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Not Sure What's Happening

I've considered myself a Zen Buddhist for about a decade now. I admit I'm having issues with faith this week. I understand that we're supposed to help other people become enlightened but I'm having trouble expressing my problem in a way that doesn't offend others.

I've always felt like an alien since I was a child simply because I care. In fact I've been told I care too much and people are sick of me getting on my soapbox. These "people" are transient. They don't stay the same. I wisely stop speaking to the one's who are insulting but yet more mean people just keep replacing them. So, I honestly feel very alone and that I do not have a tribe. I went to the Zen Buddhist community and what I got back was, these people need your help and don't take them so personally. I get that but after many years without a thank you I feel drained.

I have given people my last dollar through charities, through buying a meal, and by helping someone with their rent. I rarely get a thank you and I'm fine with that as long as I helped. What makes me so angry is when later a person I helped accuses me of being fake and priding myself on it. I'm on disability for a very low amount. I help others because I know I can in the moment and they need it. I hold the door for the elderly and help people carry things but I digress.

Is there really other people out there like me or are we simply that rare? And, why am I getting so much backlash for it? It's not like I start off a conversation with I helped 3 people today. In fact, I'm a very quiet person. I don't tell people anything unless they ask. So, now I wonfer if Zen Buddhism is for me. I feel like I ask too many questions when Zen is about removing those questions.

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Not Sure What's Happening

    <3 Welcome 🙏🏽

    You could perhaps try the same uncertainty on this zen forum and/or use treeleaf the online community.

    Are you aiming to become enlightened, less of an angry, alien, doormat, nothing or something else? 🤔

    Incidentally ... thank you - on behalf of all those who have drained you ... 💗🙏🏽 🌈

    kandoScottPen
  • skyfox66skyfox66 Explorer
    edited June 17

    I guess I just want to be less angry since I feel like it's human nature. I'm okay with the alien part. Maybe not the doormat part, lol.

    Thank you lobster for the links. 🙏

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @skyfox66 said:
    I guess I just want to be less angry since I feel like it's human nature.

    You and me both.

    Anger is a part of our complexity and present to lesser or greater degree. My experience is a lot of meditation or other outlets can diffuse the anger component ...
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201208/powerful-two-step-process-get-rid-unwanted-anger

    My technique involves ... everything suggested in the above link ... new ideas welcome before I go red again ... 🤯🤬😱

    🤗

  • 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 June 17

    @skyfox66 , take heart:

    Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

    The story above, is far from apocryphal.
    Fred Rogers first wrote this account -and it is documented - as far back as 1986, when he wrote in a syndicated newspaper column.
    And it is as true today as it was then.

    You may be interested to know about this organisation, which I joined, and is actually vast. Global. World-wide. They also have a facebook page, and other associated groups have linked themselves to it.

    Turn from the negative; seek the positive. Very often, the critics of our actions are those whose guilt fogs their eyes, when they criticise. What they're actually doing, is resenting your better nature. Because it's better than theirs. When people choose to call me fake, shallow or that I'm priding myself, I ask them what THEY'RE doing to help others? Put THEM on the defensive, see what happens....

    lobsterShoshinBunks
  • skyfox66skyfox66 Explorer

    Oh wow federica, thank you so much for the link. It really did help to know I'm not alone. You are also correct that my initial thought was, why are you so bitter towards me. I'm just being me but then, you start to doubt yourself when so many voices start to have so many negative things to say.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    The other thing I’d say Skyfox is to try and be aware of what charges your batteries. You say you feel drained after many years without a thank you, but why should you feel this way just now? It seems as if you’re expecting thank you’s to recharge you, but I think that’s not what kept you going all those years. If you’re starting to feel drained it’s likely because you’re short-changing yourself in some other area.

    Meditation is where I usually turn to gain more insight into how I function, maybe it is time to try a little insight meditation and see exactly where this ‘being drained’ is coming from...

