Dear friends, community members, and fellow meditators,
Last summer I met with a group of Tergar community members from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community. I heard their concerns about the current climate for members of the LGBTQ community. They shared some of their own experiences of discrimination and violence directed toward them because of their difference. The group members spoke of how Buddha’s teachings have been meaningful, especially during difficult times.
More recently, they let me know that this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, when the LGBTQ community in the United States began to standup and ask for fair and equal treatment. And of course this is also a critical time when our world is seeing the history of racial injustice and other forms of oppression with fresh eyes.
Especially right now, it is important to acknowledge our collective history of discrimination, both the progress we have made and the work still left to do. It is time to affirm that the Buddha’s teachings are for all people; that all are accepted with kindness and love, accepted as they are.
Just as Tergar welcomes people of all cultural backgrounds and faith traditions, our community welcomes our LGBTQ members. I have known many LGBTQ people over the years. They have been and continue to be important and valued members of Tergar. Their suffering must be heard, acknowledged, and addressed.
Just like all of us, our LGBTQ community members seek the safety and support of the Sangha to bring their whole selves to the practice and to the community.
The teachings of the Buddha show us to not judge others but to have compassion for all. Meditation helps us to become self-aware and to explore our judging mind and see our own biases. Meditation helps us to see our essential wholeness: the common ground we all share.
We all seek happiness. We all strive to open our hearts fully to the suffering of others. Our hearts of compassion must hold the suffering of all, not just a selected, familiar few.
We are all interdependent. Even our small actions or inaction affect the whole. We live in relationship with all. This is the heart of Buddha’s teaching.