Author Topic: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment  (Read 4670 times)

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Offline Rosa

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Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« on: August 10, 2013, 06:05:48 pm »
When I think about the Buddhist concepts of non attachment and not self, I then start to think that it's silly being worried about my gender. But in reality, it is a big thing to me because I want my outside to match my inside in regards to gender. Have any of you thought about these things and how to harmonize them?

Offline Kia

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2013, 10:44:50 pm »
The monk Tsong-kha-pa wrote this great treatise telling off his fellow monks who had decided to retire away in constant meditation. His point being that despite the ultimate truth of emptiness this does not mean that day to day reality doesn't exist. Even Buddha still had to eat. The harmonizing is in the recognizing that despite that this illusory, ephemeral existence it's still worth living to the fullest and happiest extent possible. So both are right, yeah ultimately it is silly to worry about gender but equally so it matters and should be addressed. If Buddhism is supposed to alleviate suffering and transitioning does that then by Buddha do it!
 

Offline Rosa

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2013, 12:11:55 pm »
Thank You Kia. That was a nice reminder of keeping everything in balance and following the middle way.  _/\_

Offline Kia

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2013, 03:12:16 pm »
Any time, the weird heavy meditative mystical stuff is what I live for ^-^

Offline Anatta

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2013, 12:53:09 am »
Kia Ora,

Alan Watts sums it up quite nicely re 'desire'  "Don't desire to give up more desire than you can and if you find that a problem don't desire to be successful in giving up more desire than you can !" The middle way...



Metta Zenda :)
« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 08:37:36 pm by Kuan Yin »
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Offline YBtheOutlaw

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2013, 03:21:58 pm »
well the same points have crossed my mind from time to time but its like, you see, i know i need to get rid of my love for chocolates but when i see a yummy chocolate i cant help feeling greedy for it. thats bcos our minds are not trained enough and if they were, we wouldn't be worrying about our gender or anything else. even the ppl who achieved sovan status have desires. so back to the topic, in my case it seems like i'm never gonna get accepted as a trans in the society i live in, so i haven't come out yet, and that means that i won't have a fiancee ever and i won't get to marry anyone. it worries me at times, specially bcos there's a girl i fancy, but then i think that i'm like this cos i used to be a boy in my past life, or that i'm suffering like this cos i had done something very bad in a past life, or that my weird gender is a gift to help me create minimum bonds with ppl so that i achieve nirvana without that obstacle. thats not all, but buddhism helps a great deal to get over your troubles
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Offline Sandra M. Lopes

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2013, 08:22:37 pm »
My own teacher is always grumbling to his students that we are too attached to sleep, and gives many examples of accomplished yogis who managed to get rid of sleeping altogether. Of course this was gradual, and even the Dalai Lama is known to sleep some five hours a day, although I'm pretty sure he can do most of his practices during the dream state, which is a rather advanced technique. Now, reducing from eight hours to five hours of sleep is something gradually done after some years of practice, but I've tried reducing it even more, which meant facing the consequences of sleep deprivation — meaning mostly getting ill more frequently, and, in my case, even fainting and collapsing from exhaustion.

So what I learned, the hard way, is that I cannot "compete" with my teacher, who has some 30+ years of practice, and, for him, living his daily routine (with relatively few demands on his time; his daily job is doing alternative therapies, which occupies him 1-2 hours per day on average, and earns him more money than my 250-to-300-hour-a-month job) with just 4 or 5 hours of sleep is enough. But that's just because I'm a beginner: there are limits to how much I can push my body to do things it wasn't designed to do :)

This is also something that I've applied to pretty much everything in my life, including the urges to crossdress, or the thinking about how I could possibly transition if I could afford it. All I can say is that, after a few years, it's easier to deal with the frustration of not being able to crossdress for a while. Before taking up Buddhist meditation, I would be anxious the whole week and expecting the days to pass until I finally managed to dress, then become incredibly frustrated when I had to remove the makeup and stow away all my clothes — sometimes even crying in frustration on my pillow for having so little time for all that — and, of course, I would be furious with my wife or anyone who interfered with my opportunities to crossdress. But over time I learned that all that behaviour was stupid — at the end of the day, I wasn't really enjoying those hours of crossdressing, because I was more worried about the remaining time I'd have to be forced to stay in male mode.

