Jul 5 2010

It’s our legacy


I woke up this morning thinking about The Bodhisattva Never Disparage (also known as Never Disparaging). Now for those who don’t know, the Bodhisattva Never Disparage was a monk in the Lotus Sutra whose entire practice was to bow to folks and say, “I would never disparage you or put you down in anyway, I know you will be a Buddha someday, I love you”. He did this to everyone he met. At some point this pissed off the monks he lived with who decided to beat him and hit him with sticks and stones. He moved away to a safe distance and repeated, “I would never disparage you, or put you down in anyway, I know you will be a Buddha someday. I love you”.

What does this have to do with me or with Queerdharma? Well, for me, it’s how I want to live my life. It’s a vow I have, and continue to try to fulfill. to live and respond to the world like the Bodhisattva Never Disparage. To see Buddha in everyone. To love everyone. Regardless of who they are, or what they have done. To see that we are all interconnected, and interdependent.

Thich Nhat Hahn has a poem which says:

You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy

This is the practice of the Bodhisattva Never Disparage.

I would also say it’s what makes us as queerfolk special. We have the opportunity to love unconditionally. It’s our legacy. The world continues to oppress us, even murder us. But we can not allow that to bring us to hate. We can’t allow that to take away our special gift. I recall an interview some time ago with a Tibetan monk who was released from prison after a long time. When he was interviewed the reporter asked him, “what was the hardest part”? His response was simply, “To not hate”. Here is a man who has been tortured, who watched his friends be tortured, who watched his friends be murdered, and his biggest concern was to not hate.

It’s easy to think we can’t do this, we can’t love those who oppress us, who hurt us. I would say first and foremost, we do it from a safe distance. We continue to fight for justice and equality at every turn. We continue to scream and call out unfairness. We move to a safe distance when they are beating us and hitting us with sticks and stones, whether real or proverbial. But once we are there, we turn back around and see the Buddha in those folks. If we can’t see it we look for it. That is our legacy. We refuse to let injustice take away our love and compassion.

I would also say it’s not about being perfect. As I renew my vow, I know I will fall short. Probably this afternoon to be honest. But I keep trying. I keep giving it my best effort. I continue to remind myself of who I want to be in the world. What part of myself do I want to show and share? When I don’t do it, I try harder the next time. One day, I will get it right, and then the world will truly be changed.

My friends Greg and Ben wrote a song about this. You can find it HERE.

Like a Lotus in muddy water, The mind is pure and goes beyond. Thus I bow to Buddha.