Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
Simon E.
Posts: 5627
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 11:09 am

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by Simon E. » Mon Mar 26, 2018 12:54 am

Alienation in the psychotherapeutic sense is not the same as social isolation Ogyen.

I only know one spiritual hermit well..which is not a big enough sample admittedly. But she is one of the most balanced people I have met.

I am talking about people who have a traumatic event or series of events in their lives particularly in childhood and who develop a kind of numbness as a defence mechanism.

It has been known for people to confuse their numbness for upekkha, equanimity. Which is unhelpful for them.
Is it safe to come out now? Looks to the left...Looks to the right.... :thinking:

User avatar
Ogyen
Posts: 707
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by Ogyen » Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:17 am

Simon E. wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 12:54 am
Alienation in the psychotherapeutic sense is not the same as social isolation Ogyen.

I only know one spiritual hermit well..which is not a big enough sample admittedly. But she is one of the most balanced people I have met.

I am talking about people who have a traumatic event or series of events in their lives particularly in childhood and who develop a kind of numbness as a defence mechanism.

It has been known for people to confuse their numbness for upekkha, equanimity. Which is unhelpful for them.
Ah, yes thanks for clarifying. Completely understood and I agree. Trauma induced social alienation in the psychological sense as you put it is something that most definitely needs to be integrated..
Image Made from 100% recycled karma

The Heart Drive - nosce te ipsum

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy

muni
Posts: 4530
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:59 am

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by muni » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:54 am

I really resonated with what your write about dialogue, and how wonderful that you have that level of harmony in your intimate social sphere!! I find it is really difficult to initiate dialog when the majority of people around me know zero about the dharma. I've had to be creative and not use any dharma lingo to talk about emptiness and compassion.

For example, in my intimate circle of friends, very few in my real day to day life are Buddhist. I used to be filled by insecurities and doubts that I would never find people I could relate to because the only places I could talk to other Buddhists about the dharma.

I was mistaken. This was made clear to me, more than ever, that my relationships weren't about making everyone agree with me, and being Buddhist like me. It was about harmonizing with the world and reality as is, with the people that come into my life due to karmic conditions ripening.

I have a few concrete stories that showed me this.. The most salient is that of a very dear friend of mine. Let's call her Jane.

Honestly I don't even know how Jane and I are friends sometimes, we are completely different, from completely different background, socio-economic status, and education. Jane is extremely "difficult", for most people, she gets upset easily, really struggles to communicate clearly, is always subject to misunderstandings and arguments with people over what was meant and what as understood, especially where money is concerned. She is an incredibly soft-hearted caring, yet misunderstood and thus "difficult character" and has a really hard time in her relationships. It doesn't help matters that as part of her own karmic conditions she has an addict son, and has tried to work on herself for a long time thinking this was her fault.

We've now been friends a long time, and in that friendship we've had a million misunderstandings, including her son robbing my house one time. This would have broken most friendships, and in the situation, it almost did... I had young children and I had to think of the welfare of my family with exposure to a person with such problems via Jane. Jane understood perfectly that she hadn't committed any wrongdoing against me nor I against her, so we found a common ground and healthy boundaries which excluded her son from any of our interactions given my priorities to see that my children were safe. The one thing was apply the practice according to the instructions I was given. This was 5 years ago.

A couple of years ago, she told me she wanted to know more about dharma because how I have always treated her changed her perspective on many things and it made her try to also emulate the same spirit. She said she knows how difficult she is but because I never look for her defects, she cherishes me as one of her dearest friends. I didn't talk to her about dharma when she brought it up. Still it was important to me to never make her feel bad for her struggles or when she was upset about things with her son, I always applied the practice. It was never my place to judge or qualify her battles, I always focused on what would be most useful to her condition to understand its true nature. I couldn't understand it, I wasn't living it for her. But I could provide practical tips, ways of looking at it, in plain English (or Spanish depending on the moment). What she didn't know in so many words is that I was applying my teachers instructions to relax, and be present, and I began seeing it as a waking dream.

