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The Sword is Mightier than the Pen is

From Reuters:

A Thai Buddhist monk cut off his penis with a machete because he had an erection during meditation and declined to have it reattached, saying he had renounced all earthly cares, a doctor and a newspaper said on Wednesday.

Alas for the unnamed monk (aged 35), perhaps he should have consulted the Buddhist scriptures; over to Bernard Faure’s The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality (p. 35):

We are told that when the Buddha was in Sravasti, there was a monk who castrated himself by severing his penis in order to cut off desire. The Buddha scolded him, saying: “This foolish man, monks. Cut off one thing when another should have been cut off. Monks, one should not cut off one’s own organ. If anyone should cut it off, there is a grave offence.”…Vinaya 2:110

Faure gives examples of the practice within Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. A collection of Chinese Buddhist writings edited by Robin R Wang (1) adds another story from The Forty-Two Chapters Sutra (p.270):

The Buddha said: “There was a man who could not suppress his carnal desire. Worried about it, he made up his mind to cut off his penis.” The Buddha scolded him, “Rather than cut off your penis, you had better eliminate from your mind that which gives rise to carnal desire. The mind is comparable to a public officer who has the power to appoint and dismiss, and reward and punish. If the officer restrains his subordinates, they will behave. Without eliminating your obscene mind. It is of no use cutting off your penis.”

But all may not be lost: back in 2004, the AFP declared that Thailand was “the world center of penis reattachment surgery”, mostly due to the vengeful acts of wronged wives.

(Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

(1) Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings from the Pre-Qin Period to the Song Dynasty

One Response

  1. […] I blogged on the unfortunate consequences of one Thai monk’s ignorance of Buddhist doctrine here. […]

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