My Experiences with Ignorance and Poverty and How our Effort Can Make a Change

Here’s a very moving piece by a Buddhist nun on her experiences with violence against women. I hope we can all try to be more aware of these terrible problems and do what we can to overcome them.

When I was a child, sometimes our neighbor came to take shelter in our house. She often came with her small children (2-5 of them). This happened from time to time because whenever her husband was drunk he would hit his wife cruelly and chase away their children. This usually happened late at night.

One day he ventured into our house to snatch his wife and children to his house in order to do whatever he pleased with them, but my mother and all my brothers and sisters stood up to protect poor women and her children. When I asked my elders to report this matter to the local authority, they told me that it is an in-house or family matter and nobody cared about it. For many decades, in Vietnam, a country ruled by purely communist party, who claim to promote gender justice along with total equal right in society, still there were no laws to protect victims of domestic violence.

When I grew bigger, I came to know that there are many cases of domestic violence and rape (often incest), but nobody talked about this matter publicly. It is considered shameful, therefore the people who suffer, mostly women and children, keep silent. The result is that many of them either commit suicide, become mentally disturbed, or suffer depression for many years. I felt so helpless in such a society and culture.

Just in 2008, the Vietnamese government made some effort to discuss this matter in their parliament and eventually some laws were issued to punish the perpetrators and provide some measure to protect the victims. This has nothing to do with Buddhism, because the context I experienced was in a non-Buddhist region.

In a conference on the theme of domestic violence held in Bangkok in March 2007, I came to know that an estimated 3 000 to 5 000 Vietnamese young girls were sold every year through the borders to Cambodia or China to become child-prostitutes.

I met a girl of 14 years of age in Bangkok. She had been rescued by a Thai woman social worker from a brothel where more than 100 children from different countries were kept. She told me that her parents who lived in Cambodia had sold her to a man for only $200 US!

As I knew further through other sources, there are about 10 000 to 20 000 Vietnamese young women were forcibly married to foreigners (mostly to Taiwan, Korea, and Malaysia) every year, and sadly most of them become sex-slaves in their strange husbands’ houses. In this kind of marriage, the family of the poor woman gets about $US 200 to 1000. This is how young girls and young women from the poorest areas of the world sacrifice themselves for the benefit of their family.

The number I cited above are only estimates, because no formal and legal investigations were authorized by the local government. It is noteworthy that young girls and women who are sold or deceived to go to other countries for a job are from rural provinces where people are predominantly either Theravada Buddhists or without religion. Most of them are totally ignorant about the sex industry and their fate.

When I asked some monks from these areas to give religious talks concerning these problems, they appeared very uncomfortable at my idea and the information I gave them.

And they told me: “It is their Karma (i.e., fate in this context), we have nothing to do with that.” At that point, I felt some indignant at Buddhist monks who supposed to be compassionate and caring persons.

I started thinking to make Buddhist nuns (Bhikkhuni) more involved in this matter. This works better. Many nuns feel concerned and indeed, many nuns’ monasteries in Vietnam have become havens for the destitute, especially poor women and girls. I tried to get more nuns involved and encourage them to go to rural areas to establish Buddhist centres for education to help poor and uneducated people to live a better life.

Unfortunately, this was obstructed by the very Buddhist administration in the only legal Buddhist organization in Vietnam.

I myself went to some rural areas in Hatinh, Nghe An and Hagiang provinces. I got in touch with some of the women’s associations in these areas, gave religious talk and distributed booklets concerning the welfare and happiness of individuals and of family and society in general. This is just an individual effort, but fortunately, I was welcomed by the local people and community’s administrators. I wish we can do this in a more organized way, especially concerning financial and spiritual support.

In 2007, a layman from Malaysia asked us: “What can you, Bhikkhunis, do for us?” At first, many Bhikkhunis around me were puzzled! His question becomes a Koan (a subject to contemplate upon) to me for years, especially concerning domestic violence.

Most of the perpetrators are husbands or fathers; how can I tell them not to use violent means to get their wife or children to obey their will? What can I do to change a cultural context where husbands have the right to do whatever they pleased with their wives and children? This is a very crucial point because unless we get men to be aware of the evil consequences of their violent actions, they would just act out their impulses.

Sadly, there is no organization or institution in South East Asian that gives a formal education to men concerning the standard of moral relationship. Most of the people who come to listen to religious talks in Temples or Churches are elderly women.

Last year, some of my Buddhist friends in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia reported that they have organized pre-marriage courses based on Buddhist valuation of a moral marriage life. I felt thrilled and on my part, I edited a very important Buddhist text on social relationships named Singalovada Sutta (DN 31) to publish for free distribution in Vietnam. This works very well, as soon after the books come to the readers, many report to me that it helps them a lot in understanding their responsibilities toward family as well as to society. Some men even say that if they knew this discourse earlier, they would have not committed many mistakes or sins in their lives.

67 thoughts on “My Experiences with Ignorance and Poverty and How our Effort Can Make a Change

  1. How absolutely lame for those monks to have said – “It is their Karma, we have nothing to do with that.”

    I don’t suppose I’ll hear this if and when a monk needs medical treatment… This ain’t uppekha, it’s just appossukkata/indifference.

    I wonder if any of the resistance to bhikkhuni ordination may be motivated by a fear that bhikkhunis will provide a rallying point for action against some of the dreadful treatment against women?

    • There’s no doubt that the all-male Sangha contributes to the way Theravadin countries turn a deaf ear to women in pain. The monks themselves would be outraged at the idea that they somehow contribute. But it is undeniable that the Sangha provides an ideological excuse.

      I was told by a Buddhist academic recently that he had asked a senior Thai monk about this problem. He asked, ‘Why doesn’t the Thai Sangha do anything to stop child sex slavery and prostitution?’ The answer – not – ‘we’re doing all we can’, not even, ‘we don’t get involved in politics’, but – ‘It’s their kamma’. Shocked, the professor said, ‘You mean to tell me, they take 12 or 14 year old girls from their families and send them to a brothel where they are kept in slavery and have to service any man who comes to them – and that’s their kamma?!’ The monk just said: ‘You must be a Bodhisattva’.

      Imagine what any bhikkhuni would say to this!

    • Dear Ajarn,

      With due respect, could it be that these monks do not want to meddle or interfere with the authority’s and police or other NGO’s jobs on this worldly issues. To them, their job is in the spiritual world (strictly the Buddha’s Path) and not the sensual world.

      We should ask, What is the Thai Government, NGO’s, police departments in Thailand or other affected countries doing? Revenues to the country or morality and crime first? Look at what happens if the Sangha interfere with the authorities and worldly issues eg in Tibet or Burma? We are indirectly asking the monks to walk the worldly path that never stop evolving.

      Similarly, with smoking and drinking alchohol or drugs, if the Government banned all these or close all alchohol or drugs factories,then no smoking, alchohol/drugs( the main causes of rapes and all henious crimes). The root causes must be address not addressing the results (as in Buddha’s Cause & Effect/Dependant Origination). Can the Government afford to ban all these destructive products? Who is the manufacture of these innocent people’s kamma?

      Who and which countries export all these destructive products to the 3rd world countries?

      Imo, Sangha should stay out of all these government, political, NGO’s stuffs and leave them to the reformists, politicians and NGOs, MPs and these are worldly concerns to be addressed by worldly people, not spiritual people who contributed to the society the Buddha’s Path & Teachings that are practical for worldly people and the society, but do these worldly people obey or listen?. So, blame should not be on the onus of the Sangha.

