Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Love - shaped hole in Buddhism?

So I have been having a bit of a crisis of faith lately (as much as we can talk about faith in Buddhist context). I apologize to you all for many of my recent posts being somewhat dark and negative. Yet that is where I am in my spiritual journey so thank you for bearing with me.

There is this one dark spot of my Buddhist practice that I have been running across over and over again, for several years. And that has to do with words like Love, Beauty, Caring, Heart, Hope and, once again, and most importantly, Love. You see, for me that word points to something of overwhelming importance. Experiencing that Love is really the only thing that makes life worthwhile for me. If there is such a thing as chakras, my heart chakra seems to be of utmost importance in my constitution.

Now I have read countless texts and listened to countless talks by Buddhist teachers and I do not find Buddhism to be very concerned about or even be aware of the "matters of the heart". To me Buddhism comes across as being focused elsewhere. Some (even if few) teachers have even been quoted to outright say that it is necessary to kill love.

Frankly, I would have long quit my Zen Center were it not for some folks, including my teacher, who are very capable of manifesting that "heart" energy and connect at that level. But then there are a few others who do not seem to have that part of human psychology turned on at all. And based on my understanding of Buddhism, the latter are in fact more in line with Zen teachings. The more warm and loving folks in my Sangha might be such despite Buddhism, not because of it.

I was much relieved when I ran across a few ex-Buddhist folks using the exact same phrase that has been on my mind: "there is not much Love in Buddhism". Yes, there is a lot of clarity, wisdom, awake-ness, being present, dispassion, extinction and, yes, compassion. But compassion to me is not the same as love- it does not have the same heat and energy as love does. Compassion comes through to me as a somewhat passive acknowledgement of other beings' futile struggle in Samsara's circles of delusion.

So as of today, I cannot quite call myself a Buddhist in good conscience, primarily because of Buddhism's lack of affirmation of love. Where does this leave me? I may very well continue coming to my Zen Center to keep my connection to some of the wonderful folks there going, as well as for clearing and focusing my mind through meditation. But a part of me wants a more perfect direction, that is more in line with who I am. Having a calmer and sharper mind is great but who cares if the heart is hungry?

Has anyone struggled with similar questions? If so, I would appreciate you sharing. And once again, please forgive me if my doubts expressed above are discouraging.

HozanlobsterKeromeNirvana
«1

Comments

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    That is a very interesting (good) challenge.

    The difference between my take on 'Buddhist' compassion and yours, is that I very much feel and sense the same kind of strong sentiment in both compassion and love - I don't think I could have compassion without feeling the love in there. But I understand your quandary.

    I struggle with knowing that the Buddha left his family to adventure but more importantly seek something that he seemed to know was out there for him to find / discover that so many have come to benefit from over the 2,500+ years since. But the difference that makes it acceptable to me, for him to appear to abandon his wife, etc., is that she fully understood him and accepted and even blessed his leaving. They both saw something worth the sacrifice.

    I like this part of your post: "Having a calmer and sharper mind is great but who cares if the heart is hungry?"

    You may not realize it, but you are altering and changing Buddhism in yourself, while helping Buddhism to morph and keep up with the times, so to speak.

    I enjoyed your post, @shadowleaver.

    shadowleaver
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    You’ll need to define love for me I’m afraid.

    Are we talking attachment love I.e. I’ll love you as long as you act in a certain way? Or unconditional love I.e. I will wish you well and care about you regardless of your actions?

    CarlitaHozanShoshin
  • @shadowleaver said:
    But compassion to me is not the same as love- it does not have the same heat and energy as love does. Compassion comes through to me as a somewhat passive acknowledgement of other beings' futile struggle in Samsara's circles of delusion.

    Here's a quote from Bhikkhu Analayo's book, "Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhism". It's specifically about meditating on compassion. I don't know if it will help you through what Catholic saints call "the dark night of the soul", but it sounds to me like you and him are talking about the same thing with different meanings of the words.

    Drawing a clear distinction between the realization that others are suffering and the wish for them to be free from suffering is important, since mentally dwelling on the actual suffering would be contemplation of dukkha. Such contemplation offers a basis for the meditative cultivation of compassion. The cultivation of compassion itself, however, finds its expression in the wish for the other to be free from dukkha. In this way, the mind takes the vision of freedom from affliction as its object. Such an object can generate a positive, at times even a joyful state of mind, instead of resulting in sadness.

    "This is vital in so far as the meditative cultivation of compassion can only lead to deeper concentration if it is undertaken with a positive or even joyful mind.

    shadowleaver
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I'd suggest you explore other traditions too. Perhaps Zen isn't for you.

    CarlitaHozan
  • @Bunks said:
    You’ll need to define love for me I’m afraid.

    Are we talking attachment love I.e. I’ll love you as long as you act in a certain way? Or unconditional love I.e. I will wish you well and care about you regardless of your actions?

    This is a good and tricky point, @bunk .

    I would like to say "unconditional", of course. And I do very much value the quality of wishing well to all beings and relating to their suffering, regardless of how same or different they are from me. This quality decreases conflict and stress, and is indeed necessary for a fulfilling life. Buddhist practice has helped me to cultivate a little bit of it, or so I tell myself.

    And yet it seems to me that love is not the same as openness or benevolence to all beings. The love I am talking about requires some type of relationship and continuous commitment. There is just no way that friendliness, patience and occasional helpfulness to a stranger compares to the richness and intensity of closer relationships, be they with family, friends and even coworkers.

