Clear Dharma, Queer Dharma, Kink Dharma?

 Posted by on January 1, 2013
Jan 012013

istock_000021357560small-800x5321-300x199-3739469In Buddhism there is this concept of Dharma which is the law of nature and of suffering.  I was at a meditation retreat this past fall about confidence and compassion when one of the teachers of the group made a joke that we weren’t just talking about clear dharma that weekend we were also talking about queer dharma.  It was a mixed group of people at the retreat, there were a few younger retreat goers including me, but for the most part the retreat goers were older meditators who had been in an inner-conflict for years.  Mind you, I realize that my generation is different from past generations about the GLBT issue for a big part of it.  Yes in some places in the United States staying in the closet is safer/easier still, and I can understand why, but for the most part we are a lot more open and accepting of the fact that some boys like boys and some girls like girls and it’s not something that we are “afraid” of discussing or whispering about it behind closed doors.

To be honest I just started mentioning that I am part of the GLBT community on my Facebook page.  I have a very conservative family on my dad’s side and the “GLBT issue” has been kept hush-hush on that side of my family.

One discussion during the weekend made me think, “is there room for me?” I was discussing, with a retreat attendee, what I did for work.  Normally I mention that I blog, I don’t always go into what I blog about unless I have an inkling it will be okay, but I did mention that I wrote a sex-positive blog.  The reaction… which was not something I was expecting… was questioning what I wrote about and why I would write something about that.

I quietly walked away from breakfast, really avoiding the person till I left, trying to understand why I might have gotten that reaction…

Why is it that one community, GLBT, is okay but talking about the kink community we must not understand Dharma or that we don’t really subscribe to the Buddhist ways.  In fact I have had friends ask me if I feel like I’m writing an oxymoronic blog about Buddhism and Kink.  My friends… those two things don’t go together.

We don’t bring on our own foggy Dharma by participating in kink.  I don’t think that anyone really goes out with the idea that we want to make our partners, Dominants or submissives, to suffer a scene or D/s relationship.  Definition of suffering is to have something, which is non-consensual discomfort, which creates feelings that one needs to work through.   This forms through mental, physical, or emotional states.  Yet we always use the word “pain” which does not coexist with suffering.  In fact, in the medical field, Doctors and nurses try to take away the pain for patients so they can focus on working through their own suffering.  Non-consensual suffering has never been welcomed in the community, actually it is downright avoided unless that really is something you’ve negotiated with your partner, so what does our Dharma exist of?

Hint: It’s not in the bedroom.

It’s in mainstream- it’s the suffering we have trying to fit in – it’s the suffering that represents the underground clubs we needed in the 80’s and early 90’s to be able to find our passions in the kink community.  We have suffered, we’ve suffered a lot, and despite great lengths in trying to be accepted it’s still necessary that we have organizations working for our rights as individuals simply because we want to hold a flogger during sex.  As much as some of us don’t want to admit it, even Fifty Shades of Gray is something that has gotten people talking and considering if this type of sex is not really “uncommon” it’s more uncovered, and that’s something that we both want to fend off and try to encourage.  Must we look at that as foggy Dharma or can we look it at as clear Dharma?

You don’t need to be a saint, vanilla, or a Buddhist monk to practice Buddhism.  There is no rule that because someone is a practitioner that there is no feeling of equality in the relationship.  Even in the most unequal relationships to find balance there is a Dominant and then a submissive, or a Master and a slave, or and Owner and property.  All these roles have significant differences, even different job descriptions, but at the same time there is peace and calm within these roles.  A rule is that everyone, and everything, deserves respect.  When we walk into a munch, or a workshop, we do not have a rule that submissives and slaves have to sit in the back of the room while Dominants sit up front.  The importance is that, in general, we know how to treat each other with respect.

At some point, I hope, it comes to a point where there isn’t separation of Dharma. Till then I’m still wondering if there was actually a seat for me at the GLBT meditation retreat -with my own black, white, and red dharma.


  One Response to “Clear Dharma, Queer Dharma, Kink Dharma?”

  1. I’m sorry you were made to feel un welcome at your retreat. It seems not very compassionate.

    I hope you don’t mind a possible response to your wondering. I recently began sitting zazen and have taken up a practice with a Soto Zen sangha. I’ve also been a closet “cast fetishist” for years. (Pretty benign and silly really) But I have noticed that my desires in this have diminished in the few months I have been sitting. I’m a casual visitor to Fetlife but not really in the lifestyle. Nevertheless I have an appreciation for the honesty and integrity of most folks there and other kinky people I’ve met. (at Burning Man primarily) Please note I am neither an expert in kink nor buddhism and am wrestling with my own issues as well. But here goes:

    It might be the impression of some buddhists that kink, by definition, is a clinging to the second and third aggregates – feeling/sensation and perception. I’ve heard many say the point of kink activities are to build trust and make deep personal connections. That is a fine goal. Why then the need for constructs, potentially harmful behavior, and an emphasis on sensation? If Buddhism is a striving to experience reality as things really are, doesn’t it seem contrary to that aim to enter an artificial or constructed reality solely to find a connection with someone? In other words, why is the kink *necessary* to achieve a deep connection?

    I came upon this page after a google search. Perhaps I’ll read more of the blog entries and my answer will be found there.

    Also, I wonder if there is more support for LGBT because it is seen more as a civil rights issue. Folks ought to be able to be who they are and choose partners regardless of gender. FWIW the priests at my zendo are a lesbian couple and are very eager to promote gender equality.