      There would be no such problems if all of us follow the 5-Precepts prescribed by the Buddha and follow the 8-fold Noble Path. The problem is not the fault of Sangha keeping silence on all these problems that had arisen as a result of the causes. Address the causes as thought by our Buddha (if one sincerely cares for the world). Trouble is, in this modern world, most worldly people do not take heed of theBuddha’s teaching closely now, because of materialism and the irresistable temptations of sensual pleasures (that is why some say the “Satan” / “Mara” is more powerful!

      If the 1st Precept is followed, there will be no killing of innocent people esp children & women (is that their kamma or the victims?) by justification of wars and democracy etc.
      For our contempation and reflection.

    • Hi Sis,

      As I noted earlier, these monks quite clearly did not say that they avoided the issue because they didn’t want to get into politics. They explicitly said they would not comment because ‘it is their kamma’. If we want to understand them, then we must listen to what they are actually saying, not put words in their mouth.

      No-one has suggested that Theravadin monks get involved in NGOs, or political campaigns or whatever. What they were asked is why they would not give ethical teachings, in exactly the same way as they give ethical teachings on other topics, as you mentioned. These were highly educated, senior monks, heads of large Sangha institutions. They knew what they were doing, and they avoided talking on child sex slavery by twisting the Dhamma to provide an ideological justification for these most horrible of crimes. This should not be tolerated. The Buddhist lay community should be demanding better from its monastics, not making excuses for such harmful and twisted thinking.

    • Dear Ajahn,

      I guess they could not comment too much for security reasons as these countries have many undergrounds and black societies. There are many things monks in these countries had to restraint their comments, it is unfortunate but through dhamma education by these monks many would turn into a new life.

      To the best of my knowledge, previously, there was a renowned monk who through his Dhamma propagation had turned many black societies and thugs into noble dhamma volunteers and led noble lifestyles. Through educating, not confronting, did help.

      If monks were to comment openly on every issue in the society, they would be clashing with the society, as monk’s route is the opposite of society’s route ( i deduced this according to my own understanding and knowledge, not putting words into their mouth).

    • Politics and Religion are strange bedfellows. History has shown that Caesar viewed Christ with fear. If State is fearful of Religion, then one way to ensure people’s acceptance of a regime is for the regime to patronise Religion. Then religion becomes beholden to the State. When State and Religion goes to bed together, their offspring is pariah. The Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index shows countries with State-endorsed religions are the most corrupt. And so are countries with a predominant religion or national religion.

    • The Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index shows countries with State-endorsed religions are the most corrupt. And so are countries with a predominant religion or national religion.

      Interesting – Can you give us a link showing this connection?

  2. Excellent point Sylvester.
    I draw the link again to the other world faiths who have stepped up to grapple with and take leadership on these issues (many have seen it posted already, but we have some new friends who may be interested).
    Supported by some of the true “Elders” in the world: Carter, Mandela, Tutu, etc.

    http://www.cartercenter.org/news/editorials_speeches/parliament-world-religions-120309.html

    http://www.theelders.org/elders

    Metta

  3. I suspect that it is not so much indifference as rather a deep-seated view that females are only for sex, child-bearing & upbringing and household/cheap labour.

    This same sort of attitude that, imho, you find world-wide held towards exploitation of animals (“only good for …”).

    Frankly, this account makes me feel overwhelmed with the enormity of sufferung and at a loss what to do other than supporting such educational matters as described at local level.

  4. hmm ….. not about bikkhuni ordination but about mistreating women since the time Eve was fashioned out of a spare rib. Exactly, how should one treat a spare rib?

    • Dear Bro in dhamma,

      If there is no demand, there will be no supply!

      End the demand and problem solved. Can they? Don’t blame on these innocent people’s kamma (we cannot say, Oh this is their Kamma so they deserve it and put a deaf ear). The “Kamma producers” are those that demand for pleasures and for materialism.

      Moral education should be emphasized to men.

      Buddha mentioned in the Sutta, all the trades under Wrong Livelihood. What are the 5 trades under Wrong Livelihood? One of them is trading flesh (human trafficking). Others are trading of arms/ammunition, trading of animals, trading of intoxicants & drugs.

      But did we people obey Buddha’s advices? Buddha already showed us the Right Path but if we don’t obey then we shouldn’t blame anyone but ourselves as we are digging our own graves.

      As one monk said before : If the doctor prescribed the right medicine but if we don’t take that medicine but just admire the prescription, will we get better? Did we take the “medicine” that our Buddha prescribed?

      That is why obedience is very important (don’t question about obedience, it is an old age wisdom).

      We created the problems and when we are faced with problems, we would blame GOD, we blame the Sangha and run to them for help (it would too late, the Sangha would say, ” See, i told you guys so; I told you guys about the Buddha’s advice but did you guys take Buddha’s advice and “medicine” ? Now you guys solve your own mess which you guys started it”) :-)

  5. Its an appalling fact that each year in Australia approximately 75 women and many many children are killed through domestic violence. 1 in 5 women from the age of 15 experience sexual abuse from a family member and 1 in 4 are physically, emotionally and verbally abused in Australia. Many thousands of Australian children are horribly abused either directly or through hearing or witnessing violence in their homes. And these are only the ones that are brave enough to report the abuse. Many more remain silent out of fear and shame.

    Through my work as a domestic violence and sexual assault counsellor I have spoken to hundreds of women who live in fear of their partners every day. Much is being done to address this huge problem, yet it continues to be one of the biggest killers of women and children in this ‘developed’ country of ours. Clearly there is still a great deal to be done!!

    Julie

    • Power and control is the cause of domestic violence. Drugs and alcohol don’t cause one person to abuse another. Domestic and family violence is a socially learned behaviour and is not the result of substance abuse or mental illness, however its often used as an excuse for their violence.

    • Dear Julie,

      Buddha would not prescribe the 5th precept if He thought IT was not important. Similarly, in Muslim countries,drinking alcohol is prohibited, so two Gurus endorsed it.

      Another sensitive issue is, In the West,sodomy, gays intimacy and same sex marriages are permitted but all these are legally not permitted (purnishable in Court) in many countries especially Muslim countries (so we have to be very careful & sensitive as not to go against the laws and conventions of certain countries and societies and get ourselves in trouble).

    • Dear Ajahn,

      Firstly, forgive me for bringing up this personal enquiry.

      Please bear with me, since this subject about homosexuals and same sex marriages was brought up, wonder if this is against the Buddha’s 3rd Precept on “sexual misconduct” or is it agreeable in spiritual development or is it “born” from the human mind and own fantasy or concept?

      Did Buddha mentioned about “third” gender, as we are also touching on gender equality in this blog. No offense, but just curious & inquisitive in pursuit of the Truth of Existence/Nature.

      Did Buddha preach on this “third” gender or does it actually exist in human (or is it a man-made or man’s desires to be woman and vice-versa) and what about animals or other realms of existence, do they have “third gender” or is it only exist in human or is it just our illusion or made belief? Please enlighten us if anyone come across this issue in the Suttas or Scriptures not only the Buddha, it can be from any other religion or Holy Book. Any facts on this issue? I just want to establish whether it is an ancient truth or is this our modern way of life???

      I read somewhere in this blog that masturbation (sorry,excuse me, but need to clarify as this is facts of life, although a subject normally avoided, but we inquisitive Buddhists need to know why & whether it is necessary or moral or not, and what about children on why they do this sort of thing naturally?).

      Hope we could get the “Truth” on this (any scientific proof).

    • Hi Smiley,

      There’s nothing in the Buddhist scriptures that would suggest that homosexuality, trenssexuals, masturbation, or any other sexual act/preference/inclination is intrinsically immoral. It all depends on whether it causes harm. The Buddha encouraged all to be moderate, honest, and acting out of genuine metta in their relationships, but he never pried into the details of what people are doing in their bedrooms.

