Personal Experiences of Discrimination

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JamyangTashi
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Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by JamyangTashi » Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:06 am

There has been some recent discussion on the board about experiences of discrimination and inequality in Buddhist communities and even outside of them. Views have been expressed that there is a lack of understanding of the experiences that people encounter in terms of inappropriate sexual advances, hateful comments, exclusion from group activities, and more. This behavior is contrary to what would be expected from a bodhisattva motivation, and it would be beneficial to improve the general understanding of these experiences.

Along these lines, it might be productive for people who have encountered such experiences to share them. To keep this discussion on track, it would be helpful to stick to a few guidelines:

1. Share only experiences that were personally experienced or were experienced by someone personally known to the poster.
2. Please explain how the experience was dealt with. This can include both means of coping with the situation and means of fixing external circumstances.
3. If the situation was not ideally resolved, please give any ideas about how such situations could have been dealt with better or avoided in the first place.
4. Please do not generalize your experience to assume that all communities have identical problems or that all people in some category have identical experiences.
5. Posters may describe themselves and the other individuals in their personal story using any terms they like. Discussion about what terms should be used by other posters or about the discussion itself is off topic.
6. Please try to limit responses to expressions of compassion or specific actionable suggestions for improving circumstances.

Hopefully the community here can see the potential value in better understanding the experiences of others and providing actual helpful responses where possible.
There are only two good reasons to post in this thread: to help others understand problems that are faced in our communities through concrete examples, and to help improve the lives of people experiencing these problems. If your post will not achieve either of these two goals, please post it elsewhere.

EDIT: Posts from the point of view of an aggressor who has seen the error of their ways are also welcome. In that case, please explain what you would do differently if you had the situation to do over and if applicable how you hope to avoid repeating such inappropriate behavior in the future.
Last edited by JamyangTashi on Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

JKhedrup
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by JKhedrup » Thu Apr 03, 2014 5:13 am

Brilliant. Dialogue cannot take place on the basis of only abstract concepts.

Personal experience on the other hand appeals to the sense of empathy and compassion do have, and prompts them to action.

Hopefully people will want to step up and share those experiences, though if they choose not to there is also a lesson to be learned in that- the board is not a safe environment.

The last two threads on this issue failed to provoke useful interaction partly because they relied on structures and generalities rather than personal experiences. I tried two embarassing incidents from my own life in the other thread to get the ball rolling. That method was a total flop. There was someone relating other people's experience they observed but still this is not as powerful as the voice of the person who actually had the experience.

It would also be interesting if people posted experiences of discrimmination from the point of view of the aggressor. Have any of us ever behaved in a way that disempowered a person from a vulnerable group?

In the context of a race discussion White people expressing the experiences of Black is completely inrffective most of the time. In this context, the girst step is to create the condiyions for the marginslized people themselves to participate in the dialogue.

Adi
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Adi » Fri Apr 04, 2014 5:05 am

I hope people will come forward and share their experiences in this important matter. In other threads here and in discussions with other sangha elsewhere I've come to realize that my own experience of not experiencing discrimination could use some context. By that I mean is my experience like many others or have I been involved with groups that are different from the average or the majority? I would certainly like to learn more.

Adi

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Simon E. » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:22 am

Two prophecies.

) The members who contribute will be overwhelmingly the same ones who have posted on the other thread.

2 ) They will all end up talking to each other , plus the occasional intervention from a mod.
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by rory » Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:21 am

Okay I'll step up. I'm a lesbian, I only came out 5 years ago and am in my 40's. I knew I was attracted to women and not men as early as 8 years old. for the past 20-something years I was in the closet and fake-dated closeted gay men.

1. I didn't come out as 20 years ago as if you did that you were out forever. And being a lesbian meant my sexual preferences might ruin my professional career (I was a lawyer). I was afraid my parents would reject me.

2. Okay it's 20 years later, being a lesbian is now fashionable ; what is my experience?

As a Buddhist:
3.)
I attended a Fo Guang Shan temple in Raleigh, NC they perform weddings (for heterosexuals so far). It was a welcoming Chinese group. But due to my age and my single status, the smart members figured that I was gay and one kind person tried to fix me up with her son - a fashion designer. He was gay and not out. Gay women marrying gay men is an old tradition in China and India, his mother was smart and tried to do this. My dilemma; I wanted to tell her I was gay but her son hadn't, also the temple performed heterosexual weddings, what about gay people? If I cared enough to stay in FGS I would have taken this on, but it wasn't for me so I left. But you can see it was an issue. No one was ignorant but it was easier to ignore the gay problem instead of addressing it.

a) when I mentioned this in DW a while back Ven. Hong Yang accused me of 'bringing my sexuality' to the temple. I just wanted to be treated equally and openly and not hide myself.