By analysing those emotions, I managed to see how stupid they actually are, but that doesn't mean that the emotions of frustration and anger "disappear". One just takes them a bit less seriously. I remember many, many days when I would remain dressed until the sun rose, and then only go to bed, collapsing with exhaustion, because every little moment counted. But now, sometimes I even go to bed before my wife, and enjoyed all the experiences while dressed to the utmost. It's now easy for me to discard a long-planned crossdressing session just because "something happened" and not feel frustrated about it. Or rather, I still feel the frustration like before, I just don't act upon it.

Similarly, while contemplating transition, I remember the teachings about attachment/desire and aversion. The formal definition of "attachment" is "exaggerating the qualities of an object [physical, or an idea...] so that there is an urge compelling us to possess/acquire that object". But those qualities do not exist anywhere beyond my mind; they're not intrinsic to the object itself. So, it's my mind that exaggerates the advantages of crossdressing, it's not crossdressing by itself that is "fun" (or important, or desirable, or stress-relieving, or exciting, or sexually stimulating), but just myself thinking that it has all these qualities. I also applied that thinking towards an eventual transition: my desire for that is because I exaggerate the advantages of being a woman. All those nice dresses to wear! A perfect body which needs no padding and no extra tricks to look great! The ability to pass! The ability to wear women's clothing and present a female identity to everybody, 24h/7! Well, this is just looking at the bright side of things, without taking into consideration the flip side: losing family, friends, job, and probably the home, and being forced to live a new life from scratch, probably in much worse conditions, due to discrimination. Also, I cannot afford extreme surgery to make me "pass", which means having to live all the time not quite looking as a woman, but as a guy in a dress, and getting laughed at on the street. And, of course, there are no jobs for transexuals in my country, unless they happen to pass even before transition and have gorgeous androgynous or even effeminate bodies since birth.

Looking at things as they are is at the core of Buddhist meditation, and that's why it helps me so much dealing with the desires I got. I can only see that it gets better over time. Now I'm much more critical with myself — looking at my beliefs, at my unreasonable expectations, at my imagined future as a woman. And I don't take it so seriously: in fact, nowadays, I laugh at my own pictures. There was a time when I truly believed I was looking better and better as a woman (compared to my earliest attempts) and that it was just a question of time until I looked "perfect". But I forgot that we crossdressers overcompensate our own image (we actually think we look much better than we look), and fellow crossdressers are so helpful and supportive, that slowly we believe in them! So, Buddhist meditation gave me the ability to be much more critical, to look beyond my expectations, and see myself as I am: an ugly guy in a dress, and that's all I will ever be (just getting uglier as I grow older). However, that doesn't mean I'm considering to discard crossdressing. In fact, what I expect that will happen, is that crossdressing will not become a source of anxiety any more — ever. Instead, it will be just a moment of some happiness, which I know that will have a beginning and an end, and, while it lasts, I shall always enjoy it — but not get frustrated because it never lasts long enough.

A couple of years ago, I yearned for being able to take some vacations where I could be fully dressed all the time, that was my dream, and I was constantly thinking about that. I was deeply desiring the experience of living "full time" as a woman, even just temporarily for a week or two. Well, this year I almost got that: I cannot afford vacations, but my mother-in-law got a promotional package at a hotel during the low season, which she offered me and my wife, and I insisted that I would be crossdressing every day. Even though my wife drew the line at being crossdressed 24h/7 (mostly because of her; she doesn't feel comfortable about going out with me in public...), I definitely went out every night, much earlier than usual at home, and interacted with a few people for the first time, and felt a huge adrenaline rush every time. It was my best vacation in the past decades :) but I wasn't frustrated when it finished: everything comes to an end, sooner or later, and I was just happy for not having wasted the opportunity, having enjoyed myself as best as I could, and having absolutely no regrets. But afterwards I spent a week in male mode, and I wasn't pining for that vacation, nor dreaming about the next opportunity (which might never happen again!). Like everything in samsara, things do not last — but "bad things" don't last, either, and that's the positive side of Buddhism philosophy: understanding that just because happiness is not permanent, you shouldn't refrain from enjoying it; and nobody is unhappy all the time, because unhappiness is also not permanent!

A very accomplished practitioner cares little or nothing about those urges and expectations. So, there is no point in refusing to indulge in some pleasure, just because one knows that this pleasure is never fullfilling and doesn't last long. So what? Nothing lasts long, so why refuse a few moments of happiness? So long as you don't get frustrated about the end of those moments, there is no reason for not enjoying them while they last.