    • Sorry Ajahn,

      Did not mean to be disrespectful or rude. Just want to know who we (human species) are in relation with other beings like animals or devas in this aspect? Just curious not trying to pry into privacy. Anyway, consider i never brought it up. Looks like the answer is just, it is natural that is all no further question. Please accept my apology.Metta.

    • Nothing rude about it, Smiley – it’s an important question that needs discussion. I would agree, yes, that human sexual behaviour is in this regard not that different from animals – animal homosexuality, masturbation, etc. is well documented and widespread. As for the devas – who knows?

    • Dear Ajahn,

      Thanks for the further info. I asked because, maybe in this modern world where the youth are so vulnerable to social ills and with the unlimited exposure to internet, more immoral acts would emerge in the next generations if we Buddhists do not address it and get to the bottom to guide and solve it.

      My enquiry on masturbation came to my mind (more for reaching out on how noble people could help in transforming those needed help), when i came across somewhere in the media, that many youths had to seek rehabilitation as they could not stop masturbating (something unheard of in older times, so wonder if this is due to modern lifestyles and its causes).

      So, ignorantly i would assume that it is similar to alcohol and drugs where one can be addicted. We could reach out to these people, perhaps by teaching them meditation (not sure what is the technique to subdue this desire). Perhaps those in celibacy could shamelessly share with us, so we could reach out to those who need help in this area as many youths could not understand and could be the cause for other immoral acts or violence. Could it be nip in the bud? Your compassion sought.

    • Here the media i came across (in Singapore) to proof my claim : – )

      Ten sex addicts a month seeking treatment

      Other News & Views
      Complied by WINNIE YEOH and SARAH ABDULLAH

      AN average of 10 sex addicts sought treatment at the Raffles Hospital in Singa-pore each month, reported Sin Chew Daily.

      A doctor also revealed to the newspaper that out of the 10 patients seeking treatment, two were women.

      The daily also quoted an international survey showing that most sex addicts were likely to be married men who could not control their sexual desire.

      It carried an interview with one Dr Munidasa Winslow who is a consultant psychiatrist at the Raffles Hospital.

      According to her, some patients sought help because they could not stop masturbating.

      > Nanyang Siang Pau reported that a woman, who had gone out of her home in the middle of the night to look for her drunken husband, was raped.

      It was reported that the 32-year-old rapist was later sentenced to 20 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the rotan by the Singaporean court on Friday.

      The incident took place on Feb 10 in 2008 when the victim, 34, had gone to Clarke Quay with her mother to look for her 35-year-old husband, who was drunk and could not drive then

    • I would think that there’s a world of difference between addiction that is pathological to the point that one seeks medical attention, and indulgence in the panca kamagunas which the Buddha did not deny lay people as part and parcel of the dustiness of household life.

      How about the case of the drink addict Sarakani the Sakyan, who died a Stream Winner? per Sarakari Sutta, SN 55.24. The Sakyans were outraged when the Buddha declared that this drunkard died a Stream Winner. Are we going to be as judgemental as the Sakyans who could not see past Sarakani’s addiction?

      Yes, these unhealthy states of mind can be stains on our practice. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and imagine that the harm wrought by addictive behaviours is quite like the harm inflicted by a healthy romp with a beloved spouse.

    • Thanks, smiley, for giving us the context for your question.

      I personally doubt whether these people can be meaningfully said to have their problems because of the influence of modern culture, or whether Buddhism can help as such. Sexual addiction is a controversial diagnosis. Humans are sexual animals, and just like any other physical or psychological system in us, our sexuality sometimes goes wrong. It’s not really possible to make any judgement based on whether this kind of condition was known or unknown in the past, as it may well have simply gone unrecognized.

      As excessive or extreme sexuality is a very subjective thing, highly judged by society, and varying from time to place, I would be very cautious about making generalizations. It would seem to me that in the majority of people who see themselves as being addicted to sex, the condition is likely to be linked to much broader psychological concerns. In certain cases some Buddhist practices might be useful for this. In other cases conventional Buddhism may well be exactly what is not needed.

      For example, the Wikipedia article says that certain cases of sexual addiction are associated with bipolar conditions, which is an area where mindfulness meditation has a strong contribution. But it may also be associated with narcissistic personality disorder, which, in my personal experience, is a condition that most Buddhist practices does not help, and in fact will often exacerbate.

    • Dear Ajahn,

      Therefore, from your point of view, we, humans are more of animalistic nature or closer to behaviours of animals (sexually) rather than devas (as in the scriptures,there are children in the deva realms, they have women & men too).

    • I confess to having more than a passing voyeuristic interest in the sex lives of devas. We Singaporeans have a standard laundry list of how the Kamaloka devas “do” the deed – 欲天五婬. The denizens of the 4 Heavenly Quarters and of the Realm of the 33 do it like humans, the Yamas by a mere embrace, the Tusitas by holding hands, the Nirmanarati by smiling and the Paranimittas by merely gazing.

      But we need to be careful about these beliefs in popular Buddhism, even if they can be a welcome distraction from the standard Dhamma exhortations. I don’t think the suttas themselves have this descriptions of celestial “sex”. Perhaps the Pali Commentarial tradition has something like this and it could be related to the concept from Chinese Buddhism.

      Even within Chinese Buddhism, the above idea may not be considered “canonical”. The electronic repository of all the known Chinese sutras does not have this. It might be something that developed in the sastras instead.

      Maybe these teachings about celestial sex are purely symbolic and are meant to portray the diminishment of the grosser indriyas and ayatanas as one moves up the ladder towards the Rupaloka?

    • Dear :-(

      Good question. You nail it! Your concern is on social ills, domestic problems and personal relationships.

      If we know the Truth i.e. if we really know who we are,then we could be compassionate for ourselves and for others. We could also understand why others did what they did. With this admission, we could make a choice on our actions. If one knows that one has potentially animal behaviour (except the mind) then one can avoid behaving like one. Animals also fight for survival and we are no different. Devas are more refined & cultured,i guess.

    • Hi Terry,

      You are right. I think if we knew the root causes of our problems, we would then be able to find a cure, as in the root cause of our becoming again is cravings/desires then we try to cure it by reducing or better still “cut-off” these cravings/desires, if we want to be liberated from Samsara or stop being becoming again.

      According to Buddha,since all existences evolved from our cravings, ignorance and good and bad past kamma in our previous lives,what we are today are crafted from our own previous behaviours and predominant habits/desires. As we are both with human and animal behavious, therefore it depends on which behaviour is more prominent in an individual.As in the Sutta, it could tell in details the existence of the 31 planes and the causes for its existence in each of the different realms, surely the Sutta would have the answer to those being reborn as female in male body and male in female body, so to speak. Obviously, their sexual behaviours are not their choice, so to know the root cause of this behaviour would help them to “cut-off” the roots so that in future they would have a more favourable rebirths. If we are aware and not be ignorant (with the Dhamma), then we will make effort to be careful with our behaviours/desires to prevent us from “falling” into the animal behaviours and reborn into the animal realms. To gratify and legalize such behaviours would be like “from the frying pan into the fire” and accelerate their rebirth into the lower realms.

      Question is, as Buddhist who believe in Kamma, do we counsel, remedy, encourage, support or let their kamma exhaust itself or takes its course or reverse those behaviours.Hope there is a more definite answer to the root cause on such unfortunate behaviours to find a “cure”.

      This is solely my opinion and naive understanding on this topic, for purpose of sharing and as a form of outreach by those enlightened.

