Transcending Conventional Distinctions

Mae Chee Kaew

Transcending Conventional Distinctions

The separation of men and women has become so deeply ingrained in most cultures that it is quite natural to experience it in a religious context. But gender is transient, it comes and goes; conditioned by past karma, it is a kind of destiny. The essence of one’s being is without name and without form, and thus without characteristics of male or female.

This is a fundamental tenet of Buddhism: that the attributes of self-identity are devoid of intrinsic essence — everything that makes a person unique changes continually and eventually disintegrates. Each personality is constantly ceasing to be what it was and becoming something new. Those factors one tends to conceive of as “self” are impermanent and fleeting. Everything about bodily form, and the mind’s thoughts and feelings, is without intrinsic worth and bound to dissolve. For that reason, clinging to body and mind is a major source of pain and suffering.

Realization that the essence of mind, stripped of all external characteristics, has no inherent gender, rank or status, liberates us from the concepts of separate or common identities that hinder our progress and limit our freedom. All such conventional distinctions must be transcended if we are to sever the bonds that bind us so tightly to the cycle of birth and death. In this respect, all human beings stand on an equal footing, because the fundamental delusions of mind that must be overcome are essentially the same for everyone.

This reflection by Mae Chee Kaew is from the book, Mae Chee Kaew, (pdf) p.16, compiled from Thai sources & written by Bhikkhu Dick Sīlaratano.