Author Topic: Dharma or Loved One?  (Read 3039 times)

thornbush

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Dharma or Loved One?
« on: December 01, 2009, 06:13:20 pm »

As the above asks: Whats your choice?
If u were in a situation where a loved one tells u to make a choice, what would u choose?
No strict definitions of what a 'loved one' is....someone dear to oneself...
Have u been in such situation before?
Would love to hear your story and experience....  :namaste:

Offline humanitas

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2009, 08:13:22 pm »
I love that picture, I have it too!!  :bow:

I was expecting this question to pop up some time as I think many have experienced being put in a position of having to choose a relationship or a belief system.  I as well am interested in what stories people have.  I've never had it happen to me (yeT! Knock on wood...).  I'm married to a non-Buddhist who is fine with my Buddhistry.  We don't always agree obviously on how we view things me coming from a dharmic perspective, he from a non-dharmic East Coast American secular culture, but diversity is the spice of life!  I learn something new about American views every day!


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Offline Pema Rigdzin

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2009, 09:17:22 pm »
I can't imagine someone giving me this ultimatum... I could never choose to turn away from a loved one, but I couldn't turn away from the Dharma either. I mean, the Dharma is coming into knowledge of the true nature of mind and phenomena which leads to freedom for oneself and the ability to help others attain freedom. How could one just give that up? If there were just one life and if we were just talking about mere beliefs, considering turning away from Dharma in favor of something/someone else would be more understandable. But the Dharma is not just a belief system and it doesn't just pertain to this life. And since all things that come together must part, whereas realization of the way things truly are is permanent and is only of benefit to self and others, it would be unthinkable to turn away from the one thing that can lead to permanent freedom in favor of things which everyone knows can't last.

I would explain to my loved one how much he/she means to me, how important my relationship with him/her is, as well as how important the Dharma is, and that I'm not willing to make such a choice. If anyone was going to make such a choice, it would have to be my loved one.


Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2009, 10:04:29 pm »
My situation is not quite so all-or-nothing, but...

I've been a Dhamma practitioner for as long as I have been married. However, I had an active practice when I was first married, but my practice grew a little lax over the years. Three years ago I experienced a revival. Not only did I return to my previous level of practice, but I decided to challenge myself to opt into many of the practices that I previously opted out of: meditating twice a day, chanting, observing 8 precepts twice a month or once a week, going to Sangha meetings and discussion groups, etc. My partner tries to be supportive, but expresses some annoyance with how my practice has become so regimented. He HATED it when I left for a 10-day retreat, and was inaccessible via email, text, or phone.  I am not faced with an ultimatum about practice or relationship, but I do feel some pressure to lighten up a bit, "the way things used to be".

And another example in a different direction. I was befriending a coworker, we seemed to be developing a great friendship. He is also a practicing Buddhist, so I thought it would be great to swap stories. Turns out he belongs to a sect of Buddhism that believes all other forms of Buddhism are "devil dogs", and to converse with one of those misguided Buddhists would trap him into a Hell-plane. Less then politely he told me I should "never speak to him about Buddhism again." I tried to be tolerant, but it turned out to be a bit of a deal breaker. He just could not bring himself to socialized with a lesser Buddhist, and I was not interested in censoring an important part of my identity.

David

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2009, 10:53:14 pm »
This is only a quandry for those who don't realize what real love is.  Real love would never ask some one to change.  Romantic love, or more accurately what I call "hearts and flowers lust" is merely desire cloaked in respectable garb, creates craving and suffering, and is as impermanent as anything else.  So the question boils down to what is more important, the impermanent relationship, or liberation and enlightenment? 

overmyhead

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2009, 01:01:11 am »
I think you are trivializing the situation David.  If you had a friend who wad addicted to a dangerous drug, would you stand by and watch as he destroys himself and hurts his loved ones?  I hope not.  You would intervene out of "real love".  Perhaps you would even offer an ultimatum.