In this waking dream I make a conscious choice to respond to her struggles by addressing what my limited capacity reveals to really be the issue, not what seems to be the issue. I've got good chops with not believing appearances and I don't try to fix her life for her, I don't get involved in her struggles, but I am always available to listen and be present. That's all. I don't always like or agree with her. But I always respect her experience and being-ness as just as valid as my own. When I don't like her, I take that to my practice and come to find that it's me I don't like much. She is just a mirror of that thing that irks me. And I've made this a practice with my partner, kids, friends, and I'm a pile of defects practicing the great perfection, and always remind myself she is me.. in a different color, in a different lens, in a different set of relative conditions, but we are both struggling in this invisible cage of our choices, karma, and everything that makes arise that haunts and tortures us...

She overcame many many hardships in the years we've been close. In many cases it was her fear of being alone, or people respecting her boundaries. Every six months or so she asked me again about what it was to be Buddhist. I didn't answer much again about Dharma specifics, instead talked about compassion and trying to live with more harmony when things get really hard. Pema Chodron really helped making this a very practical application. After the 3rd time she asked me, an opportunity emerged with a retreat with a visiting Tibetan Nyingma lama who was going to give empowerment and do a full retreat on world peace with 24-hrs of chanting Vajrasattva. I invited her to come check it out.

She went with me and during the retreat had a total recognition of Lama, and felt the profound connection with him. About a year ago she took refuge with him, in another retreat on Chod. I feel today that if I had been more righteous about being Buddhisty it would have missed the point completely, which was to have this human connection. Now she is my vajra sister, and we are like family. We still don't talk so much in academic terms about the dharma, but it's purpose as a vehicle is a central theme in our bond of friendship.

I've learned I do not have to speak in jargon to convey compassion in actions. I now have more experience talking about dharma through the human lens than through the academic one because most people around me are NOT buddhist and the language sounds strange and vaguely culty to them. I don't want to create blockage for the dharma in the future just because they formed a poor emotional association with words or concepts they didn't understand.

I've seen several of my contacts who started out as awkward odd associations find the dharma through just knowing someone who practiced. I'm sure I'm not at all unique, so I've come to really value this matter of intimacy and intimate relationship because it is what makes and breaks many people's practice of the dharma. How can it be ignored in favor of academic conversation about emptiness (which is really important, but it's more important that it is integrated and practiced in real time).
Thank you for this sharing dear, it is a vividly example of integrating in daily life, by which a relationship is not resulting in habitual self right/good versus other wrong/bad, but patiently "intercaring". Wow! I cannot other than wishing all are freed in such.
:yinyang: :namaste:
“ Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. ”
H H Dalai Lama

"Relax." nirvana-samsara do not stray from spaciousness.

shaunc
Posts: 701
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:10 am

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by shaunc » Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:53 pm

I am a married man with 4 kids, for me buddhism is all about living in the world and dealing with all of my different relationships, whether it be husband/wife, father/child or employee/employer.
To me the story of the old woman and the monk means that he should have had a good time and enjoyed himself but at the same time realised that it wouldn't last.
I don't find being a householder and a Buddhist particularly challenging. I keep the 5 precepts pretty well and keep a roof over everyone's head and food in the cupboard. If you want to stress yourself out looking for deeper meanings and loopholes in the dharma feel free.
I'm not going to. As a matter of fact tomorrow I'm doing some overtime to make putting food in the cupboard a little bit easier next week.
Good luck and best wishes.
Namu Amida Butsu.

User avatar
tomschwarz
Posts: 748
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:31 am

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by tomschwarz » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:43 pm

So if the world is a garden who are you? Correct answer: none of the above. You are a human. The plants mostly act on greed. You can act on love, and care for the happiness of others Ogyen. That is the whole deal here in humanity. "If you do something self centered you have wasted your time", his holiness the Dalai Lana of Tibet.

