So it is pride month and all things rainbow. Just a few days ago, one of my straight Dharma Brother posted the pride flag in one of his facebook comment. I guess he was just trying to show support for the LGBTQ community.
It was the reply of another Buddhist who caught my attention.
‘Hey, why are you displaying the symbol of the ‘demonic people’ (妖人)?
Now, calling others, Demonic people, isn’t very nice, right? It is derogatory and if you are calling a gay Buddhist that; then it is like calling a Christian, a Satan’s Child. Intrigued, I went to look at his facebook profile. Wow, that guy shared many Buddhist articles and posted many Buddha pic. Ironically, amongst the posts that he shared, were articles about compassion and loving kindness.
It seems like some of the most nasty people on Earth , are the religious one huh?
Then I saw the following pictures a few days ago.
The above guy in drag is one of the respected Tibetan Buddhist Teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (DJKR) and he is also a movie director too. I am not physically close to him and had not met him in the flesh. He has many LGBTQ disciples in San Francisco,USA (I think). My only close “encounter” with him happened when I was listening to recorded sermon on Amitabha Sutra (delivered by him in Singapore). There was that rapture moment when my hairs stood on ends and tears flowed while listening to that recorded sermon. (An eureka moment.) Then oddly enough, I had a vivid dream of hanging out with him and his disciples in a western tavern shortly after. We were drinking beer and singing songs with abundance of food on the table. Oh, and there was a rainbow flag hanging on the wall behind him. A very delightful dream. (There is special significance of such a dream in Vajrayana Buddhism) Since then, he had that special corner in my heart.
Below is a hate comment about Rinpoche’s drag appearance by another Buddhist.
It is an offensive comment to me. (saying someone is similar to covid isn’t very nice, is it?)
The above 2 incidents were stuck in my mind because I was trying to write something encouraging for LGBTQ pride. More so, about Buddhist inclusivity for the LGBTQ community. The above behaviors by ‘Buddhists’ gave me doubts. WHERE IS COMPASSION AND LOVING KINDNESS?
While Buddha is all compassionate, why are Buddhist mean? And ironically, it is the Chinese Mahayana Buddhist who are usually conservative and mean. What happen to those Mahayana teachings on compassion? What about not being attached to form? All these vexing thoughts were churning at the back of my mind for days.
So it happened that at 4am today, I was suddenly wide awake and thoughts of these 2 incidents prevented me from returning to dreamland. Might as well meditate. (Sigh)
To discuss DJK Rinpoche, I have to bring up another teacher whom I respect a lot, Master Hsuan Hua.
Unlike Rinpoche, Master Hsuan Hua’s disciples consisted mostly conservative Chinese population. In the 1980s, when not much is known about AIDs and HIVs; master had indirectly said that gay people caused AIDs because the Yin and the Yang of the world had been thrown out of balance by their deviant behavior! You can imagine the conservative Chinese audiences nodding with approval.
So there are these 2 polar positions by 2 teachers whom I had great respect for. Who is right? I was truly vexed. Then for some unknown reasons, I happened to watch an opera rendition of Lotus Sutra (Chapter 25) the other night. Somehow I finished watching the whole performance (I hated Chinese Opera)
Lotus Sutra has much to say about how Buddha teaches sentient beings skillfully. In the burning house metaphor, a father lied to a child in order to entice his boy into leaving a burning house voluntarily. It illustrates the Mahayana principle of compassion and a willingness to utilise lively approach to help others.
In Chapter 25, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (symbolizes Buddha’s compassion), assumes different appearances so that He can teach different types of beings; If He wishes to teach a demon, then He will transform Himself into the form of a Demon to help them. To teach a barbarian, He will transform Himself into the shape of a barbarian. To teach a Naga, Avalokiteshavara will transform into a Naga. So on and so forth. In short, speak their language to deliver your dharma.
To reconcile my faith in both Mahayana teachers (DJK Rinpoche and Master Hsuan Hua), I cannot see them as polar opposites. If I do so, then one teacher is right and the other will be wrong.
If you call a Gay Buddhist, a Demonic person; then what does that make you? By causing emotional pains to others, you must be evil right? So Homophobic Buddhist should be called Evil People? (恶人)
I am not trying to discuss name calling or encourage tit for tat.
More importantly, if both Mahayana teachers are Bodhisattvas, then their teachings are just part of their “transformation” to reach their audience/disciples. Just like how Avalokitesvara transforms himself to teach the various sentient beings; that way, He can speak their language and be in their midst. When this understanding appears in my mind, my thoughts are like beads on the mala, everything is strung up properly and I am no longer vexed.
Hatred and aversion is extremely bad. They make us do and say things that hurt others. I don’t think there is any place for Homophobic behavior in Buddhism. If Buddha can accept Angulimala into His order of monks, why are we so disturbed by another person’s sexual orientation?
Unfortunately, not everyone will behave compassionately and wisely. Although Angulimala attained enlightenment, he was nevertheless, stoned to death by phobic villagers (Some of whom must have attended Buddha’s sermons too)
Let us be good disciples of Buddha and not be those phobic villagers.
Real Buddhist do not cause hurt to others. They do not massacre Muslims.
Real Buddhist are not Homophobic.
A person who wears Buddhist costume or chant and meditate or share Buddhist articles can be a fake too.
If you see someone behaving badly and being Homophobic, then he/she is definitely not a Buddhist.
But if you see a morally respectable Buddhist teacher saying Homophobic stuff, don’t lose faith in Dharma yet. Nor should you critique him or her for that.
For all you know, that teacher could be a Bodhisattva trying to bring Dharma to the Evil People. (恶人) And hopefully, compassion will blossom in their mind one day.
May all be well and happy.