We vs Me is an illusion there is no separation. When you work on the greater “we” you are helping your “me” identity. When you work on the “me” it in turn will benefit the greater “we”. It only takes a willingness of effort.
In the Tibetan language the word I or Me is una and we or us is unatsau, the root of we is in fact me, there is an intimate connection. In Tibetan unatsau would directly translate to many or a collection of “I’s”.
When you join a group or community it is an extention of the individual not a replacement. The idea that the me can only exist in opposition of the we is in itself an illusion and a root of suffering. Believing that the individual self is separate diminishes the spirit of altruism that fosters the compassionate soul leading to true and lasting happiness.
I recently had to let go of a friend today because she refused to step down off her soap box built on belittlement and agree to disagree. In our modern society of likes and followers, it is easy for us to become over inflated with a sense of self worth, but we must always find ways to embrace a personal humility; to realize we are not the expert at everything, to slay our inner Sheldon Coopers as it were.
It is like the old quote “Apologizing doesn’t always mean you are wrong, it just means that you value your relationships more than your ego.” the same can be said for disagreements, sometimes it is best to find value over the friendship rather than defending our own egos.
A thought occurred to me this morning on my way home after dropping off the kids at school. We Buddhists, much as the same as others of other faiths, seem to find ourselves in our respective communities, come across a vocal minority who believe we are not living as piously as we should be. A few examples; those who believe all Buddhists must be vegetarian or even vegan, and those who believe all Buddhist should refrain from coitus or carnal relations. There are times when I find myself smiling and shaking my head slowly when I find these few. Sometimes the best teachers are the ones who are quite adversarial and sit in judgment, admonishing.
I could cite passages of where the Buddha ate meat, and had discussions with monks who tried to force their views of vegan-ism upon the sangha of that day, I could agree on quelling sexual desire with physical relations only serves to strengthen that desire, much as the lust of possessions only deepens that hunger. But there are plenty of articles out there, easily found in our virtual community today.
Instead I will ask you the reader this, when you see someone, practicing in a way you think is not correct, that moment before you chose to speak are you practicing metta? Are you remembering that the teachings of The Middle Way are also teachings on the Buddha teaching his followers to find a middle way between extreme practices and opinions, not to get lost in fanatical perfectionism?
We must strive to keep clear in our minds and focus when dealing with others in our communities, that not everyone will be along the path in the same place, at the same time. Practice your loving-kindness, be inoffensive and non-violent towards others and towards your own thinking. For truly, is it not what really angers us when we see the flaws in others, a reflection of our own flaws that we see in ourselves?
Remeber, we cannot all be Lamas and Monks!
“The Pali word metta is a multi-significant term meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. The Pali commentators define metta as the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others (parahita-parasukha-kamana). … True metta is devoid of self-interest. It evokes within a warm-hearted feeling of fellowship, sympathy and love, which grows boundless with practice and overcomes all social, religious, racial, political and economic barriers. Metta is indeed a universal, unselfish and all-embracing love.” -Acharya Buddharakkhita
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching here in the states, you cannot help sometimes but feel the twinge of the chronically single life style. With everything geared towards romance and couples, the days can pull at the ole heart strings. Admittedly a few times myself I have wondered if my standards were too high, if I should have settled when a relationship did not work out. Other times I have asked myself what I could I have done better when someone had left me and the shoe was on the other foot.
Lately while reading the Dhammapada a running theme kept popping up, and if you are like me you may find these words, if not inspiring, at least comforting when those doubts start to creep into your conscious trains of thought.
If a traveler does not meet with one who is his better, or his equal. let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; this is no companionship with a fool. DP 61
If a man finds no prudent companion who walks with him, is wise, and lives soberly, let him walk alone like a king who has left his conquered country behind, -Like an elephant. DP 329
It is better to live alone, there is no companionship with a fool; let a man walk alone, let him commit no sin, with few wishes, like an elephant in the forest. DP 330
The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by lust: therefore a gift bestowed on those who are free from lust brings great reward. DP 359
If we want to be free of suffering in our relationships, we must find our equals and those who inspire us to better ourselves, we must not become trapped by our lusts, for when we do we become like spiders who have become trapped in our own webs.
But how is this fair we might ask? So many happy couples why not me? Honestly who knows, we should strive to continue on living in the now, continue our good works until our seeds ripen to bare fruits.
Even a good man sees evil days (finds suffering in this world), as long as his good deed has not ripened; but when the good deed has ripened, then the good man sees happy days. DP 120
Let no man think lightly of good, saying in his heart, it will not come nigh unto me. Even by falling of water-drops a water pot is filled; the wise man becomes fill of good, even if he gathers it little by little.