Why act on love? I will say now why )))) because, that is a door to emptiness. In true (and quite absolute) love we are loosing the bariers of ego and fundamental ignorance.

Savor it Ogyen! We will die soon... each of those people in your life ARE samantabadra/samantabadri! If someone gives you some trouble, like me )), say "aha! I have been waiting for you primordial Buddha! I am ready to begin!" That is how i relate to you, to my wife, my boss, to my daughter, to aggressive people... ....they have a Buddha nature. And the key to the door (one of them) of liberation is loving kindness.... you can also find liberation in the pore of a leaf. Either way is good.
i dedicate this post to your happiness, the causes of your happiness, the absence of your suffering the causes of the absence of your suffering that we may not have too much attachment nor aversion. SAMAYAMANUPALAYA

User avatar
Ogyen
Posts: 707
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by Ogyen » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:03 am

tomschwarz wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:43 pm
So if the world is a garden who are you? Correct answer: none of the above. You are a human. The plants mostly act on greed. You can act on love, and care for the happiness of others Ogyen. That is the whole deal here in humanity. "If you do something self centered you have wasted your time", his holiness the Dalai Lana of Tibet.

Why act on love? I will say now why )))) because, that is a door to emptiness. In true (and quite absolute) love we are loosing the bariers of ego and fundamental ignorance.

Savor it Ogyen! We will die soon... each of those people in your life ARE samantabadra/samantabadri! If someone gives you some trouble, like me )), say "aha! I have been waiting for you primordial Buddha! I am ready to begin!" That is how i relate to you, to my wife, my boss, to my daughter, to aggressive people... ....they have a Buddha nature. And the key to the door (one of them) of liberation is loving kindness.... you can also find liberation in the pore of a leaf. Either way is good.
I have a feeling unconditional love is a very powerful and strong theme in your practice. That's marvelous to know!!
Image Made from 100% recycled karma

The Heart Drive - nosce te ipsum

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy

User avatar
Ogyen
Posts: 707
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by Ogyen » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:06 am

shaunc wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:53 pm
I am a married man with 4 kids, for me buddhism is all about living in the world and dealing with all of my different relationships, whether it be husband/wife, father/child or employee/employer.
To me the story of the old woman and the monk means that he should have had a good time and enjoyed himself but at the same time realised that it wouldn't last.
I don't find being a householder and a Buddhist particularly challenging. I keep the 5 precepts pretty well and keep a roof over everyone's head and food in the cupboard. If you want to stress yourself out looking for deeper meanings and loopholes in the dharma feel free.
I'm not going to. As a matter of fact tomorrow I'm doing some overtime to make putting food in the cupboard a little bit easier next week.
Good luck and best wishes.
Namu Amida Butsu.

A completely valid point of view. It's the beauty, like water, truth takes the shape of the cup holding it.

Thank you for chiming in, it's refreshing to get a practical hands on approach to the Dharma.
:meditate:
Image Made from 100% recycled karma

The Heart Drive - nosce te ipsum

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy

User avatar
Ogyen
Posts: 707
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by Ogyen » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:33 am

The Cicada wrote:
Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:48 pm
Ogyen wrote:
Sun Mar 25, 2018 10:54 pm
open your heart and be 100% vulnerable and honest. With everyone. Go ahead Mr. Tough Guy."
I'd like to address something to you.

So, your (re)appearance in this forum is not unlike the appearance of the goddess in the Vimalakirti Sutra. You seem to be a person of some accomplishment, both externally and inwardly, and yet I can't fathom why you would insist on punishing others in this way. Our minds are full of error that passes through them like clouds in the sky. Why insist on, first, making someone hold on to that error or reify it, and then expose it under the banner of "honesty?"

Why must we be punished in this society with demands for emotional transparency?

