Discrimination haunts the monkhood

by Paisarn Likhitpreechakul, The Nation, July 11, 2005

Bangkok, Thailand -- Prejudiced interpretation of the Tripitaka, the Buddhist canon, hurt gays, lesbians and transgenders, according to a paper presented yesterday to the first International Conference of Asian Queer Studies.

Authored by Phra Woratham, who has been a Buddhist monk for 15 years, and presented by a lay representative, the paper sought to clarify the meaning of the word pandaka, a collective word for a group of people who are prohibited from monkhood by a canonical rule.

Although contemporary interpretations often include gays, lesbians and transgenders, Phra Woratham argued that the word has the exclusive meaning of ?those lacking male or female genitalia? or medical hermaphrodites, and has nothing to do with people who are attracted to those of the same gender.

Last year when the runner-up to the Miss Tiffany title expressed his wish to ordain, there was strong reaction from the public, citing this monastic rule. According to the paper, the rule should not apply, because the person in question was still anatomically male.

The paper also touched on the common belief that one is reborn in this life as gay, lesbian or transgender as a punishment for sins in past lives (karma), particularly adultery.

It pointed out that the same accusation had been brought in the past and present against women as well, reflecting the hetero-male-chauvinistic bias of such beliefs.

?Nowhere does the Buddha say that those attracted to people of the same sex are born thus as a result of sin. Nor does he say so regarding hermaphrodites. All such negative references come from commentaries of later date,? the paper explains.

However, ?punishment? of gays, lesbians and transgenders is real, regardless of the cause of sexual orientation, says the paper, and is the suffering inflicted on them by society in the form of discrimination.

On the other hand, a minority sexual orientation by itself isn?t necessarily a ?punishment?, if one has pride in who one is, the paper says, pointing the way out of the ?sin? label which has long inflicted pain and self-hatred on Thai Buddhist gays, lesbians and transgenders.

The paper attracted criticism from Viroj Tangvanich, well-known president of the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, who said: ?There are other ways for Thai gays, lesbians and transgenders to practice Buddhism. Becoming a monk is not the only option. Our religion also has plenty of space for us as lay Buddhists.?

Viroj quoted Phra Buddhadasa, a highly revered monk and Buddhist philosopher, as saying: ?All men and women should understand the way to Buddhahood. Buddhahood is an uplifted spiritual realm that transcends maleness and femaleness.?

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv