Buddha, Gender And Sex

“Buddha himself admitted women into the path but with one extremely discriminatory caveat : all nuns shall be subject to the authority of monks. Even a very senior nun, regardless of her attainments, must bow down to a monk ordained a day before. It was outright rejected by Buddha’s aunt but to no avail. There are seven more such rules for nuns that make them the lesser gender. Buddhist institutional and social framework would perhaps be less corrupt, less elitist than it is today, had the nuns wielded as much power and prestige as the monks. Of that I am certain.”

“That is a massive observation,” I remarked, sincerely. “Of course, it does not negate all the good Buddhism continues to contribute by its very presence and availability to common people. But what you have assessed means that many, who might have chosen the path or have been born in the way, will be inclined to revert back to their own judgement or interpretation of the way. Which in itself would be a good thing but not for the Tibetan Buddhist institutions. Harming them for these failures would also injure their capacity for fostering all the good, of far greater value.”

The Lama let out a hearty laugh. “My observation is just that, an observation. I do not feel compelled to do anything further and have no concern about the institutions. All things reduce to accord with the nature of men, especially of those at the helm. My involvement ends with encouraging people who have love or regard for me to take responsibility for their own intention and deed. There is enough and more in the Buddhist tradition for them to take their cues from. The real difficulty is of a second order, which is not even recognised : the absence of “truth.” Buddhism is not a truth-centered way. It aims for salvation, nirvana. Truth, like God, is conspicuous by its absence in Buddhist scriptures. There are discussions galore on conduct and meanings, logic and yogic sciences, but not on one ontologically incontrovertible truth. At the end, Buddhist seers conclude at emptiness, the ultimate goal. Until then, we have the Buddhas to pray to, for our purification, and the Bodhisattva to aspire for our loftiest vanity. A Maitreya incarnate was a cruel king of Korea long ago. I see several performers on stage currently, too.”

Ajit hesitatingly leaned forward, to draw the Yogi’s attention and waited for his indication to allow Ajit’s query. After Lama Bon turned towards him, urging him to speak, Ajit said, “I have had the same feeling, Sir, philosophically speaking. But could you illustrate the basis of your assessment ?”

The Yogi took a moment to marshal his thoughts. “My thought on this is long and deeply fundamental. But let me introduce the base from where they come. I am neither a monk within Tibetan Buddhism order, though they consider me as one, nor am I a socially engaged yogi, though I frequently wander into these human habitats and interact with people. For instance, in my vajrayana practice I have never felt the need for karmamudra or the role of sex in tantra yoga. I understand the delusion of those who advocate for partner consorts to tap into their sexual energy. It is symbolic of all that is wrong with Buddhist institutional leadership. There is not enough vairagya, renunciation of the fruits of yogic practice. Straight away, one can see that involving sex in tantra yoga, that too in secret, is the very opposite of the pursuit for ‘emptiness.’ It will exhaust one, giving him a sense of emptiness, but only for a while; it will come back with redoubled urgings. But they do not read it with that insight. It is the stupidest idea ever, the messiest to boot. But there it is today.”

The Lama stopped to apologise belatedly to Millie and asked her twice if she was comfortable with the topic. Millie nodded, saying, “These are routine human desires, Sir. Getting past them is near impossible; but, equally, it is absolutely necessary to uproot our lust for them, for true renunciation to settle in our spirit. We would do well to remember that sex, as an obstacle, has remained the same himalayan hurdle in all times, in every age and each era.”

extended being

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