Following Bayswater council’s vote to support marriage equality, we’ve heard from councillors, conservatives, Christians and concerned citizens on the issue of LGBTI marriage. In this week’s SPEAKER’S CORNER we hear the Zen Buddhist point of view, with extracts from a statement sent to us by Venerable Reverend MUYJO WILLIAMS. The Reverend is an ordained Zen Monk who trained in Kyoto Japan, a teacher of Rinzai Zen Buddhism, and the spiritual director of the Jizoan Rinzai Zen Temple Perth. The statement he wrote, on behalf of the Australian Zen Studies Institute, is co-signed by three dozen fellow Buddhist leaders.
This is not so much Spaceship Earth, as Rowboat Earth, and everyone must get a seat and those who can row, row, and for those who can’t that’s OK, some will row for them, so long as we stop squabbling about who gets a place, and leave no one behind or we will sink in the depths of our own making.
In our time of man-made environmental crisis and disaster, nuclear threat, finite recourses, wondrous technology advance, and fluid borders, this is our opportunity, this is our human prerogative.
We should be ashamed of the current circumstance of marriage equality and take up change because it is the right thing to do.
We recognise this is equality not for some, but for everyone, to consider all people as equal and free.
We should not judge by the group, any person who judges by the group is in ignorance and the Buddha taught that ignorance is the root of suffering; we should take people, individually, as they are.
To do this we must overcome group identity by making everyone equal, in our personal lives and under law.
In doing so we embrace each other as Humanity, we become Rinzai’s ideal ‘person of no-rank’.
Zen Buddhist values support LGBTI people
The Australian Zen Buddhist community acknowledges the rights of LGBTI in the Australian community and throughout the world.
In accordance with the values of equality and egalitarianism which we believe to hold true in Australia, we believe that the LGBTI community should be accorded full rights and freedoms as they are in this nation for any other peoples.
The Bodhisattva Way includes all beings and does not discriminate.
All beings are originally Buddhas, this very body, the body of Buddha being.
The Australian Zen Buddhist community therefore condemns all forms of homophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
There is no justification for such abuse and disrespect and it is essential that all perpetrators of homophobia are prosecuted and held responsible for such offensive comments both in the eyes of society and before the law.
LGBTI marriage must be recognised
The statement of support for equality across all communities is not just a matter of temporal agreement or approval, it is rooted firmly in the Buddha Way and, therefore, in concert with all Zen communities and all human communities in our view.
Denial of equality under the law and society leads to suffering, based in ignorance. Suffering in this instance can take the form of denial of access to loved ones, legality of parental relationships, fair and equal division of property and observance of chartered bequests, contracts and wishes.
None of this should be acceptable in a healthy society as described. It is quite simple, to separate out one group of people from another and insist their rights are different is harmful action and one and the same with harmful thought.
Harmful thought is by definition that which causes separation from reality and that is same as suffering.
A society which allows harm and perpetuates it through excluding the rights of some is by definition, ill. The cure to this illness is inclusion and understanding. In this case, the inclusion and understanding is that all should have access to loved one’s equally, property equally, recognition of parental relationships and all other contracts under law.
All people, therefore, in the society should, regardless of gender and sexuality, have access to and recognition of, marriage equally under law in all society. We feel that this is basic and intrinsic in value to the Buddha way and therefore, to all humanity.”
You can read the full statement submitted to the parliament’s draft marriage equality bill at: