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Buddhadharma : Winter 2014
18 buddhadharma: the Practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 1 4 female, or intersexual—includes such disparate forces as genetics, family, and culture. The source of transgender iden- tity is mysterious because we don’t understand how all these forces work together. But the incongruence you feel is not that uncommon. I would advise only that this felt identity is not your “true self.” The Buddhist true self is much more than our phenomenal existence. That self is not dependent on the physical body, intellect, spiritual practice, or relationship; it cannot be obstructed by anything phenomenal. What you describe is what I think of as the “authentic self,” the urge to live in this world in the most whole way possible. For some of us, it might mean braces or a differ- ent haircut; for others, it may mean monastic robes and a shaved head. For a certain number of people, it will require gender-reassignment surgery. So yes, embrace your authentic self completely. If that means you need to make some practical adjustments, you will have plenty of company. narayan helen liebenson: The teaching of anatta does not say there is no self; it states that nothing conditional can be pointed to as being who or what you are. Given that no aspect of being can be identified with in any kind of continuous, independent sense, to me, teachings of compassion and loving- kindness can be your north star. You don’t mention pain, but it’s hard to imagine that you’ve made this decision lightly and without any degree of angst. This pull you feel to live as you know yourself to be is a matching of your inner reality with the outer situation in which you live. What could be wrong with that? Accepting yourself as you are and being a true friend to yourself is an essential aspect of this path of inner liberation. I see the problem as the conflict between what you know and what you have heard in the teachings. The question is, by manifesting differently in this world, can you live the teach- ings more fully? I would assume so, because after surgery, you will not live in ongoing conflict or feel a sense of separation between the gender you know yourself to be and the way oth- ers relate to you. Free from the idea of a fixed, continuous, independent “I,” there’s tremendous freedom possible in the flowering and flexibility of all things. andreW holeceK: My heart goes out to you. Matters of iden- tity at any level are wrenching. But fortunately, the challenges are also in direct proportion to the potential for transforma- tion—the greater the obstacle, the greater the opportunity. Your question is a marvelous opportunity to explore the rela- tionship between absolute and relative truth, both of which need to be honored to fully address the issues you express. We find our way to the absolute through the relative, not by dismissing it—your courage in facing yourself so honestly at this relative level can take you far along the path. To become a buddha (the absolute), we first have to become fully human (the relative). We then might discover that to be fully human is to be a buddha (the inseparability of relative CDs from SOUNDS TRUE ALSO AVAILABLE: Books, DVDs, Programs, Workshops, Events, Tours, Coaching See more at: lionsroar.com /auction Teachings that benefit your life.