While in India I've once again turned my thoughts to spirituality, and been assessing any correlations it has with being trans. It was my shift in consciousness and my world view in 2000-2001 that helped me find my own self acceptance.
In 1998, before I came out as Brianna Austin, I first heard the concept that we are not really physical beings in search of spirituality; but rather, spiritual beings living a physical existence. This prompted me to then wonder "why are we here, on Earth, in this human form?" Understanding form may help understanding transgender form. Like those on spiritual pilgrimages, we too are conflicted by the spiritual vs. the physical; the mind and soul vs. the body.
According to many of the eastern religions, to seek the path of spiritual enlightenment one must learn detachment from Ego, the physical self, and all Earthly desires, possessions and distractions. Similarly, a transperson -- to reach self-acceptance -- must also learn detachment from Ego to learn humility, and detachment from their physical body; to get in touch with who they are beyond what they are; more accurately, beyond the condition they have. Only then are we prepared to address being transgender.
Throughout the world there are followers of a wide variety of religions and philosophies. Many of you yourself may be church-going religious people. While the individual doctrines between Christianity, Islam, Hindu, and Buddhism are varied, spirituality is not: in every religion their is God. Some believe God to be the ultimate father figure, while others interpret God, the OneSource, OneGod, etc. to be the supreme universal life force of all things: i.e. The OneGod resides within me.
Some believe that our time on Earth in this life is merely a steppingstone to the next realm (i.e. heaven, Valhalla, etc.), and how we behave here -- like children on probation -- will determine our entry or rejection. Others believe entry is a forgone conclusion in a never-ending life cycle that will bring us back here indefinitely.
Still another concept would be that we exist here to experience that which we couldn't in our previous -- more Godly -- form. This would suggest that we were in fact a part of -- but less than -- God, connected with all things as a unified life-force; a single unified consciousness. On Earth then, in this life, we have the opportunity to embrace and experience the adventure of individual expression.
And if that theory were true, how does that impact us as transpeople? Does it make you feel limited or limitless?
Perhaps we are here solely to express this individuality, this singular form, for no other reason but the experience of it. And if true, this might explain why humans are so often seeking out groups -- whether religious, political, or any other like-mindedness that makes us feel connected, unified as we were in our former forms.
Is our conflict from identifying one way while our bodies manifested in another? Or is it from seeing ourselves internally in a way that the outside world can neither see nor embrace?
A friend during transition once told me that "once I complete my surgery I'll be like every other woman!" She became furious when I disagreed. She felt degraded, as though she were somehow less than human if I failed to accept her as a "woman like every other." But I thought, how many women do you know born with penis, or with a man's life experience for 20, 30 or 40 years? She was so defensive that she failed to understand that I already saw her as a woman regardless of whether she had surgery or not, just not exactly the same as any other. Is that a bad thing? Are all women the same? I don’t think so. She saw herself as nothing until she had surgery to "look" like and assimilate into society as any other woman.
Is it the cosmetic that makes her a woman, or the life force within her? Did she really need to convince herself she was a woman, or was the need to convince everyone else?
I can remember the day so clearly when I stopped caring "what other people thought." Every day before was draining -- emotionally, mentally, which translated to physically -- to wear that armor everyday. So one day I decided to step out and let people just take me as they will, because their words don't define me; their words only define them.
Like the quest for spiritual enlightenment, the search for gender self -acceptance is a deeply personal one: it shouldn't require approval from anyone but you.
But that is a tall order, because no matter what we tell ourselves, we do care what others think, so it’s an ongoing effort to keep bringing ourselves back to our center, reminding ourselves of what is true, what matters, what is healthy and beneficial to our time on Earth.
In an article by Rajiv Vij entitled Altering Your Karmic Cycle, he talks about "This journey entails learning to be a witness to our own mental and emotional patterns -- our dominant beliefs and our recurring and conditional responses. What makes you angry or fearful or anxious and how often? What beliefs do you have that make you feel that way?"
He goes on to say what I have always believed to be the most important mental and emotional transformation towards inner balance: "it requires taking personal responsibility for your situation -- rather than blame your circumstances, partner or colleagues, ..."
People often have patterns in their lives that regardless of the changes they seem to make -- change of location, of job, of gender etc. -- they are subjected to the same outcomes over and over. Do you find yourself blaming your circumstances for unhappiness? Do you catch yourself saying "if only ...." then things would be better?
There are certain realities in life as we know it; time is linear; in this form, life is limited to a certain amount of time. As such, you need to find bits of enjoyment in EACH day, regardless of what that enjoyment is. To take a few minutes of each day to separate yourself from the rat-race of life. It can be as simple as watching the sun rise with a cup a coffee before the day gets going; spending some quiet time at a park, on a river bank, taking a walk, reading alone, anything that gives your mind and soul a chance to relax.
This is a form of meditation, though not as intense as Zen practice, but it still serves to re-energize your spirit and, at times, clarify your life and direction.
To disregard the individual expression that this life here on Earth offers us, would be to disregard the purpose of the experience, the richness of living.
Regardless of your religious beliefs or spiritual quests, we are all unique individuals: there is no one else on Earth like you, there is no better version of you in the universe because you are the only you that exists; celebrate and rejoice in that!
While many consider being transgender a gift, I never did. However, what I did consider a gift was the self-exploration that being transgender prompted me to seek: life is so much more than our gender identity.
If upon our deaths we are destined for reunification with the universal life-force, entry to heaven or hell, or whatever you personally believe, for now, in this time and place you are here. Experience it the best you can and be grateful for each and every moment of it.
And remember that even on a bad day, life is glorious, and the human spirit can endure whatever the heart has the courage to overcome. Approach life with an option mind, otherwise you'll forever be shackled to the beliefs of others.
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