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Gender and the Separate Sense of Self

Section Introduction
by Andrew Cohen

section introduction

What is enlightenment? Well, it's many things, but most important of all, it's supposed to be the transcendence of the ego, or the separate sense of self. And a significant part of being a separate self relates directly to the unavoidable fact of gender: maleness and femaleness. So to what degree does our awareness of being a man or a woman contribute to our sense of individuality? How much of our separate sense of self is based upon gender consciousness? And what about our sexual orientation and its relationship to the ego, or separate sense of self? These were the kinds of questions we were looking into when we put together Issue 16 in 1999. But what made the inquiry really interesting for us was the mind-boggling question: What's the relationship between enlightenment, which means no notion of self, and gender consciousness? And also: What's the relationship between no notion of self and our sexual orientation? Anyway, you get the idea—it was quite a wild ride. The following interviews with Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo and José Cabezón are two windows into this at times intensely challenging inquiry.


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This article is from
Our Anniversary Issue