    • Dear Meg,
      In Buddhist practices, many things are ‘going against the current’, aspecially to supress the root cause of problem: desire. Desire might manifest in various forms and sexual desire is just one of them.
      Yes, we need to learn, to consel and make some effort such as suppotting each other to remedy the so called ‘bad kamma’. This is a rather long journey to turn one’s kamma into different direction, i.e., go from darkness into light. And this is made possible by our effort in providing good education. the Buddha said of all the miracles practised in this world, he only recommend the miracal of education (DN, Sutta 11).

    • Dear all,
      According to Buddhist point of view (as least in Abhidhamma world), Animal worlds are ruled by instincts, human world is ruled by reasoning and laws, and Devas’ wolrd are ruled by benevolence. If someone is ruled by instinct, he/she is heading to animal worlds, if they are ruled by benevolance, then, to Deva’s worlds. yes, absolutely we have a choice, this is the options to make our Kamma. And this is our only freedom, but not an absolute freedom, because we are wired by many ways such as bio, cultural, educational, economic, social bacgrounds, etc. This is human predicaments termed Dukkha.

    • Given the political situation in Vietnam, you can understand why she prefers to remain anonymous. But if you want to get in touch, send me an email.

    • it’s me here, dear ‘concerned’.
      “After reading Visuddhimagga, a renowned encyclopedia of early Buddhist philosophy and practice, I chose to practice the four Brahmavihari, especially Metta Bhavana … With metta meditation I hope to overcome my deep resentment to life in general, and my swinging mood at times. Well, after years of practice, its worked in certain way. My appearance look calm and serene, I become kinder and more sensitive… Is that all?
      One day, in a forest meditation centre south of Thailand, I was sitting on my cushion and developing Metta Bhavana as usually. After some quiet time, my mind wandered off. I remember about the story of a man who is very well build, the son of a rather well-to do family, he used to ride a high spread auto bicycle on the streets of Ho chi Minh City. He attacked many young women, raped them, robbed them of their jewelry and run away undetected by police until one day, a young victim of him was strong enough to hit him back, and managed to follow him when he finished his business with her and tried to escape. She identified his auto bicycle number and reported to police. Three months later, he was caught when he was attacking another woman. During that time, the whole Ho Chi Minh City was terrified by the robust attacker, and the question at the end of article is: what should police do with him? In my meditation, the thought popped up: “He has to be cut off all his limbs, then set free”. When I was aware of what is in my mind, I felt so ashamed. I am supported to spread metta or unconditional love to every creature, regardless what they are doing, who they are. How can after years of developing boundless love, still I have such a revengeful thought, even to a rapist and a robber?
      After some experiences of violent thoughts, i wowed not to go to the world as a Bodhisatta any more unless i’ve found some means to transform my emotional responses. Well, the practice mkes me see more closely as a human being and all their limitations… May be you dissappoited about this.

  6. Dear all

    Some buddhist blame everything on karma if they cannot find anyone else to blame just like some people blame God if something goes wrong but not themselves eg natural disaster, is it also karma ? Why about human exploitation on Mother Earth and “rape” the land?

    With pornography and sex drugs on the rise and poverty in 3rd world, the effect would be more flesh trades. They go for children because of safe sex and all still virgins. People should be taught Right Livelihood in 8 fold Noble Path and also the consequences of going to Burning Hell after death, for wrong livelihood.

    In Buddhism, there is no fear of GOD, so people took for granted. Emphasize to people the 31 planes of existence and who goes where and the duration in each plane they had to suffer for any wrong act.

    Scientists should construct something “real” for those who have insatiable desires, like a den with dummies for them to choose and get over with – No AIDS problems and no flesh trades. Any scientist available for this?

    • “….. blame everything on karma if they cannot find anyone else to blame just like some people blame God if something goes wrong….”
      And who does God blame when everything goes wrong? Satan!

    • Hi, aah-haa,

      So, who created Satan? Why did GOD “create” Satan, if GOD is merciful? Why didn’t HE create all of us to go to heaven and put a stop to those about to go to Hell?

    • reply to Smiley:
      I suppose Satan was created by the Creator God who created everything! However, according to bible account, Satan was Lucifer the Archangel who had fallened when he disobeyed or challenged God. Whether God is merciful is a construct made by Man. And so is Heaven & Hell.
      It is hard for me to believe this story but millions do – educated ones, professionals, executives and professors!
      Everything in the bible account had a fail-safe escape or excuse and Satan has to be the one ‘created’ to take the Divine Blame.

  7. And the 5 precepts especially the 5th precept on refrain from alchohol & drugs by showing them some lunatics (could be reborn for taking alchohol & drugs in their previous lives). The devil is the drinking alchohol & drugs that deluded them and made immoral. Petition to ban alchohol & drugs.

  8. I think it was Voltaire who said that “If it were ever discovered that god didnt exist it would be necessary to invent him.”

    This is precisely what has happened to the doctrine of kamma. Kamma has been turned into god.

  9. Blaming Kamma on the reasons why these women and children suffer horrendous acts of abuse and violation can be very useful – it gives us the perfect opportunity to turn a blind eye.

    • Dear Sis

      Agree. Buddhist now have Kamma as an excuse for their own “weakness” and ego.

      The Law of Kamma has been taken out of context and most Buddhist become very “cold” as if there is any sufferings inflicted on innocent people, they would say Its their kamma (a lame excuse), and then turn a deaf ear and blind eye for these people (this is definitely NOT our Buddha’s Law of Kamma). Kamma is very complicated and there are many causes and conditions and other factors and should not be applied on every worldly incident. Example, if a girl is abused, we cold Buddhist would say, it is her kamma, but do not find the cause of this poor girl’s so called “kamma”. What caused this poor girl to be abused? What about the Perpetrator or the alcohol etc, they are scott-free or is it the Perpetrators good “kamma”???

      Generally, Buddhist would blame everything bad on Kamma but take credit for everything good – this is a dead “wrong view” and not what the Buddha meant by Kamma.

  10. The nun said:

    ‘Unfortunately, this was obstructed by the very Buddhist administration in the only legal Buddhist organization in Vietnam.

    I myself went to some rural areas in Hatinh, Nghe An and Hagiang provinces. I got in touch with some of the women’s associations in these areas, gave religious talk and distributed booklets concerning the welfare and happiness of individuals and of family and society in general. This is just an individual effort, but fortunately, I was welcomed by the local people and community’s administrators. I wish we can do this in a more organized way, especially concerning financial and spiritual support.’

    **

    It’s possible that the most effective way to do something is through seemingly individual efforts. Perhaps if there was an organisation, the administrative/political powers that be would feel threatened and put a stop to it. What do you think?