Consider a person who honestly believes that what is good for a person is to strive for wealth.  For such a person, watching a person squander their life in poverty will be painful.  Out of "real love", the former person might take measures to try to change the latter.  This is what makes the issue so complicated.  Ideally, everyone has everyone's best interests at heart, but typically, people project their morality onto everyone else.  They make the mistake of not distinguishing between (1) what's good for you in their world, and (2) what's good for you in your world.  I find that many people are incapable of stepping back and seeing this distinction.  They just assume you are ignorant or a masochist or something, in need of help to set you straight.  Buddhists are better than most in this regard.

thornbush

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2009, 03:26:09 am »
Some personal experience...
Experience Number One:
I used to live with my parents and they were staunch Protestant Christians and hostile to any other beliefs/practices other than their own.
When I became a Buddhist, I could not divulge and played Church for about 2-3 years and kept my identity under wraps until one night, when I came home after work to a burglary, my usual locked room door was rammed down, my cabinets ransacked and stuff thrown and strewn all over the place, including my Buddhist stuff, it was then that the cat was out of the bag.   
When my parents found out that I became a Buddhist, my dad's reaction gave me an ultimatum: it's either Jesus or get out of the house. It was a non-negotiable point and he would not have his son nor his house trespassed by the practice and teaching of demons. Fine. I told him to give me some time and I will shift out. My mom? Ever heard of 'hell hath no fury like when a woman is scorned?'? This scorn manifested in the form of seizing all of my Buddhist stuff: books, malas, refuge/precept robes, certificate and so forth and started a bonfire (and you thought the Middle Ages were over? not in my home  ;D ) I was subject to an Inquisition styled 'trial' where I was asked to recant/renounce, lectured at for hours (until I was late for work once, thankful for a manager who understood my domestic challenges), beaten with a cane, threatened with family excommunication and even had an 'exorcism' done over me to expel whatever 'Buddha demon' that was in me  :D.
My reaction? Surprisingly, I was calm but shaken, quoted Martin Luther's famed quote: "Here, I Stand! And can do no other!" and took upon myself all the 'consequences' of standing up for my Buddhist faith. I made it clear to my parents that I am not moving out because I hated them
or whatnot but it was for the sake of peace and at their request. I will still continue to support them financially and otherwise as how a fillial child would have.   
Eventually moved out...but after more than 6 months, we (myself and parents) had a 'UN Treaty' to avoid religion for the sake of peace but I still stayed on my own. Occasionally, when I visit them, I still face moments where I was expected to say grace at the table, entertained their snipe remarks on Buddhism with a smile and relatives reminding my mom on what a useless and hopeless heretic and apostate son that she has and blah blah...Life goes on...
           
Experience Number Two:
Based on the above and in the state of confusion, I went to seek the opinion of fellow Buddhist brethren of whom I had some considerable experience and friendship with and these were amongst some of the responses I received: (the mild ones)
1. One told me that I was an ungrateful and unfillial child and deserved Hell for 'disobeying' and 'breaking family tradition'
2. One told me to renounce the Triple Gem and return back to Church
3. One chastised me for making my parents so furious and thought I deserved the abuse from them.
Summary: Family and Tradition supercedes the Buddha Dharma at any cost. No 2 ways about it.
(I wondered if they had read the life of the Buddha? Or was it a selective reading? ;) )

In the end, who helped me, literally? It was an agnostic friend who was close to me and offered a room as a temporary solution before I found a place of my own and even assisted me to do the physical shifting to his place and later to a new location. A year later, he investigated the Buddha Dharma, joined a short term Monastic retreat and formally became a Buddhist.
And the earlier 'NATO' (No Action, Talk Only) group? No where to be found and am glad that this incident was a chance for me to see their true colors.

