9 May 2006

Dalai Lama attacks anal, oral and 'manual' sex.

"A gay couple came to see me, seeking my support and blessing. I had to explain our teachings. Another lady introduced another woman as her wife - astonishing. It is the same with a husband and wife using certain sexual practices. Using the other two holes is wrong."

At this point, he looks across at his interpreter - who seems mainly redundant - to check that he has been using the right English words to discuss this delicate matter. The interpreter gives a barely perceptible nod.

"A Western friend asked me what harm could there be between consenting adults having oral sex, if they enjoyed it," the Dalai Lama continues, warming to his theme. "But the purpose of sex is reproduction, according to Buddhism. The other holes don't create life. I don't mind - but I can't condone this way of life."


Well that's got your attention, shockingly the Dalai Lama has less fun than the rest us (that's got me on somebodies death list). The following lines from Dr Who
"Well," comes the cheeky reply, "your wife was away, you were surrounded by bald, athletic men ... I just thought you were enjoying yourself." (tooth and fang) may not quite apply to the Buddha but there is no homophobia in his teaching, far from it. So why run a series of classic sutras on sex and zen including gay zen on my blog, well five reasons come to mind?

1. Theology

2. Human liberation

3. Green Party policy.

4. Dr Who is a gay icon and I like Dr Who

5. Hey, I am getting married so lets celebrate with some blog sexual politics.....some classic zen teachings coming up.

1. Theology...many religious are sceptical about the Earth believing we need to escape to Heaven, they condemn gross bodily matters, are suspicious of nature and hostile to the feminine. Sex other than for procreation is condemned. This is all part of the gnostic heresy that divides spirit from matter and condemns the living Earth. Creation centre spirituality, stewardship, etc are a good step in the right direction but we have to recognise that Nirvana is here in Samsara in every moment, this point is the whole point for me of what is described as 'religion', as Blake (who to be honest was not quite with me on this one) states 'Everything that lives is holy'. To put it crudely those hostile to gay sex, are often hostile to sexuality because they are hostile to life.

Ironic that Islam often gets singled out when there are lots of other religious with a bad side on this!

Here are some thoughts from the Gay Zen group

World Accepting, World Rejecting Religions Gay Zen group

World accepting religions are those that perceive the world, including sex, as either inherently pure or as neutral. The world is not something which needs to be changed or conquered, nor is it something from which to escape. Impurity is entirely within the human mind or its attitude towards the world. It is due to our egocentric thinking that humanity has the right to stand out from the world, especially from nature. World accepting religions see the world primarily in non-dual terms. This means that the sacred and profane are seen as identical or in non-opposition to one another. The goal in such world accepting non-dual religions is not to be liberated from this world, but to identify with it, or to be liberated within the world. Only then will we find release from our alienation, from self, others and the world.

World accepting religions are in most cases more female friendly than are world rejecting religions. For example, in China the recognition of the necessary interplay of feminine yin and masculine yang allowed, at least on a metaphysical level, for a degree of acknowledgement of the worth of the feminine. This made certain forms of Taoism one of the most female-friendly of all major religions. Due to the extensive amount of Taoist influence on Ch’an and Zen, especially the Taoism of Chuang Tzu, one could expected them to be as female-friendly as it is male-friendly. This is especially so considering the Zen acknowledgement of the non-duality between the profane and the sacred.

Unfortunately the strong Confucian influence suppressed much of this pro-feminine characteristic in Zen. This is because Confucianism, while a world accepting religion has a women-unfriendly sexist attitude. In Japan, although there was an awareness of the Yin and Yang polarities, there was an even greater reinforcement of the masculine elements in Zen due to the glorification of the masculine militarism of the Samurai class.

World rejecting religions are those which, to a great degree believe that the world is essentially impure or corrupt, and ultimately alien, at least corporeally, to the human spirit. Such religions are, more often than not, dualist, seeing the sacred as a very separate reality from the profane. The goal in such religions is either to conquer and change the world or, failing this, to escape from it.

