrtyupasthana Sutra, and was quoted by Shantideva. I can't find any additional information regarding this Sutra. I am curious, because I had always heard that the Buddha did not speak regarding homosexuality; it was one of my major reasons for being attracted to Buddhism in the first place (I have gay siblings). What is this from? Is this canonical?

From a PL perspective, I realize that homosexuality obviously won't bar anyone from the Amida's grace, that would just be ridiculous. But is homosexuality really condemned by the Buddha?

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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Ricky » Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:53 pm

doublerepukken wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:36 pm
Hey all,

While reading, I came across this quotation which was stated as the words of the Buddha:

 "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."

I was able to find out this was related to the Saddharma-smrtyupasthana Sutra, and was quoted by Shantideva. I can't find any additional information regarding this Sutra. I am curious, because I had always heard that the Buddha did not speak regarding homosexuality; it was one of my major reasons for being attracted to Buddhism in the first place (I have gay siblings). What is this from? Is this canonical?

From a PL perspective, I realize that homosexuality obviously won't bar anyone from the Amida's grace, that would just be ridiculous. But is homosexuality really condemned by the Buddha?

Namu Amida Butsu
In some mahayana sutras the Buddha does in fact admonish his followers to refrain from homosexual acts but like you say Amida does not reject anyone. Shouldn't be too worried about it as a PL practitioner.

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Re: Homosexuality

Post by doublerepukken » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:11 am

Ricky wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:53 pm
doublerepukken wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:36 pm
Hey all,

While reading, I came across this quotation which was stated as the words of the Buddha:

 "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."

I was able to find out this was related to the Saddharma-smrtyupasthana Sutra, and was quoted by Shantideva. I can't find any additional information regarding this Sutra. I am curious, because I had always heard that the Buddha did not speak regarding homosexuality; it was one of my major reasons for being attracted to Buddhism in the first place (I have gay siblings). What is this from? Is this canonical?

From a PL perspective, I realize that homosexuality obviously won't bar anyone from the Amida's grace, that would just be ridiculous. But is homosexuality really condemned by the Buddha?

Namu Amida Butsu
In some mahayana sutras the Buddha does in fact admonish his followers to refrain from homosexual acts but like you say Amida does not reject anyone. Shouldn't be too worried about it as a PL practitioner.
What sutras? That's really awful. I had no idea.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:13 am

Well the Buddha wasn't a fan of sensuality in general. As lay people, we're kind of excused for indulging in sensuality. Even if homosexual acts were considered a violation of the precept regarding sexual misconduct, they wouldn't be considered a downfall for a lay person. Meanwhile, ANY sexual act would be a downfall for a celibate monk.

As far as the sutra in question, here's a scholarly look at it:
https://escholarship.org/uc/item/9nk367zn
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:20 am

doublerepukken wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:11 am
Ricky wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:53 pm
In some mahayana sutras the Buddha does in fact admonish his followers to refrain from homosexual acts but like you say Amida does not reject anyone. Shouldn't be too worried about it as a PL practitioner.
What sutras? That's really awful. I had no idea.
Probably just referring to the one you mentioned, or something apocryphal like the Blood Bowl Sutra. It was definitely not mentioned in any of the sutras referenced in the works by the patriarchs of the various Pure Land schools (ShanTao, Honen, Shinran, etc). On the other hand, Ven Hsuan Hua did have some very strong views about homosexuality, but I wouldn't say those views are widely embraced these days.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:24 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:20 am
but I wouldn't say those views are widely embraced these days.
Not in what is left of the west anyways.