Experience Number Three:
I had a very close god sister, who is a Christian, whom I knew since my school days, for many years, when she found out that I was a Buddhist, she tried her level best to get me to her church and invited to all that 'potluck fellowships' (which I knew was just a ploy to get me cornered back to Christianity) and one fateful phone call where I politely declined her for 100th time:
X: Why don't you want to join us?
Me: Would you come if I invited you to the temple?
She slammed the phone down at my face and its been years now since....

Dharma or Loved One? For me, its reflected in these verses...

If for company you find a wise and prudent friend who leads a good life, you should, overcoming all impediments, keep his company joyously and mindfully.
If for company you cannot find a wise and prudent friend who leads a good life, then, like a king who leaves behind a conquered kingdom, or like a lone elephant in the elephant forest, you should go your way alone.
Better it is to live alone; there is no fellowship with a fool. Live alone and do no evil; be carefree like an elephant in the elephant forest.

Should a seeker not find a companion who is better or equal, let him resolutely pursue a solitary course; there is no fellowship with the fool.

Long is the night to the sleepless; long is the league to the weary. Long is worldly existence to fools who know not the Sublime Truth.

If by renouncing a lesser happiness one may realize a greater happiness, let the wise man renounce the lesser, having regard for the greater.

Driven only by fear, do men go for refuge to many places — to hills, woods, groves, trees and shrines.
Such, indeed, is no safe refuge; such is not the refuge supreme. Not by resorting to such a refuge is one released from all suffering.
He who has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Teaching and his Order, penetrates with transcendental wisdom the Four Noble Truths — suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of suffering.
This indeed is the safe refuge, this the refuge supreme. Having gone to such a refuge, one is released from all suffering.

Of all the paths the Eightfold Path is the best; of all the truths the Four Noble Truths are the best; of all things Passionlessness is the best: of men the Seeing One (the Buddha) is the best.
This is the only Path; there is none other for the purification of insight. Tread this Path, and you will bewilder Mara.
Walking upon this path you will make an end of suffering. Having discovered how to pull out the thorn of lust, I make known the path.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/index.html

The virtue of one's parents' kindness is boundless and limitless. If one has made the mistake of being unfilial, how difficult it is to repay that kindness!"
At that time the Tathagata used eight kinds of profoundly deep and pure sounds to speak to the assembly. "All of you should know this. I will now explain for you the various aspects of this matter.

"If there were a person who carries his father on his left shoulder and his mother on his right shoulder until his bones were ground to powder by their weight as they bore through to the marrow, and if that person were to circumambulate Mount Sumem for a hundred thousand kalpas until the blood that flowed out from his feet covered his ankles, that person would still not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.
"If there were a person who, during the period of a kalpa fraught with famine and starvation, sliced the flesh off his own body to feed his parents and did this as many times as there are dust motes as he passed through hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.
"If there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, took a sharp knife and cut out his eyes and made an offering of them to the Tathagatas, and continued to do that for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.
"If there were a person who, for the sake of his father and mother, used a sharp knife to cut out his heart and liver so that the blood flowed and covered the ground and if he continued in this way to do this for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, never once complaining about the pain, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.
"If there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, took a hundred thousand swords and stabbed his body with them all at once so that they entered one side and came out the other, and if he continued in this way to do this for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.
"If there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, beat his bones down to the marrow and continued in this way to do this for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.
"If there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, swallowed molten iron pellets and continued in this way to do this for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents."

At that time, upon hearing the Buddha speak about the kindness and virtue of parents, everyone in the Great Assembly wept silent tears and felt searing pain in their hearts. They reflected deeply, simultaneously brought forth shame and said to the Buddha, " World Honored One, how can we repay the deep kindness of our parents?"
The Buddha replied, "Disciples of the Buddha, if you wish to repay your parents' kindness, write out this Sutra on their behalf. Recite this Sutra on their behalf. Repent of transgressions and offenses on their behalf. For the sake of your parents, make offerings to the Triple Jewel. For the sake of your parents, hold the precept of pure eating. For the sake of your parents, practice giving and cultivate blessings. If you are able to do these things, you are being a filial child. If you do not do these things, you are a person destined for the hells."

http://cttbusa.org/filialpiety/filialpietysutra2.htm

"I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay.
Which two? Your mother & father.
Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that?
Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world.
But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an02/an02.031.than.html#32

Sorry for the rambling....hope I am making some sense  ;D   

Offline Wonky Badger

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2009, 04:21:57 am »
thornbush, I'm sorry to hear that you had such a rough start in Buddhism. Those verses are definitely food for thought...  :namaste:
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
---
What would Buddha do?

