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Relationships with those without the Dharma

I have found a way of living that brings me much peace within, thanks in large part to my study of the Dharma, practice of mediation, and a focus on mindfulness and compassion. These things have literally transformed my life over the past year or so. Before this, I believe that I always felt that I was in a state of constant turmoil. Actually, time I spent attending a Christian church also taught me some things about forgiveness, compassion, service and fellowship. But the effect has been that I deal with things much better now, and my relationships with others are much more harmonious.

But, there are people in my life, who have been in my life for quite a long time and who are very important to me, who look different to me now. And, they seem to look at me differently now. These people don't understand my preference for peaceful, quiet activities, or my love for a healthy helping of solitude. Rather, it seems to me that they feel I have gone off the radar, as in veered off from the course of good sense.

But, I look at them, and I see them striving so hard every day, as if they will reach some unattainable goal and everything will be okay. It seems that they are always enmeshed in competition and conflict. I want to reach out to them and tell them "there is a better way; you can feel better". But I know from the times I hinted at things like this, that they will regard that as just crazy talk, and it will make them worry more about me.

I suppose that perhaps they are wired somehow differently than I am. In the first place, what seems like competition and conflict was draining and disheartening to me. To them, perhaps it is thrilling and maybe meaningful. Second, maybe I am not giving them enough credit and they are happier than they look to me, because I am neglecting our differences. Does anyone else relate to this, or have anything to share that might help me sort this out?
Invincible_summerEvenThird

Comments

  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    I've been experiencing similar things lately too. I've been given the advice (as well as have begun to learn) that everyone moves through life differently. How you experience competition may be completely different from how your friends do - it's good that you recognize this. Take that a bit deeper... If they are content in their lifestyle, who are we to say their experience of life is "incorrect" compared to a life with the Dharma? If their lives are full of conflict and negativity, they will find their own way to the Dharma. There's no need to push it on others.

    The best students and learners are those who come willingly to the teaching.
    quietmaths
  • DandelionDandelion London Veteran
    Yes, i relate to what you are saying about yourself, but if I am honest, I also relate to how the other ppl in your life are too in a sense that I used to be always in a conflict of some sort.. but how I hated that! Conflicts still happen of course, but less frequently, with less ego, fewer attachments. That's one of the many beauties that buddhism teaches us - our own issues with attachments to negative things such as conflict. And of course, we then want to show that there is indeed another way as you point out, and it is very difficult sometimes to know how to do that, at least I find it is.

    Lead by example is an obvious suggestion, I suspect you are already doing that. Keep on.
    When it comes to 'drama', boundaries are key, I think. It never helps to get absorbed by another persons drama. It's futile for you, and the other. It's tiring. It exacerbates.

    Acceptance that you can not help everyone is also key.
    Ppl can, and do change, we never know how ppl will change for good, or bad in the future, for some ppl it takes a catastrophic event for them to wake up just enough to realise there is another way, and sadly some ppl go to their grave never ever realising. But, they will get another chance, another go. We all do. Maybe you can take heart in that.
    quietmaths
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited September 2013
    I once went on a dinner date with young woman. We had a pleasant meal and later took a conversational turn into Zen Buddhism, which I was practicing at the time. She didn't know much so I described zendo procedures and said that sometimes we chanted. "Like what? Do one for me," she said. So I did the Heart Sutra in Japanese. She listened all the way through and then said thoughtfully, "It sounds like a Chinese restaurant menu ... all of Column A and all of Column B." That brought me up short since at the time I took the Heart Sutra pretty seriously; it was pretty special.

    But the more I thought about it, the more I realized she was right and my view was too goody-two-shoes narrow: There is nothing saying that what I take seriously is something the next person will see in the same light. And more, the seriousness with which I took something was not as important or true as a view that included all of Column A and all of Column B.

    It seems to me OK to take Buddhism and its teachings seriously and to try to put those teachings into action. But it is probably better to see the whole thing as if you had gone to a restaurant with a friend: Your friend orders spaghetti and you choose an omlette. Nobody quibbles about choices: It's the company that counts and the fact that everyone gets nourished.

    Friends who "know nothing" about Buddhism are often the very best Buddhist teachers... not because that sounds kool, but because it's true.
    MaryAnnesndymornInvincible_summerquietmaths
  • They are not without dharma, them there 'other'. They are on a harder, slower and more 'wrathful' path. They too are Buddhas in the making.

    Where is the interchange and interface?

    For me it is entering 'the realm of the Sleeping Buddhas', without being too weird or inappropriate. In other words compromise and finding mutually inclusive behaviour. So for example like so many people I am plugged into my ipod but . . .
    unlike most of them I am playing mantra. It puts them at ease to see me listening to the latest [insert must have music]
    I watch the latest films and so have something 'they' and 'I' (also known as 'we') enjoy. There is much in the world to enjoy or find value in. All of the world is in a sense the dharmakaya.
    In Sufism this sort of worldly behaviour and sometimes even contrary and off putting behaviour is known as veiling.
    Becoming a 'spiritual person' is a phase. The most difficult thing is to become a normal person, whilst on the path to release . . . and to dissuade those who feel you are 'different'.

