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Buddhadharma : Winter 2014
winter 2 0 1 4 buddhadharma: the Practitioner’s quarterly 17 sallie jiKo tisdale: The emptiness of the self is part of what we face in practice. It is this very emptiness that allows us to work with our karma, clarify our lives, and awaken to the truth. But becoming your most authentic self is part of it too. The Buddha advised his followers to be indifferent to their bodies, but he also taught people to use their bod- ies as the tools of awakening. The Buddha’s own story teaches us that extremes are not conducive to real understanding. It does us no good to be miserable, unhealthy, or at war with ourselves. As human beings, we are always broken in some way; our existence is marked by ignorance and confusion. Over time, we come to accept the karma of our birth, the gifts and challenges we have inherited. We strive to become whole, to find those parts of the self that need attention and support. We become willing not only to accept our karma but also to dance with it—to risk vulnerability, to examine our tender places, to be uncomfortable, and finally to stand up for ourselves and say, “This is who I am.” As you say, you sense a “deep, hid- den truth” about yourself and you need to express it. Everyone feels this way, I think. To one extent or another, we are longing to be seen and recognized as we secretly know ourselves to be. We strug- gle to find congruence between our inner experience and our outer relationships. So we work to bring the physical body and our appearance into congruence with the felt self—through our clothing, how we wear our hair, how we speak and stand, whom we choose as friends and peers. Each of us has genitals, but they do not determine gender. Our gender—male, (lEFT–RIgHT):marylang,bobcarmichael,KimcamPbell asK the teachers i was born male, but after many years of confusion, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m actually a woman, and I’m now seeking sex-reassignment surgery. As a Buddhist, I feel conflicted by the teachings on no-self and this unshakable feeling that there is a deep, hidden truth about me that I need to express. Am I wrong to embrace this sense of true self? NarayaN HeleN liebeNsoN is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center aNdreW Holecek is a teacher in the Tibetan tradition who teaches widely on dream yoga and death sallie jiko tisdale is a lay dharma teacher at Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland, Oregon