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Re: Homosexuality

Post by doublerepukken » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:37 am

I guess I'm ok with seeing this as cultural tampering entering the Buddha Dharma, because otherwise I can't seem to make sense of it in my mind. Its the same thing with the Larger sutra that says women must become men first to enter Sukhavati; while we're here is there any scholarship on that line as well?
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:47 am

doublerepukken wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:37 am
I guess I'm ok with seeing this as cultural tampering entering the Buddha Dharma, because otherwise I can't seem to make sense of it in my mind. Its the same thing with the Larger sutra that says women must become men first to enter Sukhavati; while we're here is there any scholarship on that line as well?
That's not what the Larger Sutra says though:
35. After I become a Buddha, in innumerable inconceivable Buddha Lands in the ten directions, women who hear my name will have faith and delight, activate the bodhi mind, and tire of their female form. If, after their death, they should be reborn in female form, I would not attain the perfect enlightenment.
The idea that they must tire of their form if they want to become men is key.
The Shorter Sutra doesn't even mention it - saying that men and women can be born in Sukhavati.
The Visualization Sutra says:
“A low rebirth in the middle rank can be achieved by good men and good women who honor and support their parents and are kind and generous to others.
The entire sutra is taught to a woman (a bunch of them actually) and there is nothing about becoming a male in there.

Both Honen & Shinran did not think women had to transform into men to achieve Pure Land birth.
George Gatenby gives an analysis of Shan-Tao's teachings on the matter here, specifically:
This should be noted. If a monk or a layman should say that women cannot attain birth in the Pure Land this is an unreliable statement. It is not to be believed. This sutra is given in evidence.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by doublerepukken » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:54 am

Admin_PC wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:47 am
doublerepukken wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:37 am
I guess I'm ok with seeing this as cultural tampering entering the Buddha Dharma, because otherwise I can't seem to make sense of it in my mind. Its the same thing with the Larger sutra that says women must become men first to enter Sukhavati; while we're here is there any scholarship on that line as well?
That's not what the Larger Sutra says though:
35. After I become a Buddha, in innumerable inconceivable Buddha Lands in the ten directions, women who hear my name will have faith and delight, activate the bodhi mind, and tire of their female form. If, after their death, they should be reborn in female form, I would not attain the perfect enlightenment.
The idea that they must tire of their form if they want to become men is key.
The Shorter Sutra doesn't even mention it - saying that men and women can be born in Sukhavati.
The Visualization Sutra says:
“A low rebirth in the middle rank can be achieved by good men and good women who honor and support their parents and are kind and generous to others.
The entire sutra is taught to a woman (a bunch of them actually) and there is nothing about becoming a male in there.

Both Honen & Shinran did not think women had to transform into men to achieve Pure Land birth.
George Gatenby gives an analysis of Shan-Tao's teachings on the matter here, specifically:
This should be noted. If a monk or a layman should say that women cannot attain birth in the Pure Land this is an unreliable statement. It is not to be believed. This sutra is given in evidence.
Ah, I see. Thanks Admin, I was confused there - I didn't remember the line correctly obviously.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by doublerepukken » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:02 am

Outside of Pureland though, does the Buddha teach that you must become a man before reaching Buddhahood?
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by fuki » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:50 am

doublerepukken wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:02 am
Outside of Pureland though, does the Buddha teach that you must become a man before reaching Buddhahood?
I wouldn't worry about it too much, keep in mind that what is written down thousands or hundreds of years ago was said in relation to the time the sutra was written, the culture it was written in etc. this goes for all religions ofcourse, if they were written today all subjects such as sexuality, manhood etc would be seen in a different light then when they were recorded. The dharma isn't fixed so interpretating scriptures written in different times and cultures with the mind of today ofcourse will cause friction if these subjects matter to the reader. The gift lies in our practise not (all/only) in ancient words, right?
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by DGA » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:49 am

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:24 am
Admin_PC wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:20 am
but I wouldn't say those views are widely embraced these days.
Not in what is left of the west anyways.
???

Care to elaborate?

