Cult of Personality

i have changed my sangha and my teacher. I left two sanghas that were led by male Tibetan gurus. I have officially joined the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. My new teacher is woman, a teacher of bhakti yoga. It wasn’t until after I made these changes that I noticed something very obvious: I changed all the male Buddhist authority figures in my life to women.  Buddhist Peace Fellowship is led by ordained women of colour, Black Asian and Latina. Katie and Dawn are the co-coordinators of Buddhist Peace Fellowship. I don’t know who Katie and Dawn are, but they’re doing a terrific job. I prefer women to be in charge. I feel that with women in charge, who are consciously working toward gender equity and against heteropatriarchy, I will be treated better. I will be respected as a trans person and supported as a member, instead of being treated like a peon and a freak. That’s what I prefer; that’s the way I am.

What I had been frustrated with, among other things, was the dynamics of sanghas dominated by male gurus. Sanghas led by male gurus are fraught with hierarchy, white male domination, competition and control, and a tendency to devalue everyone else in the sangha who is not male, rich, and white. There is a pecking order of those who are close to the guru vs. those who are distant. And so on. As a trans*queer, I find the dynamics of these sanghas oppressive and intolerable. It’s not necessarily what the guru wants, but it’s what happens when there’s a dominant male is in charge: it becomes a cult of personality. So here’s the noisy lesson of the day: “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. Lyrics follow under the video.

(And during the few moments that we have left
We want to talk right down to earth
In a language that everybody here can easily understand)

Look in my eyes, what do you see?
The cult of personality
I know your anger, I know your dreams
I’ve been everything you want to be
I’m the cult of personality
Like Mussolini and Kennedy
I’m the cult of personality
The cult of personality
The cult of personality

Neon lights, Nobel Prize
When a mirror speaks, the reflection lies
He won’t have to follow me
Only you can set me free
I sell the things you need to be
I’m the smiling face on your T.V.
I’m the cult of personality
I exploit you, still you love me

I tell you one and one makes three
I’m the cult of personality
Like Joseph Stalin and Gandhi
I’m the cult of personality
The cult of personality
The cult of personality

Neon lights, Nobel Prize
When a leader speaks, that leader dies
He won’t have to follow me
Only you can set you free

You gave me fortune
You gave me fame
You gave me power in your god’s name
I’m every person you need to be
Oh, I’m the cult of personality
I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of
I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of, I’m the cult of personality

(Ask not what your country can do for you)

(The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself)

“Cult Of Personality” is track #1 on the album Vivid. It was written by Vernon Reid,  Corey Glover,  Will Calhoun,  Muzzy Skillings,

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