Many years ago, I attended a couple of seminars offered by this “guru” when he was little known. Today he is one of India‘s most respected spiritual teachers, and I came across an article about what he recently said about being gay.
So much has been written about homosexuality since the Delhi High Court judgment to strike down Section 377, which the British imposed on the Indian legal system in 1861. Here is what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had to say in a recent interview on the subject.
Guruji: As far as the ancient scripture is concerned, there is neither mention nor prohibition of it. One thing the ancient scriptures say, as far as I know is that every human being is made up of both Mother and Father – half-female, half-male. The male tendency may be dominant; sometimes the female tendency may be dominant. It is a biological phenomenon. So if people are bound to have sunch tendencies, they should acknowledge it.
Question: Are you approving of gay marriages? Would you conduct gay marraiges?
Answer: Conducting marriages is not part of spirituality at all. It is a religious thing. Spirituality simply makes you aware that you are spirit and it uplifts you from all tendencies, whether you are for, or against, or paranoid about the sexuality of other people. All this is not concerned with spirituality. Spirituality makes you realize that you are not just flesh. You are light. So there is a gender equality in spirituality. Religion will not give you gender equality, whereas in spirituality, whether you are a mother, or father, it doesn’t matter – you are equal.
Question:But here we are not talking about parenthood.
Answer: I am talking about the male and female tendencies in a person. Depending on whatever tendencies are strongest in the system, biologically, this will accordingly reflect in one’s life and sexuality. So, I think, one should see that one is not just flesh because it’s a temporary thing. Tendencies are temporary, but the spirit is much more than tendencies. You are the spirit, which is all light, all love, wisdom and knowledge. Your identification must shift from gender to spirit… and this is exactly what spirituality means – to rise above the tendencies that are impermanent.
We have seen that many straight people “get” gay tendencies, sometimes… and this creates fear in them. They are so scared about what is happening to them. When they start meditating, they rise above this, and become natural and loving. Even people, who brand themselves as being gay, suddenly find themselves being attracted to opposite sex… and it creates big confusion. This is why I say that you should not label yourself. You are much more than your tendencies. You are the beautiful spirit, and if that is also a label, it is better to have this label, than any other.
As a gay person, this is lovely to read. But it certainly is not new insight. Living inside the skin and spirit of the gay psyche, virtually all LGBT people feel the essential “purity” of their sentient self. (I’m not talking about closeted or self-hating homosexuals who deny their truth.) Different as our sexual orientation may be from the majority of people, we are not living in any “separate reality”. We are all far more similar than different as human beings. What Guru Shankar is talking about is human essence, not human psychology or human behavior.
When we allow our minds to go into a higher level of awareness, sexual orientation becomes irrelevant. Ram Dass spoke about the experience of coming from a higher plain of awareness as well. Using tantric yoga breathing techniques infuses the body with an energy that offers a lighter view of sexuality that is neither maleness or femaleness. It is “is-ness”, and I think this is what Shankar is talking about, not carnal issues or gay identity or sexual orientation.