    One quote that keeps coming up for me in this regard (not sure the author) is: One who loves everyone does not love anyone . When I hear talk about "saving all beings" so common in Mahayana circles, this quote spoils my blissful trance. At least in the West, Buddhism does not seem to encourage close knit social ties which I think are necessary for meaningfully loving as opposed to merely being nice.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Ah. I see what you mean.

    There does seem to be a certain sense of "detachment" from the world if one is to fully realise this path in this life.

    Bear in mind, when you look at the bigger picture, we've all been brothers, mothers, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbours, co-workers innumerable times throughout this cycle.

    Nice to see you again :)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I've never felt that Buddhism actively discourages loving relationships except for monastics of course. I've never felt unBuddhist for loving my children or husband. But I have found that that connection and love for them allows me to consistently expand that love to others. But it would be pretty hard to do that without having that basis of unconditional love (for my children) to start with. It would probably very much feel like just being nice to try to do so without knowing what it was to have that unconditional foundation in place already. But expanding unconditional love beyond children has been a huge challenge. I love my husband to pieces, but can I honestly say it's unconditional? I like to think so but that's not always the case. I'm not saying it's not possible without children, just considering my own experience. When you are with a person from literally the very first moment their heart beats, it's rather a different take on love than the notion of having to constantly build and maintain it, which is how we mostly treat our love relationships otherwise.

    shadowleaverSnakeskin
  • @federica said:
    Remember that Buddhism isn't a Western religion, it comes from the East; and both the Middle and Far East have a different viewpoint when it comes to affairs of the heart. Arranged marriages, Polygamy, and sexual inequality I'm sure, play a part in developing the attitudes which are so different to ours. Their attitudes to Love are not the same as ours.
    "Bollywood" films are notorious for depicting Love scenes by way of dance; the romantic leads are often seen to dance and sing with one another, but there is none of the naked passion and emotion as seen in Western films. Song and dance is how they make 'love'.

    One could mistake this apparent difference as being one of a more/less factor, but nothing could be further from the truth..

    We in the West have been strongly influenced by Christianity, such as the constant Love fed to us via The sacred Heart, St Paul's letter to the Corinthians and the Holy Spirit - representative of the Love flowing between God, Christ and us.
    Mix that with Mills & Boon, Chick flicks and the kind of romantic literature expounded by great authors and poets, and little wonder our psyche believes that Love is all.

    Buddhism is an Eastern Philosophy. We are of a Western Mind.
    In order to appreciate the wisdom of the Buddha's teachings, one need not resist them or find them wanting.
    But there's nothing wrong with adapting the Buddha's slant on detachment, to our connectedness to that which we love.
    it takes a bit of skilful manipulation.
    It doesn't make the Buddha wrong, and us, right.
    It doesn't make US wrong, and the Buddha right.
    it's a question of being capable of seeing both sides of the coin, and appreciating the value of each side.

    Thank you for that, @federica !

    I am happy you brought up Christianity. It often comes up for me during periods of spiritual doubt. At some level it really appeals to me as many of its aspects feel so right to me emotionally. You are probably correct in that it is Christianity that we have to give credit to for the notion that "Love is all". It infuses its highest principle with Love, thus making Love spiritual. (Of course I have a huge problem with Christian dogma and metaphysics, that is why I am not telling everyone about Jesus).

    The Western Mind vs Eastern Mind is also a good point. This probably goes beyond just love but my Western mind sometimes is very unwelcoming of some parts of Buddhist teaching. I sense there are very deep divisions there that are not easily bridged. I guess if Buddhism is to take hold and grow in the West, it will need to bend more towards Western Mind.

    I can see in my Zen school there are both more "orthodox" and more "reformist" teachers. The former are quite difficult for me to relate to. In fact, this thread got prompted by my exchange with a more traditional of our teachers. I essentially asked how to reconcile love for particular people with letting go of likes and dislikes (a major Zen point of teaching). I got a traditionally Zen answer along the lines that I just said a whole bunch of words that are basically empty and are merely a product of my stupid thinking. I then got the usual Zenspeak about what you are doing right now, what is mind etc. Our other teachers would likely actually engage me on the "love" part of the question and give some sort of guidance in the framework of the question I asked. But the more orthodox way is to just shoot down the question as coming from a deluded mind and move on to emptyness of all words and thinking. While that is true on some absolute level, it is not helpful to my Western mind.

    personSnakeskin
  • shadowleavershadowleaver Veteran
    edited December 2017

    @karasti said:
    I've never felt that Buddhism actively discourages loving relationships except for monastics of course. I've never felt unBuddhist for loving my children or husband. But I have found that that connection and love for them allows me to consistently expand that love to others. But it would be pretty hard to do that without having that basis of unconditional love (for my children) to start with. It would probably very much feel like just being nice to try to do so without knowing what it was to have that unconditional foundation in place already. But expanding unconditional love beyond children has been a huge challenge. I love my husband to pieces, but can I honestly say it's unconditional? I like to think so but that's not always the case. I'm not saying it's not possible without children, just considering my own experience. When you are with a person from literally the very first moment their heart beats, it's rather a different take on love than the notion of having to constantly build and maintain it, which is how we mostly treat our love relationships otherwise.

    As always, thank you, @karasti . You usually step in to react to my lately contraversial posts, I can always count on that :)

    You are right, Buddhism does not discourage loving relationships (at least the Westernized version of it). But it does not encourage them either and has precious little to say about them. It sort of by-steps that important part of human life. So important that when I get depressed, the only solid reason I can come up with for not just offing myself is that my wife and parents would be shattered.

    Like what you said about love for children is commonly re-iterated in various Western sources of wisdom, from religion to psychology to even popular culture. The content of what you expressed is fundamental to Western values. The whole point of my post is that Buddhism does not encourage such sentiments and, given monastic-targeting language still found all over English sources, even appears to diminish their importance.

    Snakeskin
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited December 2017

    Spread the Love
    https://tinyurl.com/y9628lz7

    Find your passion. Beauty? Where is the ugly? Heaven or hell?

    In Sufism, states or stations equate with attributes or divine qualities (names of Allah) such as Beauty, Love, Hate (oh yeah baby), Truth and the 100th name of Allah known only to camels. However you no doubt think Islam is loveless ... much like Buddhism without camels ...

    <3 Pah! <3

    More love. Right here.
    https://tinyurl.com/ydf3zyj2

    shadowleaverSnakeskinFinnTheHuman
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    For myself, I guess I haven't experienced the diminishing of those relationships. They are always used by people I've studied with as the jumping off point for recognizing and expanding love, compassion, etc. My teacher was very sad when his parents died. He loved them dearly. He never suggested in any way that we shouldn't. But I think there is a difference, and a gap, in understanding that love doesn't have to mean attachment. I think it's often left out of the Western Buddhism because we have a pretty hard time separating the 2. We tend to see attachment and even a sense of ownership of each other as a good thing in relationships. We live very separately between heart and mind while Eastern people don't differentiate between them so much.

    lobstershadowleaverBunksSnakeskin
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited December 2017

    As far a zen teachers go, you would probably love Thich Nhat Hanh. He's a very "from the heart" type of teacher. He talks about love all the time. He's even written entire books on the subject. =)

    BunksKeromeSnakeskinNirvana
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It’s interesting @shadowleaver because we seem to have been thinking along similar lines. I too feel that Buddhism is somehow incomplete without addressing love more thoroughly.

    For me it goes back to my teenage years in the Osho communes, at the tail end of the flower power movement. Osho once hung a banner up at one of his meditation camps which said “come to me and I will transform you,” and there was certainly some truth to that - the people who came to his communes were transformed by love, openness, and a transcendent attitude towards work, meditation and togetherness.

    Love was a very central theme back then, in several different forms and often accompanied by letting go gracefully when it ended. The ideal was to be total in it while it was there, and to recognise that for some people that was longer than others. My mother and stepfather met there and have been together ever since in a loving relationship, 35 years and counting.

    Buddhism after that experience seems somewhat solipsistic and individual. It doesn’t encourage close relationships, it instead sets as an ideal the life of a monk, and it gives monks these rules which encourage celibacy. Given that many monks go on to become teachers, it is not unexpected that these attitudes trickle down, from the celibate monk to the lay public who try to learn a lay version of Buddhism.

    shadowleaverSnakeskin
  • CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us! United States Veteran
    edited December 2017

    M> @shadowleaver said:

    So I have been having a bit of a crisis of faith lately (as much as we can talk about faith in Buddhist context). I apologize to you all for many of my recent posts being somewhat dark and negative. Yet that is where I am in my spiritual journey so thank you for bearing with me.

    There is this one dark spot of my Buddhist practice that I have been running across over and over again, for several years. And that has to do with words like Love, Beauty, Caring, Heart, Hope and, once again, and most importantly, Love. You see, for me that word points to something of overwhelming importance. Experiencing that Love is really the only thing that makes life worthwhile for me. If there is such a thing as chakras, my heart chakra seems to be of utmost importance in my constitution.

    Now I have read countless texts and listened to countless talks by Buddhist teachers and I do not find Buddhism to be very concerned about or even be aware of the "matters of the heart". To me Buddhism comes across as being focused elsewhere. Some (even if few) teachers have even been quoted to outright say that it is necessary to kill love.

    Frankly, I would have long quit my Zen Center were it not for some folks, including my teacher, who are very capable of manifesting that "heart" energy and connect at that level. But then there are a few others who do not seem to have that part of human psychology turned on at all. And based on my understanding of Buddhism, the latter are in fact more in line with Zen teachings. The more warm and loving folks in my Sangha might be such despite Buddhism, not because of it.

    I was much relieved when I ran across a few ex-Buddhist folks using the exact same phrase that has been on my mind: "there is not much Love in Buddhism". Yes, there is a lot of clarity, wisdom, awake-ness, being present, dispassion, extinction and, yes, compassion. But compassion to me is not the same as love- it does not have the same heat and energy as love does. Compassion comes through to me as a somewhat passive acknowledgement of other beings' futile struggle in Samsara's circles of delusion.

    So as of today, I cannot quite call myself a Buddhist in good conscience, primarily because of Buddhism's lack of affirmation of love. Where does this leave me? I may very well continue coming to my Zen Center to keep my connection to some of the wonderful folks there going, as well as for clearing and focusing my mind through meditation. But a part of me wants a more perfect direction, that is more in line with who I am. Having a calmer and sharper mind is great but who cares if the heart is hungry?