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @skyfox66 said:
    So, I honestly feel very alone and that I do not have a tribe. I went to the Zen Buddhist community

    The "tribe" is normally the zen Buddhist community AKA sangha. As zen Buddhists, just like any other Buddhists, we take refuge in the Buddha, dharma and sangha. The support that one receives in their practice, from being a member of the sangha and participating in practice activities with them, meditation in particular, is instrumental in providing a "recharge"

    Is there really other people out there like me or are we simply that rare?

    In an actual Buddhist sangha, not that rare. =)

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    What happens when no "thank you" is expected or demanded?

    My mother used to say, "Don't get too holy by next Thursday." As long as you think there is some sort of brass ring or gold star for involving yourself in Zen or Buddhism, for exactly that long Zen will elude you. Slow down. Do what you can. Pay attention, take responsibility and do what you can not to turn into a professional injustice collector.

    Any time you get the urge to say "people" or "we" or "one" or "they," just replace it with the word "I." Gautama observed in the P. Lal translation of the "Dhammapada," "It is not what others do and do not do that is my concern./ It is what I do and do not do -- that is my concern."

    lobsterBunksKundorocala
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    All I can really say is that I can totally relate to feeling like an alien and not being able to find your tribe. So maybe being an alien or an outcast is a sort of tribe in itself? I'd like to offer some sound advice on how to deal with it but it continues to be a source of suffering in my mind. I think maybe like @federica posted the internet can provide a place for individuals who don't fit the standard molds to connect.

    Eliz
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    <3

    Great advice everyone, hopefully something will gell. I particularly liked @genkaku advice ... My Sangha includes the Bodhi Dervish. People like Shams Tabrizi, the teacher of Rumi.

    It is never late to ask yourself “Am I ready to change my life, am I ready to change myself?”. However old we are, whatever we went through, it is always possible to reborn. If each day is a copy of the last one, what a pity! Every breath is a chance to reborn. But to be reborn into a new life, you have to die before dying.
    http://www.azquotes.com/quote/814328

    Anyways ...

    So, now I wonder if Zen Buddhism is for me.

    Give it another ten years and you might wonder if Zenith Buddhism is for or against anyone or anything ... :)

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @skyfox66 said:
    I've considered myself a Zen Buddhist for about a decade now. I admit I'm having issues with faith this week. I understand that we're supposed to help other people become enlightened but I'm having trouble expressing my problem in a way that doesn't offend others.

    I've always felt like an alien since I was a child simply because I care. In fact I've been told I care too much and people are sick of me getting on my soapbox. These "people" are transient. They don't stay the same. I wisely stop speaking to the one's who are insulting but yet more mean people just keep replacing them. So, I honestly feel very alone and that I do not have a tribe. I went to the Zen Buddhist community and what I got back was, these people need your help and don't take them so personally. I get that but after many years without a thank you I feel drained.

    I have given people my last dollar through charities, through buying a meal, and by helping someone with their rent. I rarely get a thank you and I'm fine with that as long as I helped. What makes me so angry is when later a person I helped accuses me of being fake and priding myself on it. I'm on disability for a very low amount. I help others because I know I can in the moment and they need it. I hold the door for the elderly and help people carry things but I digress.

    Is there really other people out there like me or are we simply that rare? And, why am I getting so much backlash for it? It's not like I start off a conversation with I helped 3 people today. In fact, I'm a very quiet person. I don't tell people anything unless they ask. So, now I wonfer if Zen Buddhism is for me. I feel like I ask too many questions when Zen is about removing those questions.

    What comes to mind when reading your story @skyfox66 is "Karma"
    Remember karma is not reward & punishment, it just balances out energies that perhaps in the past have gone against the flow ....Our thoughts, words & deeds are in a sense karmically driven....

