17 May 2012

Becoming Who We Are

I feel I owe all kinds of people a sincere apology, and that "all kinds of people" includes myself.

It is only this week that I've begun coming out at the Center.  While my family and close friends have known for about six years now, when it comes to the practice environment, I only ever told my first teacher, and he appears to have kept a pretty tight lid on it.  

On the one hand, it doesn't matter.  On the other, it makes all the difference in the world.  Not the being gay part, but the being open about it part.  What was I afraid of?  Who was I afraid of?  What took so long?

Of course, I was somewhat afraid, and, as with so much else, these things unfold in their own good time.  I'm not going to beat myself up over it, but I'm not proud of the way I behaved, either.  Time was lost.  Opportunities were lost.  Parts of life were lost.

I take great consolation in the fact that this is exactly how it is with everything connected to practice.  What is practice, if it is not overcoming the fear that comes with a carefully-maintained ego-identity by letting go of that very ego-identity?  What is practice, if it is not slowly, sometimes painfully, yet always rewardingly (if that's a word), coming to be exactly who we are – without gloss, without veneer, without pretense? What is practice, if it does not yield that great ease and joy that comes with knowing that none of the nonsense was ever needed in the first place?

Sir Ian McKellan commented that people said he was a better actor once he had come out.  I'm hoping this might just make me a better priest.


  1. Thank you for your practice, your sincerity, and openness. Please do not spend a moment regretting how much time has gone by--your decision to be open at this point takes courage, compassion and concern for yourself and all others. Bows to you from a fellow gay Zen priest. I've been enjoying your blog for some time now and was delighted to read this post.

  2. Withholding such kinds of information touches upon Zen/Buddhist practice in so many ways. Taken strictly, it could be considered a violation of the fourth precept (false speech) to NOT reveal it (a so-called "lie of omission"--though of course one could justifiably argue that one's personal life is just that--personal). Not revealing that information also creates a sense of duality: to the Center you were one such a person (presumed heterosexual), while to yourself, close friends and family you were gay. Dissolving that duality had to only have been liberating for you.