If a whole lifetime as a woman is impossible to accomplish, why be frustrated about that? If it's impossible, becoming frustrated doesn't resolve anything — it just makes me unhappy, and that's stupid. Similarly, if another week of daily crossdressing is next-to-impossible, why bother to think all the time about it? If it happens, I'll be glad of it, fully aware that it won't last forever. If it doesn't, that doesn't mean I cannot enjoy perhaps just a single day of crossdressing. Or just a few hours. Or just writing long articles on this forum :) This change of attitude about the "seriousness" of all my ideas and questioning them is actually very liberating (in the mundane sense of the word).

Another lesson I learned from my teacher is never to plan too much. That doesn't mean establishing a routine and doing some sensible, reasonable planning, of course; what it means is not to give too much importance when plans fail. Because we cannot foresee the future, it means that things will happen, no matter what — even nuclear power plants will blow up in spite of the strong security measures that are in place :) It is pointless to worry too much about plans that fail; it's just how things are. So, for me, this means that all my "plans" regarding crossdressing and an eventual transition are bound to fail, or, at least, not work out as I wish, but that's just a question of "wishing too much". What I've learned is to stop "wishing" so much. The more unlikely the wish, the more quickly I should avoid it. So, I don't plan for an eventual transition — it might happen or not, although it's quite unlikely, but the important thing is that I won't lose any night's sleep because of that. Similarly, even though I have been scheduling to go out with some friends for over a year and a half now, "something" always prevents me from doing so — but it started not to bother me any more. I still put the events on the agenda, but, as the scheduled day approaches, and "something" comes up, I don't get frustrated about it — it's just the way things are. There is nobody to get angry with but myself — the person who actually created the desire, the wish to be at some place, but, due to circumstances beyond my control, it didn't happen.

"You are not bound by what you experience, but by your clinging to it." — Tilopa

This means that experiences are not "bad" (nor "good") so there is no point in avoiding those experiences. What one shouldn't do is to get attached to them, and worry too much about having those experiences (or worrying even more about not having them!). This leads to an old saying, often quoted by the 14th Dalai Lama:

"If you have a problem that can be fixed, then there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, then there is no use in worrying." – Shantideva
Don't judge, and you won't be judged.

Offline DriftingCrow

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2013, 10:15:09 pm »
I've also been pondering this topic since non-attachment is also part of Sikhi.

I try to remember that the body I have is just a tool and who I am ultimately isn't defined by my physical being. I try to think of what type of transitioning I want to do, how far I should go, etc. I think there can be a harmony reached between transitioning enough to satisfy yourself and going so far that you're really looking to satisfy society's perceptions on yourself.

Everyone above did a nice job in explaining their thoughts on the matter.  :)
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Offline Anatta

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2013, 04:03:47 pm »
Kia Ora Rosa,

If one can first 'grasp' but then let go of the concept of 'non-self' (Anatta =No soul) http://www.buddhanet.net/nutshell09.htm ,a deeper understanding of non-attachment will come and then go-leaving behind just the knowledge of the experience(No knower…just the intuitive sense of knowing)...

The interesting thing about the Dharma,(In this case The Paradox of Truth) is the seeker of this truth begins to dissolve the closer the truth becomes...Who or what is left to attach to this truth ?

There are many ways of intellectually understanding the concept non-attachment, for example the Western mind set normally associates it with 'loss' leading to a somewhat pessimistic view of the Dharma "I'll quite 'happily'  non-attach my self to things I don't like-But no way do I want to let go of happiness too!"...However only by direct experience "insight meditation" can there be absorption of the knowledge of life’s natural flow…

Exploring the  Five Aggregates, http://www.buddhanet.net/funbud14.htm ‘the psycho-physical phenomena’ (form-consciousness-sensation-perception-habitual tendencies ), and seeing how we habitually (through sensation & perception) have a tendency to try to cling to “desires”  (or are repelled by “aversions”)  as they naturally’ arise then ‘pass away = Anicca”Impermanence”… http://en.dhammadana.org/dhamma/3_characteristics/anicca.htm

Once each component that makes up the self is internally analysed/experienced by non-judgemental observation then the experience of non-attachment to the illusion we call reality comes naturally=free flowing...

Just go with the natural flow…To cling is extreme, to repel is extreme…What lies in between the two extremes ?

"The middle way is the natural path that flows with true Contentment !"