    Has anyone struggled with similar questions? If so, I would appreciate you sharing. And once again, please forgive me if my doubts expressed above are discouraging.

    Ive been trying to understand your post for a little bit now. To put it simply maybe Zen isnt the ideal sect for you?

    I dont understand the lack of love from the heart in Buddhism. The Buddha taught healthy love and relationship between spouses and children. The love he speaks of is unconditional love for others. When you have mental clarity it doesnt take away love it just nakes you more aware of the nature of it so you wont be attached to it.

    What is the definition of love apart from the heart?

    Love in America (I dont know about the rest of the western side of the west) is what defines the self, our individuality and need for purpose. Apart from christianity, love here isnt wrong just its centered around know ones self. It says that we are defined by love even though our fast society (in thr city. West and south doesnt have too much of the view people miss when referring to the west). It makes the individual self who is in control of our purpose once we find it. In that sense, American culture is highly individualistic and focused on finding one's identity. Politics supports it and most abrahamic religions (christianity, muslim, bahai) so as well. Its not bad just opposite of what Buddhism teaches.

    Are you from American culture?

    If so, I can see the clash. In additon to the isolation of Zen, defining oneself through individualism is a form of attachment whereas love thats for all people and not just self is more communal. Neither are right and wrong just different ways to approach the world.

    Buddhism encourages love but its expression is from the mind whereas individualism depends on self and self is defined by love from the heart. How do you define the love you want in relation to other people compared to yourself? Do you think love comes from the heart or from a mind?

    I believe love comes from the mind because the mind controls how we express ourselves and what we feel and interpret as a self. Buddhism doesnt disencourage love itself just the Attachment to using it to define ones mind. It acknowledges the love feeling and supports types of relationships people express from love. Just the source is different and how one defines love compared to defining what our mind percieves of self.

    Its not wrong. The difference is how you view enlightment and is that what you want-attachment or none attachment. It has nothing to do with love just judging how much we are attached to it.

    Maybe Zen is not best for you and a mystical view of The Buddha's teachings may be better. That heart-feeling is more present and it focuses on community and others rather than just individual enlightenment.

    Snakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Maybe the reason there isn't a lot of focus on love and relationships is because there is an underlying assumption that when you do all this work in Buddhism, one of the major lessons is to learn how to truly love yourself. And once you do that, the rest of it comes pretty naturally. Maybe Buddhism isn't mean to give us all the answers, but to help us clear the way to find the answers ourselves. Especially to things that are so hard to confine and define with words.

    shadowleaverlobsterSnakeskin
  • CarlitaCarlita Bastian please! Save us! United States Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    It’s interesting @shadowleaver because we seem to have been thinking along similar lines. I too feel that Buddhism is somehow incomplete without addressing love more thoroughly.

    For me it goes back to my teenage years in the Osho communes, at the tail end of the flower power movement. Osho once hung a banner up at one of his meditation camps which said “come to me and I will transform you,” and there was certainly some truth to that - the people who came to his communes were transformed by love, openness, and a transcendent attitude towards work, meditation and togetherness.

    Love was a very central theme back then, in several different forms and often accompanied by letting go gracefully when it ended. The ideal was to be total in it while it was there, and to recognise that for some people that was longer than others. My mother and stepfather met there and have been together ever since in a loving relationship, 35 years and counting.

    Buddhism after that experience seems somewhat solipsistic and individual. It doesn’t encourage close relationships, it instead sets as an ideal the life of a monk, and it gives monks these rules which encourage celibacy. Given that many monks go on to become teachers, it is not unexpected that these attitudes trickle down, from the celibate monk to the lay public who try to learn a lay version of Buddhism.

    Maybe older forms of Buddhism would be better? I noticed the more modern the sect, the more they focus on knowledge and reading rather than practice primarily. The Buddha taught practices for lay practitioners. So, things like celibacy would be ideal all the time but only encouraged during Upothasatha and other ceremonial days. I dont think Buddhism doesnt encourage love as a whole just the source of that love is from the mind. I guess it also depends on what tradition you practice and where.

    BunksSnakeskin
  • techietechie India Veteran
    edited December 2017

    @Kerome said:
    It’s interesting @shadowleaver because we seem to have been thinking along similar lines. I too feel that Buddhism is somehow incomplete without addressing love more thoroughly.

    For me it goes back to my teenage years in the Osho communes, at the tail end of the flower power movement. Osho once hung a banner up at one of his meditation camps which said “come to me and I will transform you,” and there was certainly some truth to that - the people who came to his communes were transformed by love, openness, and a transcendent attitude towards work, meditation and togetherness.

    Love was a very central theme back then, in several different forms and often accompanied by letting go gracefully when it ended. The ideal was to be total in it while it was there, and to recognise that for some people that was longer than others. My mother and stepfather met there and have been together ever since in a loving relationship, 35 years and counting.

    Buddhism after that experience seems somewhat solipsistic and individual. It doesn’t encourage close relationships, it instead sets as an ideal the life of a monk, and it gives monks these rules which encourage celibacy. Given that many monks go on to become teachers, it is not unexpected that these attitudes trickle down, from the celibate monk to the lay public who try to learn a lay version of Buddhism.

    With all due respect, most people in this world know only the love that comes from playboy. Not real love, AGAPE love. So maybe that's why B doesn't encourage 'love'.

