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Rime Buddhist Center

Monastery & Tibetan Institute of Studies
"Achieving Peace Through Compassion"
700 West Pennway
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
(816) 471-7073
Lama Chuck Stanford

The following is Lama Chuck's monthly column that appeared in the Kansas City Star
newspaper on Saturday Feb. 14, 2004.

March's column

QUESTION: "I have a friend who says if I have faith and think more positively it would help in my healing. I don't see how faith and positive thinking have anything to do with physical healing. I would understand perhaps, if I had an emotional or psychological problem."

ANSWER: What do we mean by healing? Healing doesn't always mean a cure. Many times there is no cure if we lose a limb or suffer a chronic illness, but that doesn't mean we can't heal. Regardless of our current situation it is always possible for us to heal. Healing can takes many forms. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says in "Full Catastrophe Living," "Healing implies the possibility for us to relate differently to illness, disability, even death as we learn to see with the eyes of wholeness." The standard western medical model is usually concerned only with healing of the body. But sometimes diseases of the body are symptomatic of some deeper underlying problem of our mind or how our mind relates to the world. We can observe for ourselves how environmental stress and negative
emotions have a deleterious effect upon our body. When we are angry or fearful we experience a variety of negative physical effects. Our muscles can go into great tension, our blood pressure and heart rate increase along with a variety of other responses that are not helpful to the body. Therefore if we know stress and negative emotions have a negative effect upon the body, then we also know that a change in our perspective or view can assist the body with healing. Changing our view through visualization or meditation may not be able to "cure" our illness but it can change how we relate to that illness. And that can make all the difference.

[For more information contact Lama Chuck.]

March Column

QUESTION: "What is your opinion of same sex marriage and how would you
define marriage?"

ANSWER: Today we tend to think of marriage only in terms of monogamy but in
our country's history there has been polygamy, and even complex marriages
practiced (Oneida community). The term marriage refers to joining together but
historically has had many different meanings. In the Middle Ages marriage was
about property rights and inheritance and not about love. In some cultures
there is no formal marriage. In other religions and cultures the primary purpose
of marriage is procreation. However, today marriage has come to be more
about supporting people in love, including those too old or otherwise unable to
have children.

Today marriage has two aspects: one is religious the other is legal and it is
this dichotomy that creates the problem today about gay marriages. We are
fortunate to live in a country that separates church and state. Therefore we
must define marriage in a manner consistent with the secular principles upon
which the government laws are founded and not the religious principles that
individuals voluntarily follow. If we fail to do this then we will be a country of
arbitrary laws based upon the religion of those in office.

So, from the Buddhist perspective a person's sexual orientation is not as
important as what is in one's heart. Living your life with love and compassion
for all beings and trying not to harm others is what is most important. I
believe all consenual committed relationships should be encouraged - including gay
marriage. It is through such intimate, committed relationships that we are
able to grow spiritually.

[For more information contact Lama Chuck.]


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