Sex, Gender and True Shin
by Paul Roberts
I'd like to talk about what happened at the Supreme Court
here in the USA where I live.
As I'm sure most of you know, the Supreme
Court approved the right of non-heterosexual people to be
legally married. It is a huge moment in the unfolding of
human history - not just in the USA, but around the world,
because of the influence our country has on all sorts of
cultural and political issues.
Now, I'm not going to get into a political
discussion. That's really not what we do here. But
what I do want to do is talk about THIS particular Sangha, and
how we view this issue from a Dharmic point of view. I
want to dispel false ideas that even well meaning Buddhists
might have and express - whether here, or in a discussion on
social media, or whereever, and help ground everyone in RIGHT
view when it comes to this issue.
So here's what I preach and practice and
teach around here: We don't care - we don't give a ripped
flip - what your gender is, or your gender preference. We
don't care even a little bit about the personal and private
details of your own sex life and love life. We don't care
if you're married, co-habitating, single and sexually active, or
is not a single word - not one - zero, zip, nada - in any of the
writings of Master Shinran and Master Rennyo that I am aware of
that speaks to any of these questions or issues around sex,
love, gender, sexual activities and preferences.
What we do care about - and what we preach
and practice and teach around here - is not to mess with anyone
else in a selfish way. Don't deliberately hurt someone
else by lying or cheating or defrauding them - not in business,
not in life, and not in relationships either.
That's it! That's the whole deal,
right there. Anything else, any other morality or ethics
around sex and sexuality that anyone would try to impose upon
you is NOT part of the True Teaching of the Pure Land Way. If
it's their own personal conviction - like abstaining from meat
eating - I don't care. Their convictions are not my
business and not my concern.
But if they put Shakyamuni's name, or
Shinran's name, on their own personal opinions, and put on a
teacher's hat and say, "Thus have I heard...", they're talking
THROUGH their hat, is what they're doing, and they should be
ignored. Personally, I wouldn't even bother getting into a
debate with them. As Master Shinran put it, "LET THERE BE
NO SCHOLARLY DEBATES".
Now the reason that SOME Dharma teachers do
that sort of teaching - and this is actually a bad mistake that
the Dalai Lama made a number of years ago and then repented of -
is because they're looking at the fine print on the Path of the
Sages. They're looking at the requirements that Shakyamuni
laid out for those people who wanted to abandon normal life, and
put on the yellow robe, and take up the beggar's bowl as part of
the monastic assembly.
was all kinds of fine print in the commitment contract for those
monks. No sex - and definitely no homosexual sex - and no
masturbating, either! Oh...and no women allowed (although
Shakyamuni changed His mind on that one, after further
reflection and the entreaty of his former wife, who wanted to
start an order of nuns). And no alcohol, ever...not even a
beer or a glass of wine.
But none of these restrictions have ANYTHING
to do with us. So no one should seek to teach and preach -
particularly in the Shin Sangha - as if they do.
So...the corollary of all this is that the
USA decided that gay and lesbian folks aren't second class
citizens anymore. We're slow learners here in the
USA. It took a long time, and a million dead, to decide
that black people shouldn't be slaves - and a longer time to
decide that they should be able to vote - and an even longer
time to decide that women should be able to vote,
So even though we've got this wonderful
document called the Constitution, which is the model for the
entire world, even the writer of it, Thomas Jefferson, remained
a slave owner and didn't understand the implication of the words
even as he wrote them down.
I don't want that to happen here in the
Sangha - not now, not ever.
We don't have ANY second class citizens
here. Anyone, and EVERYONE, can become a person of Shinjin
SONO MAMA - just as you are. No self-improvement, no gay
reparative therapy (what a harmful idea that was!), no twisting
yourself into a pretzel, required.
Everybody here is a first class citizen in
the Kingdom of Amida Buddha. Everybody is on the same
level. Amida accepts us, each and all, just the way we
are. There is no call, no cause, and no reason for any of
us to change.
Are there any injunctions against certain
acts and behaviors in Shin Buddhism? Of course.
- Don't hurt anybody.
- Don't deliberately mess with anybody.
- Don't rape, pillage or plunder.
- Don't hurt yourself by abusing drugs or
- If you're living in a bad way, just stop.
And if you can't stop by yourself, get the help you need so you
apart from that there are no injunctions, no admonitions, no
moral codes for you to live up to, or live under. You do
you. That's all you need to do, and all you should ever
need to do.
- You can become a person of SHINJIN, just
the way you are.
- You can become an amazing teacher of Shin
Buddhism if Amida calls you to it, just the way you are.
- And you can lead countless other people to
Shinjin, so they can become Buddhas too, just the way you are.
else that anybody ever says to the contrary is a DIVERGENCE
BASED ON PERSONAL VIEWS. And, as I have said probably 1000
times, that's the one thing that there should NEVER be in the
Shin Sangha. In the words of Yuien-Bo, in the TANNISHO,
the authoritative document on the subject of divergences, he
says it best: "Let there not be the SLIGHTEST divergence
based on personal views".
(and have had) ALL kinds of people here: heterosexual,
homosexual, transsexual. We receive each one as a brother
or a sister, unconditionally accepting them just as they are,
just as we ourselves are accepted, just as we are.
some foolish and judgmental person would ever want to point the
finger and say (as the Dalai Lama actually did) that such and
such kind of sexual behavior is wrong, or evil, or whatever - my
reply would be, 'That's why they belong here...with the rest of
us in the Shin Sangha. Because Shin Buddhism - TRUE Shin
Buddhism - is for the evil person FIRST, and then also for the
where all those illiterate peasants who made their meager living
as hunters and fishermen finally found a Sangha home, after
being called outcasts - ICCHANTIKA - people without the seed of
Buddhahood - by leaders in the other schools and sects of the
think about the all embracing, all encompassing love that Amida
has for us all, my heart just opens wide. I rejoice
inside, and I am so grateful that I stumbled into this Sangha
and found this Dharma in this life. And I share this
Dharma, freely, with anyone else who wants to hear it, so that
they too can share in the inexpressible joy I have knowing the
TRUTH that sets us all free, at long last.