It's a bit like the old woman. Why not simply let the monk's passion fade away quietly instead of burning a celibate in his passion daily by sending a young woman of marriageable age to feed him, hoping he will learn platonic "love?" I want to take up this creative interpretation of that story, because I've never read an interpretation that faulted the old woman, and I detect, (or perhaps project,) clumbsy "grandmotherly compassion" in it.

That monk should have left to seek out other monks or to find genuine solitude before her well-intentioned meddling ripened in the habits of his heart and mind, I think. Not all relationships are healthy and neither is all emotional intimacy.
Social networking is barely understood in its real potential by the average person. Imagine you could use your voice and it has an impact, a currency of impact in a knowledge based economy established and run virtually with real life application. We barely leverage the full potential but there is a whole (growing) counterculture working to take agency back and make this happen. Imagine you can contribute your experiences and knowledge and receive a virtual compensation that translates into material assets/actions.

Many people are anxious to be agents who are responsible for their actions, their environment, their world. I don't really invest in the dramatic theater of personality. I play with it as much as the next person. There is an "I" typing this post. What I recognize is no one else is making me be a product of Facebook to sell to their advertisers to quietly manipulate me into buying trends that are designed for my psychological profile. I imagine using that very technology to make more educated people take an active role and stop being a product of their environment and an active agent of change that this giving something needed and useful to their community, meaning... Less suffering. No one makes me except my ignorance and not knowing other ways exist. Having a way to share that knowledge sets up an economy of knowledge with the currency of impact. That change comes about because it resonated organically with the spirit of its times. And because of that... Was ultimately financed.

I come back to these forums with a refreshed vision with insights and questions that emerged through my worldly business and personal practice of what a forum like this could be for the Dharma. Wisdom in real time. İf all that data was indexed in such a way as to provide hindsight in real time. Not hearsay, indexed experience delivered. What if we could PROVE the real power of a place like this to preserve the discussion among various traditions with all their wealth of knowledge.

That's my long way around to get to the point you addressed to me in which I don't resonate with the intent placed somehow in relation to an imaginary "me" in your post about punishments and postures of hierarchy.

I am a human woman with quite a challenging life, which I feel immensely blessed to ride on a huge wave I'm surfing... high stakes, time is passing, the path is long and time is short...some days, I'm sure it will be my last and I always shock myself outdoing what I already did. I mean what a powerful sequence it is, growing one's awareness with the dharma. A series of self-observations that are transmitted through an authentic method.

I mean wow... A forum like this is powerful stuff and it will get indexed as search engines are shifting to semantic engines. İt is happening. What you write, matters.
Image Made from 100% recycled karma

The Heart Drive - nosce te ipsum

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy

User avatar
Ayu
Former staff member
Posts: 6992
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:25 am
Location: Europe

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by Ayu » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:01 pm

Ogyen wrote:
Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:31 pm
...

How do you address the HOW-TO, when you have a major difference with your spouse, or even betrayal, or your kids defy your values, or you need to work daily with people who don't share your vision of impermanence, any infinity variations of very complex daily situations in which we don't have the luxury of being a lama or monk who is supported by thousands of people for their spiritual path, or people around us don't speak Dharma.

...

Please share your method/experiences.
...
Well, I think, firstly it depends on the persons and on the quality of relation. Intimate relations are various and different like faces.
Buddhism generally helped me extremely to keep relations peacefully. I (had to) let go of any expectations. If everything is empty and illusionary, an intimate relation is so as well.
A spouse is as impermanent as anything else. Even after five years he is quite a different person then he was before. And you simply cannot know what kind of person your groom will be in 20 years. So, what to expect? Better nothing.

My husband and I had a relation with much mutual respect and appreciation and we are very different. I'm a dreamer, he's a mathematician, he's nervous, I'm slow... Like this. But we share nearly the same sense of ethics. He is naturally empathetic and this I find extremly important. I cannot understand people who have no empathy.

My remedy was to live and let live. He isn't interested in Buddhism. So, I couldn't share anything with him that is most important for me. I practiced acceptance but it couldn't save our relation. After 20 years, a peaceful, helpful and wonderful relation found it's end. Still peacefully. It's amazing. And sad.