David

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2009, 12:14:12 pm »
I think you are trivializing the situation David.  If you had a friend who wad addicted to a dangerous drug, would you stand by and watch as he destroys himself and hurts his loved ones?  I hope not.  You would intervene out of "real love".  Perhaps you would even offer an ultimatum.

I'm not trivializing in the slightest.  There is a vast difference between trying to prevent someone from destroying themselves, and trying to prevent some one from practicing dhamma.  Seems to me it is you who is trivializing. 

Offline humanitas

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2009, 11:43:43 am »
Now now, I'm sure no one is INTENDING to trivialize the points of the other.  Let's not put intent where we don't know any to be there for sure.   :-*

In Buddhist terms, according to Thich Nhat Hanh "true love" is comprised of:
1. Maitri - loving-kindness or benevolence.
Quote from: Thich Nhat Hanh'sTrue Love
Loving-kindness is not only the desire to make someone happy, to bring joy to a beloved person;  it is the ability to bring joy and happiness to the person you love, because even if your intention is to love this  person, your love might make him or her suffer.

2. Karuna - compassion.
This is not only the desire to ease the pain of another person, but the ability to do so.

3. Mudita -Joy.
If there is no joy in love, it is not true love.  If you are suffering all the time, if you cry all the time, and if you make the person you love cry, this is not really love--it is even the opposite.  If there is no joy in your love, you can be sure that it is not true love

4. Upeksha - equanimity or freedom
In true love, you attain freedom.  When you love, you bring freedom to the person you love.  If the opposite is true, it is not true love.  You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free, not only outside but also inside.

Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice deep looking [Ogyen's note - i.e. meditation/mindfulness practice-looking into the heart of the matter) directed toward the person you love]  Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly.

Instead of focusing on the "categories" of love and what relationships are which, perhaps focusing on how we treat the loved one in our relationship will shed a lot of light on where our own love was true or not so true.  Often we'll find that "true love" was true or not just from ourselves.  When we question those four points, did WE provide our beloved (be it a partner, mother, father, child, friend) with those 4 elements?  If no, then that beloved is providing us with a chance to practice the dhamma whether they "give consent" or not.  We can be kind and practice true love even without another's approval and even without Buddhist terms.  It is all human after all, no?


This is only a quandry for those who don't realize what real love is.  Real love would never ask some one to change.  Romantic love, or more accurately what I call "hearts and flowers lust" is merely desire cloaked in respectable garb, creates craving and suffering, and is as impermanent as anything else.  So the question boils down to what is more important, the impermanent relationship, or liberation and enlightenment?  

I definitely understand where you're coming from, but I don't agree that it's so black and white.  Say someone wants to be supportive but their own inner desire for a relationship and their love for the person and their time somehow prevents them from feeling supportive even though they'd want to.  Haven't you ever seen someone who really means the best and wants the best for someone else, but their own ignorance and aversions and attachments make them act in ways that are subversive to their good intentions (like, we're not ALL guilty of that one... eh?)

