Tag Archives: humanities

Buddhism and Sexuality

José Cabezón is Professor of Religious Studies and the XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Cabezón edited a collection of essays entitled Buddhism, Sexuality and Gender (1992), one of the first scholarly works in the field. His participation in a 1999 conference hosted by the Institute for Religion in the Age of Science (IRAS) led to further intensive research and another book, Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism (2017).

In 2007 a group of gay and lesbian Buddhists from the Bay Area wrote a letter to the Dalai Lama, asking to meet with him for clarification of what the group regarded as some of the homophobic tenets of Buddhism. His Holiness agreed to the meeting, during which he expressed sympathy with the group’s concerns but argued that he could not adjudicate the matter by himself, since the tenets are codified in ancient texts. Rather, a consensus among the worldwide Buddhist community was needed.

In his presentation for the Burke Lectureship, Cabezón examines those texts for what they may tell us about fundamental Buddhist views of gender and sexuality. The texts were written largely in Sanskrit between the 1st and 9th centuries C.E. and present a surprisingly complex view of the topic, with some aspects familiar to the modern Western mind and others decidedly foreign. As Cabezón notes, they are often “not what we want to hear.” He traces a woman’s sexual life journey from sexual (biological) embodiment at conception to old age, in the process outlining the belief in four biological sexes (2 normal, 2 abnormal or “queer”) and their determining factors, karma as always being foremost. Determinism – a foundational tenet of Tibetan Buddhism – is key in establishing causal links between sexual biology, gender, sexual desire, and sexual pleasure.

Cabezón also discusses the treatment of male sexuality in the texts, noting that sexual ethics for men are described in exhaustive detail while none are listed for women (other than fidelity to their husbands). Men are allowed access to prostitutes, and prostitution is considered neither a crime nor a moral failing. In fact, prostitutes are uniformly portrayed in a positive light, whereas wives frequently are not. Regarding marriage, the texts maintain that the goal is not expression of love but the creation of strong bonds between families.

By contrast we know little about the lives of “queer” people in early Buddhist societies, since there is little mention of them beyond acknowledging their existence as one of the four genders. It is the classification of genders other than biological male and female as abnormal, along with a strongly patriarchal bent, that troubles many modern Buddhists in the West.

According to José Cabezón the study of ancient Buddhist writings on gender and sexuality may be thought of as the study of a cultural construct, one that remains relevant to Asian Buddhist and Western convert communities today.

Watch What is a Woman? What is a Man? Exploring The Buddhist Sources – Jose Cabezon – Burke Lectureship on Religion and Society

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Is Your Kitchen a “Command Center?”

Think about your home for a second. What room gets the most traffic? Where do your kids do their homework? What does all of that stuff on the refrigerator door say about your family?

For middle-class American families, real estate inside the home can be as precious as the land underneath.  In “Space,” the final installment of UCTV Prime’s series “A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance,” UCLA anthropologists track how 32 families organize and prioritize their living space, with kitchens as command centers, bathrooms as bottlenecks, and master suites, in some cases, remodeled into hotel-like sanctuaries.

Don’t miss “Space — A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance (Ep. 3)” and, if you haven’t already, catch up with “Stuff (Ep. 1)” and “Food (Ep. 2”). You just might view your home — and maybe your family — a whole lot differently.

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UCTV to Live Stream Dalai Lama’s San Diego Visit, April 18 & 19

The Dalai Lama is coming to UCTV’s hometown, San Diego, for a whirlwind tour that includes four appearances in just two days, April 18 and 19.

The public events sold out in no time, so we’re thrilled to give our viewers front row seats through our live stream. Then, in May and June, we will broadcast and post online his public appearances at UC San Diego and University of San Diego, as well as an invitation-only event held at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. So basically, you’re in!

Here are the details:

The Dalai Lama in San Diego on UCTV
Live Stream at http://www.uctv.tv/dalai-lama

April 18 (all times Pacific)
9:30am  ”The Global Impact of Climate Change:  Balance Through Responsibility, Compassion and Human Consciousness with His Holiness, The Dalai Lama” (UC San Diego)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama joins esteemed scientists Richard Somerville and Veerabhadran Ramanathan at UC San Diego to discuss the need for humanitarian values and universal responsibility in responding to the impacts of climate change on communities and ecosystems.

1:30pm  “The Dalai Lama: Cultivating Peace and Justice” (USD)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama continues his “Compassion without Borders” tour in San Diego with a public lecture at the University of San Diego addressing escalating violence among nations and alternatives that emphasize shared human values across societies.

April 19
9:30am  ”Upholding Universal Ethics and Compassion in Challenging Times” (SDSU)

The public lecture at San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena provides an opportunity for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to share his views on upholding ethics, practicing forgiveness and tolerance, and coping with the challenges found in today’s society. Through the teachings of His Holiness, more than 12,000 attendees will learn how to open their minds and approach their daily struggles with patience and virtue.

Broadcasting and online in May & June
(Additional broadcast dates/times at the links)

May 23 at 8pm
The Dalai Lama: Cultivating Peace and Justice (USD)

May 30 at 8pm
Neuroscience and the Emerging Mind:  A Conversation with the Dalai Lama on Consciousness and Compassion (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama engages with Larry Hinman of the University of San Diego, V.S. Ramachandran of UC San Diego and Jennifer Thomas of San Diego State University in a scientific and philosophical discussion of human consciousness.

June 6 at 8pm
The Global Impact of Climate Change:  Balance Through Responsibility, Compassion and Human Consciousness with His Holiness, The Dalai Lama (UC San Diego)

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