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    personally,the passion is there like a red rose for god,and the best of men,lao,buddha,christ.but in time may that red rose become a pink rose--calm passion.to me ,i think it can be called love,all beit enthusiastic toward god and my heroes.sorry might be offtopic.

    lobsterSnakeskinFinnTheHuman
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited December 2017

    @seeker242 said:
    As far a zen teachers go, you would probably love Thich Nhat Hanh. He's a very "from the heart" type of teacher. He talks about love all the time. He's even written entire books on the subject. =)

    A short piece about the book:

    https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/thich-nhat-hanh-teachings-on-love-wcz/

    And I found this quite useful on explaining the links between the four immeasurables and a western concept of love...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @techie said: With all due respect, most people in this world know only the love that comes from playboy. Not real love, AGAPE love. So maybe that's why B doesn't encourage 'love'.

    I take it from that comment that you are referring purely to the male gender?

    I would think many men would find it insulting that you would bracket them as 'most people in this world' when in fact you have absolutely no data or evidence to support that kind of frankly crass and dubious - not to say uneducated - statement.

    Mind you, if you're speaking from a purely personal perspective, and are admitting that that's where YOU got your idea of love from, then, fair enough.

    Otherwise it's a load of crap.

    Snakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I wouldn't call anything that results from Playboy or the like "love" or anything close to it. Lust, desire sure. But love?

    Snakeskin
  • NamadaNamada Veteran
    edited December 2017

    Buddhism do have some downfalls, specialy for young people who dont have much experience from life. Why?
    Can you fall in love with a buddhist mind? I dont think so, buddhsim incourage you to feel dispassion towards wordly things, also sweet girls and boys trying to know each other. They will hardly or never fall in love with each other, if a buddhist teacher or parent are learning them Buddhist teachings. "This girl is just a lump of foam, a soap bubble" =dispassion=detachment=impermanence=notself
    True connection will never occour, they will not experience butterflies in the stomach, great feeling when you see and meet her. They will all die in the name of mindfullness and "wisdom".

    shadowleaverSnakeskin
  • Regarding the love and Playboy association made and commented on above:

    Love to me is what one feels when listening to Beethoven or seeing a long missed parent.

    That which is felt upon seeing Playboy imagery is something quite different. It may be worth discussing it in Buddhist context, but the love of this thread has nothing to do with it. So let's leave Playboy out of this one ;)

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • @David said:
    Like others here have said, I can't help but wonder if Thich Nhat Hanhs style of Zen would be better suited for you. The Heart of the Buddha's Teachings is one of my favorites.

    In the Mangala Sutta Buddha addresses a deity asking what is the highest blessing. He goes on to explain how the life of a devoted lay practitioner fits the bill. Among other things, Buddha says supporting a mother and father and to cherish spouse and children was a part of the greatest blessing.

    I can't help but have compassion for the poor god there but maybe it helped. I'm going to have to look for the back story on that one.

    Reading your post reminds me of that phrase "to stink of Zen" because I think it was coined for when the dharma sounds too cool for school.

    Ha, thank you for the phrase "Stink of Zen", @David !

    It does fit in really well with my present struggle to adjust my spiritual direction.

    Snakeskin
  • <3

    In the Jewish tradition as far as I am aware, sexual love is seen as a religious duty/act. Hinduism too has room for human as well as 'higher needs'.

    Buddhism with abstention and Christianity with chastity as ideals is sometimes inhuman and unnatural and may consequentially be unbalanced ... not Middle Way?

    So let us move onto higher aspects. The emotional hunger and need for reciprocal care, friendliness, attention, sangha if you will, etc is a very important nutrition/fulfillment.

    Higher still?

    The bodhisattva ideal (Buddha instituted this ideal on awakening) is based on a deepening understanding of other directed altruism ...

    So I would not dismiss our varying spectrum of potential openings. Be Kind. Find more depth in Buddhism that enhances our capacity. I’ll join.

    shadowleaverKeromeSnakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    edited December 2017

    Someone I read, possibly Chogyam Trungpa, talked about love and compassion being...oh i can't think of the term he used. Like, incubating, in an egg. When we feel emotional at a beautiful mountain or piece of art/music etc it is what we should use to start with continuing to allow compassion and love to bud and grow. That recognizing beauty in those things is the first recognition of love and compassion and all we need to do is keep watering those seeds to see it continue to grow and expand. It's definitely a different sort of love than romantic, hyper "OMG!!!! TheyAreSoCuteAndTheyTouchedME!" love.

    Snakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    “I do not dispute with the world; rather it is the world that disputes with me.”

    The Buddha - Samyutta Nikaya

    It's possible that whatever we object to in Buddhism is not because of a fault or omission within it, but because of our own resistance of accepting the core Truth within it.
    It's uncomfortable. We resist it because we rather like our own 'truth' and would like the Buddha's Truth to be flawed, faulty, lacking in something....

    The Buddha's love for his family drew him back to where they were. His compassion, infinite capacity to embrace, and his Inner Wisdom, was strong and magnetic enough to not only reconcile them with his long absence, but encourage them to follow him and be with him as familial disciples.
    Ananda was related to him; he kept his loved ones close.
    He had many discussions with his son, who was curious, watchful and devoted.
    The Buddha knew love. He fully understood its amazing capacity to transform.

