Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Entries in LGBTQ (6)

Monday
Jul012019

On Limits

Dharma Talk June 30On Super Gay Pride Day, June 30th, the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, I gave a talk on limits. I've decided to post the whole transcript as well as the link to the talk, just in case you want to hear my personal story and the story of several female Buddhist ancestors, two of them disabled. 

I'm posting the transcript, in its talky format, to save myself time editing. Why? Time limits.

For those of you who don't want to read, I begin by asking, What is a limit? and talk about what we are not able or not allowed to do, how that starts a process of adaptation that can be mutual. We can adapt to the culture and the culture can adapt to us. I use examples to show the complexity of navigation. How do we know whether to sit through pain or change positions? And I conclude with a sweeping generalization: Limit is the answer to limit. We limit our reactions to release us from limited thinking. Our practice of sitting zazen, subtle and mysterious, is a radical act, especially now in the face of weaponized distraction and scapegoating.

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Monday
Feb252019

Do Things Exist?

Madame Vivian V and her grandmother. Photo by Jessie OhIt's all about Getting Things Done, right? If we get things done we can feel accomplished, worthy. I've studied the organizing self-help literature exhaustively and tried a panoply of systems. I've mindmapped, I've bucketed, I've wandered, I've prioritized and I've panicked. I've let it all go and gotten depressed. I've put myself back on a schedule, felt better, then constrained, then pissed off, so I ditched it all again. I have a structure now, which developed after I ruthlessly looked at what I actually do, how long things take, and what my body needs. It's an ongoing process, continually adapting to change within and without.

But what about the thing itself? Creativity is fickle. When you try to tie it down, it slips away. Sometimes I give myself related tasks, like learning a program, and then it bubbles up in a small act of resistance. Creativity itself is resistance, isn't it? You know how things are supposed to be done but there's a little voice that protests: "It doesn't have to be this way." But I get stuck in how to give life to the alternative.

Going back to Artist's Way recently, I remembered the importance of practicing flow by writing whatever comes to mind. Later I remembered why I stopped--so much drivel! At one point I burned my diaries. Because there is something deeper than the chatter of the mind. When I sit still in zazen I sense it. When I watch water hitting rock I feel it. When I walk in nature I know it. The camera never captures it. What is it, really?

Last night at 3am I was bathed in some kind of idea, really awash in it, and it seemed so important that I actually wrote on a post-it: Excess. This morning, what? Maybe it has something to do with learning from an old friend that millennial speak now includes: "oh Mom, that's so extra!" Why is that a bad thing? I guess for the same reason that people tried to be cool back in the day. And for sure the aesthetic of nothing extra appeals to me. Why else do I give things away, burn things, abandon things? But there is something really great about excess, something beautiful. Look at drag queens for example. The same stuff that can be imprisoning for women becomes glorious in excess. Watching a play recently I couldn't take my eyes off Madam Vivian V. She was huuuge, towering over the other players in platform stilettos, and confident as only a queen can be.

But I digress.

Or do I? I meant to write a post on time management, but the existential title plopped out and then I followed it and somehow arrived here. We could say that existence itself is excess, especially for the humans. Or we could say that nothing is ever really added or subtracted. Anyway how can Madame Vivian claim so much space when many women my age apologize with their bodies for even being in the room? Millennials telling us we are too much. It’s an old message, freshly packaged, newly poisonous.

Oh yes, we exist. As for things, I don’t know.

February 2019

Thursday
Sep272018

Goodbye Patriarchy, Hello Whatever

I'm writing on the morning of The Woman's testimony for the Kavanaugh hearings. Terrified for Dr. Blasey as she faces the "female assistant" who will torment her on behalf of the squad of Republican men, I am ready for the world as we know it to fall apart. 

My own patriarchal world has been disintegrating. At some point in adulthood I faced the inevitable disappointment: Daddy doesn't get me. I love him anyway, though, and wish him well. But as anyone who has been in therapy knows, knowing who your real father is doesn't eliminate the introject. Subtly I've been constructing myself for the male gaze all my life and checking myself in his mirror. Recently I broke up with a man on whom I placed all my longing to be seen and appreciated and loved. Naturally he couldn't do it. He was busy wanting all that from me, not to mention trying to help and teach me. The more he helped the weaker I felt. 

When I extricated myself I was shattered, grieving and terrified that no man would ever love me as I am, forgetting that love is available elsewhere. Weeks later I am on the solid ground of groundless experience, free to be a subject instead of an object. In Fountain of Oldth, I featured the stories of women who were freed by the invisibility of old age, but I guess I didn't want to be free yet, didn't want to be an outcast from the patriarchy, thought I could be a player. 

Women are losers in this game but we don't want to see it. Layers and layers of adaptation, like deformities, create new structures. A woman I work with told me her martyred mother was deeply passive aggressive. Is there any martyred woman who isn't? When we don't have direct power, we take it where we can. Pretty women are not aware of the power of beauty until it fades, and they ride that crest believing that things are available because of their merits. Old women, desperate to recover what they lost, carve up their faces or freeze them, but men still prefer the 35-year olds. Such is heterosexual normative life in the patriarchy. If you are a man reading this, please know that I do not blame you. I know that patriarchy has hobbled you too but this post is not for you. 

What happens if women themselves turn away from the centrality of men? Women can love women; many of us are fluid and can define beauty according to what actually exists. Women can run for office, not just vote for some old man who says the right things sometimes. We can stop trying to convince men to see us or hear us and just do what needs to be done.

What needs to be done? Please. Do whatever feels most important to you. Read Rebecca Traister on the rage of women and revolution. Listen to Gaelyn Roshi's excellent talk at the Zendo: speaking the truth is more important right now than trying to be polite about it. Question your conditioning. Question everything. It's a new world.

September 2018

 

Saturday
Jun092012

Gay Pride, Woman Shame

Along with so many others, I cheered for New York State last weekend--for our Governor who showed courage and resolve, for all the beautiful people who could now marry their beloved.  At the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, we were all bubbling in a soup of triumph and ecstasy.  Most of you know that several years ago I decided to divorce my heterosexual spouse because the unfairness of the whole thing, especially the "Defense of Marriage Act," was unbearable. 

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Wednesday
Jun062012

How to Change the World, Justina

Updated on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:40PM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

One morning on the way to Ballet class, I hear the news that Black Americans are moving away from northern urban areas toward the South and into the suburbs.  This interests me for what it will mean for diversity, so I remember it.  

As we chitchat before class, Justina, a young Black woman just returned from a family visit to Tennessee, comments:  "The South never changes."   I argue briefly and then ponder her comment for the remainder of class.  (You can blame all my mistakes on that!)   When class is over I ask her what she meant.  A graduate student in Social Psychology, she is frustrated by entrenched patterns:  expectations shape behavior, behavior reinforces expectations, and the cycle perpetuates itself.   Indeed, I agree.   Except here she is, an exception.

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Sunday
Jun032012

Gay "Marriage"

Made in 2008 or so, Gay "Marriage" exposes the dilemma of the maddening and unfair paperwork imposed on gay couples who want the same financial rights as heterosexual married couples.   It is a tragicomedy that blends interview and animation to bring to life the horrifying effects of paperwork unfairly imposed on gay couples:  JTROS, taxable gifts, powers of attorney, HIPAA, and more.   

A star-crossed lesbian couple get the romance knocked out of them as they wake up to legal reality.  Music by Mayra Casales.  Running time, 12:13 minutes. 

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