I don't know that we can claim relationships are completely impermanent (as in limited to this life).  In view of rebirth (basic tenet in Buddhism), karmic bonds are created and can span long long long periods of time that transcend one lifetime.  In an absolute cosmic sense, yes, all relationships are impermanent, but we have many things to work out with many relationships that we have.  Something's struck me recently that even our "impermanent" relationships are part of our practice be they romantic or something else.  It is impossible not to have any relationship in this world if you are born human.  Even if you were Mowgli from the Junglebook raised by animals, and had no other humans around, you'd still find a way to create relationships.  I think relationships are an essential way we learn to see ourselves, and only through through our relationships with our teachers and friends and partners and families and children and animals and plants do we really have the occasions to implement the tools of the dharma for our delusion to fall away.  Feel free to disagree, it's just an idea I'm playing around with.  

I think it is common for Americans and some Europeans to view relationships in "categories" we create.  We call some "romantic" "platonic" "sexual" etc.  But most people can attest to having had at least one relationship that wasn't clear cut.  So how real are these categories?

I understand what you're saying about infatuation vs. something deeper, love that is borne out of understanding (I assume that's what you mean by true love from your description), and I don't disagree that often in the love that is borne solely of desire there is a lot of ego and demands are made, but in love that is borne of understanding no demands need to be made, and I don't disagree with you there.

« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 11:52:41 am by Ogyen Chodzom »
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Offline humanitas

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 11:59:29 am »
Dear Thornbush:

My heart goes out to you with your story.  I think it's wonderful that all that hardship happened.  Not because it felt good or because it was pleasant, but because the place you've reached and your faith in Buddhist teachings is authentic and labored like the delivery of a child.  I read: The more intense the practice the more intense the demons. last night and it was something I could really appreciate.  I can appreciate the sheer struggle to define what Buddhism means to you coming from such a different background.  You have something precious that someone born to a Buddhist family might not have the opportunity to experience.  When you're born into something there's a lot you take for granted whether you intend to or not.  Where you are coming from, nothing could be taken for granted, and that is a blessing in disguise.  Any joy achieved through suffering is that much more joyous.  HAH!

I think you are a very fortunate practitioner!
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Offline purplelotus9

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2009, 02:37:14 am »
If they really loved you and knew how important the practise was to you I don't see how they could ask you to give it up.  The very fact of their making such a suggestion would indicate they didn't necessarily want my happiness but rather theirs.  That would have to bring into question the whole future of the relationship.  How can any impure impermanent sentient being ever bring you happiness.  Even if you have a very happy life together one of you is eventually going to die whereas the dharma will bring you happiness in all you lives.

Just my thoughts.

P

David

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2009, 07:59:28 am »
If they really loved you and knew how important the practise was to you I don't see how they could ask you to give it up.  The very fact of their making such a suggestion would indicate they didn't necessarily want my happiness but rather theirs.  That would have to bring into question the whole future of the relationship.  How can any impure impermanent sentient being ever bring you happiness.  Even if you have a very happy life together one of you is eventually going to die whereas the dharma will bring you happiness in all you lives.

Just my thoughts.

P
BINGO!!!   :bow:

Offline humanitas

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2009, 01:31:13 pm »
If they really loved you and knew how important the practise was to you I don't see how they could ask you to give it up.  The very fact of their making such a suggestion would indicate they didn't necessarily want my happiness but rather theirs.  That would have to bring into question the whole future of the relationship.  How can any impure impermanent sentient being ever bring you happiness.  Even if you have a very happy life together one of you is eventually going to die whereas the dharma will bring you happiness in all you lives.

Just my thoughts.

P

I completely agree with you.  But right or wrong, I still see how it's understandable that people are at different levels of realization and might make demands.  I just feel compassion for that position as well, is what I mean, like the little brothers or sisters that are learning a bit later than the older siblings...  does that make sense?  :namaste: 
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overmyhead

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Re: Dharma or Loved One?
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2009, 01:46:30 am »
Let's not fall into the trap of projecting our communal notions of good/bad onto people with a completely different perspective.  Out of love, they might very well do things you would not do out of love.  Generally, people want what is good for others, more than what is good for their happiness.  For us, good happens to be happiness and liberation.  For others, good [and eternal happiness] is salvation.

 


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