4) I belonged to a Nichiren Japanese sect, Kempon Hokke Shu (online). An online gay male member wants to discuss Nichiren Buddhism's attitude towards gay people (is it okay? is it condemned?) The Japanese priest living in Japan, replies: it's okay in your next life you will be born a female and find a nice male partner and the same for gay women. The assumption being in our next life we will be heterosexual and normal.

a) I write to the priest privately, explaining that this isn't so; telling him I'm a lesbian and it doesn't work that way, that I'm perfectly happy being a female and attracted to women. I have no desire to be born a male. And gay males feel the same way. We regard ourselves as normal. The priest with whom I'd worked closely, never replies and our close relations come to an end. When my pet dog died and I ask for a Buddhist name (common) he wouldn't do it. I leave. I write to Ven. Indrajala; he gladly gives my dog a buddhist name.

5) I join another Nichiren Buddhist sect, HBS, there is a new Euro-American priest, I tell him I'm gay up front He's fine with it and hopes we will have gay and lesbian priests. I will be meeting his sensei Sunday, he's Japanese, and I'm going to have to tell him and whatever his reaction, since he will be living at his new temple in California, I will have to be the one to make sure he sees us as normal, just the same as heterosexuals.

So my experience being gay as a Buddhist can be uncomfortable, though to be sure I only joined sects that were pretty open to the idea anyway. Most Japanese -American sects have been in the US for over 100 years and are part of American culture. Nichren Buddhism via SGI is very welcoming to gay people so we feel accepted.

In the outside culture:
In my liberal university town I am just like anyone else. I cannot get married in my state North Carolina. Outside my town I have to be careful, in Raleigh a girl I know was escorted out of a mall for kissing her girlfriend ( a peck on the cheek kiss). What would it be like in a rural area? I'm not brave and will not try to find out. So outside safe neighborhoods I won't kiss, hold hands, engage in any intimate behavior that heterosexual couples normally do.

Since I don't look 'gay' I usually wear a rainbow ring. The rainbow is a pretty universal symbol of gay rights (I asked a Brasilian guy and he knew what it meant) Whether in the US or Finland or Europe, heterosexual people do not 'see' the ring. They assume I'm straight and when I tell a story about a girlfriend they look at me with surprise. I am invisible to them. Gay people recognize my ring and give me a silent greeting of acknowledgment.

Do I wear my rainbow scarf or not? I went to Budapest, and was scared, the country is going very right and I had to weigh helping and supporting others vs myown personal safety. Gay people get beat up. I finally decided that since most heterosexuals have ignored my ring most wouldn't understand my scarf. I was correct.

Telling my parents. I am very close to my parents, they've done everything for me, so I was very scared to tell them; I didn't want to disappoint them, I didn't want them to reject me, I didn't want them to think I was weird, I didn't want our relationship to be affected. I hated that I lied to them and dated men. When I finally told them it was unpleasant, but eventually they came around and love me and I bring my girlfriends over.. I feel such relief.

I personally know girls who have been rejected by their families and are alone. I personally know a Malaysian girl who suffered this way until she came out and a girl from Saudi Arabia who told her siblings but is afraid her parents may kill her (she is in the US).

These are my personal experience of being gay and those of people I have personally met.
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Rory
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The Tai-ching states "the women in the realms of Mara, Sakra and Brahma all neither abandoned ( their old) bodies nor received (new) bodies. They all received buddhahood with their current bodies (genshin)" Thus these verses state that the dharma nature is like a great ocean. No right or wrong is preached (within it) Ordinary people and sages are equal, without superiority or inferiority
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JKhedrup
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by JKhedrup » Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:32 am

Thank you for sharing Rory, and I am really glad you ended up finding a Sangha whete you felt comfortable being yourself.

Bringing your sexuality to the temple is an odd statement. You were just being straightforward about who you are. The woman who tried to set you up with her son, that is bringing dating and sexuality to the temple.

Is NC considered part of the 'Bible Belt'?