    • There are something more, dear Bhante and all concerned.
      A thought to share
      People need an identity to feel connected to a group and therefore to feel secure. It is practical to develop a personality, following one or another ideal as prescribed in secret scriptures or a current trend of practice that one happened to be in. The problem is that, people tend to identify with individual view or a group’s view and feel the obligate to defend for thati. So are the followers of Buddhism. They call themselves Mahāyana or Theravāda or Tantrayana, Zen, or Pure Land Buddhists. In each sect, there are further sub-sects, and each group start to argue that only their practice is the best representation of Buddha’s intention for enlightenment.
      In Theravada Buddhism, there are some groups called “forest tradition” who try to go back to the original practice of Samana movement in India in the first millennium BC. This practice has emphasized on dhutanga or ascetic practices as described in Visuddhimagga to cut out the tendency of attachment to material needs, and to focus on meditation for the attainment of Jhana or mental absorption which ensure certain degree of inner peace. Traditionally, this practice requires observing strict disciplines prescribed in the Pātimokkha, the ethical codes for Buddhist monks and nuns which give them a form at the beginning (for the sake of ascetic practice). Then, the experience of Jhāna gives some blissful feeling of different levels which replaces the desire for sensual pleasures. However, meditative experience is not the end of spiritual practiceii, as pointed out by the Buddha in a discourse to Cunda (M 8, Sallekha sutta). Some skillful meditation masters see this and were able to use meditative experience as a pathway to suppress mental activities and hence to purify the mind, make it an effective instrument for discernments which give rise to right knowledge and right libration. This further practice is in accordance with the guideline in M 78, Samanamandikàputta sutta)
      To adopt a form of spiritual practice, one chooses to ordain in a certain tradition, wearing one’s robes in a certain way, conducting some rite or ceremony in such and a way, chanting this or that Sutta… Certain form of practice may appear quite inspiring, and thus acquiring certain fame or honor. If the practitioner gets caught up in the form of practice, s/he may just indulge in the outer form of practice, or show indignant or anger at what is not the way one has been accustomed with. One may go so far as to formulate one’s own set of rules and force it to be observed in one’s group, regarding it as the essence of practice. This is, of cause, not the spiritual practice that the Buddha intended for his followers.iii
      To develop concentration for mental absorptions, the practitioner need to choose a subject of meditation termed Kammaṭṭhāna which literally means ‘the working ground’. There is a list of 40 subjects of meditation in Visuddhimagga such as contemplation on breathing, on different aspects of the body, elements, kasiṇa(s), Buddha’s virtues, metta, karuna, etc,. Tantrayana Buddhism uses mantra (words or group of words with certain meaning or sometimes, meaningless) or mandala (symbols) for this purpose. Zen methods use koan or verbal expression as paradox to block logical reasoning. Pure Land Buddhists use to chant ‘Amitabha’ repeatedly to keep the mind busy with the name of a merciful Buddha with the belief that He or his assistants (Bodhisattvas) will appear to take them to the Pure Land, the realm of Amitabha Buddha.

      The forest tradition in Theravada Buddhism also adopts different meditation subjects to achieve mental unification (ekaggata citta). Achahn Mun used the word “Buddho” for this purpose …

      A Love that survives vicissitudes vs. unconditional Love

      The glue of any relationship, according to Buddhist psychology, is a mixture of three kinds of emotional responds. They are rāga, lust, attachment, pema, affection, and metta, loving-kindness or sometimes termed unconditional or boundless love. Rāga and pema can bring immense suffering when one lost the loved object or the person one loves does not return the same kind of emotion. Especially in Rāga, the invested love must bear profits according to one’s expectations, if not; it turns to disappointment, bitterness and hate. Raga in term of an exclusive love for someone, it is very possessive, and bounded; the person in love fantasies a mantle where s/he and his/her loved one are kept secluded from the world. No one can get into their business, and if there is any suspicion of disloyalty or unfaithful to each other, enough to destroy their happiness and love. Pema is the affection or tender feeling for someone endearing. This is not so much possessive and bound to each other as in the first case of love, however, this is still discriminate between dear and not dear, therefore, it is a partial love with certain set of conditions.

  11. Several significant issues have been raised, but I will address only one. Sometimes I hear the potential to do social work given as a reason to accept bhikkhunis. This approach risks posing an unfair burden. All monastics who have not attained to the purity of full enlightenment eat almsfood as “debtors”; yet the Buddha did not advise bhikkhus or bhikkhunis to work off their debt that way. The idea of being expected to engage in social work makes my throat feel tight.

    Just by our existence we bhikkhunis help countless women who bring to us, one by one, their troubles and pain. Many tears have fallen onto the shoulders of my own robes, for examples: the tears of the Sri Lankan lady whose husband abandoned her for an American woman; the tears of the woman whose little girl died violently; the tears of the devotee devastated to discover that her husband molested her best friend’s children; the tears of the immigrant lady unable to travel home for years while waiting to get her USA visa approved and whose her mother died meanwhile in their homeland calling for her; the tears of the woman fighting cancer… Suffering women need us, everywhere we go! We are in a position to stabilize women who feel overwhelmed by pain; and we also offer the same services bhikkhus do, such as giving Dhamma teachings, modeling the blessings of a virtuous life, leading ceremonies.

    And yet, although focused social engagement should not be expected, one of the pleasures of watching the growth of the nascent Bhikkhuni Sangha is the discovery of the special skills each new member brings to her fellows or the community at large. In the Buddha’s day, few could have predicted that a mere barber named Upali, who had tagged along with a group of important young noblemen when they went forth, would end up the great master of Vinaya; or that the gorgeous young lady Uppalavana would become the greatest among women in psychic powers. Similarly, though more modestly, nowadays each woman ordained brings the world a new set of useful skills that may surprise even her.

    One modern bhikkhuni, previously a bad-tempered laywoman, now reportedly reaches out to local poor uneducated people with her teachings on how to overcome violent emotions. A shy elderly new bhikkhuni who previously said that she would never be able to give a Dhamma talk now has a loyal following seeking her teachings. A bhikkhuni who previously somewhat disliked children, on assuming the responsibility for teaching a Buddhist community, discovered a special gift and delight in teaching Dhamma to children, changing their lives. Another bhikkhuni took to Pali so well that only 6 or 7 years after she began studying it, she developed her own short-cut method for teaching Pali to others. Yet another bhikkhuni has found the great skills needed to inspire and direct a lay community to develop a new hermitage in a thick remote forest.

    While no one should impose the idea of social work upon any particular bhikkhuni, there is a good possibility that one of the next women you help support towards ordination will be the one, perhaps to her own surprise, whose heart calls her to lead efforts to end abuse in your community.

    • Dear Ayya,

      Thank you for these beautiful examples and your reflections, and for all the work you are doing.
      Linda

    • Yes! Yes! Yes!

      Oh please let’s not make our Bhikkus and Bhikkunis feel like they ought to teach. Let it happen naturally; as inclination and circumstance dictate. Let’s let them have a choice. Afterall, what does one chant when asking for the going forth…the reason one asks for it…for the ending of suffering, the sake of Nibbana. Some people have a natural gift for meditation and I would hate to be the cause of them not developing this gift; I would hate to think that someone was barred from reaching their goal through being too busy to develop their mind’s potential.

      Thanks so much for your comments Ayya.

  12. Hello Sis, Thankyou for your response regarding the 5 Precepts.

    I absolutely agree that the Buddha’s fifth precept is vitally important. Each week I see the devastation that drugs and alcohol causes first hand at the rehab centre that I work in. But this is not what we’re talking about here. We cannot simply blame violence on substance abuse.
    In countries where alcohol is banned, incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault are incredibly high. Its a sad fact that men (and some women) abuse their families whether they are drunk, stoned or sober. As I said previously, Domestic and Family violence is about Power and Control. It can involve drugs and / or alcohol but it is not the cause.

    • Hi Julie,

      I agree with you. You have your points there. There are many causes, besides alcohol & drugs like poverty, disappointments, frustrations, stress in the modern world, expectations, low self-esteem, no moral education, upbringing etc and they could not control themselves and this is one of the ways to vent out all their bad emotions.

      I came from a family where my father would hold my brothers hair and bang their heads against each other and i was traumatized, (too young to understand then) but guess he did it out of frustration and burden in trying to make ends meet to feed his 6 children & 3 adults My brothers were playful and fighting and agitated my father and for him to vent out his anger boiling inside. He was not drunk or under any influence. It was this anger that “drug” him to do such senseless thing to his children. However,he is a good guy, responsible and compassionate helping flood victims with foods and drinks for the whole village.

      Buddha’ advice to meditate to acknowledge our anger before it turned into a volcano could probably prevent the reactions.