    If we apply the romanticised Love we know so well, and overlay it onto Buddhism to appease our deluded view, we do both Buddhism - and ourselves - a disservice, and we have learnt less than we believe we have.

    DavidSnakeskinNirvana
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    All the Buddha ever proclaimed to teach was suffering and it’s end to reach.....first things first, we need to know what suffering is....and while being with family is great and we adore them, it also brings with it a fair amount of suffering. Let’s be honest here.

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited December 2017

    @federica said:
    If we apply the romanticised Love we know so well, and overlay it onto Buddhism to appease our deluded view, we do both Buddhism - and ourselves - a disservice, and we have learnt less than we believe we have.

    You could certainly say Buddha knew love, he had a family, but it is something that’s not allowed for in the community of monks. It makes me wonder, how complete is a teaching when the future teachers are not familiar with this important aspect of the human condition?

    I am not so concerned about romantic love - we know it’s an elaborate dance with a really personal connection at the end - as I am about the fact that all the other aspects of love and of human inter-being get so little coverage while the negative parts of the emotional spectrum are talked about in much detail.

    “To support mother and father, to cherish wife and children, and to be engaged in peaceful occupation - this is the greatest blessing.” The Buddha, Mangala Sutta

    If we follow the list of blessings in the Mangala Sutta, it mentions the attainment of nirvana as merely one. There are many others, which give a more balanced view of how to live a good life. It makes you wonder why it is not used more as a guide to lay persons living. But even there it says ‘cherish’ instead of ‘love’.

    Anyway, that’s my morning musings...

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • @Bunks said:
    All the Buddha ever proclaimed to teach was suffering and it’s end to reach.....first things first, we need to know what suffering is....and while being with family is great and we adore them, it also brings with it a fair amount of suffering. Let’s be honest here.

    This is where the emotionally immature aspects of dharma need updating/changing focus etc. 'Everyone can become monks and nuns', is not a realistic or healthy option.

    Avoiding all potential entanglements is a minority 'self love' sport.

    For lay followers Kalyāṇa-mittatā or spiritual friendliness has potential extensions.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalyāṇa-mittatā
    Initially we look towards the aspects of friendliness that we can accept. A book, a sangha, a teacher. Through such a relationship, we begin to understand the value of compassion (love without entanglement) and non trading reciprocal friendship (which we may be more familiar with). Eventually through practice of loving kindness and other virtuous examples/practices we start to find ourselves becoming friends with:

    • ourselves
    • friendly sources
    • our immediate circle
    • our wider circle, across time and space ...

    As usual we become what we love. Hug a Buddha.

    KeromeshadowleaverShoshinSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited December 2017

    @Kerome said:

    @federica said:
    If we apply the romanticised Love we know so well, and overlay it onto Buddhism to appease our deluded view, we do both Buddhism - and ourselves - a disservice, and we have learnt less than we believe we have.

    You could certainly say Buddha knew love, he had a family, but it is something that’s not allowed for in the community of monks.

    That is not true. Do you honestly believe that a monk has to cease loving? If so, you completely misunderstand the Buddha's teachings. Attachment is one thing; Love is quite another. You can't actually call yourself Buddhist if you abandon Love as an emotion.

    It makes me wonder, how complete is a teaching when the future teachers are not familiar with this important aspect of the human condition?

    The teaching is complete. It is the understanding that is lacking.
    How can anyone human be anything but?

    I am not so concerned about romantic love - we know it’s an elaborate dance with a really personal connection at the end - as I am about the fact that all the other aspects of love and of human inter-being get so little coverage while the negative parts of the emotional spectrum are talked about in much detail.

    Have you ever stopped to consider that they get little coverage because such love is a given? Why elaborate on the obvious?

    “To support mother and father, to cherish wife and children, and to be engaged in peaceful occupation - this is the greatest blessing.” The Buddha, Mangala Sutta

    Yes, but remember translations leave a lot to be desired. For example, the 6th commandment is translated as 'Honour thy Father and Mother.'
    What do YOU interpret 'Honour' to mean? The word 'Love' isn't mentioned there either....

    If we follow the list of blessings in the Mangala Sutta, it mentions the attainment of nirvana as merely one. There are many others, which give a more balanced view of how to live a good life. It makes you wonder why it is not used more as a guide to lay persons living. But even there it says ‘cherish’ instead of ‘love’.

    From the online Etymological Dictionary:

    cherish (v.)

    early 14c., c_herischen_, "hold as dear, treat with tenderness and affection," from Old French cheriss-, present participle stem of chierir "to hold dear" (12c., Modern French chérir), from chier "dear," from Latin carus "dear, costly, beloved" (from PIE root *ka- "to like, desire"). The Latin word also is the source of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese caro; Old Provençal, Catalan car. Meaning "indulge and encourage in the mind" is from late 14c. Related: Cherished; cherishing.

    So you see, take nothing at face value, but research, study, broaden the understanding and embrace freely, because much as it seems to not be there, Love most certainly is, in much of what the Buddha taught.

    Anyway, that’s my morning musings...

    Have another coffee... ;)

    Snakeskin
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    All the Buddha ever proclaimed to teach was suffering and it’s end to reach.....first things first, we need to know what suffering is....and while being with family is great and we adore them, it also brings with it a fair amount of suffering. Let’s be honest here.