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Re: Homosexuality

Post by rory » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:07 am

doublerepukken wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:02 am
Outside of Pureland though, does the Buddha teach that you must become a man before reaching Buddhahood?
The great Tiantai master Zhiyi (Chih-I, Chigi) circa 6th century China didn't hold with it either. He quotes from the famous story of the Dragon King's daughter in the Lotus Sutra who becomes enlightened in the flash of an eye:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58

Zhiyi influenced all of East Asia, plus he practiced Pure Land alive and on his deathbed, so please don't worry about your siblings, it's not even an issue.
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Chih-I:
The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
Paul, Groner "The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture"eds. Tanabe p. 58
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:58 am

doublerepukken wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:02 am
Outside of Pureland though, does the Buddha teach that you must become a man before reaching Buddhahood?
Pure Land sutras say that Buddha can manifest as man, woman, or whatever form is necessary to rescue sentient beings. In the Lotus Sutra there's the example of the Naga Princess (the Dragon King's daughter that rory talks about). The Vimalakirti sutra makes fun of the idea of women not being able to reach enlightenment. The Therigatha is a collection of accounts of famous nuns. Tara, Prajnaparamita, Cundi, and Kwan Yin form of Avalokitesvara are all recognized as awakened women.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by shaunc » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:49 am

In the Pali cannon as far as I know homosexuality isn't mentioned at all. Many scholars believe that the Pali cannon is the most reliable teachings of the historical buddha.
Pureland itself is probably one of the most open minded form of buddhism that you can practice.
Last year in Taiwan the first same sex marriage was performed in a Buddhist temple. I don't know for sure that it was a pureland temple but seeing how it was in Taiwan it wouldn't be a bad bet.
Sometimes we have to use our own judgment on what is taught on whether it's buddhism or cultural.
Good luck and best wishes.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:32 am

DGA wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:49 am
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:24 am
but I wouldn't say those views are widely embraced these days.
Not in what is left of the west anyways.
???
Care to elaborate?
Well the full quote was this:
Probably just referring to the one you mentioned, or something apocryphal like the Blood Bowl Sutra. It was definitely not mentioned in any of the sutras referenced in the works by the patriarchs of the various Pure Land schools (ShanTao, Honen, Shinran, etc). On the other hand, Ven Hsuan Hua did have some very strong views about homosexuality, but I wouldn't say those views are widely embraced these days.
First, if what he's calling the blood bowl sutra is what i think, it doesn't mention homosexuality.
that quote was a response to the op asking which sutras condemn homosexuality (none that I can think of)
but to say that those views, that is, views like the master hsuan hua shared, are not widely embraced, that part seems incorrect.
Homosexuality is embraced in what is left of the west, yes but traditionally the view of homosexuality seems to be more in line with the masters.
If you look at some of the texts describing hells, they often name things like adultery, etc. They also will say things like 'inappropriate' or 'abnormal' sexual behaviors. Many people take these types of passages to be referring to homosexuality. I understand that strict Buddhists don't take these types of texts seriously, but hey have had their influence.

Also we have clarify what 'widely embraced' means...do we mean among buddhists generally? western buddhists? now or in the past? etc..
Last edited by Grigoris on Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed off topic remark alluding to comparative religion discussion.

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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Grigoris » Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:00 am

Just so people are aware: I am watching this topic closely. If I get even the faintest whiff of homophobia, I will act swiftly and without mercy! So, do not feign ignorance in the event of a moderation action. You have been warned.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by SonamTashi » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:02 pm

Half of the members of my sangha, including myself, are LGBT. We're a small group but still. I don't think it matters.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by Admin_PC » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:23 pm

