January 11, 2012

The Choice. ~ Chad Woodland


Buddhism, Christianity, honesty, and freedom.

It’s interesting, and sometimes painful, to watch people on TV debate your life. By that, I mean the gay part of your (my) life. To them it’s an abstraction, yet they feel they are experts enough to want to create public policy in regards to you. It’s really a lot closer to home when you are confronted with someone who wants to debate you with you. Being that we just passed through the holiday season and families are in close quarters, I’m sure some of the unlucky “you” had to do just that.

Usually when people want to debate “you” or are stating “facts” about “you,” they are using some religious text such as the Bible.  If the Quran says anything remotely anti-homosexual, that’s probably the only verse those same people would say is accurate. They ascribe a certain belief that this ancient book, one that has been used for over a millennia, that has been the reason, impetus, excuse for so much violence in the world, is without error (Note that at it’s essence, it is a book that should inspire hope and love).

Today, people can’t decide if Rick Perry is going to continue in the Republican nomination process despite news reports and live broadcasts. But we are supposed to live our life according to this book, which has been re-translated and re-edited across the course of its very historical life. But the topic is the choice. Those pounders of the pulpit would have everyone believe that it is a choice to be homosexual and it can, by it’s nature, be “un-chosen.”

I have friends that are of the religious ilk that also have brought this to my attention. Just because you have certain feelings doesn’t mean you need to act on them. That sounds completely logical and is actually in keeping with my own Buddhist beliefs.


So how does one determine which actions should we act upon? Again, I will turn to my own beliefs, but I think this would be universal. Harm. Any action that causes us to harm another is probably not a good action to take. In Buddhism we take the Bodhisattva vows, where we essentially vow to live our life in service to others. So who is being harmed by living a lie? To deny yourself of who you are is a lie to yourself and it’s one that you never really believe.

They will try the argument that you may want to commit murder, but I would classify that as harm. They love to pin the pedophile label on homosexuals (more acts are committed by heterosexuals), and pedophilia is certainly harm.  Then we would begin the great discourse of harming society, which is so baseless it has no argument required.

Who is harmed by living a lie besides yourself? Everyone, including your wife, if you decide to try that escape route. I’ve watched too many marriages eventually fall apart because of that little lie. It goes without saying about having to explain that to the children from the marriage. Surprisingly most former couples end us as friends but so much of their life spent living a lie. I find that very sad.

The lie gets more tawdry if we begin to bring up the results of repression that have become so obvious in the Catholic Church. Men, in an attempt to lie to themselves, choose to become priests and completely deny and suppress their homosexuality. There we find pedophilia not from an openly gay man but from a extremely world denying self-hater that is acting out where his sexual development was stymied. I would say it’s the same type of situation for people like Jerry Sandusky. In each case, it is an attempt to be “normal” that eventually destroys them. Here the choice to lie has had awful consequences: harm.

I think one of the first things that Buddhism forces us to do is face reality. Don’t gloss over it and place blame on something for your circumstances. There is no “devil made me do it” escape hatch. Face reality. But we find, through meditation and study, that reality is actually quite different from what we thought. Reality exists despite our valiant attempts to make it a certain way. Those moral pundits want the world to exist a certain way and use religion to justify that attempt. Attempting to force our view on the world is defined as Ignorance and is the subject of the second Noble Truth. It is why we suffer.

There is a choice to make. The true choice is to live your life honestly. To try not to harm others or yourself. In fact, it’s really best to help others and thereby you’ll help yourself. And you’re not helping anyone by living a lie.


Chad Woodland has been meditating since he was around 18 years of age and in the Buddhist tradition for the last 17 years. Don’t ask his age, that’s not polite! He attends Phoenix Shambhala Meditation Center and Emaho in Scottsdale and is taking the Lam Rim Chen Mo course through Jamyang Center in London. He and his partner have been together for almost 17 years! If it weren’t for Buddhism he would still be single.

Read 8 Comments and Reply

Read 8 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 1,375,590