Tag Archives: attachment

homophobia, the 4 noble truths, and the 8-fold path

today, on the international day against homophobia and transpobia, i’d like to gather a few thoughts on homophobia in view of the four noble truths, the core ideas of buddhism.

  1. there is suffering – giving birth, aging, illness, etc. in the pali text, there are two things that specifically apply here, i believe: “union with what is displeasing is suffering”; “not to get what one wants is suffering”
  2. the origin of suffering is craving (often presented as “attachment”)
  3. “it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it.”
  4. the way leading to the cessation of suffering: the noble eightfold path: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

“union with what is displeasing is suffering”.

what is displeasing? we all have ideas of right and wrong. often these ideas are unreflected, not thought about. rather, they are reflexive – mental chain

reactions that we get roped into, because of the conditioning that we experience in our environment: families, schools, countries, cultures. that which is “wrong” and unfamiliar is displeasing. displeasing easily turns into disgusting, probably one of the core feelings in homophobia. “your family does not look like mine and you don’t have sex the way i do. that’s disgusting”

“union with what is displeasing”: union as in being close to. neighbours, for example. “it’s disgusting that my neighbour – in my street, in my city, in my country – lives in a same sex marriage”.

from a buddhist point of view, these sentiments cause suffering – interestingly, not just to the persons who are found to be disgusting but also to the person who feels disgusted.

the suffering comes from what the second noble truth explains: craving. an expectation is a craving. “these people shouldn’t get married!” “they can be homosexuals but shouldn’t practice it!” “they shouldn’t have sex like that!” etc. probably also, “i can’t do and be who i want to be so they shouldn’t either”. the craving of expectation is: “i don’t want reality to be like this!” unfortunately, reality rarely gives a damn.

the homophobic person suffers from wanting reality to be different from what it is. “people of the same sex shouldn’t be parents” and yet they do. “a woman shouldn’t fall in love with another woman” and yet it happens all the time. the homphobic person stomps their foot and creates anti-gay laws, beats up and kills gay men, appropriates lesbian sex for their own fantasies, all to no avail.

and like it is with so many other human foibles and atrocities, we don’t want to give them up, no matter how much suffering they cause us and others. the way we get around recognizing that they cause us suffering is by turning our suffering into false pleasure, which then give birth to more suffering and more craving. the pleasure of a short term solution: “they shouldn’t do it, it’s wrong, so we’ll write a law”. there is a lot of short-term satisfaction in self-righteousness, in the busy work of petitioning and politicking, in gathering around us people who think like us (“union with what is pleasing”), etc. then the law gets written, it goes against reality (dare i say “it goes against nature”?), so it doesn’t really work, so we push more. the wheel of karma grinds on and on.

how can we help our homophobic brothers and sisters give up their suffering?

here it gets tricky. it’s easy to make a simple-minded jump to the eightfold path and say that being homophobic goes against ideas such as right view, right speech and right action. we could even point out that there are striking similarities to the ten commandments there.

but by doing that, all we do is do exactly what they do: OUR way is right, YOUR way is wrong. we get roped into jumping on OUR karmic wheel. they are wrong! they shouldn’t think like this! suffer, suffer, suffer.

for today, it seems to me that starting at the end of the eightfold path might be something we could experiment with. right mindfulness, right concentration. these can be interpreted in many ways; i suggest for this instance to think of right mindfulness as reflection, and right concentration as meditation. reflection is quiet, careful, unhurried contemplation of the situation. of reality. meditation stills the mind and body. these two take us out of the craziness of the frenzied craving for “i HAVE to do something about this!” and “they are SO wrong” and into deeper understanding of underlying realities.

sometimes – often – we can help others best by just stilling our own cravings a bit.


others who have talked about buddhism and homophobia:
meditations for black men
my out spirit
san francisco zen center
buddha TN


image by codispodi

love and timelessness

tojosan and his wife, dancing in lovesome notes on love from deepak chopra’s ageless body, timeless mind:

  • passion and commitment, love and dedication, self-worth and fulfillment – all are born in Being; they are qualities of the essential self that blossoms when you are free from narrow attachments
  • moments of nonattachment are characterized by perceiving the inner world as an open space with no boundaries; self-acceptance flows out into the environment. things “out there” seem intimate, an extension of self
  • this experience of unity is a good working definition of love
  • mostly, love appears as a feeling but the essence of love is not feeling – it is a state of being you need to find an outlet for your love. the more openly you experience love, the closer you will come to finding its essence
  • follow your bliss! bliss is the tingling rush of love in action
  • do not confuse immediate pleasure with love; love brings pleasure but in a profound way
  • love has depth after depth
  • love is the surest way back to Being
  • the force of love changes reality by changing the perceiver
  • harvard psychologist david mclelland looked at the physiology of love. physiologically measured love (rather than the thought of being “in love”) reveals “themes of dialogue, commitment, and harmony” rather than themes of “getting” something through love
  • when two people use their love for each other as a doorway into timeless love, the death of the loved one does not close the door to or deprive the other of the flow of love
  • use love as your mirror of the timeless; let it nurture your certainty that you are beyond change, beyond the memory of yesterday and the dream of tomorrow
  • come out of the circle of time and find yourself in the circle of love

image by my friend tojosan

a buddhist carnival – 9th edition, part 2

a small buddha in natureand here is part 2 of this month’s buddhist carnival. part 1 is here.

exercise as practice
unapologetic genius discusses exercise as meditative practice, something i also enjoy tremendously. being present to my body, my body who is present to me at all times, can bring an exquisite experience of reality. in fact, i think it’s a fascinating topic, and am putting it on my (admittedly rather long) list of things to blog about. at any rate, here is a little excerpt:

instead of a scattered mind, fear, and unconsciousness, i bring consciousness with me to the gym. i close my eyes, focus on my body, being in it, the movements, and my breathing (which is usually the yogic ujjayi breath. but that’s not nearly as important as simply watching the breath). i’m there, moving and feeling my body and breath, present to each breath and movement.

what are you soaking in?
my twitter friend lisa rokusek has this interesting entry:

buddha said, “what you think, you become” what we soak in really makes a difference.

i can feel something changing inside me. this week i breathe easily, relax more fully, laugh with a deeper appreciation, and am feeling less angst.

it isn’t a lack of stress, i mean i have leapt from the cliff and there is no safety net in sight. the bills have to be paid, food must be purchased, and i forgot to put the wow account on hold and paid 15 bucks for an account we aren’t using. life goes on and a lot is sitting on my shoulders. it is scary – but i am starting to defrost from the panic i felt. i have to hustle, i have to pick up the phone, i have to connect with people in a very competitive business. so i do it. but, there is a seismic shift happening deep inside me and i honestly didn’t see it coming.

find out what she was marinating in, on her blog, the rhino and the buddha.

attachment and projection
“marinating” is such a great word to use to understand the related topic of attachment, which is something that urban monk talks about. in fact, come to think of it, “marinating” might be an even better word. “attachment” conjures the image of object A connected to object B with some sort of string, or if it’s stronger, perhaps through velcro. attachment is stronger still, though. most of the time we are completely entangled in it, steeped in it. and what keeps us in this marinade is often our projections:

when we become attached to something or someone, we do not see it or them as they are. often, all we see are our projections. we see them for what we think they can provide, or more accurately, what we think we lack. through a mansion, we seek the respect we feel we lack. through wealth, we seek security. by finding a lover, or by having endless sex, we think we have love and attention.

but a mansion is just a mansion, money just money. they only have the value we give them, and very so often, we project on to them a false and disproportionate importance. this is even worse when we project our needs on human beings – no longer do we treat them as human beings, but as objects to be used.

… and what does non-attachment look like?
go here for a famous zen story.

well, friends, that’s it for this round of the buddhist carnival.

what do you think? what’s your experience with all of this – with attachment, projection, practice? let me know, let’s talk!

and please come back for the next buddhist carnival, on september 15. any articles you’d like to see? submit them here.