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:32 am
First, if what he's calling the blood bowl sutra is what i think, it doesn't mention homosexuality.
The reference was made to point to an example of a sutra of questionable provenance with views that go directly against the Buddha's teachings but were embraced by certain practitioners.
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:32 am
that quote was a response to the op asking which sutras condemn homosexuality (none that I can think of)
but to say that those views, that is, views like the master hsuan hua shared, are not widely embraced, that part seems incorrect.
Ven Hsuan Hua's views on the matter were largely informed by Chinese culture and not necessarily Buddhism.
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:32 am
Homosexuality is embraced in what is left of the west, yes but traditionally the view of homosexuality seems to be more in line with the masters.
Which ones? Because I'm not finding a whole bunch of comments by anybody before Ven hsuan hua.
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:32 am
If you look at some of the texts describing hells, they often name things like adultery, etc. They also will say things like 'inappropriate' or 'abnormal' sexual behaviors. Many people take these types of passages to be referring to homosexuality. I understand that strict Buddhists don't take these types of texts seriously, but hey have had their influence.
Interesting, because the sutra passages I am aware of typically describe sexual misconduct as using sex to harm - either by violating someone against their will or violating the trust of another in a relationship.
Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:32 am
Also we have clarify what 'widely embraced' means...do we mean among buddhists generally? western buddhists? now or in the past? etc..
Other asian cultures where homosexuality has been a bit more accepted (Japan, for example), you don't see a whole lot of writings using Buddhism/Buddhist teachings to attack homosexuality.
The Diplomat - Confucius on Gay Marriage wrote:The situation for gays and lesbians in China is complex. It has been argued that traditional Chinese culture was comparatively tolerant of homosexuality, and that the tendency to treat homosexuality as a perversion only developed as part of Chinese efforts to emulate the West and modernize after the Opium Wars. There are indications that the majority of Chinese are now returning to traditional tolerance: Homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1997, and was removed from the official list of mental illnesses in 2001. Moreover, a 2014 poll by the Chinese Journal of Human Sexuality suggests that 85 percent of Chinese support same-sex marriage, with only 2 percent opposing it, and 13 percent undecided. Ironically, “comrade,” long a term for a loyal fellow Communist, is now slang for a gay person. Consequently, when Justice John Roberts cited the supposed views of “Han Chinese” against same-sex marriage in his own dissent, he was dealing with a much more complex topic than he realized.

However, Chinese parents and society as a whole put intense pressure on young people to marry and produce offspring. According to one estimate, 90 percent of gay men in China marry women, often without telling them their actual sexual orientation. Understandably, this can lead to frustration, adultery, and unhappiness. This emphasis on producing children can be traced in part to the Confucian tradition. Mencius, one of the most influential Confucian philosophers of all time, argued that to fail to have children is the most unfilial of all acts. Consequently, the online edition of The People’s Daily, a source with close ties to the Chinese government, claimed that Chinese were “baffled” by Kennedy’s use of Confucius. Professor Zeng Yi of the Philosophy Department of Tongji University was blunter, stating that Kennedy had “distorted” Confucius, and opining that any Confucian should view homosexuality as “a crime against humanity.” Critics like Zeng point out that the Classic of Changes, a seminal Confucian treatise of divination and cosmology, claims that traditional gender identities are an immutable reflection of cosmic principles.
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Re: Homosexuality

Post by fuki » Wed Feb 28, 2018 2:35 pm

Fortyeightvows wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:32 am
.
If you look at some of the texts describing hells, they often name things like adultery, etc. They also will say things like 'inappropriate' or 'abnormal' sexual behaviors.
Touching back on my previous post, we "must" keep in mind that in certain scriptures political motives are involved, there were periods were homosexuality was not seen as inappropiate, whoever wanted to change something about this would ofcourse used the religion of the time in that culture to steer (or manipulate) people away from any kind of behaviour (in this case Buddhism) that could mean the author(s) were homophobic but could also simply mean that whatever political/religious figure just wanted to change (an excess of) sexual behaviour whether homo or heterosexual. So ofcourse talking about hell, rebirth, fire and brimstone or whatever tactic works to strike fear in ppl would be most efficient.

I'm not talking about the historical Buddha ofcourse (before ppl hit the report button) but it would be naive to think that all Buddhist text were free from political motivation, if memory serves me right sodomy was no issue in the old testament, only in the new testament it became a "sin". Whoever is "anti" or "pro" anything could always find a match for their preconceived notions in the vast library of Buddhism to conveniently assert a point or negate those of others. Which is basically the same political/manipulative effort. Be careful please blindly quoting sutras and words of masters/teachers plucked from the interweb, especially involving hell and rebirth.
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