Rosa look at it this way, your gender identity (or if you like 'organic brain structure's wiring') is in a sense your core being which is meant to naturally interact with this physical world-hence why you have yet to find contentment...Call it your karmic awakening...

So now it would seem you have more handles to grasp  ;) ;D


May you lose your"self" on the journey of ‘non’self discovery...

BTW Sandra has a way with words and has the ability to express the Dharma in more lay-person’s terms=by example…Her teacher taught her well...


Metta Zenda :)
"The most essential method which includes all other methods is beholding the mind. The mind is the root from which all things grow. If you can understand the mind, everything else is included !"   :icon_yes:

Offline Sandra M. Lopes

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2013, 08:29:44 pm »
Glitterfly, beware of phrases like "Universal consciousness" or "if you focus on the entire Universe you can learn from the entire Universe", and, even more dangerously, "you join the Universal consciousness without a need for a physical body". Unless the precise meaning is clear for both you and your readers, what you're describing is much more closer to the non-dual schools in Hinduism than to Buddhism (and yes, it's not easy to separate both for a layperson! But the vision is utterly different, even if the way we translate things into English might sound similar).

In Buddhism, there is no "Universal consciousness", in the sense usually given to the words, that we "join". Fully realised beings, the ones we call Buddhas, have separate mind-streams (from our relative perspective at least) and are not a part of anything "universal" in the conventional sense. I believe that you're using these sentences to illustrate, in our own words, some typical Buddhist teachings which say, "where there is space, there is mind; where is mind, there is space", which can be wrongly understood as "there is an Universal Mind" somehow, but that's not true — what that teaching is supposed to illustrate is the non-dual nature of mind and space. A simpler example: there cannot be observed things without an observer, but it's pointless to speak of an observer if there is nothing to observe. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? In Buddhism, that question has no meaning: "coming first" means a relationship in time, and time is relative and only experienced in conventional terms (as Einstein has also "discovered" so elegantly!). Buddhism, by contrast, proposes interdependent co-emergence, a fancy word to say that mind and space arise simultaneously, and one cannot exist without the other, and both are dependent on each other. Here is where English translators speak of "union", "joining", "simultaneity" and so forth, because these are words employed by many Western philosophies and schools of thought, as well as Christian theology, but the Buddhist meaning is both more subtle (in the sense that it's less obvious) and more simple (meaning that the words do not need so much over-interpretation).

So, sure, we learn every day by observing all phenomena that appear, and that's one of the many possible daily practices of a Buddhist practitioner: it is by observing phenomena that we experience how they arise simultaneously and interdependently in our minds, and we also realise how impermanent they are, how they're subject to causes and conditions, and so forth. So it's true that we "learn from the Universe" by observing it and understanding that it's our mind that perceives the "Universe". But the fine dividing line between mind and appearances ("the Universe"), if misinterpreted, might lend one to think that somehow the Universe has a "mind" of its own — which is clearly not a Buddhist teaching (rather the contrary!).

Anyway, sorry to be pedant :) One of the lessons that I get repeated over and over again is to be very, very careful about the precise meaning of the teachings, because it's incredibly easy to distort it according to our education, our expectations, our own ideas of what Buddhism is supposed to be, and so forth. I'm not saying that you weren't explaining things properly, just that casual readers might easily be confused and think that Buddhism is, after all, just a "variant" of other Eastern philosophies, while it's quite distinct — and very precise in its distinctions.

Also, be careful about the notion of "losing one's self". While this is a relatively typical translation into English, somehow, for us Westerners, this concept is scary: if we "lose" our identity, what is left? The whole point of Buddhist training is not to "lose" anything (or "gain" anything) but just understand that there was never a "self" to begin with, so we cannot lose something we don't have. Is that a paradox? No, not really. Consider a rainbow, which pleases and amuses us while it's visible. When it disappears, where did it go? Where does it come from? We all know, at least until our parents explain it to us, that a rainbox arises under special conditions: water droplets suspended in the air, the sun shining from a specific angle, and so forth. Simple physics create the illusion of a rainbow, but just because it's an "illusion", it doesn't mean we cannot see it and enjoy it while it lasts; but, similarly, when it disappears, we won't be terribly frustrated with our "loss", because we really didn't "lose" anything — the rainbow does not physically exist after all, it's just an optical effect, albeit a very nice one which we enjoy!