World accepting and world rejecting religions also appear to view death differently. It has been suggested that the link of world-accepting, women-accepting, and sex-accepting can most likely be attributed to the fact that the primary focus of most women has always been the conceiving, bearing, and raising of the next generation. This means that the feminine focuses on the beginning of life (birth), hence is biophilic; while the masculine focuses, for the most part, on the end of life and the escape from death, hence is necrophilic. It has been thought that this necrophilic factor is the main reason that most of the world’s great religions, with their avoidance of death ideologies, have been founded by men. Obvious examples of these are Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Jainism.

2. Human Liberation. Sexual freedom is good for all with the obvious cavaets of avoiding abuse in unequal power relationship, opposition to gay sex can morph into hostility to sex for pleasure in general. Equally I don' buy the gay gene approach, it seems there is a sexual continuum stretching from gay to straight with many of us to some extent in the bisexual middle, this why I support Peter Tatchell's idea that its about human liberation. Sexuality is about taste, this is poetically put in Howard Fast's film Spartacus...these lines were cut in 1960.

Marcus Licinius Crassus (Laurence Olivier): Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus (Tony Curtis): When I have them, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn't it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters. Spartacus

3. Green Party policy. Greens have been strong on gay friendly policies, one of the purposes of the blog is to support green policies. Here is a nice piece from Peter Tatchell from the 2005 General Election.

GREEN IS THE NEW PINK

The Green Party now leads the way on gay rights. It is the only political party to oppose the ban on same-sex marriage. Greens support the right of gay couples to get married. All the other parties want to exclude us. They believe only heterosexuals should be allowed to enjoy wedded bliss.

The Greens say homophobia is a social evil on a par with racism and sexism, and it must be challenged with equal determination. They reject the way the government has made action against race prejudice a priority over action against homo hatred.

Green Party Euro-MEPs have led the campaign to harmonise European laws to guarantee gay equality and outlaw homophobic discrimination across the entire continent, from Dublin to Moscow and from Oslo to Athens. They want a “Europe without Homophobia”.

The Greens were the first party to elect an openly gay leader, Darren Johnson. He was the first politician to promote the idea of a same-sex partnership register and the first to back proposals for a Lesbian and Gay Museum.

These are a few of the reasons I am voting Green on 5 May. A big pink vote for the Greens will shake up the grey parties and encourage them to adopt more gay-friendly policies.

The Greens also have lots of other pioneering policies. Global warming threatens human survival. Rising temperatures will melt the polar ice-caps. This will raise sea levels and cause devastating floods. Food production will plummet. Millions of people will be forced to flee their homes and jobs.

Preventing catastrophic climate change is the precondition for gay life and rights. Without a sustainable planet, there can be no gay community and no gay liberation. Only the Greens have serious, effective policies to avert ecological disaster.

The Greens have the best policies on queer issues too. Second best are the Lib Dems. The Tories have the worst record. Despite Michael Howard’s supposed rejection of past Conservative homophobia, his party has no specific policies to tackle the remaining areas of homophobic discrimination.

Contrary to popular perceptions, Labour is not as pro-gay as it claims. Most of the government’s gay law reforms, such as the equalisation of the age of consent, were forced by rulings in the European Court of Human Rights. Europe declared Britain’s anti-gay discrimination illegal, which compelled the government to act.

Proof of Labour’s reluctance to challenge homophobia is the new Equality Bill. It denies gay people protection against discrimination in housing, education and the provision of goods and services, such as insurance. It fails to tackle homophobic harassment and allows public bodies, like local councils, to ignore anti-gay discrimination. This means most homophobia remains lawful by default.

Instead, the new Bill introduces wide-ranging legal protection for religious believers, to the exclusion of queers. People of faith have won priority over gays.

The government says the new legislation is necessary to protect vulnerable religious minorities, especially Muslims. I agree. Anti-Muslim harassment and discrimination requires urgent remedy. But this is no reason to deny gay people the same protection. Why can’t the Equality Bill protect both Muslims and gays?