    "Great Faith and Great Doubt are two ends of a spiritual walking stick. We grip one end with the grasp given to us by our Great Determination. We poke into the underbrush in the dark on our spiritual journey. This act is real spiritual practice — gripping the Faith end and poking ahead with the Doubt end of the stick. If we have no Faith, we have no Doubt. If we have no Determination, we never pick up the stick in the first place.”

    ~Sensei Sevan Ross~

  • skyfox66skyfox66 Explorer

    @kerome You are correct, perhaps it is time for insight meditation.

    @person I'm fine with being the "alien" but what I'm not okay with is when others see this as a bad thing. That's where the trouble is and I feel like in this day and age it's okay to insult people who are different from you rather than embracing them. It does get tiring.

    @genkaku It's not the thank you that replenishes the energy for me. Although it is nice. It's just being left alone that does. It's odd how one small thing makes some very vocal and opinionated. Your statement did make me pause and think about what I sad in my post earlier which is how I came to this conclusion.

    Thank you everyone for your helpful responses. 🙏

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @skyfox66 said:
    @person I'm fine with being the "alien" but what I'm not okay with is when others see this as a bad thing. That's where the trouble is and I feel like in this day and age it's okay to insult people who are different from you rather than embracing them. It does get tiring.

    I feel you, I have the same suffering. There is this teaching on self acceptance and loving yourself, how to avoid negative self talk. For me, and maybe you too, I'm largely comfortable with myself, I like who I am. The suffering around acceptance is in how others will perceive and treat me.

    It's like you try to be genuine and accommodating but eventually you stick out and that's really not okay. On the other hand, maybe a lot of it is past trauma replaying its narrative over in my mind and I'm just seeing what I expect to see. There is something off, its either the world or me or both.

    My guiding light in trying to navigate the world is in Shantideva's quote:

    Where would there be leather enough to cover the entire world? With just the leather of my sandals, it is as if the whole world were covered. Likewise, I am unable to restrain external phenomena, but I shall restrain my own mind. What need is there to restrain anything else?

    So I suppose I try to develop a thicker skin, but its a sore spot for me.

    On the positive side, even though I'm the black sheep in my family they are happy to see me and want me around.

  • skyfox66skyfox66 Explorer

    @person Yea I recognize it's a sore spot but for the most part my family made it clear I'm not around. My mother does but my grandfather informed me that I am so useless i should go kill myself. (sorry for the strong words) My mother and I live in a different state now because we both found the extended family abusive and insulting. We haven't spoken to that man in years. We don't even know if he's alive. The rest of the family chooses subtler forms of insults. We've tried being civil but I think it really is just time to walk away. No-one wants to do that with their family but sometimes it's the beat choice.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I do feel sad to hear that, when family insult eachother it can create a very bad atmosphere because these are people who know eachother and have spent much time together.

  • 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

    ..."You always hurt the ones you love,
    The ones you shouldn't hurt, at all..."

    Isn't it demoralising and depressing to know how often, how frequent and how widespread this tendency - of taking the infinite patience, love, compassion and consideration of supposed loved-ones, for granted - is?
    I am sure we have all done it, at some time, to one degree or another... We're all guilty of it, because at some time, beyond the benefit of what we now practise, we've all been people with agendas, desires and the inherent desire to be heard, understood and loved. No matter what.
    It brings out the selfish in us, the 'me first' attitude that now makes us wince and maybe even recoil....

    If nothing else, this serves as a lesson on how NOT to be with those who mean the most to us. It also helps us lead by example.
    Not to be doormats, but to be lamps. Unto ourselves, and others. A torch we shine doesn't shine just for us....

    personlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 19

    I feel like I ask too many questions when Zen is about removing those questions.

    It is?
    I always thought it was about the answers already present. I goes wrong again ... :3 When will I ever learn ...

    The Ancient One: You always excelled, but not because you crave success, but because of your fear of failure.

    Dr Strange: It’s what made me a great doctor.

    The Ancient One: It’s precisely what kept you from greatness. Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.

    Dr Strange: Which is?

