Author Topic: Can a Tibetan lama shake hands with a woman?  (Read 1266 times)

Offline Nimega

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Can a Tibetan lama shake hands with a woman?
« on: September 09, 2015, 04:13:30 pm »
Greetings! I've been reading around the Internet that some traditions in Buddhism don't allow monks to have any physical contact with a woman, but I haven't been able to find any answers concerning Tibetan monks.

The thing is, at the end of May, I visited a Tibetan Temple in my city with school(which, of course, made me incredibly happy). A tibetan lama talked to us about his religion, and I told him I was a buddhist too. When he ended his speech, I briefly talked to him, and we gave farewell to each other by shaking hands. Was it OK for the lama to have had physical contact with me? The lama was a fairly important monk for what I know (his name was Thubten Wangchen, and he's kind of well-known in Spain; I don't know about the rest of the world), so he must have known that was (or not) forbidden by buddhism. Can someone explain this to me, please? Thanks a lot in advance!

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Can a Tibetan lama shake hands with a woman?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2015, 07:05:55 pm »
To touch a woman out of desire is prohibited in all respects, regardless if were talking about Theravada or Tibetan monastic discipline, but I'm not sure that shaking hands would be considered a transgression within the Tibetan tradition, especially with its emphasis on intention and the circumstances involved --- it kind of reminds me of a frequently quoted story:

Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the roadsides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk across because of a deep puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to her and lifted her in his arms, carried her over the puddle and left her on the other side of the road. Afterwards, he continued on his way to the monastery. The younger monk was both confused and slightly upset by the elder monk's actions.

Later in the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and testily said, "Sir, as monks, isn't it true that we cannot touch women?" The elder monk answered, "Yes, brother." The younger monk then responded, "But then, sir, how is it that you lifted that women on the roadside?" The elder monk smiled at him and said, "Brother, I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her."

Offline Nimega

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Re: Can a Tibetan lama shake hands with a woman?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2015, 03:47:11 pm »
Thanks a lot for taking your time answering my question, Dharmakara. If I understood it right, monks aren't allowed to touch women, but they are allowed to if the situation requires them to do it (as in the story you quoted), right?

Also, they are allowed to shake hands too, and as the situation I was in was friendly and we shook hands as a sign of respect, we did nothing wrong, neither him for offering me his hand or I for accepting to shake hands with him... Did I understand it well?

Anyways, thanks for answering again.  :pray:

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Can a Tibetan lama shake hands with a woman?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2015, 08:04:41 pm »
From a Tibetan perspective I don't believe there was anything wrong with shaking his hand, especially since he was the one who extended his hand to begin with and that you were both in public, but speaking strictly from the monastic perspective it's more appropriate to place palms together and make a slight bow in his direction, as well as for him to have done the same to begin with, as this is the traditional sign of mutual respect.

Offline Nimega

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Re: Can a Tibetan lama shake hands with a woman?
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2015, 03:21:13 pm »
Thank you so much, Dharmakara, for answering my question again.  :pray:

Offline yagr

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Re: Can a Tibetan lama shake hands with a woman?
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2015, 12:45:48 pm »
Greetings! I've been reading around the Internet that some traditions in Buddhism don't allow monks to have any physical contact with a woman, but I haven't been able to find any answers concerning Tibetan monks.

You have received a very good response already, but I thought I might add something.

Quote
Believe nothing, O monks, just because you have been told it, or it is commonly believed, or because it is traditional or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings - that doctrine believe and cling to and take as your guide.

Perhaps he simply believed that shaking your hand was conducive to the good... in which case, tradition would take a back seat.

Offline Nimega

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Re: Can a Tibetan lama shake hands with a woman?
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2015, 01:52:45 pm »
Thank you, yagr, for adding this additional bit of information! It makes me more relieved to actually know that we did nothing wrong at all.  :pray:

 


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