Dalai Lama attacks anal, oral and 'manual' sex

Derek Wall


"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 somebody's 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.

Many religions 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 in San Fransisco

World Accepting, World Rejecting Religions Gay Zen group

'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'

The Dalai Lama's backward views remind us that gay liberation is 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.

Here some more sensible comments from a Zen priest in the US



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.


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 centres 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 counselling. 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 especially 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 chequebook 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, counsellors, 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 perennial principles of decency and mutual encouragement [mutual underlined].

Honolulu Diamond Sangha



May 2006

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