Shabda August 1998
page 58 Threads section
Tejananda has argued (April Shabda) that what makes a sexual relationship between an Order member and a Mitra/Friend 'off limits' is 'the existence of an effective kalayana mitra relationship'. He argues that he would be LESS concerned if sex was taking place outside of this relationship.
I wonder if it would be possible for an Order Member to engage in a sexual relationship with a Friend or Mitra WITHOUT developing aspects of Kalyana mitrata. I find it hard to imagine an Order Member taking an interest in another person without responding to the person as a whole and in so relating he/she would thereby set in motion a relationship that took into account the spiritual and psychological, as well as physical, needs of his partner. To do otherwise would be brutish as it would reduce the relationship to a mere gratification of sexual desire.
It follows therefore that Tejananda is asking that Order Members steer clear of anyone with whom they feel a potential for kalyana mitrata. I would argue that this is undesirable. The real beauty of a sexual relationship between an Order member and a mitra is that if the Order member is sufficiently mature then the other person stands to gain considerably from the experience . This was the basis for the famed (even infamous) Greek model of love between the older man and younger one which served that society so well for so long. The key phrase here is; 'sufficiently mature'. If the Order member is not, then serious complications could arise and I think this is the basis of Tejananda's concerns. He has seen examples when this very necessary qualification was not in place. He rightly argues (July Shabda) that no Order member should persist with 'unwelcome advances' and that the Order member would need to be very careful that the Friend/Mitra (or even younger Order member?) is participating because he/she genuinely wants to and not through any feelings of awe or unrealistic projection.
Tejananda's other concern is that there might be 'mixed motives' (ie. sex coupled with kalyana mitrata) on the part of the Order member entering into a sexual relationship with a Friend and Mitra. It is precisely these 'mixed motives' that occasion the considerable benefits of such a relationship and are quite often the source of it.
Tejananda's final point, in the last issue of Shabda, is that we should be careful not 'to alienate the vast majority of it's (Society's) members by engaging in, or condoning behavior which they would find utterly repugnant and morally reprehensible.' Are the Great Western Public so bigoted as to be so drastically effected by acts of a homosexual nature. There will be some who might be but l doubt that these are the people who would be open and broad minded enough to make contact with our movement in the first place. We largely attract an educated clientele who are less prone to the kind of extreme bigotry that Tejananda warns us of. On the other hand be is quite right to point out that such bigotry does exist and that we must be very careful not to inflame ignorant passions by introducing such radical concepts too abruptly and without the opportunity to carefully explain the context that surround [sic] these ideas and principles. Thus one would need to be discreet in negotiating these principles with the general public.
Similar views are expressed elsewhere in FWBO publications, e.g.:
In some of the most successful pagan cultures of the past, such as that of ancient Greece, sex was surrounded by few taboos, apart from those of incest. Homosexuality was often regarded as honourable, even noble, not just tolerated as the necessary aberration of a twisted few. In the first place, it allowed a sexual outlet for the unmarried without the responsibilities which pregnancy would entail. It was also considered to strengthen the bonds of friendship between men - for it is was men who most commonly practised homosexuality - without sexual polarization arising. For some men and women, homosexuality may provide a way in which they can keep free of the ties of family life so that they can devote themselves full-time to the following of the Spiral Path without having to give up sex altogether.
Subhuti, The Buddhist Vision, p 143. ISBN 0 7126 1084 7