So, my answer to the question "How to...?" is: It depends and depends and depends. Buddhism is no contrary to intimate relationships, because the philosophy is a foundation of life.
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. -

User avatar
Ogyen
Posts: 707
Joined: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:36 pm

Re: Intimate relationships -the "other", no self, and practice

Post by Ogyen » Wed Apr 11, 2018 5:02 am

Ayu wrote:
Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:01 pm
Ogyen wrote:
Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:31 pm
...

How do you address the HOW-TO, when you have a major difference with your spouse, or even betrayal, or your kids defy your values, or you need to work daily with people who don't share your vision of impermanence, any infinity variations of very complex daily situations in which we don't have the luxury of being a lama or monk who is supported by thousands of people for their spiritual path, or people around us don't speak Dharma.

...

Please share your method/experiences.
...
Well, I think, firstly it depends on the persons and on the quality of relation. Intimate relations are various and different like faces.
Buddhism generally helped me extremely to keep relations peacefully. I (had to) let go of any expectations. If everything is empty and illusionary, an intimate relation is so as well.
A spouse is as impermanent as anything else. Even after five years he is quite a different person then he was before. And you simply cannot know what kind of person your groom will be in 20 years. So, what to expect? Better nothing.

My husband and I had a relation with much mutual respect and appreciation and we are very different. I'm a dreamer, he's a mathematician, he's nervous, I'm slow... Like this. But we share nearly the same sense of ethics. He is naturally empathetic and this I find extremly important. I cannot understand people who have no empathy.

My remedy was to live and let live. He isn't interested in Buddhism. So, I couldn't share anything with him that is most important for me. I practiced acceptance but it couldn't save our relation. After 20 years, a peaceful, helpful and wonderful relation found it's end. Still peacefully. It's amazing. And sad.

So, my answer to the question "How to...?" is: It depends and depends and depends. Buddhism is no contrary to intimate relationships, because the philosophy is a foundation of life.
Very interesting, thank you for sharing. All relationships come to an end, one way or another. Yet during the time you're in them that's not really the important part. Much like anything with an expiration date, it has a purpose and a utility prior to its expiration. Once that expiration happens, there's a whole range of reactions from anything like deep grief to relief depending on the bond and its circumstances.

I personally find the whole relating in a very intimate manner (with the whole thing of expectations and needs) rather confusing mostly because people believe they are one thing and are really something else... The lack of general awareness of their inner causality, why they feel and act like they do is something that makes me nervous in getting close to anyone. I also attribute that to a lifetime of feeling like an awkward guest in my own skin, the whole relationship to "other" painfully points out all the holes in my relationship to my physical being. I value my friendships immensely over any other kind of intimate bond, and my Dharma friendships are the few shining jewels in my life. I am infinitely grateful to them because they have made the rest bearable. Without them I might have gone off the deep end a long time ago.

A spouse (thankfully) is an impermanent bond like everything else, and I agree completely, we change within our own evolutions, to really keep up, beyond the immediate function of sharing a space of some sort for a time, I think you really need to like your spouse... But as far as I've observed, many don't. Many don't even like themselves. So this relating to "other" with no self principles... It seems to walk a very fine line in which it's very easy to fool oneself about the limits between "me/other" and the lines blur quickly when there isn't clarity around the nature of one's own conditions.

There's something about that whole "something going terribly wrong" that I simply dread. Usually endings bring me a deep relief, like a needed shift in which an uncomfortable posture that started to cause harm is finally released... and what's relieving is that life can move on.

But while having to deal with the challenge of the "other" and this relative self... It's all slippery ground. Then again... I am not the best example on the topic, which is why I ask...

:meditate:
Image Made from 100% recycled karma

The Heart Drive - nosce te ipsum

"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy

Post Reply

Return to “Dharma in Everyday Life”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 48 guests