      I am touched by Bhikkhuni Suddharma’s comments. Can the world be safe from all these senseless cruelties? With Buddha’s Dhamma we could make a difference in the world. I guess it is difficult to change the older generations but the Dhamma & especially Meditation (for children) would be very helpful if it could be introduced since toddlers and the wholesome values would later mould them to sensible, useful, non-violent adults.

      Imo, Buddha’s teachings should be taught in schools as a moral subject from kindergarten till tertiary education and they would in future form a new generation to save the world from all kinds of cruelty.

      Bhikkhunis could be excellent teachers to children ( i remember, i was from a Convent school and the Principal was a Nun and we had good upbringing and discipline from the school). Bhikkhunis could run schools and education to young generations like those Convent schools. I had to send my son to a government curriculum school that is run by Christians (because i cannot find one run by Buddhists) and the Advisor is a lady Pastor and she did a wonderful job! They have character building and moral education as their strong hold to produce noble hearts and minds in her students. Her foundation even provide free food for 600 poor people everyday! They taught students by good leadership by example, getting them involved in volunteerism after school or during holidays.

      I believe, some Sangha had to involve themselves in social works, welfare organisations or politics to secure their permanent resident status if they are foreigners in that particular country, with of course many others who thought that was one of the ways to give back to the society out of compassion and gratitude.

      To me, Dhamma food is the most important food to cure the hunger of insanity in the World.

  13. What I reflect, is that it is important to not villianize men. From my own experience, I know a major condition which allows ill-will and cruelty (and to a lesser extent, lust) towards women, to persevere, is the lack of respectable women around.
    The nature of the mind is such, that it cannot simultaneously hold an attitude of ill-will and respect. So if a man meets a woman who is highly venerable, that acts as a powerful force breaking down disrespectful (and worse) attitudes towards women in his mind. Or at least, it creates an opening for the abandonment of cruel attitudes and cultivation of kinder attitudes.

    Another factor thus conducive, is examples of men treating women in a way which is kind, decent and respectful.

    In my own experience, both positive male and female role models are important in society. Bhikkhu’s and Bhikkhuni’s can act ideally in this way, in terms of being role models for social harmony, they are potentially ideal.

    The point I stress, is that the presence of such role models, makes possible that which is otherwise not possible. It makes mental development through emulation possible. This is much more powerful than trying to develop the mind through fear of punishment, or appeal to morality (without guidance).

    In any relationship, it is always possible to work on the other party. A woman with the right skills in kindness and compassion, can tame a beast of a husband. Again, positive role models are useful here.

    The trick I think, is to use the law to protect Bhikkhuni’s from harassment (especially that which threatens to make the holy life impossible to live), while basically ignoring the social resistance/prejudice. That kind of prejudice will naturally die out once Bhikkhuni’s become a reality, assuming the Bhikkhuni’s practise well and add something to society. The Bhikkhuni order basically must be spread in spite of the prejudice.

  14. Sylvester, Thanks for your response.

    I think, this is more than just pathalogical. They seek help before they turned into another rapist in the street. In our crazy society, we become so accustomed to hearing cases of rapes & murders to the extent it has become like one of those things that happen (a convenient way of acceptance), as if nothing could be done about it to overcome this problem. Is Buddhism doing enough to get to the root of it to overcome it?

    We hear of many brutal cases everyday all over the world and how the victims’ lives and their families’ lives were ruined. Not long ago there was one brutal case in Asia,where a lady was brutally raped, murdered with her face doused with petroleum and burnt beyond recognition which resulted in her boyfriend slipping into depression and her mother near insanity.

    Very rarely we hear of women rape men in the street. What is it that women possess that those men do not? Is it compassion or is there something to do with one part of the brain, the amytala hijack (not sure,something like that) or is it about overpowering? How can those men become more compassionate and be equal like women to prevent themselves from committing such senseless cruel actions. Don’t anybody say that this is women’s fault or their bad kamma and it is the good kamma of those men.

    Can Buddhism address this escalating problem and how those men could be helped to prematurely handle and cope with their weakness? It’s got to be some kind of creating awareness campaign in every community or a kind of hand-outs on how to be healthy mentally. In today’s society, parents live with so much fear for their daughters’ safety. Can we afford to keep silence and let it be?.

    • Dear :-)

      Buddhists certainly can act out of compassion to help. We can already see a Buddhist response to the bhikkhuni issue in this blog and like-minded people. AJ Sujato has also canvassed Buddhists to give responses on other pressing social concerns, eg environment, socio-religious interaction (in fundamentalism) etc.

      I would like to see myself as a socially-engaged Buddhist, but I do not think I have an answer on how Buddhists can be socially-engaged, as if there were an infallible template. I live in a very heterogenous society, and it’s difficult enough negotiating it as a “Singaporean” (whatever that creature entails) without even factoring my Buddhist preferences into the equation.

      The Golden Rule also dictates that I do not militate for a Buddhist response in either law or the ballot box, as I certainly want my political leaders to react without regard for personal religious beliefs. Even if I were to live in a more homogenous society as Thailand, I would still want all top-down action to be secular. I don’t buy the fiction created by modern Thai nationalism that there’s a uniform “Thai”-ness to Thai society and thereby act in disregard of the diversity of outlooks in Thai Buddhism(s).

      So, for me, grassroots action will be my preferred modus operandi for these compassionate outreach programmes. That assumes that I can even agree with my fellow Singaporean Buddhists on what a “Buddhist” agenda should be. We have so many schools of Buddhism here, and even within the smaller Thai Theravada circles, differing opinions on how things should be done.

      And this is where I have reservations. The idea that Buddhism “should” do something about social ills is, in my view, meaningless for 2 reasons –

      1. the language of “should” brings us into deontic territory. Until Hume’s Fork about ontology and deontics is finally resolved, I’m philosophically opposed to any attempt to create a form of Buddhist discourse that is based on ideas of duty, responsibility, morality (as is understood in the Western sense of deontics).

      2. the Buddha, as far as I can tell, is not recorded to asked for social change as part of the pancasila. While the pancasila are indeed abhayadana (the gift of security from fear), what motivates this gift is not a Buddhist injunction based on vata (duty), but one based on the brahmaviharas.

      So yes, there is an opportunity for individual Buddhists and associations of like-minded Buddhists to “do” something about social problems. I think it must NOT be done out of a sense of duty or responsibility, but must come from the depths of skilfull mental states of metta and karuna.

      This is just an anecdotal observation from someone who deals with “rights” and “obligations” on a daily basis. When Buddhists begin to argue for action based on duty, the discourse quickly turns into a contest of competing rights. I prefer not to see Buddhism social action descend to this.

    • Buddhism cannot address any social problems or crime, cruelty, injustice, violation, hurt committed by one against another. Buddhism is not a law and order set-up. It cannot be imposed on everyone in a society unlike law and jurisdiction. Religion and its moral teaching, way of life, sins and punishments came about long before common law and statues.
      I would be very naïve to believe any religion can solve social problems because there are so many religions existing for thousands of years, and the same social problems persist.

    • Hi aah-haa

      I am not asking Buddhists to impose any buddhist law or order into society. I am asking about inculcating and instilling moral values by way of Dhamma into society in this specific area, although a lot have been done in the propagation of Dhamma by the Sangha and lay disciples.

