"According to the world there's male and female, rich and poor. According to the Way there's no male or female, no rich or poor. When the Goddess realized the Way, she didn't change her sex. When the stable boy awakened to the Truth, he didn't change his status. Free of sex and status, they shared the same basic appearance. The goddess searched twelve years for her womanhood without success. To search twelve years for one's manhood would likewise be fruitless." --The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma, translated by Red Pine from 'Wake-up Sermon'
Bodhidarma knew what the deal. Gender has become as real to me as race, national borders, and military intelligence. Yet another clever illusion, a veil to be lifted, a comforting but doomed idea.
Last week I went to see a stage reading of Myth Smashers, a play put on by Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE). The play entertained us all well enough, and provoked quite a lot of thoughts and memories for me. Memories of how rough kids often treat each other. Bullies of all ages tend to focus on difference or perceived weakness. Attacks I experienced didn't depend so much on whether or not you were of a particular race, gender, or sexual orientation, but if you were perceived as such. Man oh man did I hate bullies, and in my rapt hatred at times became one, and oh man oh man did I hate myself, although it was fun writing K-I-L-L on my knuckles. So long ago for most of us, but happening as I type to someone.
The play brought good memories too, like of all the counterculture kids I grew up with, people with all sorts of family arrangements that I'm glad my mom never taught me to trip on. Not everyone's mom can be as cool as mine, so I was heartened to see the COLAGE people getting the message out and having fun.
Bodhidarhma also writes, in his 'Breakthrough Sermon' "Invoking has to do with thought and not with language. If you use a trap to catch a fish, once you succeed you can forget the trap. And if you use language to find meaning, once you find it you can forget language."
Language take us so far, but not all the way. That I like. Language attempts to fuddle my mind on a more or less constant basis, so try thinking in colors, sub-sonic vibrations, submarine songs of heartbeats and blood in transit, anything to get away. Buckminster Fuller tried not talking for more than a year to shake his brain up. Talk, talk, it's all talk.