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Adi » Sat Apr 05, 2014 3:42 am

Rory, that all must have been very difficult and very painful, not being able to publicly be who you are for all those years. I am so glad you have found a teacher and Sangha that are happy with you and you are happy with them. I wish you the best of all things meeting your teacher's Sensei and hope the meeting goes very well.

Adi

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:08 am

Adi wrote:Rory, that all must have been very difficult and very painful, not being able to publicly be who you are for all those years. I am so glad you have found a teacher and Sangha that are happy with you and you are happy with them. I wish you the best of all things meeting your teacher's Sensei and hope the meeting goes very well.

Adi

Agreed, thanks for sharing your experiences Rory, and i'm glad you found a place that doesn't discriminate.

Sounds like an awful experience basically getting ignored by a teacher like that, and i'm glad you ended up somewhere good.
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Berry » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:33 am

Thank you so much for sharing this, Rory.

Lots of good wishes to you :namaste:
Leave the polluted water of conceptual thoughts in its natural clarity. Without affirming or denying appearances, leave them as they are. When there is neither acceptance nor rejection, mind is liberated into mahāmudra.

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Zhen Li » Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:03 pm

rory wrote:I attended a Fo Guang Shan temple in Raleigh, NC they perform weddings (for heterosexuals so far). It was a welcoming Chinese group. But due to my age and my single status, the smart members figured that I was gay and one kind person tried to fix me up with her son - a fashion designer. He was gay and not out. Gay women marrying gay men is an old tradition in China and India, his mother was smart and tried to do this. My dilemma; I wanted to tell her I was gay but her son hadn't, also the temple performed heterosexual weddings, what about gay people? If I cared enough to stay in FGS I would have taken this on, but it wasn't for me so I left. But you can see it was an issue. No one was ignorant but it was easier to ignore the gay problem instead of addressing it.
Well, the notion of homosexuality is pretty unknown in China, it's known now in Taiwan, but if you bring up the issue with someone who only lived in the PRC their whole life, they may have never heard of it. The real issue, at least as regards history and tradition, is also that the notion of marrying someone you love is foreign, as it is for the most part in India - you marry who you are matched with, for uniting families, having children, etc. You see, having children is an absolute priority, since you need someone to take care of your ghost when you die. Someone you love, or are attracted to, is not the same as someone you would marry, and sex isn't necessarily confined to marriage in this context.

That being said, for Buddhists, fundamentally marriage is a flexible notion - it's a ritual that isn't fundamental to Buddhism, it's just done because people ask monastics to do it. FGS officially is open to doing it, the fact is, as far as I know, no one as asked for it - but when the question was raised at a meeting I attended about 7 years ago, the answer was that if you ask the abbess, they will perform a homosexual as they perform a heterosexual marriage. As for whether you should wear identifying marks or proclaim your identity, I personally think that, unless you really have to, there's no real reason to proclaim an identity if you really accept and are comfortable with your own deeds - I think that less problems will be created if you just think of what you do, and of course whether those deeds are motivated by wholesome or unwholesome motivation, rather than on who you 'are.' Fundamentally, no one is really a heterosexual or homosexual 'person,' since there is no person - there's just a conditioned and determined series of actions, which isn't to say that you are what you do. Just act natural, and relax - it's what everyone does who you don't notice, and that's more or less what it is to be equal to everyone else, to be treated just normally, not to proclaim any special or separate status - be mindful, relaxed, and loving. Those are my thoughts, anywhom, here are Master Hsing Yun's words on the matter:
Master Hsing Yun, [i]Buddhism Pure and Simple[/i], pp. 137–138 wrote:Marriage is an institution that reflects the values of the society that supports it. If the people of a society no longer believe that it is important to be married, then there is no reason why they cannot change the institution of marriage. Marriage is a custom. Customs can always be changed. We can find the same core point in this question as we have in others — the ultimate truth of the matter is that individuals can and should decide for themselves what is right. As long as they are not violating others or breaking the laws of the society in which they are living, then they are free to do what they believe is right. It is not for me or anyone else to tell them that they must get married if they want to live together. That is their choice and their choice alone.

The same analysis can be applied to homosexuality. People often ask me what I think about homosexuality. They wonder, is it right, is it wrong? The answer is, it is neither right nor wrong. It is just something that people do. If people are not harming each other, their private lives are their own business; we should be tolerant of them and not reject them.

