Sunday, November 25, 2012

Buddhism and Gender Segregation

In Buddhism, during certain practice occasions, such as group retreats, men and women are segregated. The reason this is done is because it is meant for the good of the participants of the retreat themselves. Due to the seriousness of the meditation practice, lustful thoughts and actions are discouraged. It is also done for practical reasons. It is better for the men to be grouped with the men and the women with women because it is not practical for men and women to share the same bathroom and sleeping room. But this is done only during serious practice sessions. After the event, the men and women are free to do what they like. Buddhism has a reason for doing everything. It does not force any precepts or commandments into anyone. You are free to kill and to steal. The only thing is Buddhism reminds you of the consequences of your own actions, whether it is good or bad. If you kill, you will have to bear with the consequences of killing, in this present life and the next. Same for stealing and any other actions. With the natural karma law in force, there is no need in Buddhism to do the bidding of any supreme entity. The law of karma is natural and is not created nor enforced by the Buddha or anyone else. So it is impartial. You cannot also argue with it as with mundane legal cases. And it also does not mean you are offering a gold bar to the Buddha, you will suffer less from the karma you have already created previously. There is no pleasing anyone, unlike other religions whereby you are said to be able to go to the supreme being's heaven if you protect the sanctity of that religion, irrespective of the actions you do in achieving that. Have you not heard of people killing to protect their religions and their supreme being? In Buddhism, it does not work that way. Killing anti-Buddhists who blaspheme the Buddha will still yield the same negative karma as you will if you kill anyone else. It does not mean the karma will be less or that you will be more favored by the Buddha. There is no such thing in Buddhism. But sometimes there are people who misrepresents their religions, so I cannot really judge or imply that other religions are less fair, but one thing is clear - Buddhism is fair. It does not force anyone to do things they don't like. Even though religions that force its adherents to do things does have a place in society, in Buddhism, Buddhists have a choice. Precepts are not forced unto anyone. Hence in Buddhism there is no necessity to segregate the genders in shopping malls, cinemas, hair saloons, etc. Physical separation is only superficial because in Buddhism we are taught that mind is the forerunner of all things - good and bad. It starts with a bad thought. Physical separation does not prevent bad thoughts. Anyway, if you put men with men and women with women too much and too often, that will indirectly foster and promote homosexuality among people of that religion. So, they must be careful not to over-do the segregation. As a Buddhist, I certainly do not wish such non-Buddhist laws to be imposed on any Buddhists. We have our own ways to prevent misconduct amongst Buddhists. There is no need to apply the laws of other religions unto us.

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