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The Pope vs. The Dalai Lama on Sex

December 14, 2008

The video focuses pretty exclusively on the Dalia Lama’s conservative views on sex. If he’d wanted, he could have quoted various theology of the body related statements by the Pope* on sex, which would have made him seem more progressive on the subject.

I once got into an argument with a friend over my claim that Catholicism was the most pleasure friendly of the traditional religions. My reasoning was that most traditional religions place significant restrictions on pleasure seeking activities involving food, alcohol, games, dancing, etc., whereas with Catholicism such restrictions are pretty much limited to sex (there are things like Lenten fish fries, but this is pretty minor), and when it comes to sex, pretty much all of the traditional religions are, well, traditional. He wasn’t convinced, but I think this video kind of re-enforces the point.

*The program on which the clip appeared came out in 2004, so John Paul II was still Pope at the time.

(HT: Restrained Radical)

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4 Comments
  1. December 15, 2008 2:37 am

    Yep, few people are aware of this. I’ve read several of his books and other Tibetan authors’, but it’s not really my thing, Zen interests me more. But hey, with 1,000,000 ways to enlightenment there’s something for everyone :D

  2. David Nickol permalink
    December 15, 2008 1:31 pm

    Here are a few quotes from a site called Religion Facts. This doesn’t sound all that much like the pope to me.

    – [N]ature arranged male and female organs “in such a manner that is very suitable… Same-sex organs cannot manage well.” But he stopped short of condemning homosexual relationships altogether, saying if two people agree to enter a relationship that is not sexually abusive, “then I don’t know. It’s difficult to say.”

    – The Dalai Lama is well known for his activism for human rights, and this specifically includes equal rights for gays. According to an Office of Tibet spokeman, “His Holiness opposes violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation. He urges respect, tolerance, compassion, and the full recognition of human rights for all.”

    – “From a Buddhist point of view, [gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct.” But he did note that this rule is for Buddhists, and from society’s viewpoint, homosexual relationships can be “of mutual benefit, enjoyable, and harmless.”

    And this is from Wikipedia:

    He explains in his book Beyond Dogma: “homosexuality, whether it is between men or between women, is not improper in itself. What is improper is the use of organs already defined as inappropriate for sexual contact”. In 1997 he explained that the basis of that teaching was unknown to him and that he at least had some “willingness to consider the possibility that some of the teachings may be specific to a particular cultural and historic context”.[58] In a 1994 interview with OUT Magazine, the Dalai Lama explained “If someone comes to me and asks whether homosexuality is okay or not, I will ask ‘What is your companion’s opinion?’. If you both agree, then I think I would say ‘if two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay'”.[59] He has said that sex spelt fleeting satisfaction and trouble later, while chastity offered a better life and “more, independence, more freedom” [60] He says that problems arising from conjugal life could even lead to suicide or murder. [61]

  3. December 15, 2008 1:49 pm

    In general, Buddhists seem far less meddlesome. I have read his opinion on, eg, oral sex, But, it’s an opinion, and he himself seems aware of it. This comes with an open attitude to the multitude of approaches – within the general context of awareness and compassion for all creatures. Dogma is quite the opposite of Buddhism, at least the kind(s) I’ve come across. Zen in particular is too quirky. In general, dualistic thinking is a no-no. This doesn’t mean monism – after all, we’re not dealing with the West here, but rather non-dualism. Zen actually has a tradition of gay poetry/relationships, I assume that’s why there are gay men’s Zen groups, eg here in NorCal. One has to remember though that even the purest philosophy lives in a society, so particular prejudice certainly can infiltrate. Given the non-linear approach, things are of course far less “immutable”, in addition the principle “Question everything, even – and especially – the Buddha” makes for less fanaticism. Buddhists, Bahai, secular humanists (not a complete list) are probably the least likely to kill others for ideological/religious reasons.

    Brad Warner, a Soto Zen “priest” from Akron, Ohio has written some fun books – “Hardcore Zen”, “Sit down and shut up”.

  4. December 19, 2008 2:23 am

    Anyone remember the movie, “Keeping the Faith”, in which the female grills the priest about his choice of celibacy, and the scene ends with him asking, “I wonder if the Dalai Lama ever gets asked these questions?”

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