The difficulty in Buddhism is understanding that everything works like rainbows. Put the correct causes and conditions together, and phenomena arise. Eliminate those causes and conditions, and phenomena disappear — just because that's how it works. It's easy to see that with rainbows and optical illusions; much harder to understand how it happens with things we fully believe to intrinsically exist, like our own selves. Nevertheless, we can get a grasp of what's going on when thinking on the causes and conditions of our own existence: we needed parents to give us birth, we needed education to learn how to do things, we needed to interact with fellow human beings to define a "self" which is separate from others. This is all obvious, from an intellectual point of view, so it shouldn't be hard to understand that whatever we call the "self" is just the result — not magic; not a divine creation — of a very large array of causes and conditions, that made us think and behave in a certain way which is unique to each of us.

Now all we need to realise is that this "self" is nothing more (but also nothing less!) than that vast array of causes and conditions; it doesn't "exist" separate from all those causes and conditions, and that's why Buddhism teaches that there is no intrinsic self (i.e. existing on its own, independent from all those causes and conditions). Similarly, Buddhism does not reject the conventional existence of rainbows; it just states that rainbows do not exist on their own, but as a consequence of several causes and conditions (and we can examine that for ourselves and see if it's true or not). So, realised beings will not "lose" anything, they will just perfectly know that what they call the "self" is just that assembly of causes and conditions — gazillions of them! — and nothing more than that.

So, no, if you practice according to the Buddhist tradition, your "self" will not disappear, it will not "merge" with a "Universal conscience" or anything of the sort. You will just realise that the self has no intrinsic existence, and, once that is realised, your whole life which will much easier to deal with: you won't need to do all those actions to pamper that self, and won't be either frustrated when your plans are thwarted, neither euphoric when something goes well (but lasts only a short moment). That's the meaning of not being "attached to the self" — it's the freedom of choice that comes from not feeling the urge or compulsion to "please" that self.

Crossdressers and <transgender> people actually have a huge advantage over cisgendered people. We already know that the "self" cannot be the body — because we can adopt a "male self" when not dressed as women and a "female identity" when dressed. Transition works exactly because we can change our mind — our selves! — and adapt it to a different body. When we feel that our bodies "are not right", we are actually experiencing the profound meaning of the non-existence of an intrinsic self. In fact, because our social conditioning somehow pushes us to "adopt" a self depending on our genetic makeup, and we hurt a lot because of that, it just shows that the self cannot be something "built-in" into the body and fixed deterministically from birth. Rather, it changes all the time, but, most importantly, it changes depending on our will to change it. Transphobic people are to be pitied: they wrongly assume that the self is somehow tied to the body we were born with and that it is immutable, and thus their aggressive stance against others who have experienced that this is clearly not the case. However, this attitude is childish: it would be like believing that rainbows are solid, truly existing entities, and being angry with people who point out that a rainbow is just an optical illusion.

I'm quite sure that an advanced practitioner will care little about what body they have and what "self" they manifest to others :-) But, on the other hand, they will also have no problem in feeling pleasure in crossdressing or going through transition, if that generates some temporary relief and happiness; Buddhism is a way of happiness, not a way of suffering :) The only reason why we don't see many <transgender> practitioners is not because they have anything against <transgender> it's just because they will adopt a lifestyle and an attitude that benefits the largest possible amount of people. Because <transgender> is not well accepted in society, a great teacher will avoid it — not because she or he is against it, but merely because they know that society would find it very strange, and, because of that, they might reject the Buddhadharma (the teachings of the Buddha), finding it's a way of life of weirdos. This is known as "skillful means": understanding, at each moment, what is best to benefit most people.

But there are certainly a lot of groups of <transgender> Buddhist practitioners and teachers. It would make no sense for a good teacher to exclude anyone from listening and practicing the Buddhadharma. It is said that Buddhas manifest in any possible way to benefit beings, and that's why we also have some <transgender> teachers — because <transgender> teachers might be more easily accepted by a <transgender> community (they share similar issues, and, as such, it might be easier to empathise with them).