However, it will still take some time for the world to fully accept homosexuality. All of us must learn to tolerate the behavior of others. Just as we hope to expand our minds to include all of the universe, so we should also seek to expand our minds to include all of the many forms of human behavior.

Tolerance is a form of generosity and it is a form of wisdom. There is nothing anywhere in the Dharma that should ever lead anyone to become intolerant. Our goal as Buddhists is to learn to accept all kinds of people and to help all kinds of people discover the wisdom of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by zsc » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:08 pm

Zhen Li wrote: Well, the notion of homosexuality is pretty unknown in China, it's known now in Taiwan, but if you bring up the issue with someone who only lived in the PRC their whole life, they may have never heard of it. The real issue, at least as regards history and tradition, is also that the notion of marrying someone you love is foreign, as it is for the most part in India - you marry who you are matched with, for uniting families, having children, etc. You see, having children is an absolute priority, since you need someone to take care of your ghost when you die. Someone you love, or are attracted to, is not the same as someone you would marry, and sex isn't necessarily confined to marriage in this context.
I intuit that there are probably huge qualifiers needed with these statements. The places you mention--mainland China, Taiwan, India-- are huge places (maybe not Taiwan, but still) with a lot of cultural and ethnic variety, with a lot of different opinions. Not to mention the new generations in both the east and west, and their families, who have for the most part had a symbiotic relationship with each other. These claims are mostly stereotypes imposed by the west to simplify complex cultural issues. I'm not saying they don't exist, but I think statements like this make it seem like these ideas are completely static, when they are actually dynamic, just like any other social phenomena.
As for whether you should wear identifying marks or proclaim your identity, I personally think that, unless you really have to, there's no real reason to proclaim an identity if you really accept and are comfortable with your own deeds - I think that less problems will be created if you just think of what you do, and of course whether those deeds are motivated by wholesome or unwholesome motivation, rather than on who you 'are.'
I find that pretty patronizing on a thread opened just for people to share their experiences as they see fit. The rest was too, but specifically in this case: there are many reasons why some people choose to wear identifiers. It's different for every person. But if you want to know, you can just ask. This goes for everything else you said. If you don't understand why some people don't just "relax" (I'm not sure what you mean by that?), you can ask.
Master Hsing Yun, [i]Buddhism Pure and Simple[/i], pp. 137–138 wrote:...
The same analysis can be applied to homosexuality. People often ask me what I think about homosexuality. They wonder, is it right, is it wrong? The answer is, it is neither right nor wrong. It is just something that people do. If people are not harming each other, their private lives are their own business; we should be tolerant of them and not reject them.

However, it will still take some time for the world to fully accept homosexuality. All of us must learn to tolerate the behavior of others. Just as we hope to expand our minds to include all of the universe, so we should also seek to expand our minds to include all of the many forms of human behavior.

Tolerance is a form of generosity and it is a form of wisdom. There is nothing anywhere in the Dharma that should ever lead anyone to become intolerant. Our goal as Buddhists is to learn to accept all kinds of people and to help all kinds of people discover the wisdom of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Expanding your mind often comes from asking questions and listening, not presuming you know the answer beforehand. This is a apart of helping to "improve the lives of people experiencing these problems" as stated in this thread's criteria outlined by JamyangTashi.

Geez, I hope this wasn't too off-topic, but your comment doesn't quite match what I think the spirit of this thread is. I'm open to correction, since motivations are hard to guess, but honestly it came across as lecturing someone on how you think they should integrate their own identity.
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Zhen Li
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Zhen Li » Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:23 pm

If you don't find it helpful, then my apologies. I did not intend to perpetuate any stereotypes, patronise you, presuming I know answers beforehand, and so forth, it was all unintentional and I guarantee you that I had the best of intentions when I typed that.

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by untxi » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:41 pm

Some Untxi stories...

Once upon a time a gay man in a sangha I was involved with was ordained by a very well known and respected Tibetan Buddhist teacher. The problem was that he was a gay monk. A monk that was gay-- a celibate, renunciate, gay man. Since he had identified as being gay very early in life, was very active in his gay community, especially at a time when HIV was just starting to be known and understood and was decimating his peers-- he continued to identify as gay. It wasn't something he forced on people, or declared as a matter of course to make a political statement. But if sexuality came up, it wasn't something he hid. He often taught dharma to his gay community who were suffering the first wave of the HIV crisis.

