Sunday, February 25, 2007

sticks and stones can break your bones

But words can never harm you.
I never believed this, because it wasn't true. Still isn't. Words do hurt. In 2005 - at the Western Wall in Jerusalem - a "holy" man said to me- when I told him that I was gay - that I was an abomination against G*d, and no better than an animal. Did those words hurt? Yes! They were like a knife in the gut.
A definitive moment in the "story" of two men talking is about the power of words to hurt, and later to heal. Language not only expresses human experience. It shapes it.
But what about thoughts? What is the effect of thoughts on experience?
Can thoughts harm the way words do? Can one's destructive or negative thoughts harm others or do they only harm us? And if so, how does one change one's thoughts so that they don't cause harm?
The first time I ever met the Venerable Khenpos (, they told me that I think too much. And they were right. I am utterly addicted to thinking. And entrenched in the habit of trying to think my way out of anything! The Khenpos suggested that I relax my mind.

This is sometimes possible in the practice of two men talking. When I am in it, particularly when I am on stage performing, the thoughts are quiet for a while. Telling stories - sticking to the "what happened" rather than thoughts about what happened is a way of disciplining the mind. And paradoxically relaxing the mind.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about any of this.