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Celibacy and Buddhist monks

Another post about Catholic priests no marrying got me thinking - I am a Buddhist, and Buddhist monks do not marry or have sex either, but people don't seem to really complain about that as much, I wonder why?
Another thing, I can't think of any stories where the Buddhist monks abused the young boy monks that they essentially raise or anyone else, unless I missed the news on it? Is it just because it hasn't been exposed, or because it has never happened, I have to wonder? I cannot see the peaceful, kind monks that I know abusing anyone, but I am sure Catholics couldn't imagine their priests hurting anyone either. 

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Asked by Anonymous at 3:07 AM on May. 19, 2011 in Religious Debate

Answers (18)
  • Another thought I was having. I don't think just because some chooses to not have sex or get married, it turns them into a monster - good people will find ways to distract themselves from their urges, I believe people can master self control. Or a normal person who decides they can't deal with it anymore will have an affairwith a grown woman (or man, lol), like that priest from Miami. These men that abuse the children were bad people and sickos to begin with, I believe, not having sex for how many years doesn't turn you into a pedophile and predator. jmo

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 3:14 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • This author I've read - a pastor I'm friends with on facebook and have talked to a few times - he claims in one of his books about spiritual terrorism that part of the problem with the sexual abuse in the church stems from the homocentric environment - only being able to associate with fellow priests outside of church activities and so forth. Not sure how true it is, but he does discuss how it has a part in it - mind you, I'm not trying to compare homosexuality with pedophilia, just saying how he says the environment, much like in prison, distorts one's sexuality and brings power issues into it as well (thus "dominating" those who are weaker). He also mentions how some commit themselves to the church and to celibacy when they are still young adults and how when they are older it starts to have an effect. I'll have to find the book to be more specific, but he does show there's more to it than only having sickos sign up....

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 8:31 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • Not that I don't believe those abuses are sick or wrong. Because I do think it's awful.... He just did a good job of showing there is often more to it than someone "just" being a sicko, how the environment and so forth CAN contribute to the abuses we see. It was interesting, and at least something to consider, even if you decide you don't agree...

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 8:32 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • I'm sure it's happened on occasion--just like I've heard of a couple monks who have been violent or have extreme views, but it's definitely not typical. Maybe some of it has to do with WHY they are celibate. It's my understanding that it's not much moral admonition, but so they can conserve energy and focus. Some traditions are quite strict about monks not marrying, but in other traditions monks do marry. It's really hard to say why it's different. Maybe it's cultural thing or the fact that they choose this life freely, or maybe they take the idea of right conduct very seriously. My guess is that's not that sex is bad in and of itself, but it's a distraction and most would not choose to conduct themselves sexually in a way that harms others.

    Answer by pam19 at 8:52 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • This is for laypeople rather than monks, but it's an example of the way sex would be viewed within some Buddhist traditions. This is a mindfulness training exercise on RIGHT CONDUCT that Thich Nhat Hanh has in some of his books:

    "Aware that sexual relations motivated by craving cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness, but will create more suffering, frustration and isolation, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, love and a long-term commitment. In sexual relations, I must be aware of future suffering that may be caused. I know that to preserve the happiness of myself and others, I must respect the rights and commitments of myself and others....


    Answer by pam19 at 8:54 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • cont'd

    ....I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. I will treat my body with respect and preserve my vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of my bodhisattva ideal. I will be fully aware of the responsibility for bringing new lives in the world, and will meditate on the world into which we are bringing new beings."


    Answer by pam19 at 8:55 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • great points, pam, as always :)

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 9:14 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • Thanks, Bandgeek. :-)

    Just noticed a typo too: that should be 'not *so* much moral admonition'.

    Answer by pam19 at 9:18 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • While worded differently this is also the teaching of the Catholic Church.

    Answer by daps at 9:26 AM on May. 19, 2011

  • You know...I hadn't really thought about this before either, and after looking it up and finding some accusations of sexual abuse and rape in different monastic communities, would definitely say that it happens in Buddhist communities as well. Maybe it's a smaller scale, but there are actually several examples. I know Sri Lanka is mentioned a few times, and there was one U.S. accusation within the last couple years too. I wonder if it's a matter of scale (happens but not quite as much) or the amount of news coverage when it does happen (anything happening in the U.S. would get more attention than something happening overseas), or maybe it's the cover ups that have made it worse here for Catholics. I know that it's bad enough that it's happened to these poor people, but for the response to just be to move the priests to other areas instead of addressing the issue head on just made things worse, I think. con'td

    Answer by pam19 at 10:03 AM on May. 19, 2011

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