At a science fiction convention, I once heard Spider Robinson perform his song “Belaboring the Obvious,” and explain how he came to write it: He was missing his wife, Jeanne, who was away. Jeanne is a Zen Buddhist monk, she’s satisfied with private observance at home most of the time, but every once in a while she feels a need to go on retreat to a monastery to “get a shot of the straight stuff.”
I was surprised – not by the use of the male form “monk” instead of “nun,” but because Jeanne is married, and I thought Buddhist monks, like Catholic monks, had to be celibate. I asked Jeanne about it (she was there) after the performance and she said, no, they don’t.
Is this true? I thought Buddhists considered sex and marriage to be just the kind of attachment that binds us to the world of illusion and suffering. The first important step Gautama took on his path to enlightenment was to leave his wife and child.
Is monastic celibacy required in some Buddhist sects but not others?
This article doesn’t say.