    The Ancient One: It’s not about you.

    http://beyondtheopposites.com/2016/12/02/what-dr-strange-strangely-gets-right-in-the-movie/

    personScottPen
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran
    edited June 19

    A few sentences that stand out that I would like to comment on. I do not know if they will ring true for you or be useful:

    You say you are having issues with faith. OBSERVE this. Be mindful. Faith is an attachment, a seeking of “ground/security”. Buddhists strive to relax into the basic uncertainty of life. And understand that faith is not knowledge. The only thing we can truly know is what we experience and that is not the same as belief.

    You have been studying Zen for 10 years. With a Zen master to guide you? Zen Buddhism says that without a teacher you get nowhere. Vajrayana says that without a teacher you go crazy (their words, not mine). Theravadan is the only tradition that says you can get somewhere without a teacher, but I have noticed that even there a teacher makes a huge difference.

    As far as helping others and helping others become enlightened. One evening in beginner’s class, the Lama asked us how to best help others. Several suggestions were made. The teacher finally said the ONLY way to truly HELP others is to FIRST become enlightened ourselves. We cannot help others become enlightened until we have achieved this ourselves. So we are to use our desire to help as a motivation to do our practices.

    Getting on a soapbox is self-defeating. It helps no one. It feeds our sense of being “right” and thereby feeds our attachment to ourselves. And doing something because we want a certain result is not a skillful method ... we should do things because we know they are the kind thing to do, without attachment to results.
    ” The 8 Worldly Concerns That Prevent Happiness:
    • Taking delight in having money and material possessions,
    • Being disappointed, upset, angry when we lose possessions or don’t get them.
    • Feeling delighted when people praise us and approve of us and tell us how wonderful we are.
    • Feeling very upset and dejected when they criticize us and disapprove of us—even if they are telling us the truth!
    • Feeling delighted when we have a good reputation and a good image.
    • Being dejected and upset when we have a bad reputation.
    • Feeling delighted when we experience sense pleasures—fantastic sights, sounds, odors, tastes and tactile sensations.
    • Feeling dejected and upset when we have unpleasant sensations.”

    You are not alone in noticing and feeling the suffering in the world. Nor the suffering in ourselves. This is all contained in the Four Noble Truths, and that is the action that produces the solution. Eventually ... very eventually. Let your caring heart be your motivation in the dharma practices.

    personlobster
  • ScottPenScottPen Maryland Veteran

    @skyfox66 - Lots of good advice in here, but I have to strongly second @FoibleFull's post. I know that your life is more nuanced than any random stranger can fully understand, but if you're a practicing Buddhist I'm sure you have familiarity with the 2nd noble truth. The way that it's detailed in the "8 Worldly Concerns That Prevent Happiness" speaks to me deeply.

    Jan 25- Feb 1 2015: Gil Fronsdal, Joanna Harper, Vinny Ferraro

    The above link will take you to a page of Dharma Talks and guided meditations given at a weeklong retreat at the Insight Retreat Center. The theme of the week was the Four Noble Truths. Gil, Joanna, and Vinny are all so easy to listen to. The compassion oozes out of them. I went to this page to find the one that Vinny gives on the 2nd Noble Truth, so if you're only gonna try one, maybe make it that one. I don't know how you feel about guided meditations... I have trouble with them sometimes. But the talks that were given that week are inspiring, insightful, and could help you get your practice back to the basics in a helpful way.

    I sincerely hope you feel more at ease, my friend!

    lobsterfederica
  • CarameltailCarameltail UK Veteran

    Get some balance. Go in nature take some walks. Find some interest to occupy you.

    I don't think its that healthy always seeking to help people. Especially if you do i out of your own need to help yourself. It's great to assist others sometimes in small ways. If you can help others along the way of your 'journey', share what you have and make the world better for everyone that's great. But have realistic expectations on what you are truly getting or doing is important I would say.

    ScottPenlobster
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