      I remember, in Singapore there was this place “Haw Par Villa” where pictures of Hell were depicted (like human being being boiled in hot oil, tongue being cut, etc) to instill fear in people as a deterrant for the evil ones. I guess people have to have this “fear” images to over-ride evil thoughts or actions. It would be a good reminder or sights if all bus stations, train stations, LRTs could have these pictures(pictorial teachings as our minds attach to image faster than orals or writings, so stronger impact on the minds)or noble inspirational words or sayings on signboards etc (words are powerful) to prevent evil people from doing evils, if by merely orally and verbally did not work (since every religion believes Hell exists).Prevention is better than cure. This could act as a preventive measure for future criminals who are not mindful due to weak minds and no moral shame or fear. Would it work? What do you think?

    • Yes, there are many religions have existed for thousund of years, but do you see how many people go to Churches or Temples? And of those go for spiritual advices, how many of them meet the right guidance, then put it into practice? and how many would success in transforming their attitude and actions an a more understanding and compassionate way? That is why personal, family and social problems persist. That is why laws and purnishment are need.
      Problems will continue to persist as long as people are still guided by ignorance and dragged down by selfish desires.

    • Hey Silvester,

      Great post on the dangers of deontics. I would add, however, that although the Buddhism we find in the Suttas speaks in praise of action motivated by the Brahmaviharas, this is a level of operation higher than the average bear.

      The reason why popular Buddhism has an emphasis on deontics is because a sense of duty is what many (perhaps most?) people need to make sense of their lives. It’s a conventional mode of operation, and finds less (but still has some) textual support than a those based on free-will grounded in the Brahmaviharas, but it’s better than being completely self-centred, and serves as a stepping stone.

      Because, as you point out, Buddhist come in many shapes and sizes, I agree with you in the sense that deontological Buddhism should never arrest the agenda and be seen as the highest interpretation, but it still has an important role to play.

      On a practical level, this means doing our best to ensure that we choose leaders that are genuinely well grounded in the Brahmaviharas, and not resting satisfied with deontological second-bests.

      >j<

    • Hello Jason

      And it’s an astute observation that most people find meaning through duty. I suppose my inability to emphatise with that path stems largely from my short flirtation with Sartre’s “mauvaise foir”, but I think you have pointed out a deeper psychological phenomenon than just existential bad faith.

      Plus, I’m still in recovery from the guilt acquired from my prior time with the RC Church, and some very unskilfull readings of Mahayana that suggest that bodhicitta is a duty.

      Hey, you spelled my name Silvester. It’s been such a long time since I last encountered being addressed like this, after I left the Church. There are some things which I still feel sentimental about that affiliation, especially things that approximate the Brahmaviharas.

  15. dear:-(

    I see that you are very Dhamma inclined and concern about this reality of life. From my observation, Buddhists esp the monks don’t discuss this topic about sexuality openly with lay people and do not give any self-help for these 3rd gender you mentioned, who are so confused and lost in life.

    From my understanding, religions like Christianity, Islam & Hindu do not agree or encourage homosexuality(in Islam, sodomy is purnishable by law), but in Buddhism, it is not clear whether all Buddhists or Buddhism encourage this, as i know a monk openly confessed that he will bless same sex marriages as Buddhism is compassionate to all beings. Not too sure whether this is the right compassion.

    However, i would like to share this website http://www.porn-free.org if you are interested to know whether it is moral or not & it is up to you to think whether Buddha did encourage this kind of behaviour. I find this site very helpful in our understanding and awareness in this controversial issue. It is mainly to guide and help such people with their difficult personal problems, that by avoiding help would create more social problems and family problems. If the Christians are open about this reality of life, i don’t understand why the Buddhists are not compassionate in helping them except to give in to their demands and conform to their lifestyles by consenting to same sex marriages in the name of compassion. Some extracts on this issue:-

    – An area that seems to be common in the development of homosexual tendencies is dysfunctional relationships. It often starts early in life with unhealthy relationships with parents, siblings and peers, which cause emotional wounds. Here are some example factors in childhood relationships that can be influential in sexual development:

    Abuse (sexual, emotional, physical, spiritual)
    Parental problems: Absent, detached, uninterested, overbearing or controlling; lack of gender affirmation
    Betrayal
    Ridicule or teasing from peers
    Sex play with same-sex peers
    Rejection
    Abandonment
    Lack of nurture
    Loneliness
    Sex is a hot topic in the Bible. God talked a lot about it and gave specific guidelines for healthy sexual conduct. In general, when sex is performed outside of a heterosexual marriage it is sin (i.e. rebellion against God). Gay sex is just one of many possible deviations from God’s plan.

    So that there would be no confusion, God specifically addressed homosexuality in several places in the scriptures. In every case, homosexual acts are identified as sin. As we consider the below examples, please remember that the act is what is offensive to God, not the person! Consider these examples:

    In the context of heterosexual marriage, the scripture may seem less specific about whether anal sex is acceptable behavior for God’s followers. There are, however, basic principles in scripture that will help us answer the question. Here are some points to consider:

    1. Anal sex uses body parts in way contrary to their designed purposes (i.e. perversion): The anus and rectum are specifically designed for expelling waste from the body. The tissue in those areas is designed for things passing out of the body, not vice versa. Also, since there is no natural lubrication in the anus or rectum, intercourse can cause fissures in the wall of the rectum, leading to infections and diseases such as AIDS. Additionally, the urethra in the penis can become infected from exposure to the bacteria in the anus and rectum. (for a doctor’s perspective, click here)

    The vagina contains tissue that is designed for both penetration (during sex) and expulsion (birth or menstrual cycle). The nerve endings in the clitoris, vagina and surrounding tissue provide a perfect match for the male sexual design. When the “conventional” sex position (face to face) is used, the man and woman are positioned for the ideal amount of stimulation for both partners to experience orgasms simultaneously. Alternate sexual positions may provide more enhanced stimulation for one partner or the other, but may lessen the potential for both people having simultaneous orgasms.

    2. Anal sex gives lust a foothold: The sex industry goes to great lengths to promote the idea that anal sex is a natural and exciting way to express love. The truth is that anal sex is based on lust, not love. Tolerating lust in our lives will slow down our transformation into the “new man,” and give the devil potential footholds for other forms of evil in us.
    Lust works contrary to love in every way (see lust vs. love) – it is selfish and only cares about gratifying its desires. When we follow lust’s impulses (ex. by having anal sex), we open the door to other forms of evil which can corrupt our minds and lead us further away from God. An example of what can happen when people follow lust is found in Romans 1:21-31 NIV:

    There are also topics on other sexual problems faced by every human being. Hope you find this educational and hope it answered your doubts and hope you find it a helpful site to reach out to those in need by educating and provide them self-help for a healthy society.Since we all live socially together, we need to share information to pave the right path in this modern society that is full of temptations and evils.

    Hopefully, you have a Buddhist version on how to reach out and whether anything is mentioned by your Buddha in the scriptures, whether Buddhist encourage or discourage. Bless you.

    • Well, thanks Mary, it’s not often that we get a Christian point of view on here. If you don’t mind I’d like to address the important points of your comment.

      the monks don’t discuss this topic about sexuality openly with lay people and do not give any self-help for these 3rd gender you mentioned, who are so confused and lost in life.

      Not true: I’ve discussed it many times, and my teacher Ajahn Brahm has also made many public statements of support for the GLBT community. At the Buddhist global conference in Perth he invited the Gay and Lesbian choir to sing. We’ve also supported the gay communities in places like Malaysia and Singapore. What we don’t do is go around the world trying to tell everyone else how to ‘do it’, and so, unlike the Christian missionaries, we don’t have a sexual position named after us.

      Christians, of course, discuss homosexuality a lot, if by “discuss” you mean “condemn”. Yes, “persons of the third gender”, like anyone else, can be spiritually lost and in need. This is often precisely because of the alienating and judgmental attitudes of the Abrahamic faiths. Luckily, in modern times there are some wonderful Christian leaders, such as John Shelby Spong, who have worked hard to overcome the years of prejudice. You can read some of his articles here, here, and here.

