Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
I think it’s time for me to begin the project of queering the dharma, of producing queer dharma. Queering the dharma is a practice, following the French root of ‘queer’, of torquing or twisting the dharma, of introducing contradictions and tensions. I’m not focusing (exclusively) on sexuality and gender, but on the process of surfacing contradictory and paradoxical meanings that introduce tensions, dissonance and dissidence. From the standpoint of tantric philosophy, tension, dissonance and dissidence is not ‘impure’, nor does it ‘defile’ the dharma. In fact, seeing the natural purity of ‘defilements’ is the essence of tantric philosophy. I choose not to focus on defilements such as eating meat, drinking alcohol, or engaging in sexual acts, which is the traditional practice of tantra, but on challenging the ‘straightness’ of the dharma, revealing its dissonant undertones, its heresies, it’s political and cultural dissidence. The purpose of this queering is spiritual and it is dharma; it is to liberate us from orthodox dharma, from fixed ideas about Buddhism. It startles us with a flash of surprise that wakes up our senses , breaks through our conceptual limitations. It is the queering of dharma-as-emptiness, deconstructing labels, categories, doctrines; queer as shunyata.