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Buddhadharma : Summer 2009
63 summer 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Buddhism doesn’t (for once!) have a list.” Another tells us, “where Buddhism differs noticeably from other religions, is in its lack of a list of forbid- den sexual practices. Unlike other religions that forbid homosexuality, contracepted sex, cross-dressing, etc., Bud- dhism does not list forbidden sexual practices.” Each of these writers is clearly unaware of the exten- sive Buddhist scholastic litera- ture on sexual misconduct—a literature that “lists” inappropriate partners, organs, times and places, and then goes into exquisite detail about when, where, how, and with whom Buddhists may and may not have sex. In still other sources we find long lists of men and women who are to be denied Buddhist ordination on the basis of their sexual preferences, gender identity, or sexual anatomy. So, contrary to what these bloggers think, lists there are aplenty. In a third example, the writer is aware of the detailed treat- ment of sexual misconduct found in the scholastic sources because, in fact, it is a review of the translation of Tsong- khapa’s Lamrim Chenmo on Amazon.com. The writer states of Tsongkhapa’s instructions: I felt that they were not the true teachings that I have come to learn about Buddhism. For example, in the teaching about sexuality... I’m not sure how true to the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism [Tsongkhapa’s work] is. when confronted with the reality of the scholastic treat- ment of sexual ethics, this writer’s response is to dismiss it. “Surely this can’t be what Tibetan Buddhism is about.” How ironic then that almost six hundred years after Tsongkhapa wrote his famous text, arguably the most prominent repre- sentative of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, should be opening this very volume when he is about to engage western Buddhists in discussions of sexuality. Obviously, one repre- sentative of the Tibetan tradition still thinks that the Lamrim Chenmo is “true to the tradition.” Overall, what I found in my peregrinations through the web was that western Buddhists were either unaware of what the classical Indian and Tibetan tradition had to say about sexuality, or, when not unaware, were ready to dismiss it because it did not jibe with their preconceptions of what the Buddhist tradition is all about. As my research evolved and as I began to share my findings with audiences of nonspecialists (for example, lay western Buddhists in dharma centers), I discovered a similar pattern playing itself out. I found, first, that many people were unin- formed about—or simply uninterested in—what the great texts say about sexuality. Having been written in a place and time far removed from us, many western Buddhists, I came to realize, simply see these texts as having little relevance to our sexual lives in the here and now. I have often asked myself why my co-religionists are so will- ing, and indeed keen, to adopt the minute meditation instruc- tions of the classical masters, and so quick to slough off the advice of these same masters when it comes to matters of sex. Be that as it may, I have come to see a fundamental discon- nect between what the classical Buddhist tradition has to say COURTESYOFThEARTISTANDBOSEPACIAGALLERY,NY Not Only But Also, 2008 Oil on canvas 48 x 36 inches