Gender, sexuality and Buddhist chaplaincy

The annual conference of Corrections NSW chaplains addressed concerns of chaplaincy in a fast changing world with a special focus on gender, sexuality and the needs of LGBTIQ inmates and staff. Buddhist chaplain Daniel Troyak offered these reflections to fellow chaplains from his Buddhist practice.

The Buddha never gave commandments, that is commandments that must be prescribed to whether we believed them to be just or not.  He promoted a holistic approach to life. He taught a morality of living in accord with natural law including not harming others. The Buddha has incredibly vast and profound teachings on the human condition, the mind and suffering. He taught that there is a way out of suffering.

Regardless of our gender, sexuality or identity, we all suffer. This is one universal truth we can all agree on. You, me, we all suffer.  As a practicing Buddhist, my only concern in this life is to enlighten for the benefit of others. It is an act of altruism and care for the suffering of this world. I want nothing more than to witness every one of you awaken. 

By ‘awaken’ I mean recognise your true nature. Your nature that goes beyond all stains. The mind and heart awakened to love and positivity. The true nature I’m referring to goes beyond all mental projections, constructs, opinions and personal beliefs. 

My sexuality is not inherently me, my gender is not inherently me and my likes and dislikes are not inherently me.  However, in samsara – or the form realm that we live in – we have options, and as creative beings we express ourselves in whatever way we see fit. When I look at you, I don’t see your creativity as absolute, and I don’t see your orientation or likes and dislikes as absolutely you. What I see is a human being looking for happiness, connectedness and love. 

We go about it in all sorts of ways – we have options; we have choices and we have decisions to make. These decisions are important because we all want lasting happiness. There is nothing wrong with wanting happiness. 

As a human being and as a spiritual being I have to ask ‘Who am I?’. What part of me is innately me? Am I my gender? Am I my sexuality or my profession? We need to investigate these constructs and recognise the attachment, desire and aversion wrapped up in them. Perhaps I am all of them or perhaps I’m none of them. It is my duty as a human being to inquire. 

And in this room, this is what I’m seeing. I’m seeing spiritual beings inquiring, investigating their own true nature. This room is not about right or wrong it’s about unlimited love and lasting happiness.

We yearn for it. Our heart aches for it.  

So, with every cell in my body, with every part of my being, I wish for every one of us in this room to recognise and experience the source of ultimate love in this life and in here and now.

May you be happy.

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