There is a great female teacher, a Westerner, who has been ordered a nun, and keeps to her vows — except when speaking in public to a large Western audience, where she will don some jewelry, makeup, and nice clothes. One might wonder how it's possible for a nun to break so many rules when speaking in public and teaching the Buddhadharma! When questioned, she merely answered, in a very intelligent way, that by dressing up properly, she will be more respected by an audience of Westerners. So she doesn't dress up because of vanity or any other sort of ego-clinging, but merely because she is able to address an audience better than if she dressed herself in an "alien" way (alien for us Westerners). This is not a lack of respect for the Buddhadharma; rather, it's a mark of respect towards her audience. It also gives that audience the confidence that one can be a very realised practitioner and lead a "normal" life (at least externally); she sets a great example. And I've read a few comments from <transgender> Buddhist teachers saying pretty much the same thing — they are aware that it's easier to address certain groups if you're seen as being part of the group, instead of opposing it.

In India, Siddhartha behaved as an Indian; in Tibet, teachers behave like Tibetans; in China, teachers behaved as Chinese; and so forth on all countries where the Buddhadharma flourished. It's what you do with your mind that matters, not really what you wear, look like, or even what you say. Nevertheless, there are many different teachings, because there are many different people. For some, for example, adopting a certain way of dressing and a certain way of life makes it much easier to drop ego-clinging and lead a successful life as a practitioner that allows them to reach realisation sooner; if you just have one colour to wear, and just three sets of clothes, you have one worry less — no need to worry about what to wear! That's why ordained monks have simple clothing and little to care about — it makes their way so much easier, by dropping all the worries. But not everyone is comfortable about listening to a monk or a nun, and might think — "I cannot live that way, so Buddhism is not for me". That's why we have so many excellent teachers who never were monks or nuns, but instead live quite normal lives, and still are highly realised beings. One of my teachers was a litigation attorney until recently; the other works at a notary (and is filthy rich because of his work!). None are ordained as monks, and because of their background, they can much more easily set an example to others, who can draw inspiration from them and understand that "it's not the habit that makes the monk" (as Catholics would say!), but their mind-training, which is available to all of us, no matter how we look like and what our lifestyle is.

Another of my teachers always shock people because he is a monk but loves to eat at KFC; and another one is always tweaking his tablet and laptop and collects videos from traditional folk dances of his home country. One might think that these great teachers would have long lost the "attachment" to such mundane activities! But the point is that they enjoy them without being attached to them (i.e. if there is no KFC in the vicinity, that particular teacher will not be frustrated or depressed; but if one is available, why not enjoy it, even if the pleasure is just temporary?). I have no doubt that crossdressing, or even going through transition, is precisely the same thing: if you're not attached to that, and don't get frustrated because you cannot crossdress or go through transition, well, then, why not enjoy it if you have the opportunity, fully aware that it won't last "forever"?

One of the first things I've learned from my teachers was the subtle difference between renouncing things and renouncing the attachment to things. They seem to be the same, but they are not. Buddhism doesn't reject (nor accept!) anything — except, at least as a training, rejecting getting attached to anything, specially rejecting the attachment to our own ideas. What this means is that if we think things like, "if I cannot crossdress or go through transition, I will never be happy, but only frustrated", then this idea has to be rejected. Once we reject it — meaning that we understand that our ultimate happiness does not come from crossdressing or transitioning — then there is no problem in enjoying being crossdressed, or enjoying our lives as a person of the opposite gender we've been biologically born with. This is easy to write about, but so incredibly difficult to actually do! The good news is that it's possible — just very hard — but we can learn pretty much everything if we only train it enough. This is true for all fields of knowledge, and, of course, it's also true for Buddhist practice.

Sure, I think we need more <transgender> teachers to show us that Buddhism has nothing to say "against" <transgender>...

@Kuan Yin, I am very fortunate for having had several most excellent teachers :) — I truly don't have "a way with words", I'm a terribly lazy student! But after having my teachers hammering my poor head with careful explanations, having unbounded patience with my stubbornness and lack of memory, some things clicked into place after a while. Even the worst student and the laziest practitioner will figure out something on their own, provided that they got excellent teachers, and personally, that's all I can wish for anyone: may you all find an excellent teacher at some point in your lives, who encourages you to achieve the same degree of realisation he or she has, and shows you clearly the way to achieve that, explaining it in a way you can understand and practice without doubts :) That's all there is to Buddhist practice, really...
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Offline Sandra M. Lopes

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 05:58:32 am »
Glitterfly, I had the strong impression you knew exactly (and correctly!) what you wished to express, there was just some ambiguity which might not be clear for someone coming from Hinduism, Taoism, or some new-age reinterpretation. Your last post shows exactly how well you can explain things!