The Equality Bill is just one of ten instances where the government is blocking gay rights. Labour refuses to outlaw incitement to homophobic hatred and it refuses to grant refuge to most gay asylum seekers fleeing homophobic persecution. It also backs the ban on same-sex marriage and has vetoed the inclusion of education against homophobia in the national curriculum guidelines on religious education. Labour says charities should remain free to discriminate against gay people, and it allows homophobic singers to openly advocate the murder of lesbians and gay men. New Labour, old inequalities.

Peter Tatchell


4. Dr Who is a gay icon and I like Dr Who. Huge following with gay fan clubs like the Sisterhood of Karn, all very buttoned up and unemotional and asexual but the new series brought to us from the writer of Queer as Folk is very gay friendly with lots of checky lines like the one at the start, with some gay and lots of straight kissing and some gender bending Dr Who has real emotional range....I am sure this has increased its audience to far more women rather than the classic lonely boys.

5. Hey, I am getting married so lets celebrate with some blog sexual politics.....some classic zen teachings coming up.

Here is some stuff from Roshi Robert Aitken, however fun as it is discussing zen and sex, they are not about talking are they, so going to sign off here. oh well one last....if you want to get married in Honlulu, Robert is very sought after.



ZEN BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE
ON SAME-GENDER MARRIAGE


On October 11, 1995, some religious leaders gave testimony
to the Commission on Sexual Orientation and the Law in support of same-
gender marriage. It was one of the most moving meetings of the Commission.
Of the approximately 9 speakers, three submitted written testimony
(two Buddhist and one Lutheran). I have retrieved their testimony from the
archives and will post each on to the internet. The first is appended below.

Robert Aitken served much of World War II as a prisoner of war of
the Japanese; one of his captors introduced Robert Aitken to Zen Buddhism.
Today Robert Aitken heads the western region of the United States.

Aloha!

Tom Ramsey
Co-Coordinator, HERMP



Robert Aitken's Written Testimony
To the Commission on Sexual Orientation
and the Law, October 11, 1995


I am Robert Aitken, co-founder and teacher of the Honolulu
Diamond Sangha, a Zen Buddhist society established in 1959, with centers
in Manoa and Palolo [macrons are over first a's in each word].
Our organization has evolved into a network of Diamond Sangha groups
on Neighbor Islands and in North and South America, Australia and New
Zealand. I am also co-founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and a
member of its International Board of Advisors. This is an
association whose members are concerned about social issues from a
Buddhist perspective. It has it headquarters in Berkeley, California,
and has chapters across the country, including one here on O'ahu, as well
as chapters overseas. I am also a member of the Hawai'i Association of
International Buddhists.

I speak to you today as an individual in response to the Chair's
request to present Buddhist views, particularly Zen Buddhist views, on
the subject of of marriage between people of the same sex.

The religion we now call Zen Buddhism arose in China in the sixth
century as a part of the Mahayana, which is the tradition of Buddhism
found in China, Korea, Japan and to some extent in Vietnam. Pure Land
schools, including the Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji, as well as Shingon
and Nichiren, are other sects within the Mahayana.

The word Zen means "exacting meditation," descriptive of the formal
practice which is central for the Zen Buddhist. It is a demanding practice,
from which certain realizations emerge that can then be applied in daily
life. these are realizations that each of us is a boundless container, a
hologram, so to speak, that includes all other beings. The application of
this kind of ultimate intimacy can be framed in the classic Buddhist
teaching of the Four Noble Abodes: loving kindness, compassion, joy in
the attainment of others, and equanimity.

Applying these Four Noble Abodes to the issue of same-sex marriage,
I find it clear that encouragement should be my way of counseling. Over a
twenty-year career of teaching, I have had students who were gay, lesbian,
trans-sexual and bisexual, as well as heterosexual. These orientations have
seemed to me to be as specific as those which lead people to varied careers.
Some people are drawn to accounting. I myself am not expecially drawn to
accounting. Some people are drawn to literature. I place myself in that
lot. In the same way, some people are attracted to members of their own
sex. I am not particularly attracted in this way. But we are all human,
and within my own container, I can discern homosexual tendencies. I keep
my checkbook balanced too. So I find compassion---not just for---but with
[with is underlined] the gay or lesbian couple who wish to confirm their
love in a legal marriage.

