Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.

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  • Rinsen
    • Jul 2024

    Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.

    I was recently asked to speak at the Ohio statehouse. There is a gay/lesbian equal rights bill being considered, and the sponsors of this bill were interested in getting a Buddhist perspective on discrimination. I thought that some of what came out here might be an interesting discussion topic in light of the recent work at Treeleaf with the precepts. Comments anyone?

    Please have a look at the short video, it is posted at

    A transcription of the text is below:

    "Those discriminations and distinctions that we fight for and with, actually don't exist, save in our own mind. And so a simple practice that almost any Buddhist, and specifically the Zen lineage, the one that I hold and represent, will engage in is the practice of silence. Contemplative silence. And from the point of view of our particular lineage, if to some degree that contemplative intelligence has not been awakened, then we suffer. We suffer from the effects of our own entrapment in conditioning. And so I thought it might be a nice thing for us to just take a second, and please sit straight with me if you would for a moment. In zen you know words fail. And by the way, also, most mystic and contemplative traditions (practice this), its not strictly a Buddhist thing. If you look at Christian mysticism, Jewish mysticism, over and over the gate is silence. And so as we take just a second, please bring your attention to your breath, and please just feel the breath enter the body, and leave the body. And as you hear the discussions outside let them continue. Don't try to fight them, but don't let yourself get pulled out and distracted by them. All of us share this breath. There is not a Buddhist breath, there is not a Democratic breath, or a Republican breath, or a gay or a straight breath. There is simply this breath. Thank you everyone."

    -Jay Rinsen Weik
  • Hans
    • Mar 2007
    • 1853

    Re: Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.

    Hi Rinsen!

    Let me kick this off by saying that quite a few close friends of mine are homosexual, which isn't really all that surprising since I live in Cologne, the gay party town of Europe. If one asked me for my personal perspective, I'd agree with all the stuff about people having to do their own thing (and I get really upset when I have to listen to mostly monotheistic rants about homosexuality being evil etc.) etc. Yet if one asked for a buddhist perspective, one simply HAS imho to take into account the overall approach of the socio-historical reality of this thing called Buddhism over the last few thousand years....and looking at scriptual evidence (and even just reading some of the slightly non-pc stuff the Dalai Lama said regarding this topic) it is quite clear that homosexuality was not viewed in a positive light. I really like the way that we as modern buddhists can develop our own understanding of certain teachings and set different priorities etc., but any statement along the lines of "in Buddhism we think that we are all one expression of whatever..." seems to me to pretend that Buddhism in general was/is this extremely liberal thingie that's overall nice and understanding...when in truth (the way I see it anyway) we have more than our share of problematic aspects of traditional dharma culture to deal with. A purely personal statement is something different altogether....and the still ongoing discrimination against women in Buddhism is yet another can of worms...

    just some thoughts,




    • Jundo
      Treeleaf Founder and Priest
      • Apr 2006
      • 39456

      Re: Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.


      Yes, Filur once provided an interesting link on the Dalai Lama's changing views on homosexuality. He had originally voiced an opinion that seemed disapproving, then made some more open statements. ... n-gay.html

      As Hans said, the "Buddhist" perspective on homosexuality has been a bit complex over the centuries, and in different very traditional cultures. Also, sexism has been more the rule in Buddhism than the exception. Please remember that Buddhism is something fluid and flexible like jello, which fits easily to much of the surrounding culture where it happens to find itself. India, China, Korea and Japan where very conservative places on the subject of sex and family.

      There was also a strange "love hate" relationship (pardon the pun) with homosexuality in China and Japan among monastics, where so many males were gathered in close quarters with no women about. Samurai culture, like Greek culture, even considered homosexual love a proper form of masculine conduct. Still, it was something to be kept hidden and not in the mainstream.

      Here is a very long and detailed essay on the subject (that seems to borrow heavily from a book by Zen Buddhist scholar Bernard Faure, entitled the The Red Thread) ... ity.html...

      Anyway, whatever the social views of the past, I hope we are all now at a place beyond all discrimination based on sexual preference.

      Gassho, Jundo


      • Rev R
        • Jul 2007
        • 457

        Re: Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.

        Perhaps the Buddhist community has Jundo, but unfortunately that is not the case with the rest of our human community.


        • will
          • Jun 2007
          • 2331

          Re: Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.

          All I can say is: I believe Buddha nature is non discriminate. Most of the trouble starts when we can't see a blue or red flower past our judgments and reactivity.


          To save all sentient beings, though beings are numberless.
          To penetrate reality, though reality is boundless.
          To transform all delusion, though delusions are immeasurable.
          To attain the enlightened way, a way non-attainable.