This is something that infuriated some faction of the heterosexual lay community. For them gay and celibate just didn't compute. It was partly distorted stereotypical views of homosexuals as being sexual deviants and perverts. It was incomprehensible that celibacy would even be possible, especially if the personal confessed to being a homosexual. The response of this subset of lay people was to mercilessly harass and taunt this monk for committing a defeat and being a disgrace to the sangha and his preceptor. This was very public harassment, and these rumors were brought to other lamas and monastics in his tradition, which gave me a great many problems. In the context of the vinaya this would be an ethical lapse for a monastic to do as nobody saw him commit any misconduct. It would be a pretty serious transgression actually. But these lay people thought they were "protecting the dharma" by outing him as a fallen monk.

He took it well, but eventually it wore him down. Especially when the rumors extended to other senior monastics who started giving him grief. Grief over nothing, as his preceptor and root teacher were aware of his actions. These lay people's views of him were so distorted that they started finding faults in his practice, his view, and his faith and devotion in general. In time, this threw him into a depression. He confided in me of contemplating suicide. A mental health counselor advised he leave his ordination if it was so toxic. This is something he discussed with his preceptor, and he eventually gave back his vows.

This was a very sad thing, as these few lay people felt great joy in having accomplished something noble. The little Buddhist temple he had built fell apart. The people he was attempting to mentor wandered away, many of them guessing the worst: what made him give up his vows? Sadly, even this didn't stop many of these lay people. They still ridiculed him to his face as someone who had committed a defeat.

Being new to the Buddhist scene at the time, I framed all of this as something the monastics had to work out for themselves, and while I did challenge many of my peers regarding their harassment, and while I did try to support this monk to the best of my ability-- looking back with what I know now, about Buddhism and sex/gender, I would have been in for death cage fighting over this.

What I've taken away from this is that the lay community need to guide themselves according to the vinaya, even if they don't hold those precepts as vows. Unfounded accusations of ethical defeat, made against lay people or monastics, is very damaging. It's a bell that can't be unrung.

I've also taken away from this that our sexuality and our biases about it are being played out in the sangha all the time. We need to get our mind around these things.

-U

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Zhen Li » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:20 pm

That's a very sad story Untxi.

The way I look at it is, once one is ordained into the Vinaya, one is essentially accepting a prescriptively asexual lifestyle, and one is no longer heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual. In a sense, it comes down to a question of identity versus action - if sexuality is just viewed as something you do, rather than something you inherently are, then this isn't a problem. Of course, if one takes that approach, while this is no longer the 1980s and such situations are unlikely to happen in most of the 1st world today, it doesn't help for lay monastics or teachers who may actually be actively sexual - in that case, the arrogance of society may simply be the only determinant of success or failure in relation to this issue. I recall similar slander being spread about Tsem Tulku Rinpoche years ago - he advertised his organisation as an "alternative" type of Buddhism, which many leaped upon as meaning homosexual (and keep in mind in Malaysia homosexuality is a criminal offence). Personally, I can't see why such a thing would make a difference with a teacher (and really, if they're monastics aren't they practically asexual anyway?).

In fact, homosexually 'inclined' people may be more common than we think in monasteries. What about in societies where it was or is less acceptable to be homosexual? In such cases, it may have been, or may be easier for such individuals just to ordain than to have to deal with these problems in society. I personally recall a number of instances in which the impression of behaviour I got from a number of monks was that which, in lay life, one would associate with more feminine homosexuals. I also recall an instance during a monastic retreat in which a fellow renunciant was highly inclined to hug me a lot, but that doesn't have to be due to sexual attraction of course. Which reminds me of Melford Spiro's speculations on the topic as regards Burmese monks (keep in mind it's from 1970).
Melford Spiro, [i]Buddhism and Society[/i], 367-8 wrote:Typically, then, Burmese monks are not without sexual desire; rather, they are men who must control sexual desire. (Their "fear" of women, alluded to earlier, is an important factor in achieving control.) On the other hand, not a few married men enter the monastery precisely because, having little interest in sex, they find the sexual demands of their wives unduly burdensome. For them the monastery is a face-saving solution for problems of sexual impotence.
So far as we can tell (from our meager historical evidence) Burmese monks have a long historical record of fidelity to their sexual vows. Charges of homosexuality (frequently made against monks of other religions and against Buddhist monks in other societies) are not found in the early descriptions of the Burmese Order, and charges of heterosexual derelictions are also absent. ...
In addition to punitive fears, both natural and supernatural, there are as we have seen some obvious emotional bases for the low incidence of sexual dereliction among the monks. Some have little interest in women, and indeed are phobic in their attitude towards them; others, latent homosexuals, are confused about their sexual identity.

