July 13, 2009

Gay Marriage: What Would Buddha Do?

Tricycle editor & publisher James Shaheen has a blog post up over at The Huffington Post. You'll have to go there to read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

A lot of people ask me what the "Buddhist take" on gay marriage is. Well, it depends on who you talk to. A few years back, in an interview with the CBC, the Dalai Lama rejected same-sex relationships to the surprise of many convert Buddhists, who sometimes too easily assume that Buddhist ethics are consistent with their typically progressive views.

As the Canadian interview bounced around the internet, some people were shocked and perplexed, but the Dalai Lama's position shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the issue. After all, he has been consistent.

Read the rest here. And don't worry, James will have more to come on HuffPo!

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James Shaheen's picture


Although the Ganden Tripa is the nominal head, I think it's fair to say that the Dalai Lama is the most influential--both among Tibetans and in the West--and his words carry more weight. Still, your point is well taken--it's correct, too, of course.

Many thanks,


Inbal's picture

I left the trycycle because one of your members though it is un apropriate for my own site to present my opinions in regard to the use of Marijuana. He claimed this site is only for the purpose of discussing the Buddhism etc and should avoid politics.
Since I am gone but see that it is not so I would be happy to hear how any one wants to address the use of Marijuana according to Buddhism and would like to quote here one great Buddhist teacher who said: after all Buddhism owe to Marijuana use many of it's American followers", and I can tell you myself that the Use of Marijuana is not only a medication but also bring and brought awareness to many of my friends. I am also familiar with the fact that it can be considered "poison" because of its influence on the mind and its ability to alter it, but in that case we should forbidden TV, and any gov media tools isn't it?
If any of you chose to reply me , I would be happy to hear about it but please inform me also to my mail address as I said, I left the site because I was under the impression I am not allowed to express myself freely or to link any one to my "tainted politic" site.
much blessings
Inbal the witch

Vu Nguyen's picture

The Dalai Lama have stated that when sciences can prove or resolve a doubt or conflict in philosophy or theology, then he would choose or accept sciences version or proof or explanation. Thanks to the goodwill, inspirations, dedications, and efforts from global citizens, the sciences of biology. genome, and evolution have made great advances over the last few years. Perhaps the Dalai Lama no longer has this thinking (if he has such thought to start with since the Dalai Lama is one of the most ardent supporter of the Universal Human Rights, Universal Responsibility, and Global Moral and Ethics causes or movements).

One of Buddha core teaching or philosophy is inclusiveness, just as in the US Constitution: everyone is created equal or as part of the wholesome or oneness of humanity and nature. Do not be confused with Buddhist denominations or sub-denominations or Buddhists interpretations of social, cultural, or political polarizations. A Buddhist practices or applies the teachings of the Buddha not as an absolute doctrine or means for transformation, but as a guidance for one free will to achieve one own enlightenment. One should considered oneself a disciple of Buddha if one adheres to or supports the teachings or guidance of the Buddha. Anyway, spiritual does not differentiate or exclude life diversity, pluralism, and wholeness such as genders, religions, cultures, and sciences.

The purposes of the physical body are to nurture and develop the mind, heart, and senses. The senses, heart, and mind are for the emancipation and transformation of intuition, knowledge, reason, experience, and intelligence. These traits form the basis for or the evolution of wisdom, compassion, and liberation. The physical body is the means for consciousness, spiritual, and the path to salvation or enlightenment. Individual being potential for wholeness or oneness.

Spiritual is the means for higher consciousness, searching for meanings and seeking truths in the physical and transcend or metaphysical world. Science is the art of deriving meanings and emancipation of knowledge from searching and seeking truths in the physical or material world. Spiritual is the reasoning, empirical analysis, observation, and experience of the natural world through the senses, mind, heart, and consciousness. Science is the rationalness, analysis, observation, and experience of the natural world through theory and technology. Spiritual and science are means or paths to meanings, truths, and enlightenment of natural law through the physical/metaphysical and physical world respectively. Therefore, spiritual and science are compatible and complementary to each other and must adhere to or conform to or obey the law of nature, or in other words, are revealing or expressing the law of nature in their specific, special, and unique ways. Individual and collective being(s) potential for wholeness or oneness.

sharon saw's picture

As i understand it, Liberation in the Palm of your Hand was a series of teachings for an audience of Sangha (monks). The advice given was thus very much directed towards monks, though of course it is applicable to lay people too.

I don't think it's a fair rule to say that sexual misconduct is 'any wrong orifices or all orifices except the vagina'.. if one is pedantic, that would mean lesbian sex is acceptable, which logically (and i do believe Buddhism is based on logic) would not make sense.

Buddha said that we should look at his teachings and accept the teachings that is logical and make sense to us and discard the ones that don't.

I'd personally discard this homophobic advice as it is illogical and definitely doesn't make sense to me.

Auntie Seldoen's picture

I remember taking refuge from a young Rinpoche fresh from Dharamsala who explained the specifics of sexual misconduct to me, and it clearly was the most uncomfortable part of his job—a celibate monk advising a much older woman on how she should and should not have sex? What he told me was straight out of Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, a text based on one by Atisha (which makes it nearly 1000 years old). For lay people, the basis of sexual misconduct is “any wrong orifice, or, all orifices except the vagina; any wrong time, such as when the woman is pregnant or during one-day vows; at any improper place, such as before one’s guru or near a stupa; any wrong partner, such as one’s own mother or father.”

“What about gay sex?” I asked, and once I explained what that meant, he responded just as His Holiness did: “Don’t do it.” And I shrugged my shoulders and understood his answer for what it was, another cultural artifact the lamas are eager not to lose—regardless of how archaic it is--given all that they’ve lost already.

dominic's picture


My thanks for your post.

Just for the record: while the Dalai Lama is certainly the most famous Gelugpa monk in the world, he is not "the leader" of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism; that position is formerly reserved for the so-called Ganden Tripa (དགའ་ལྡན་ཁྲི་པ༑), who is elected from among the highest echelons of the Gelug literati.

The office of the Dalai Lama, who is traditionally educated within the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, is perhaps more accurately described as the temporal and spiritual leader of Tibet.