Leather Buddha

Posted: November 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Last weekend, I was in a noodle shop in Madison, Wisconsin discussing Buddhism with two friends who also practice Zen.  Later that night, I was in a scene with both, one of them holding me and grinning diabolically in my face as the other whipped my back from behind.  Sound contradictory?  Not at all.  The more people I meet out in the greater Leather world, the more I find that we are often a spiritual people.  We may not all sit in pews come Sunday morning, but many of us who wear Leather Saturday night do hold deeper beliefs about life and Leather.  For many of us, our Leather is entwined with our spiritual path to the point where the two are almost indistinguishable from each other.

To me, my Leather and my Buddhism are two cords that, combined with my family, chosen and blood, make a strong rope that I hold on to.

This rope is what I grab hold of when life gets rough and I’m tossed around by chaos.  It’s the rope that I held on to after my brother died of cancer last year, not long before my regional contest.  Death, particularly that of someone very close to you, has a way of making you rethink life.  It’s like putting a light painting in front of a black wall…the contrast helps you see things you might otherwise have missed.  I questioned everything in those weeks as I processed what his death meant to me and who I was.  Going back home to the farm, to the quietness of fields and small towns, also made me reflect on my own journey, one which had taken me so far from home.  My Master went with me and, while he was embraced by my family and handled adapting to this setting with graceful ease, it still shone a light on how different a man he is from the ones I grew up with.  The most striking part of this trip home to my brother’s funeral came in the receiving line at the side of his coffin during the visitation…where no one recognized me.

I am foreign among my own blood…a stranger from a faraway place with a different accent and a head full of different ideas.

Still, I felt peace.  As my family speculated on my brother’s fate and their hopes that his death brought an end to his suffering, I did not join in.  The fact is, I cannot know where my brother has gone.  I cannot know whether I will join him or laugh with him again.  I know, though, that the body that held him prison, dying around him the cancer ate his organs, has died.  Some part of me, the part that knows that there is something beyond pain, a place where our minds are no longer tied to our bodies, that place of peace and sublime that I reach when I play hard, that part of me knows that he is no longer feeling the agony he did in his last days.  Whatever transition he has made, it is the same one that awaits everyone, just by different routes.  For me, that is comfort enough.

When we returned from his funeral, I asked my Master to play with me hard.  I needed it.  I had set aside thinking about the upcoming SouthEast Community Bootblack contest.  I wasn’t even sure if I would still want to compete.  All I knew was that I had pain deep inside me that needed a way out.  I needed to be somewhere I felt safe so that I could let go of being strong and feel it.  My Master and I scened.  It was not a pretty scene or necessarily a passionate one, but it was raw and authentic.  My tears weren’t pretty teardrops silently streaming down my face.  They were tortured sobs with snot and my face contorted and red.  I stopped pushing the pain away and, as the physical pain brought the emotional to the surface, I let go and let myself feel it all.  I cried for him and his suffering.  I cried for my mother who seemed to be lost inside grief, unable to see a pathway out.  I cried for my father, still so out of touch with his emotions, so separated from his family.  I cried for my brother, trying so hard to be strong enough for everyone.  I cried for myself, the stranger in their midst, too selfish in my own life to take the time to stay an active part of theirs.

What does this all have to do with Buddha?

Buddha walked many different paths on his way to enlightenment.  It’s said he tried many different spiritual paths before just sitting down underneath a tree and clearing his mind and thinking.  Some of those paths included pain and denial and discipline.  Some forms of Buddhism still do.  Buddha did not reject pain and did not see it as inherently evil, but as simply a sensation and a part of life.  Many chronic pain sufferers find comfort in Buddhism because it encourages them to accept the reality of their pain.  For me, it allows me to accept pain in all its forms, physical, mental, emotional.  All pain has a place in our lives.  For me and those I play with and around, pain can often be the catalyst for experiences that are beyond what words can express.  We don’t fear pain the way many do, but instead see it as a tool.  For me, pain is often a tool that helps me focus and reach a place that is almost like active meditation.  The dungeon  or Leather bar is my altar and I am my own sacrifice and yes, sex is part of it all.  In the midst of the sweat, blood, piss, and cum, I find truth.  I find the honest, gritty truth about who I am as a human, an imperfect being with desires, needs, fears, and wants.  Even better, when I lay all that bare for those I play with and around…I am accepted, dirty and broken as I am, I am embraced.

In the dungeon or Leather bar, at the end of the whip or knife, I strengthen that rope I hold on to.  I tie the bonds that will keep me safe as I walk outside, into a world that doesn’t follow our rules.  Out there, there are no safewords that will make cancer stop.  There is no way to negotiate with death.  Very little in life is follows SSC or RACK.  Still, that rope is something to hold on to.

I think my Buddha at home needs his Sir cover…don’t you?

  1. yathink2 says:

    WOW!!! This spoke more to me than some of the others…. You got a cord sweetie!!!! I dealt with things a lot differently than I do now. When I was young, say 17 I lost my mother. Because of not dealing with it and making that rope stronger…. I just pushed everyone away and then joined the Navy. I ran…

    I dont run any more, well most of the time anyway… 🙂 I have found strength in my adopted family and I love that. They are my glue, and where I turn when I am in need.

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