So to my fellow romantically challenged brothers and sisters, I wish you press on, happily diligently, doing good works, for sometimes the sweetest fruits come from the trees that take longest to bloom.
Seems to be the season for it, oddly enough I did not think there would be a season for divorce, but perhaps that is the hopeless romantic in me. Seeing dear friends dealing with going through divorce makes my heart go out to them being a product of a broken home as well as going through my own broken marriage. These events have inspired me to ponder and research, what are the views on marriage and divorce when it comes to Buddhist teachings and how can we deal with the pains of divorce.
Firstly let us look at Marriage according to Buddhism. Buddhism takes a quite liberal view when it comes to marriage, there are no laws or rules when it comes to marriage, nothing to prohibit one from being married, and nothing that says you must be a bachelor either. The concept of Marriage in Buddhism is a construct of man, a contract between individuals to co-habitate with one another as a family. Despite what other religions may believe, or what Disney tries to sell us, marriage is a social convention, an institution created by man for the well-being and happiness of man (in the board term not the gender term), to differentiate human society from animal life and to maintain order and harmony in the process of procreation. While an enlightened more evolved view of procreation than that of the animal kingdom it is not a holly sacrament.
Separation or divorce is not prohibited in Buddhism though the necessity would scarcely arise if the Buddha’s injunctions were strictly followed. Men and women must have the liberty to separate if they really cannot agree with each other. Separation is preferable to avoid miserable family life for a long period of time. The Buddha further advises old men not to have young wives as the old and young are unlikely to be compatible, which can create undue problems, disharmony and downfall.
How can we deal with divorce? It is a very emotionally charged time in our lives but what can we do to ease our suffering? Firstly and I cannot stress this enough, one should never look at divorce as one failed, no one is the “bad guy”, merely that like all things this has fallen into impermanence, and what was a journey for more than one person for a while has once more become a solitary adventure!
When divorce strikes, the past, present, and future are all changed and can even be distorted. Everything you thought you knew to be true is now in question, any plans you may have made will now have to change, our image of the future has now become distorted. In the face of this change you may find yourself trying to grasp at what you know and once had, trying to rekindle who you were before getting married, your previous identity. but according to the Buddha these attachments create suffering. Learning to release your attachments to any particular outcomes in the past, present, or future will lead to a more peaceful existence.
Here are some of the Buddha’s teachings that may help you through your time of strife and turmoil.
The Buddha recognizes that while it might be relatively easy to generate compassion for friends and loved ones, it is extremely difficult to have compassion for someone we dislike, especially if we feel betrayed. While the tendency might be to avoid this person (most likely an ex), the Buddha would see this person as the heart of his spiritual practice, a challenge to develop positive qualities, they can be our greatest teacher. Compassion can be seen as the inverse of anger; it keeps the heart open when it wants to close off with fear or even hate. Compassion is fostered by remaining connected, no matter how painful it may be. Maintaining compassion through divorce is a feat, but it will ensure that your loving nature remains intact.
“Pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is optional.” —The Buddha
Mindfulness is the capacity to remain in the present moment. Like in all things you will want to meditate, although this will seem very difficult when so many thoughts are going through your head, finding a center in the storm will help focus you and keep you from doing or saying things you may regret later. Stepping back like you were a third party observer of events provides the greatest opportunity for acting with complete integrity and honour.
In Buddhism, impermanence is referred to as Anicca— the truth of impermanence. It is the belief that all of our experiences are constantly changing, and that nothing is permanent, not even marriage or the feelings one has when you first stepped into the contract. One of the greatest causes of pain during divorce is the feeling that things will never be the same, but the positive side of that statement is also true, while the marriage was also impermanent the pain and sorrow, the loss you feel is also impermanent.
If all parties feel that the relationship has reached the point to where there is no way to repair it, I would recommend considering a legal separation, after all you wouldn’t want to regret doing something permanent just because you are temporarily out of sorts, some time apart may do some good, or it may only strengthen the notion that things truly are over.
Finally do not be to quick to date again, you may find some people will come out of the woodwork as it were, saying how sorry they are that you are going through so much pain but how they have thought how the person you were with was not right for you, and how it would have been different if it were them. If these people have your true feelings in mind, if they are thinking of you instead of the fantasy they have worked up in their heads they will be willing to wait for you to heal, For you to discover who you are outside your identity of the married you, and for you to learn from any mistakes so you can start anew with your best foot forward.
“The past will let go of you if you let go of the past.”
― Timber Hawkeye, Buddhist Boot Camp