    Sure, but it also brings great joy. The problem as I see it is how to remain happy overall no matter what life hands us. Family or alone is probably fine as long as we don't long for the other at the expense of the one. The Middle Way seems to rightfully apply to almost all circumstances and when I think of it, opposition is mere complement in disguise.

    That is to say, I think there is a greater happiness that knows no opposition and which doesn't depend on "outer" circumstance.

    The cessation of suffering doesn't seem to be aversion but rather confrontation in regards to circumstance and so whether or not one has family is immaterial to their ability to be ever more aware.

    That's just my opinion but while labels apply, I am a family man and in general, I am happy.

    lobsterkarastiSnakeskin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Bunks said:
    All the Buddha ever proclaimed to teach was suffering and it’s end to reach.....first things first, we need to know what suffering is....and while being with family is great and we adore them, it also brings with it a fair amount of suffering. Let’s be honest here.

    Well, if we wish to be honest, then we should also add that that's just one aspect - or definition - of suffering.
    Another is that I have condemned my children to death.
    And my daughter has done the same to her son, by giving him birth first.
    All who live, will die.
    So that's another definition of 'suffering'.

    We can uber-define suffering all we like, but giving it the negative slant of 'no matter how good it feels, it's also shit' is again, in my opinion, misconstruing the teachings.

    We're all-too-familiar with the concept that 'dukkha' means so much more than a western verbal interpretation, because we now know and accept that dukkha does not precisely mean suffering. Nor does it precisely mean 'stress'. It also un-precisely means discomfort, un-ease, disquiet, and even possibly, imprecisely, apprehension.
    It's a bit like waiting for the other shoe to drop...

    We need to change our minds.

    We need to adapt our thinking to what I personally feel is far more accurate, that even though there is 'suffering' (and see above for remaining imprecise interpretations) there is also a residing Joy, a serenity, a happy acceptance, a settling into a calm, non-discriminating inner peace.
    A "Bring it on, I'm open to everything, accepting of all, and I abide in Contentment, no matter what" state of Mind.

    Suffering then, just becomes simply more baggage we can drop, and appreciate as the illusory existence we know it to be.

    BunksSnakeskin
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    "What time is it?" asked Pooh.
    "It's the same time as always, just right now" said Piglet.
    "You stink of Zen" said Pooh.

    Not as good without the little comic but hey.

    BunksSnakeskin
  • @David said:

    That is to say, I think there is a greater happiness that knows no opposition and which doesn't depend on "outer" circumstance.

    Indeed there is and practice unfolds it ...

    Some situations/people we co-operate with, usually those we prefer/are attached to/find alluring in some way. Others we oppose/conflict with, we don’t like or agree with them ...

    How do we find the outer circumstance irrelevant to our equilibrium? Well we can attempt constipated emotionless indifference but that is not The Way.

    The Way is to extend our equilibrium, happiness, joy, love, kindness, positivity as much as humanely possible. That expression becomes greater than circumstance ...

    Iz plan!

    DavidSnakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    If we are suffering it is because we have created the state of suffering in our minds. There is nothing inherent in being married, having children, being the child of someone else etc that is suffering. We create the suffering. Our failure to understand love and bring it about in our lives is not the fault of love. Or family. It is our fault and ours alone because we are entirely in control of how we react to anything. As was mentioned in your other thread, @Bunks, kindness is always possible. What is true kindness if not a basis in love?

    Snakeskinlobster
  • I think this is simple. The butterfly-inducing puppy-dog "love" is not really love, it's a product of hormones and lust. There is no problem with having relationships, romantic or otherwise. The problem is when one's happiness is dependent on the existence of a relationship. Understanding the fleeting and impermanent nature of life and being content with one's own life, as well as with the truth that all relationships will end is what I feel the goal is. I am married and I have children. I love my wife and kids dearly, but I also know that there will come a day that either through death (mine or theirs or any combination of) or Karma, these relationships will all end. The ones that end with death will be mourned, but I hope to be able to feel that pain and let it go as easily as it will have come. I feel that this is what the Buddha is trying to teach. Don't hold onto love or pain, feel it when it's there, but don't let it rule you. Watching small (1-4) children is a great way to see this in action. I think kids at this age really have a lot to teach. They feel the pain and sadness when it's happening, but they let it go when it's over and can enjoy (or not depending) what comes next with no attachment to the loss or sadness that preceded it. They respond only to what is in each moment and allow those moments to unfold. Sure they're learning to try to hang on to the good things and keep the bad away, but in my experience those tendencies don't seem to really take hold until around 3-4 years of age.

    SnakeskinlobsterShoshin
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu @buddhakai

  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    All the Buddha ever proclaimed to teach was suffering and its end to reach.....first things first, we need to know what suffering is....and while being with family is great and we adore them, it also brings with it a fair amount of suffering. Let’s be honest here.

    ALL? ?????

    I think this comment completely misses the mark. Human life has a purpose. We are not meant to be hermits, unless by not being so we would do harm to others or our spiritual mission. No, the purpose of human life is to be happy, and true happiness consists in bringing joy to others while creating as little suffering as possible.

    I believe that the Lord Buddha's teachings on dukkah were intended to focus his followers on the need for Letting Go of strong mental/emotional grips on things. Eventually we have to let everything we love go, anyway. And, in that spirit, @shadowleaver, I think the Buddha in his magnanimous love and compassion expresses such a refined joy that those whose sight is limited may not discern the love that shines in its center. Pure love only wants to set free and not to possess. That is the ultimate goal.