I perform marriages among members of my own community. Occasionally,
for one reason or another, these are ceremonies that celebrate commitment
to a life together, but are not legally binding. I have not been asked
to perform a ceremony for a gay or lesbian couple, but would have no
hesitation in doing so, if our ordinary guidelines were met. If same-sex
marriages were legalized, my policy would be the same. I don't visualize
leading such ceremonies indiscriminately for hire, but would perform them
within our own Buddhist community.

Back in the early 1980s I had occasion to speak to the gay and
lesbian caucus of the San Francisco Zen Center. It was in the course of
this meeting that the seed of what is now the Hartford Street Zen Center
was planted. This is a center that serves the gay and lesbian population
of San Francisco, giving them a place for Zen Buddhist practice where they
can feel comfortable. A number of heterosexual women also practice there,
as a place where they will not have to deal with sexual advances from men
who misuse other centers as hunting grounds for sexual conquests.

The Hartford Street Zen Center flourishes today as a fully accepted
sanctuary within the large family of Zen Buddhist temples in the Americas
and Europe. It sponsors the hospice called Maitri, a Sanskrit term meaning
"loving kindness," that looks after people suffering from AIDS. Maitri is
one of the significant care-giving institutions in San Francisco, and is
marked by a culture of volunteers who serve as nurses, doctors, counselors,
and community organizers in a large support system.

Historically, Zen Buddhism has been a monastic tradition. There have
been prominent lay adherents, but they have been the exceptions. In the
context of young men or young women confined within monastery walls for periods
of years, one might expect rules and teachings relating to homosexuality,
but they don't appear. Bernard Faure, in his cultural critique of Zen
Buddhism titled The Rhetoric of Immediacy [underlined] remarks that
homosexuality seems to be overlooked in Zen teachings, and indeed in classical
Buddhist texts. My impression from my own monastic experience suggests
that homosexuality has not been taken as an aberration, and so did not receive
comment.

There is, of course, a precept about sex which Zen Buddhists inherit
from earlier classical Buddhists teachings. It is one of the sixteen precepts
accepted by all Zen Buddhist monks, nuns and seriously committed lay people.
In our own Diamond Sangha rendering, we word this precept, "I take up the
way of not misusing sex." I understand this to mean that self-centered
sexual conduct is inappropriate, and I vow to avoid it. Self-centered sex
is exploitive sex, non-consensual sex, sex that harms others. It is
unwholesome and destructive in a heterosexual as well as in a homosexual
context.

All societies have from earliest times across the world formalized
sexual love in marriage ceremonies that give the new couple standing and
rights in the community. The Legislative Reference Bureau, at the
request of this Commission, has compiled a formidable list of rights that
are extended to married couples in Hawai'i, but which are denied to couples
who are gay and lesbian, though many of them have been together for decades.
These unions would be settled even more if they were acknowledged with
basic married rights. A long-standing injustice would be corrected, and
the entire gay and lesbian community would feel more accepted. This would
stabilize a significant segment of our society, and we would all of us be
better able to acknowledge our diversity. I urge you to advise the Legislature
and the people of Hawai'i that legalizing gay and lesbian marriages will
be humane and in keeping with perenniel principles of decency and mutual
encouragement [mutual underlined].

Honolulu Diamond Sangha
2747 Waiomao Road
Honolulu, HI 96816
808-732-3119
808-735-4245 (fax)

2 comments:

Daniel Nairn said...

You're absolutely right that many Christians see the world with a dualistic lens, scorning the earth in hopes of some ethereal heaven. I don't believe that the text of the Bible can support this understanding, and I'm trying to convince my fellow Christians that this earth is God's creation that he has not abandoned, and we should not abandon it either.

We have been part of the problem for too long.

Derek Wall said...

Hi Daniel,

thanks for this, there is plenty of good creation centred stuff in the Judic-Muslim-Christian branches.

best wishes,

Derek

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