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by untxi » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:11 am

Zhen Li...

I have two objections to this analysis.

One is philosophical coherence. If it's a matter of sexual identity re vinaya being a problem, then all sexual identities should be a problem. Orbital to this community was a women, who like Ven. Pema Chodron, became a nun after divorce and her children left home. She would use her sexual narrative as an example in talking about the dharma. Desire and aversion of one's partner. Juggling things to be a mom. And so on. Nobody ever sanctioned her for owning a sexual identity and narrative that might make her look like she had committed a defeat. In the case of a gay male, with no substantial proof of ever even having sex (such as a child or the name of a lover), was presumed to be not only sexually active as a monastic, but promiscuous.

The other is based in the vinaya itself. One can not assume ordination if one is asexual. Whatever the vinaya is presuming it is that one be non-sexual, which is different than being asexual.

At the basis of this was quite simply American bigotry regarding homosexuals. His preceptor was as old school as they came, and had no problem with him or his lifestyle as he approached ordination. This bigotry was injected into an ignorance about what the traditional teachings say and don't say about sex/gender, and thus justified. What amounted to hate speech was justified as virtue.

There are a lot of convergent themes to explore just in this one story: contemporary bigotries; how they infiltrate the sangha through our presumptions; what the tradition really says; how we justify misinterpreting the tradition to justify our own bigotry and presumptions.

-U
Zhen Li wrote:The way I look at it is, once one is ordained into the Vinaya, one is essentially accepting a prescriptively asexual lifestyle, and one is no longer heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual. In a sense, it comes down to a question of identity versus action - if sexuality is just viewed as something you do, rather than something you inherently are, then this isn't a problem.

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Adi » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:46 am

Untxi, I am very sorry to hear about this man who was a monk and felt it best to give his vows back. I can only imagine how that must have been, so very painful, confusing and disheartening. Yes, there was a lot of misinformation and hysteria in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic but in the context I'd have hoped that people would have the tool at their disposal, Dharma, to see larger issues. I cannot possibly know everyone involved in his situation but my heart goes out to all of them, from the former monk to those who persecuted him. I hope he is still alive and those who were so unkind have learned to act and think differently.

As Guru Rinpoche is reported to have said, "“My view is more vast than the sky, but my conduct is as fine as the smallest grain of sand.” I hope more people come to understand this is advice for everyone.

Adi

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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by untxi » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:57 am

There are some interesting points in this.

There are a variety of reasons to identify with something-- or not. They are not all necessarily based in identity politics. It's problematic to assume that. For one, as I posted in an earlier thread, for people coming to terms with being inherently other in society, coming to terms with one's identity is an entirely positive and constructive thing, and while it may lead to some form of identity politics, it also may not. I came up indoctrinated to very extreme forms of misogyny and racism, so coming to terms with my identity was part of healing that. Again, with or without identity politics.

Communicating an identity is also something for others. When I speak about gender, I'll identify as a cis-hetero male, which is a subtle code that trans and queer friendly. If I were single it's certainly not something I'd put on OKCupid. It's also not something I'd "write in" on a job application. I'll also identify more or less with different aspects of my personal experience depending upon context. Ask me about religion-- I'll identify as "catholic", my birth religion, around family and mixed company. Religion is as much culture as faith, so it's a way of identifying with a common set of experiences. I also have some empathy for the catholic faith. In another context I'm a non-sectarian Nyingma.

I think Zsc's point of asking is a really key one. Our identities are all fluid and contextual. They also span different levels of our experience.

-U

Zhen Li wrote:As for whether you should wear identifying marks or proclaim your identity, I personally think that, unless you really have to, there's no real reason to proclaim an identity if you really accept and are comfortable with your own deeds - I think that less problems will be created if you just think of what you do, and of course whether those deeds are motivated by wholesome or unwholesome motivation, rather than on who you 'are.'
Zsc wrote:I find that pretty patronizing on a thread opened just for people to share their experiences as they see fit. The rest was too, but specifically in this case: there are many reasons why some people choose to wear identifiers. It's different for every person. But if you want to know, you can just ask. This goes for everything else you said. If you don't understand why some people don't just "relax" (I'm not sure what you mean by that?), you can ask.

