Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sex and Buddhism

On one of the email lists to which I belong, someone brought up that Buddhist scriptures frown upon homosexuality, oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation. In other words, everything that makes America great.

As a bisexual man (not to mention a firm believer in the joys of oral sex), I can't help but bang my gavel whenever someone brings this up.

All religious works are the works of man, and are subject to corruption of one form of another. Any religion that carries great wisdom also carries with it myth, superstition, and the cultural prejudices of its time period. The Bhagavad Gita contains great wisdom - and it also contains paeans to, and enumerations of, the caste system. Arjuna is exhorted, not to do what is good and right for a human being, but what is appropriate to his caste.

Should the Gita be thrown out? No. Gandhi didn't throw it out; even though he disagreed with the caste system, he viewed the Gita as a monumental work of religion. He lived its life by its teachings. Modern spiritual seekers should take from it what sings to the soul, and leave behind what is an affront to conscience.

The only "sin" for a Buddhist is an action that clouds the mind with anger and confusion, and embeds one further in the delusion of samsara. Calling homosexuality a "sin" in 21st century America is nothing short of discrimination.

And before someone brings it up: Yes, we should respect and venerate the great spiritual masters. Part of respecting them is challenging them in those areas where we believe their wisdom is outdated. Spirituality is not static - it evolves. If we treat their work as static dogma, we betray their teachings.

So let's please refrain from propagating vicious dogma that instills prejudice against our brothers and sisters.

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