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River 09-01-2009 09:31 PM

Buddha Dharma & Polyamory
I chose "Buddha Dharma," rather than the more popular and familiar "Buddhism" because ... well, it's a little complicated. Is the Dharma of Siddhattha Gotama best understood as an "-ism"? Maybe not. In any case, we could just as well have called this "Buddhism & Polyamory" -- but it didn't work out like that.

Firstly, I'm not a Buddhist. Rather, I draw spiritual inspiration from the Buddha Dharma. I doubt that I'll ever be a card-carrying member of any religion or quasi-religious quasi-philosophical anything. What inspires me, mainly, about the Buddha's Dharma is its integrity, its wholeness. Scrape away any superstitions or occlusions to its luminosity, and the heart of the Buddha's Dharma is pratītyasamutpāda (dependent arising) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratitya-samutpada .

If everything that is exists only in profound interdependence with everything else, it follows that there are no separate selves (or souls). Yet in all of this fundamental non-separateness, there are distinctions. The Dharma of the Buddha may be best described as a Way (a Dharma is like a Way or a Tao) of discovering what distinction is and is not. If a distinction is not a separation -- because nothing exists separately or unchangingly -- what could this mean and what does this imply about our human lives?

Most of us humans appear to believe we are fundamentally separate, apart, from others and the world, and beyond. We tend to think that we can personally benefit from X while, generally, others do not. Or we think we can be harmed by Y while others are not. We think we are fundamentally alone. And we are -- in a way. And yet we are not.

The Buddha Dharma helps us realize the significance of giving, of caring, of lovingkindness. It helps us to realize our distinctness without falling for the illusion of separation. We realize, deeper and deeper, that while we are distinct individuals we are also utterly continuous and identical with all of life, all of existence. These apparently dualistic entities are realized as identical: non-dual. Self and other are both identical and not identical. A seeming paradox. Who do we ever give to? That's a koan. Of sorts. Rilke (poet) famously said,

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions”

But this koan of the gift (which we may live) goes one further. We do not so much seek an answer to the koan as the falling away of the problem--the very question--, which is borne of an illusion. There is real giving because there is distinction. There is no giving because there is no self apart to give. There is only giving because "There are nothing but gifts on this poor, poor Earth." - Czeslaw Milosz (also a poet).

And, yes, there is the problem of taking, of greed and selfishness -- all borne of the illusion of separation -- a basic failure of comprehension and experience of distinction, of actual otherness! The actual otherness of the other, his/her alterity, is obscured, occluded, by our sense of ourselves as separate rather than distinct.

And let's be real about it.... Whole cultures and civilizations -- epochs -- are borne of, imbued by, stained within this illusion. The Dharma, if it is to mean anything, must be both personal and transpersonal, individual and social. The sangha is all of life, everywhere and everywhen. The practice is giving, without self-grasping. Who gives? (Flipside of the other giving koan.) We cannot know, as grasping, who gives. Letting go, we breathe.

River 09-01-2009 09:41 PM

"What's the Opposite of Jealousy?"
Tricycle Magazine

River 09-02-2009 12:30 AM

The Polyamorous Buddhist Society of Victoria (PolyBuds Vic)


OneSoul 09-09-2009 10:07 PM

Lovely post.

Catfish 09-09-2009 10:41 PM

I read that several times. Thank you.

berserker239 09-15-2009 02:26 AM

Wow, im gonna have to reread this xD

im a buddhist myself and im rather confused on how youve crossed the title Buddha with the way of Dharma. Most confuse Buddha as being that big jigggly guy that is the god of Buddhism, but obviously their wrong, ofcourse the founder of buddhism was Siddhattha Gotama and he wasnt fat xD

anyway, off to reread

glenfoxman 10-21-2009 07:04 PM

Buddha Dharma Polyamory
Interesting replies, and a great post to start it off

For myself, I don't see the two as being inherently linked.

That said, I also know for a fact that you can have some amazingly spiritual experiences with other people... you don't even need to be in a relationship beyond friendship or casual acquaintance. Could polyamory feed into a spiritual system, or the reverse? I don't see why not. I don't think though, as I said, that the two are necessarily bound to one another.
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River 10-21-2009 11:44 PM


Originally Posted by glenfoxman (Post 9460)
.... For myself, I don't see the two as being inherently linked.

I don't either. That is, I see no inherent link between Buddhism/Buddha Dharma and polyamory -- or monogamy.... Nor do I see any conflict -- as some traditionalists do and will.


Please do not include links to commercial websites in your future posts (e.g., signature) unless they are links to polyamory related websites. It's a matter of policy in this forum that we don't allow such posts/signatures. Thank you. And welcome to the forum!

River 10-29-2009 01:08 PM

I was recently browsing a local bookstore when I stumbled upon a book, Touching Enlightenment, by Reggie Ray. Subtitle: Finding Realization in the Body. Sounded like my cup of tea, so I opened it and examined it to see if it wanted to come home with me. It did. And since then I've purchased Reggie's ten CD audio set, Your Breathing Body, part one--and I've been listening and viewing his stuff online. Wow! What a fine man and teacher/teaching! I'm hooked. - - - Interesting thing -- I've never been attracted to the vajrayana / Tibetan traditions until now. I've always been most attracted to zen, primarily, and to the insight/vipassana approaches. But Reggie is a unique dude, and a one-time very close student of Chögyam Trungpa.

Just over the last couple of weeks I feel real shifting happening in my awareness. Somatic (bodily) mindfulness is the essential key!


Sweetheart 11-06-2009 11:46 AM

I have been involved with Buddhism for many years, and have never found any conflict with my poly lifestyle.

The Buddhist concept of Right Sexuality is that, as long as no one is being harmed or made unhappy, it is fine.

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