July 13, 2012

Buddha Buzz: Taiwan's First Gay Buddhist Wedding and Other Great News

Pema ChodronJuly, it seems, is a very auspicious month for Tibetan Buddhists. Last Friday was the Dalai Lama's birthday, and tomorrow it's Pema Chodron's 76th. Happy Birthday, Pema! Although she is in retreat for the entirety of 2012, she's holding a virtual online retreat in honor of the occasion. If you register here (it's free), the Pema Chodron foundation will email you a pre-filmed video with advice, encouragement, and meditation instruction. In a culture in which a person expects to receive gifts on a birthday, not give them, many thanks to the Pema Chodron Foundation and, of course, Pema herself for their generosity.

In more awesome news, in August Taiwan will see its first gay Buddhist wedding. Fish Huang, a social worker, and her unnamed partner will marry on August 11, the Taipei Times reported. Despite the fact that homosexual marriages are not legally recognized in Taiwan and that even Huang's friends are anxious about attending the ceremony (they're afraid it contradicts their Buddhist vows), Huang and her partner are determined to see the wedding through because they want "to make [their] relationship complete and raise awareness about the difficulties faced by sexual minorities."

"It is meaningful to us that our wedding can give hope to other homosexuals and help heterosexuals understand how Buddhism views sexuality," Huang said. "We are not only doing it for ourselves, but also for other gays and lesbians."

You go, girls! Tricycle wishes them the best. (And personally, I hope that we get to see some photos of the wedding! I'm looking at you, Taiwanese media.)

Over in Thailand, the Bangkok-based group Knowing Buddha Organization has called for a boycott against Disney, who has a new series of children's movies out that features a dog named Buddha. His doggy friends, to put some perspective on the matter, are called B-Dawg (who likes "bling" and dislikes "dark places"), Mudbud (who dislikes "uptight people"), Budderball (who dislikes "soy" and "vegan"), and Rosebud (the only girl, who likes "fashion" and dislikes "fart jokes"). Here's Buddha:

It might seem innocuous, but I have to agree with Acharavadee Wongsakon, the founder of the Knowing Buddha Organization, who says in this CNNGo article that people would be pretty pissed if the dog was named Jesus or Mohammed.

Wongsakon launched a "Stop Disrespecting Buddha" walk in late June, calling attention to the Buddha dog and confronting backpackers and tourists in Thailand who support the commercialization of Buddhism by buying decorative Buddhas and tattooing the Buddha on their bodies. The Knowing Buddha Organization has an official site with a page that lists the Dos and Don'ts in regards to images of the Buddha, if you're interested.

As we all know, the 2012 London Olympic Games start in two weeks. But did you know that among the competitors is Kenki Sato, a Japanese Buddhist monk? He will be competing in the equine sports: dressage, cross-country and showjumping. Japan hasn't won an equestrian Olympic medal since 1932, but beyond winning, Sato says that he hopes his Olympic experience will aid him on his path to enlightenment.

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mkssngr's picture

Please allow me to respond to respond to recent replies to my original post.Thank you for your input and willingness to discuss this issue in a civil and rational manner.
"From a Buddhist point of view, men-to-men and women-to-women is generally considered sexual misconduct."
His Holiness The Dalai Lama
I make the assumption that homosexual sex is the sine qua non upon which homosexual marriage is founded. As to opinion this is not my opinion alone as I hope to demonstrate. This concept is not one I based upon my personal opinion.. As far as marriage being an arrangement based upon exclusivity I agree that it is. That in itself is not discriminatory. All of human experience is not available to every individual. This is not rhetoric but reality.
To "awaits" I would ask is it bigoted or intolerant to to oppose acts of stealing, lying and other actions with negative karmic outcomes? I don't oppose sentient beings but I can express reservations regarding actions. I feel comfortable tolerating many behaviors and believe that individuals should be left to their own devices. I am however not the author that asserted that these questionable actions are great news.
That was my real point. Thank you.

wanwaimeng's picture

Kechara has a big community of gays and lesbians and a lot of them hold high positions within Kechara. I recall what Tsem Rinpoche said before sex is sex does notmatter whether it is straight or otherwise. Not all straight people engage in spirituality, some gay people are even better practitioners than straight ones.

Dominic Gomez's picture

The original meanings of spiritually important images, concepts, etc. become lost over time and in cultures unfamiliar with them. Nirvana is a grunge rock band, zen is a fashion statement, Buddha is someone else's god.

Sukha's picture

I don't understand what's wrong with someone wanting to purchase a decorative Buddha for their home or even tattoo one on their body. When people respect something and want to be reminded of its importance, such actions are often one way they accomplish it. I fail to see how that's disrespectful.

glenzorn's picture

Isn't "decorative" pretty much the antithesis of "sacred"?

Sukha's picture

Perhaps. I think more important than the adjectives used, though, is the intent of the person doing the purchasing. If I purchase a little Buddha statue in a gift shop for the purpose of reminding myself of my aspirations to be mindful, present and live a peaceful life, I don't think Buddha would mind :)

meltemmaire's picture

The focal Buddhist conviction holds that life is a proceeding procedure of progress and that you may as well dependably be moving towards a state of more stupendous intelligence and cognizance. Marriage doesn't hold a crux place in the religion, as Buddha did not acknowledge marriage to be a consecrated service, so marriage is acknowledged to be a social instead of religious event. marriagematerial

Dominic Gomez's picture

There's a bumper sticker that says "Dog is my co-pilot". American humor is often not "gotten" by other cultures. ;-(
(We don't get no respect.)

davide's picture

I think if a Thai company made a movie about a dog named Jesus, we would all understand American humor better.

Dominic Gomez's picture
mkssngr's picture

Sexual misconduct is no more a cause for celebration than other forms of misconduct, nor is it "great news". I am disappointed that Tricycle promotes actions that clearly contradict Dharma teachings and traditions.Why is moral relativism acceptable in this case but unacceptable for other actions?

awalts's picture

What is being celebrated here is love and acceptance, not the violence and deception that truly constitute sexual misconduct. Any teaching that promotes bigotry or prejudice is not Dharma. Please look into your heart and ask why you cannot tolerate this difference in others.

gloonie's picture

mkssngr, why do you begin your comments by immediately labeling gay marriage as "sexual misconduct"? This is followed by more labels, presenting opinion as purportedly obvious facts. Isn't your exclusive and discriminatory definition of marriage itself the "moral relativism acceptable in this case but unacceptable for other actions"? In other words, marriage is fine for some but banned for others. Framing the issue in this way sounds more like rhetoric and less like inquiry.