Using Non-Duality to Escape Sexual Orientation?
I was giving a talk a few years ago and a young man approached me with a quizzical look on his face. He said, “I have a girlfriend but I think I’m attracted to men and I really don’t like that. I would like to use your Inquiries to get rid of this part of myself.” Needless to say, I strongly recommended that he not use the Inquiries in that manner.
These were, apparently, very naturally-occurring thoughts, emotions and proclivities arising for him. But the sense of shame around his sexual desires led him to non-dual teachings as a way to escape the attraction. He may not have been aware that this is what his mind was doing. Apparently, he was partly concerned about cheating on his girlfriend. But I encouraged him to see that cheating deals with issues of monogamy and honesty in relationship and that sexual orientation is a different matter altogether. The gender(s) to which you are attracted is not the same as whether you lie to someone in a relationship.
This is where I think some confusion arises in non-dual teachings. Life is a streaming river of all kinds of feelings, thoughts, energies, urges, attractions, repulsions, pain and pleasure weaving themselves temporarily in and out of experience. It’s easy to see awakening as a way out of the river. But I’ve found that the deepest realization is to wake up within and through these movements in life, to actually look at what is arising and to free oneself from the escaping from, and grasping for, a fixed belief in self.
Negating the various eddies in the river is not transformation. It’s the same old game of escape disguised as awakening. For those who wish to use awakening as an escape from sexual orientation or gender identity, maybe a healthier route would be to look at the story of deficiency that is connected with the orientation. Is there shame, fear or self-judgment running the show? Is the belief, “There is something wrong with me,” present? Those things can certainly drop away, as the thoughts, emotions, and sensations are no longer identified with. But is the sexual orientation itself really the problem? And how would you know until the shame, fear and self-judgment is released?
There is a natural expression of uniqueness that can come about through no longer identifying with stories, labels, and emotions. This is one of the most elusive and inexplicable aspects of freedom because the mind believes that “natural expression of uniqueness” is just plain ego. It’s not. It’s movement within and through life no longer feeling bad about who you are, no longer feeling the constraints and limitations of a thought-based identity. But life still moves in its own mysterious way even when identity-making has quieted. And sometimes it moves as a certain proclivity to express oneself sexually or romantically with a certain gender or both genders.
The very act of trying to escape comes from the fear, shame, and self-judgment, not from the natural expression of sexual or romantic attraction itself. There is a way to express oneself in life sexually and romantically without mentally clinging to a particular gender or sexual identity. But that’s not escape. That’s just leaving the story behind and following your bliss in the moment. That’s a celebration of life and the unique way it shows up for you in experience, in the moment, without a story that it should be different than it is.
More than anything else, know that this is just my experience. That’s all I have to give. Don’t trust me. Find out for yourself if what you seek is to escape or to find freedom in the river of life as it shows up.