    But the steps along the way to that goal while we are parents or caregivers or whatever (and have yet to steer those we care about along right paths) ought to be concerned chiefly with one care: Bringing Joy to Others.

    NOT Suffering. The Lord Buddha was not a depressed person. Suffering is mostly in the Mind, and we should be masters of it.

    SnakeskinBunksshadowleaverkarasti
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited December 2017

    @Nirvana said:

    @Bunks said:
    All the Buddha ever proclaimed to teach was suffering and its end to reach.....first things first, we need to know what suffering is....and while being with family is great and we adore them, it also brings with it a fair amount of suffering. Let’s be honest here.

    ALL? ?????

    I think this comment completely misses the mark. Human life has a purpose. We are not meant to be hermits, unless by not being so we would do harm to others or our spiritual mission. No, the purpose of human life is to be happy, and true happiness consists in bringing joy to others while creating as little suffering as possible.

    I believe that the Lord Buddha's teachings on dukkah were intended to focus his followers on the need for Letting Go of strong mental/emotional grips on things. Eventually we have to let everything we love go, anyway. And, in that spirit, @shadowleaver, I think the Buddha in his magnanimous love and compassion expresses such a refined joy that those whose sight is limited may not discern the love that shines in its center. Pure love only wants to set free and not to possess. That is the ultimate goal.

    But the steps along the way to that goal while we are parents or caregivers or whatever (and have yet to steer those we care about along right paths) ought to be concerned chiefly with one care: Bringing Joy to Others.

    NOT Suffering. The Lord Buddha was not a depressed person. Suffering is mostly in the Mind, and we should be masters of it.

    Absolutely! But removing suffering is being happy is it not? I think we're saying the same thing.

  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran

    Ah, but you cannot remove suffering, you can only limit or avoid it. Plus any suffering "removed" is generally temporary. The thing is, happiness ought not to be thought of in terms of a negation of a negative (absence of suff'ring), but rather in terms of the positive (like flowing towards joy). A joyful, enriched life is bent towards happiness; one merely escaping suff'ring by a hair or a scare is not the good life.

    But more to the point, is what is the general purpose of human life, if not to bring joy to others? We are social beings who enjoy each other, and if we are wise we should so conduct ourselves as to seek the good of others over our own. For joy. We overlook the sorrows for the joy. Our suffering is there to teach us humility and build up the faculty of compassion that comes from the circumspection done while we suffer.

    And to the Original Post, Why should anyone who is not grounded in Love bother to care about bringing joy and not suffering into the lives of those he or she loves?

    lobstershadowleaver
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Nirvana said: I think this comment completely misses the mark. Human life has a purpose. We are not meant to be hermits, unless by not being so we would do harm to others or our spiritual mission. No, the purpose of human life is to be happy, and true happiness consists in bringing joy to others while creating as little suffering as possible.

    I believe that the Lord Buddha's teachings on dukkah were intended to focus his followers on the need for Letting Go of strong mental/emotional grips on things. Eventually we have to let everything we love go, anyway. And, in that spirit, @shadowleaver, I think the Buddha in his magnanimous love and compassion expresses such a refined joy that those whose sight is limited may not discern the love that shines in its center. Pure love only wants to set free and not to possess. That is the ultimate goal.

    But the steps along the way to that goal while we are parents or caregivers or whatever (and have yet to steer those we care about along right paths) ought to be concerned chiefly with one care: Bringing Joy to Others.

    NOT Suffering. The Lord Buddha was not a depressed person. Suffering is mostly in the Mind, and we should be masters of it.

    On the subject of Life's meaning, and suffering, I would recommend Viktor Frankl's "Man's search for Meaning" which turns the matter round somewhat, and explains quite lucidly that Life has no meaning; WE give Life meaning ,and can find solace in our 'Suffering' by enduring it with a Positive attitude and determination, to give it purpose.

    karasti
  • Well said Bubba @Nirvana,

    Increase in Love 💗

    With a boundless mind one could cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit.
    From the Maitri Sutra
    http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/dharma-quotes-quotations-buddhist/love.htm

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    To me, happiness is not the flip side of suffering. Contentment is. Because to think we can always be happy is just not possible. We experience sadness and anger and frustration, and when we always look at it as a failure on our part that we are suffering and not happy, then we are always striving towards happiness, which is no different than the failings of most of western societies. That is how we tend to live - always pushing away suffering and seeking happiness. It doesn't work, because the experience of life is always going to be a teeter-totter of happy and not-happy. But we can always be content. Always. Even in our frustration, anger and sadness, we can learn how to be OK with those feelings in those moments.

    silverFoibleFull
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    Check out Jayasaro Bhikkhu's On Love.

    Carlita
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you all for bearing with my conflicting posts!

    So now, a few days later, I am looking back at the yearning, dissatisfaction and anger evident from my writing above and am really wondering: what was that all about?

    This heart storm lasted for about a dozen days but now it is gone, I just do not feel it. I do not quite understand where it came from. I guess this was like a really protracted meditation experience of a mental state arising and passing away.

    Zen feels right again. And whether I call myself a "Buddhist" or not, what difference does that make? Meditation of observing the whirlpools of the mind and inquiring into their nature appears like my best shot at freedom. A path that I want to walk, whatever name it has.

    Peace, y'all!

    lobstersilver
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.