Submitted by Graham Mason on
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I have started this Forum topic because it seemed to be creating a lot of interest under Australia's Blog.

My Experiences

There are so many branches of Buddhism and I can't pretend to be an authority on any of them.

In my experience of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand contact between monks and women is very controlled. A woman is not permitted to hand something directly to a Monk. She places the object on another surface somewhere and he can pick it up. Similarly on public transport Monks avoid sitting next to women. As monks they take on a number of "preceps" which they must adhere to and one of them is definitely about sexual misconduct.

I was a bit surprised then when in Dharamsala I saw monks sometimes walking hand in hand with a woman. Speaking to a Tibetan guy from who I was learning massage, he told me that 99% of women teaching English were after the Tibetan monks. I managed to bargain him down to 90%. There are all sorts of stories and happenings there. I don't know if it is sanctioned or not. Many of the monks are refugees away from their monastries in Tibet.

Somewhere I have read that the Tibetan Tantric tradition goes way back and some story that monks had consorts to assist them with their sexual energies. I cant remember the exact details.

Back in Australia, a few months ago I went to a talk by a high Tibetan monk and he was definitely advising celibacy.

In my experience though Buddhism is not so much about hard dogma. Everything seems more open for debate.

Its all kind of interesting, and although I don't have much desire to become a Buddhist I reckon that the Dalai Lama is a cool dude. He writes and talks a lot of sense that I find refreshing in this world.

Very interesting

When you say that the woman are after the monks, what exactly do you mean? Are they looking to become involved with them in relationships, or is it purely a sexual thing? And why do you think they are doing that?

I like hearing your experiences within these different cultures. After I read your list of things to do in Thailand, I thought that you could make a career writing travel guides. Then I looked at your profile and your occupation, and I laughed. Clearly, you know what you're talking about. :)

Monk

Yes, Graham, you made Thailand sounds so interesting and fun. If I ever want to take a trip, I'll make sure to ask you for advice. My trips have always been solitary inward journeys, and I miss out on the unique things the place I go has to offer.

I read in one of Kornfield's books about women being after monks too, and I think it's just that monks are attractive. So holy seeming. It might be similar to girls having a crush on a life guard or their professors. Maybe it's the forbidden aspect too.

I don't think there are any sanctioned monk-consort relationships anymore. (Excepting small, obscure, possibly cultish sects.) Sex is just too powerful to be allowed in large organizations, at least to any great extent. I read in one of the articles here that there was a female tantric master a long time ago, but she predicted that such practices would die out very quickly, which is what happened. Then I read the Michael Winn article here, and it described his search for exant sexual tantric traditions. A lot of them are new constructs, but I think he eventually found schools with lineage too. It wasn't easy.

There are a lot of funny traditions in Theravada. Like monks not being able to handle money. Some schools allow them to touch money with a cloth. This seems too conservative to the Mahayana, and the fear is that so much emphasis is placed on the letter of the law that the spirit is forgotten, the spirit being that one should not touch women or money in one's heart. There's a Buddhist parable about this (http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Courtyard/1652/GirlAcrossRiver.html ).

Peacocking

If you want to relate it to natural selection, it may be that a monk in a safron robe is emulating the peacock with a huge plumage. And so if you don't fancy being a monk then get a huge tattoo, wear a pony tail or something.

Yes, and there is the forbidden fruit aspect. Asia is quite a region for sexual dalliances in general. South East Asia is where guys go for their fun and Bali and India for the girls.

I ended up teaching English to Tibetans including monks and I have a lot of respect for them. They are great guys. In most monastic orders probably 99% of the guys are genuine and may repress their urges but there is always the small percentage who can't. Its unfortunate when the order tends to close ranks around the errant instead of throwing them out.

I think that the thing with monks is a bit on both sides. It takes two to tango. I haven't heard of any western woman taking their monk home with them.

Thrown Out

Throwing out isn't the Asian way. You stay and life is made hard for you until you leave on your own. LOL. Or hopefully come back into alignment because of the social pressure.