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Zhen Li
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Zhen Li » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:13 am

untxi wrote:One is philosophical coherence. If it's a matter of sexual identity re vinaya being a problem, then all sexual identities should be a problem. Orbital to this community was a women, who like Ven. Pema Chodron, became a nun after divorce and her children left home. She would use her sexual narrative as an example in talking about the dharma. Desire and aversion of one's partner. Juggling things to be a mom. And so on. Nobody ever sanctioned her for owning a sexual identity and narrative that might make her look like she had committed a defeat. In the case of a gay male, with no substantial proof of ever even having sex (such as a child or the name of a lover), was presumed to be not only sexually active as a monastic, but promiscuous.
Sorry, I don't quite understand how you are understanding what I wrote, or precisely what kind of point you are making here with regards to what I wrote, but it is interesting and thank you for sharing.
untxi wrote:The other is based in the vinaya itself. One can not assume ordination if one is asexual. Whatever the vinaya is presuming it is that one be non-sexual, which is different than being asexual.
Actually, I addressed this. If the question is one of sexuality, then one can take that as sexual action, which certainly is found in the sutras and vinaya in the form of sexual activity, one can take it as sexual preference, which is not present in any sense in the sutras and vinaya, or, as you seem to be, one can take that as attraction, in which case we are simply speaking of sexual desire - in which case one can indeed be disqualified from ordination if one is impotent or castrated. I specified the first of these three, and indeed there may be other possibilities, but within that paradigm, what I said is consistent with the sutras and vinaya. Might I also point out, that to use the term non-sexual, may or may not be, depending upon definitions assumed, be the same as asexual (from a strictly grammatical perspective, it is), I'm using it in terms of behaviour.
untxi wrote:There are a variety of reasons to identify with something-- or not. They are not all necessarily based in identity politics. It's problematic to assume that. For one, as I posted in an earlier thread, for people coming to terms with being inherently other in society, coming to terms with one's identity is an entirely positive and constructive thing, and while it may lead to some form of identity politics, it also may not. I came up indoctrinated to very extreme forms of misogyny and racism, so coming to terms with my identity was part of healing that. Again, with or without identity politics.

Communicating an identity is also something for others. When I speak about gender, I'll identify as a cis-hetero male, which is a subtle code that trans and queer friendly. If I were single it's certainly not something I'd put on OKCupid. It's also not something I'd "write in" on a job application. I'll also identify more or less with different aspects of my personal experience depending upon context. Ask me about religion-- I'll identify as "catholic", my birth religion, around family and mixed company. Religion is as much culture as faith, so it's a way of identifying with a common set of experiences. I also have some empathy for the catholic faith. In another context I'm a non-sectarian Nyingma.

I think Zsc's point of asking is a really key one. Our identities are all fluid and contextual. They also span different levels of our experience.
I never used the term "identity politics." My point is simply that identities aren't real things. What matters is what you do, not what you say or think you do. I do think that your point about using identity as a way of easing communication is interesting, but only inasmuch as it implies nothing. We put ourselves in plastic boxes with labels, and depending upon the audience at the museum that day, we change the label. It's not that the identity is contextual, it's that it doesn't exist. And yet, of course, you must accept and use identities to function in the world. At a certain point, these are bound to cause problems and anxieties, and if you just let go of them altogether, and see things for what they are, you'll see your problems wash away like sand castles when the tide comes in. That is the only reason I even commented in the first place, because I noticed that someone was encountering anxieties and issues in the world due to completely unnecessary and unreal constraints being placed upon themselves. There really is no reason to worry about anything, just let go of the identities, notice the tension and tightness, and.. relax... :) I just find it's much better on that side.

Adi
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by Adi » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:17 am

JamyangTashi wrote:...
6. Please try to limit responses to expressions of compassion or specific actionable suggestions for improving circumstances.

untxi
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Re: Personal Experiences of Discrimination

Post by untxi » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:28 am

Zhen Li...

My comments were not intended specifically as critique of your won viewpoint. What you said and how Zsc responded really made me think of all the different ways one might assert different types of identity. I mention "identity politics" as this was something of a theme in an earlier thread.

-U

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