Don't Ask Don't Tell: Powell v. Tolle
The New York Times, among other sources, is reporting that General Colin Powell has finally come out . . . in support of the Obama administration's proposal to end the 17-year ban on military service by openly gay men and women — the policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Citing a change in societal circumstance, Powell reversed his position from when he was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to side with the current one, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
In times like these, I always wonder what Oprah's favorite spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, might have to say on the subject. It seems clear that Tolle would be in favor of removing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" but his reasoning might surprise you. Indeed, his support may be a double-edged sword for the gay community.
In answering a question about the impact of being gay upon the journey toward enlightenment, the subject of his first book, The Power of Now, Tolle says that homosexuality "takes you out of unconsciousness almost by force."
By this he means that it's a good thing, as unconsciousness is the opposite of enlightenment. So a jolt out of unconsciousness will at least point you in the right direction.
"On the other hand," Tolle writes, "if you then develop a sense of identity based on your gayness, you have escaped one trap only to fall into another."
For Tolle, and eastern religion in general, identification with anything--even, and maybe especially, your sexuality--keeps you from getting to know your true, underlying self.
This is where "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" comes into play. No one cares to "tell" about their sexual practices and preferences unless they feel it in someway expresses "who they are"; that is, it's part of their identity.
However, this, in Tolle's rubric, is just one of a wide array of identifications that keep us from getting to our true selves — one of which can be heterosexuality, and that's much more common. Some people are wrapped up in straight sex and if you get to know them, sooner or later they're going to want to "tell" you all about it. It's human nature. Now, could we outlaw that practice?
Probably not. Imagine the impact on the armed services if that were the case.
The point is, to paraphrase another famous spiritual teacher, "He who is without sin, commence the next administrative separation" (which is the official designation for what happens under the present policy to gays who tell).