1. Religion & Spirituality
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.
Barbara O'Brien

Did the Dalai Lama Just Endorse Same-Sex Marriage?

By March 9, 2014

Follow me on:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama just told Larry King that gay marriage is "OK" -- "I think it's individual business.  If two people--a couple--really feel that way is more practical, more sort of satisfaction, both sides fully agree, then OK " In light of previous statements by His Holiness that homosexual sex amounts to "sexual misconduct," this seemed to be a reversal of his prior view.

But it isn't really, if you look at the issue from his perspective. I wrote an article explaining the Dalai Lama's views on homosexuality and gay marriage, based on things he has said going back a few years.  It's important to understand also that the Dalai Lama doesn't speak for all of Buddhism on matters regarding sexuality, just Tibetan Buddhism.

March 10, 2014 at 8:15 am
(1) Hein says:

His Holiness once said: “A sexual act is deemed proper when the couples use the organs intended for sexual intercourse and nothing else,”. I know not what the Vinaya states on the matter. But (without intending to be fastidious) would the converse be deemed NOT to be sex; i.e. if one of the parties (say a Buddhist monk) use an organ not intended for sex, would that amount to sex according to the Vinaya?

I am raising this question because somewhere in “Seven Years in Tibet” Harrer mentioned that some Tibetan monks were having sex with each other (http://lamashree.org/dalailama_08_childabuse_tibetanbuddhistmonasteries.htm…I read the book many years ago).
Is it then so strange that His Holiness will consider endorsing same-sex marriages?

March 10, 2014 at 10:09 am
(2) Barbara O'Brien says:

Hein — the Vinaya doesn’t say anything about sex among laypeople outside of the Third Precepts, which just says do not misuse sex. What it says about monks and nuns boils down to you don’t get any, same-sex or other-sex, no way, no how, don’t even think about it.

His Holiness was referencing Tibetan texts that he believes were based on earlier Indian texts, but if that’s true the Indian texts no longer exist. What he says about specific use of sexual organs has no authority outside of Tibetan Buddhism, and I’ve never heard of any such teaching anywhere else.

As far as the Tibetan monks hooking up with other Tibetan monks goes, I don’t doubt that sort of thing happened a lot, and not just in Tibet. But the Vinaya forbids it. If they were under the impression that it didn’t, they were mistaken.

March 11, 2014 at 1:10 am
(3) Hein says:

Thanks Barbara…much appreciated

March 13, 2014 at 10:45 pm
(4) Dr.T.Jayasinghe says:

H.H. Dalai Lama should not be taken seriously in the interpretation of Buddhism. He is more a social and political character. We respect him as a leader of a sect only.

March 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm
(5) Barbara O'Brien says:

Dr.T.Jayasinghe — H.H. Dalai Lama has spent his life studying, and I understand he’s especially respected for his understanding of Madhyamika, which is nothing to sneer at. Of course, he speaks only for his school of Buddhism in matters of doctrine, but I don’t dismiss his teaching out of hand just because I’m a zennie.

March 14, 2014 at 1:20 am
(6) Jarby says:

And I just respect him :-)

March 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm
(7) Mark Caponigro says:

It seems to me that the Dalai Lama’s words to Larry King, in conjunction with Barbara’s analysis of all his remarks over time, make his position very clear, and admirable: religious vows matter, and should be respected; but in cases where there are no such vows, then the criteria are the safety of the act (and that probably is true of non-sexual as well as sexual acts), and the free choice of the act, with “bullying” and “abuse” being plain indications that the act is not freely chosen.

What is less clear, unfortunately, is the DL’s attitude toward anti-LGBT legislation and/or social sentiment, on the one hand, and the active promotion of gay rights, including marriage equality, on the other. He speaks of respect for the laws of a state, but he also speaks of human rights. So does he agree with the Obama administration, that LGBT rights are human rights? — with the implication that citizens’ demands for LGBT rights are right and good?

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.