          • Shohei
            • Oct 2007
            • 2854

            Re: Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.

            my 2 cents on the matter (which need not be a matter at all!!) is that if a couple, regardless of sexual orientation can find happiness in each other today then that all that matters. Also if a same sex couple would like to make a commitment such as marriage or give birth to or adopt and provide a loving home life to a child then thats is 100% fine with me and in today's society we can definitely stand to see more stable, safe, healthy and loving homes, No?

            On other issue is this :"... Fine with me??" a Heterosexual marriage needn't my approval - why should any other?! After all I married my partner because we were attracted to each other then became friends and fell in love. How can it even matter if that other person is the same sex or not?

            As for the marriage it is really up to the organization a couple attends to determine if they support the couples union(my self im down with the JP). Although i think its sad, if the church of that couple would refuse to perform the ceremony then that is unfortunately their prerogative. My self any organization that didn't support our expression of love to each other regardless of sexual orientation cannot be truly speaking on behalf of a loving caring being as they purport and so i would definitely let them to their prejudices and seek out a more welcoming environment while making sure people know that churches stance.

            bah im rambling! Here in Canada, Same sex marriage is supported and when the current conservative governing body tried to bring up the issue again it was once more put to rest - Canada supports same sex marriage.

            Shamelessly copy/pasted from wiki -

            On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the approval of the Civil Marriage Act. Court decisions, starting in 2003, each already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories, whose residents comprised about 90% of Canada's population. Before passage of the Act, more than 3,000 same-sex couples had already married in these areas.[1] Most legal benefits commonly associated with marriage had been extended to cohabiting same-sex couples since 1999.

            The Civil Marriage Act was introduced by Paul Martin's Liberal government in the Canadian House of Commons on February 1, 2005 as Bill C-38. It was passed by the House of Commons on June 28, 2005, by the Senate on July 19, 2005, and it received Royal Assent the following day. On December 7, 2006, the House of Commons effectively reaffirmed the legislation by a vote of 175 to 123, defeating a Conservative motion to examine the matter again. This was the third vote supporting same-sex marriage taken by three Parliaments under three Prime Ministers in three different years.

            to me a step in the right direction. Still many many steps more to go for discrimination in all its forms.

            Gassho, Dirk


            • JeffLegg
              • Jun 2008
              • 39

              Re: Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.

              Thank you for sharing your experiences, Dirk.

              I have to admit that my views have changed as I've continued my practice. I've moved from being semi-against gay marriage to a more open, accepting viewpoint. In reflection I don't think that I was pesonally at issue with gay folks but certainly grouped people (they, they, they...).

              However, the turning point for me has been 2 things:

              1. my own marriage. As we all know a marriage or other committed relationship requires a great deal of work to be successful. I have a great, understanding wife and it is still a lot of heavy lifting! My view has now softend to that if people can find love and happiness today irregardless of orientation then they are pretty lucky.

              2. the second event has been as I've become closer to some gay colleagues I've come to realize the suffering they've had to go through growing up or just dealing with family, friends, and society. No one would wilingly bring this upon themselves. With all of the pain and issues they have gone through, I realized that I sure didn't need to add to it. A little compassion and acceptance was in order.

              It is very interesting to sit with our biases to figure out the why (if there is any) of our viewpoints/beliefs. For me, I found no real basis for my biases in this case.

              Just my own $.02 as I continue my journey towards humanhood..............



              • Dosho
                • Jun 2008
                • 5784

                Re: Non-Discrimination, Jukai and Social Action.

                Hi all,

                I've really been thinking a lot about the gay marriage issue since election night here in the US when "Prop 8" was decided in California. For awhile I wondered why the gay and lesbian community wanted to have marriage rights because I saw it mostly as a religious option decided by the members of individual churches. My thought was, "If they don't like it then just have a civil union and be done with it." However, I had no conception of what legal rights marriage provides that civil unions simply do not. If my wife were to pass away, all that we have worked for together including our son would be left to me, but in a civil union the deceased spouse's family can and often does fight the surving spouse for custody and personal property. Some advances have been done in the medical area allowing people to name a proxy, but none of it provides the same rights to gay and lesbian couples as is afforded to me...just because I happened to be born straight.

                I have heard rationalizations for why affording marriage rights to gays and lesbians is different from the struggle of minorities to gain civil rights. It's not. I wish these people who fight so actively against gay marriage would look back 40-50 years and read what rationalizations were being used to deny African Americans especially equal rights. It's the same song and dance that tries to say that some people have more rights than others. It's not a Christian issue or a Buddhist issue for that's just the right thing to do.

                That's my $0.02 anyway.