    Another example of integration is socially acceptable altruism . . .

    :rocker:
    quietmaths
  • Very interesting comments and very thought provoking, all. I am not thoroughly educated about Buddhist scriptures or practices from any tradition, Mahayana, Theravada, Tibetan, etc. I don't have a formal practice. I have done much more reading in modern psychology, which has, spurred on by recent findings in neuroscience, picked up and run with mindfulness and compassion practices from Buddhism.

    That being said, after reading a few introductions to fundamental Buddhist concepts like the Four Noble Truths, the Eight-fold Path, impermanence, no-soul, emptiness, and some of the common mediation practices, I found myself aware of ideas that seriously shifted the way that I view the world.

    I am not necessarily interested in adhering to a particular Buddhist tradition at this time, though maybe down the road. I have a worldview that is pretty thoroughly informed by modern science. That should explain a lot, I hope. I could go on, but the point I am trying to make is that I am actually not inclined to think "me Buddhist, them ignorant" by any means. It is just that, having found a way of seeing things that to me seems so revolutionary and so true, I wish that certain others could see it too, if they need it. I add this last bit in light of your comments.

    Maybe I am missing the understanding more subtle aspects of Buddhism that comes from following closely a single tradition. I think that what some of you have said in wonderfully different ways is affirming the freedom and necessity of choice. Also, I got a lot from the mention of boundaries.

    So, from here, thanks a lot for your insightful comments; I believe that your perspectives will help me grow in understanding and awareness. genkaku, I enjoyed your story and your point about seriousness. lobster, I got a lot from "the most difficult thing is to become a normal person, whilst on the path...".

    Metta.
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    @quietmaths -- Not trying to sell ice to an Eskimo, but a meditation practice is more likely to round out your understanding of Buddhism than a whole heap of books. It's not that books are bad or represent some diminished capacity, it's just that they haven't got the power to make you honestly happy. A meditation practice works better in that regard.
    ChazlobsterInvincible_summerquietmaths
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited September 2013
    Quiet,

    Its great that you are in such a peaceful place. If you're engaged with someone who seems to be suffering with something, go ahead and say what comes to heart. If it is "pushy dharma thumping", such as trying to sell them a new ethos, it'll be painful. If it is subjectively relevant, it will be enlightening. Keep your eyes open and you'll develop skillful means on how to vibrate with compassion.

    I find it helpful to be like a monastic in dharma regards... answer questions in a heartfelt and honest way, and don't butt in otherwise. :)

    Namaste.
    quietmaths
  • I really understand what you are saying. At times I also have a sort of a frustration with folks who seem to me as being restless and driven.But...

    You talk about others "without dharma". My mind also regularly falls into that mode of thinking. And that is a big, big mistake. As soon as I attach to this idea of there being an enlightened "me" and unenlightened "others", I have lost my way and my little peacefulness unravels pretty fast shortly after.

    That is no accident. The whole point of Dharma is that there are no "others". The reason we suffer is because we view the world as being divided between I and not-I. When we view the former as superior, and we usually do, even if very subtly, that is when we are in real trouble.

    It is very hard not to do this but in a way that is exactly what Practice is. When I get caught up in this holier than thou attitude, I try to practice right there and then, with the "difficult" person in the same room. The exact practice may vary but the point is to step back from the divisive thinking. I usually put my awareness on breathing, ask "what is this?" repeadly or recite a mantra to myself.

    Good luck!
    lobsterInvincible_summerquietmathsEvenThird
  • I have found a way of living that brings me much peace within, thanks in large part to my study of the Dharma, practice of mediation, and a focus on mindfulness and compassion. These things have literally transformed my life over the past year or so. Before this, I believe that I always felt that I was in a state of constant turmoil. Actually, time I spent attending a Christian church also taught me some things about forgiveness, compassion, service and fellowship. But the effect has been that I deal with things much better now, and my relationships with others are much more harmonious.

    But, there are people in my life, who have been in my life for quite a long time and who are very important to me, who look different to me now. And, they seem to look at me differently now. These people don't understand my preference for peaceful, quiet activities, or my love for a healthy helping of solitude. Rather, it seems to me that they feel I have gone off the radar, as in veered off from the course of good sense.

    But, I look at them, and I see them striving so hard every day, as if they will reach some unattainable goal and everything will be okay. It seems that they are always enmeshed in competition and conflict. I want to reach out to them and tell them "there is a better way; you can feel better". But I know from the times I hinted at things like this, that they will regard that as just crazy talk, and it will make them worry more about me.

    I suppose that perhaps they are wired somehow differently than I am. In the first place, what seems like competition and conflict was draining and disheartening to me. To them, perhaps it is thrilling and maybe meaningful. Second, maybe I am not giving them enough credit and they are happier than they look to me, because I am neglecting our differences. Does anyone else relate to this, or have anything to share that might help me sort this out?

    You should not let their lack of dharma to bother you. Instead, the goodness of the dharma in you should exudes and touch the ones who lack it.
    quietmathsInvincible_summer
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