I don't think people have "ways with words", regarding Buddhist philosophy — I think that it's when you start bringing the teachings in your heart, you realise (and not merely understand) a few aspects of what the teachings say, become familiar with them, see how they work well (as opposed to be merely "nice comforting words" or "intellectual mambo-jambo"), and then you have no difficulty expressing the ideas using your own words, because you will be explaining them from your experience, not from things you learned in a book. Still, after a few years of practice, I also came to appreciate the clearness of the words employed by my own teachers: while words, as you so well put, will always raise ambiguity and will never be able to describe experiences which go beyond words, there are certainly some words that work "better" than others, even in English, which was never a language designed to express the meaning of Buddhist teachings.

Even Devanagari (or, as it is more commonly known in the West, sanskrit) is not a language "perfect" for Buddhism. Ironically, it's the backwater known as Tibet who were lucky: the barbarians without any culture living there around the 8th century had to invent a whole language to explain the Buddhadharma properly, but the advantage is that their words are precise in meaning and makes the Buddhadharma much easier to understand and explain. We're not so lucky. Still, the Buddhadharma took hold in China (where translators had to borrow words from Taoism, making Buddhist texts sound incredibly weird) or Japan (where they even go as far as translating the mantras, which supposedly are untranslatable according to tradition), so I'm quite sure we'll do a good job in the West as well, it's just a question of time.

Your words definitely did way more good than harm (discussion and debate, in order to clarify things, are hallmarks of the Buddhist tradition, too!), and I'm certainly not qualified to correct you or explain any mistakes, lol — I commit too many mistakes myself!
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Offline blue

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2013, 02:32:36 pm »
My practice showed me to turn the question inside out. It's not that I am attached to being TG, I am painfully attached to the idea that I should have been cisgendered. Or that I should be the right kind of trans, or that transition and support and a new role should be straightforwardly available to me, that I be supported and understood in the ways I want, etc. I'm attached to a life I didn't have and never will.

What I needed from practice was to detach from my painful dissatisfaction with the realities of being trans... exactly so that I could accept my situation as it is. And then get on with what I need to do.
Of our desires some are natural and necessary, others are natural but not necessary; and others are neither natural nor necessary, but are due to groundless opinion.  Epicurus

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Offline Sandra M. Lopes

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2013, 09:26:34 pm »
@blue, that's very encouraging to hear :) I also think that's precisely the whole point: not get rid of the experience (positive or negative), but get rid of the attachment to the experience. You seem to have been able to do exactly that! Congratulations, and hopefully you'll be all right "getting on with what you need to do".

I wrote a bit more on my own blog about my experiences in applying Buddhism to the dilemma of transitioning vs. not transitioning, but I think the moderators don't like that I post any links here :)
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Offline Kia

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2013, 11:05:12 pm »
Mod me if I'm wrong but you can have a link to your blog in your signature. At least I've seen them in other folks'

Offline Sandra M. Lopes

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2013, 04:57:23 am »
Maybe the moderators are now a bit stricter now with links on signatures. I can very well understand them! Anyway, there is an icon with a link for my blog below the avatar picture, I noticed that just now :)

And we're quite off-topic lol
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Offline Tanya W

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Re: Harmonizing TG with non-attachment
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2013, 12:45:08 am »
Rosa, to my understanding, both non-attachment and not self can be whittled down to this: Life is not what we think. As trans folk, many of us have had a lot of practice with this fact. Modern culture has a great many strong ideas about gender and yet here we are knowing these do not describe our experience of being alive.

Our challenge then becomes to open to and rest with this knowing, this experience without solidifying on a whole bunch of new ideas about gender. This is tricky for many reasons, not least of which being it seems that pinning down an appropriate description of ourselves is an essential part of the transgender journey - probably any minority journey, actually.

Perhaps our task, once we have been able to describe ourselves, then, is to hold such descriptions lightly. We do this not so we can dismiss our relative reality but, as Kia suggests, so we can see it more accurately and engage it in the most appropriate way possible.

Maybe this takes you to a place where it is apparent that worrying about gender is silly. Maybe you end up certain something must be done about the inside/outside rub you describe. I can't say. And this is where we end up on the Buddhist path: Our only true guide is our own experience.   
'Though it is the nature of mind to create and delineate forms, and though forms are never perfectly consonant with reality, still there is a crucial difference between a form which closes off experience and a form which evokes and opens it.'
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