      The website you refer to is a fundamentalist Christian one, and i would not recommend it for anyone interested in understanding anything – except if they want to understand how fundamentalists think.

      You refer to an array of social problems, as if to show that GLBT orientation arises out of bad influences (and hence must be itself bad). But there’s no evidence presented, just some vague implications. This position is in fact rejected by modern medical and scientific opinion, as in the following quote from a current article from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

      there is no scientific evidence that abnormal parenting, sexual abuse, or other adverse life events influence sexual orientation.

      Your comment goes on to talk about homosexuality in the Bible:

      In general, when sex is performed outside of a heterosexual marriage it is sin

      It’s impossible to ‘generalize’ about GLBT acts in the Bible, because there are only two or three passages, from widely divergent times and places. Wikipedia has the relevant sources. The only clear passages are two statements in Leviticus, which infamously condemns seafood in the same terms. There is, of course, never any question of actually adopting all of these rules, merely the picking of whatever suits your prejudices from an ancient tribal code.

      The only clear reference in the new testament is Romans 1:26-27, where Paul condemns male/male sex. This passage also has been read as condemning female/female sex, but this is highly dubious. Nowhere else does the Bible mention lesbian sex.

      Jesus avoided the whole issue of homosexuality, exactly as did the Buddha. It’s strange how modern Christians expend so much energy over issues that were conspicuously irrelevant to their founder.

      God specifically addressed homosexuality in several places in the scriptures

      No he didn’t. The author(s) of Leviticus mentioned it twice, and Paul once. Leviticus is traditionally ascribed to Moses, but modern scholarship sees it as a compilation of ‘priestly’ prescriptions. The Bible was written by man, not god (and not woman!)

      Anal sex uses body parts in way contrary to their designed purposes (i.e. perversion)

      Body parts do not have designed purposes. They have evolved, and the key to evolution is adaption: using things in new and innovative ways. That’s why we use fingers to type on keyboards, which according to your reasoning would be a ‘perversion’ – unless you think God designed our fingers for using keyboards?

      You argue that anal sex can be unhealthy. That’s true, but it’s not a spiritual issue. If someone is using an angle grinder, they need to learn how to do it safely from someone who knows about angle grinders. You don’t need a priest for that. In the same way, any kind of sexual activity, whether hetero or homo, can have risks. If you want guidance about safe sex, see a doctor who specializes in such things – not a Christian who is going to dress their ideology up in pseudoscience and their conversion attempts in pseudocompassion.

      The truth is that anal sex is based on lust, not love.

      This is a typical kind of religious ‘truth': sheer judgment imposed without understanding. Allow me to propose Sujato’s Law: The more baseless a religious claim is, the more stridently it is said to be ‘truth’.

      Sexual acts always involve an element of lust, there’s no getting away from that. Often, however, they also involve love, that is, a genuine caring and wanting to share pleasure with another. That depends on the quality of the relationship, not on the details of what people do with each other.

      Of course love is better – we all agree. But it’s not always an option. Not everyone has someone they love. So Buddhists don’t say that you should only have sex if you’re in love. We say that you should not have sex if it causes harm. People who are lonely, who have no-one to love, can still have sex, as long as it is not done by betraying or otherwise causing harm. It’s not perfect, but then the world rarely is.

      As i have argued often on this blog in a Buddhist context, i believe it is time we stopped using our ancient scriptures to waste our time insisting on harmful old prejudices and customs, and started using our spirituality to actually help ourselves and others.

    • After reading this my first thought was Ajahn Sujato seems pretty cool. I thought the angle grinder part was great.

      Peace……B1

    • Dear Mary,

      As Jesus said so eloquently;
      “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven”, and
      “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”, and
      “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”
      Bless you too.

    • We should not escape from the reality of life. However, not everyone (Buddhists and others) is open or comfortable to discuss sexuality issues and homosexuality is one taboo topic. I should think that sexual perversions have been around since there was sex. And other animal creatures are capable of sexual perversions (un-natural sex) except that homo sapiens are more imaginative or ‘innovative’ like using the fingers for keyboarding.
      I prefer to look at Nature. The sex organs are ‘designed’ for procreation. Therefore, oral and anal sex is un-natural. And so is same-gender sex which is a misnomer from the point of nature. Here, we are referring to sexual act where one sex organ is involved and not the two male-female sex organs. This applies to lesbianism.
      Sex is pathological. There is no need for love in the sexual act. Half the time, the sexual act is due to biological urge, the other half due to desire or lust. Sex within marriage is also a social construct. Early men simply clubbed a woman and dragged her into the cave – where got time for ceremony!
      The make-up of homo sapiens (as the Buddhism rightly pointed out) is mind and body. The body as a whole (of which sense organs are only parts) performs according to its functions which physicians and pathologists are able to understand. The mind is a complex organ and till today is still beyond complete understanding. The sex act requires both mind and body. If it is body alone without the mind, the sex act is likely to be natural. Hence sexual ‘deviations’ have to do with the mind more than the body. However, a freak of nature can occur when a ‘woman’ is trapped in a male body and vice versa. Such a ‘she-man’ thinks he is woman and prefers the ‘opposite’ sex (which is natural).
      Christianity is only a religion and like Buddhism should not make any claims they know the subject of sexuality better than physicians, psychiatrists and sexuality experts. What Christianity does is simply to moralise an issue or problem saying God approved or disapproved. An all-knowing God should know this ‘problem’ in advance and should have taken care of it with all His creative power!
      Lust is desire and so is love. Lust is just the ‘negative’ side of love. Sex (natural) can be performed with or without love or lust. Just because it is un-natural, sex becomes lustful. It can be said that homosexuals consider their sexual acts to be love and not lust.
      I think the perception is this: un-natural sex is deviant behaviour, against God’s wishes (if there is such a thing) and therefore sinful (moral construct), in the Christian belief. Buddhism on the other hand sees an immoral act only when it causes harm. It can be argued that un-natural sex does cause harm as much as natural sex. Therefore, both natural and un-natural sex can be harmful and also immoral. Hmm…. in a way, we are the products of immoral activity?

  16. The denizens of the 4 Heavenly Quarters and of the Realm of the 33 do it like humans, the Yamas by a mere embrace, the Tusitas by holding hands, the Nirmanarati by smiling and the Paranimittas by merely gazing.
    … I don’t think the suttas themselves have this descriptions of celestial “sex”. Perhaps the Pali Commentarial tradition has something like this …

    The Theravada commentarial view is that from the Four Great Regents up to the Yama devas sex takes the same form as in the human realm. Only in the top two tiers does it get any different: the Nimmanarati devas can have sex with Nimmanarati apsaras, but this is only for reproductive purposes; their preference is to do it with with mind-made apsaras created by themselves (a celestial version of sex with rubber dolls, I suppose). Likewise the Paranimittavasavatti devas can have sex with Paranimittavasavatti apsaras, but prefer doing it with mind-made apsaras created for them by their underlings in Nimmanarati.

    Regarding the popular Singaporean belief – this is in fact to be found in the Pali commentaries, but the commentators report it only to dismiss it. You will find it discussed, for example, in the sub-commentator Sariputta’s account of the first sanghadisesa rule in his Saratthadipani and in Dhammapala’s account of the three kamupapattis in his sub-commentary to the Sangiti Sutta. For other examples just search the Chattha Sangiti CD or the Goenka website for any of these words:

    dvinnaṃ dvayaṃdvayasamāpattiyā
    āliṅgitamattena
    hatthāmasanamattena
    hasitamattena
    olokitamattena

    Morla

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