(image by oceandesetoiles)

a buddhist carnival – 1st edition!

this is really exciting – our first buddhist carnival!

tiny buddha contemplates the wood pile

the plan is for this carnival to feature first and foremost articles that directly and specifically talk about buddhist practice, reflection and ideas. however, there will also be room for posts that may not explicitly mention buddhism but touch on concepts intrinsic to it.

as adam genkaku fisher, one of my favourite buddhist writers, says in his book answer your love letters

“buddhist” is what other people say. buddhism is what you do.

buddhism does not exist in order to enlarge or improve or adorn some fantasy called “buddhism.” it is just a human world and as such has its successes and flops. but there is one thing remains constant and throughout – your own unlimited, and peaceful life.

so let’s see what buddhists do …

zen and the art of mindful consumerism at the zen housewife

perhaps we can apply the same mindfulness to our consumerism that buddhists apply to eating and other aspects of their lives. in choosing to buy a product, we could make the choice to be acutely aware and conscious of what we are consuming, considering the resources and energy required to make the product, and the people who worked to bring it to us. instead of thinking that taking time out from shopping may harm the economy, let’s review what our needs are, and consider how our purchases may harm those who are making the cheap goods that we so readily consume.

the dalai lama’s smile at mckay today carole reflects on glenn beck, a radio commentator, who seemed to feel that the dalai lama with his eternal smile was being ineffective:

i have never been in the presence of the dalai lama, nor do i know if mr. beck has. but i have been in the presence of a buddhist master. his very presence and countenance so affected me that for days following that meeting i not only felt calmer, more centered and closer to the concept of world unity, but those around me visibly noticed and commented on my own changed behavior.i have also been in the presence of countless politicians, local and national. i have never felt calmer, more centered or more united with humanity as a result nor have those meetings ever had any lasting positive effect upon me.

mr. beck’s implication is that a smile and joyous inner sense of peace will not help the world situation in any significant way. but aggression and war, the modus operandi of the politicians and people in power, have never helped the world in any significant way either and they’ve had their crack at it for at least 2000+ years now. so, before we are so quick to write off the smiling monk, perhaps we should give joyfulness and love of humanity a try.

parenting as practice at socially sustainable

though most parents do not likely have a lot of time to devote to a meditation practice, most of us can make an effort to be more mindful in our family lives. and what a feat it is if we can do just that.

love, sorrow, and attachment at the urban monk

gautama buddha once said: ” i teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering.” and what causes this suffering? he answers this question in his four noble truths: “the origin of suffering is attachment.” how do we overcome attachment, then? with the strangest thing of all – the one thing that we think causes attachment.

zen meditation technique – free guided meditation book for daily practice – ch 1 at mastery of meditation, zen & kundalini yoga. this is an article detailing zen meditation (zazen) technique.

joy at all times at loving awareness

we tend to think of joy as somehow mutually exclusive to other experiences. if we’re feeling sad, then of course it’s impossible to have joy. likewise if we’re having a fight or our business is having a downturn. this article points out how they’re not exclusive, and helps the invitation of joy into your life, by surrendering to the present moment. (you might also be interested in another article matthew submitted, that childlike state, and love).

trust, freedom and resentment at trust matters

sometimes, perhaps all the time, happiness is letting go of things you can’t control.

the dilemma of desire at tupelo kenyon

what is desire? where does it come from? why do we have it? does it serve us in a positive way, or does it distract us and keep us perpetually in discontent? this article sheds some light on these important questions so that each of us can find our own answers. (enjoy some music as you read plus songs with lyrics related to each article – all free.)

additional submissions include

i’d like to thank everyone for their submissions – you made this first carnival possible!

let’s try this again next month, shall we? look for the 2nd edition of a buddhist carnival here at change therapy on december 15, 2007.

have an article you think we should see? go here to submit it.

in gassho.

(image courtesy of photonoob)
(this post appears in debra morehead’s carnival of healing)