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Filial Piety?

Greetings to all. I hope everyone is well and enjoying the festive season :)

Here is an issue that I'd like to gain some insights on.

I have a niece, a young lady in her early 20's, who is set on becoming a nun, and has already been accepted into the monastry that's located in a foreign country. However, she is facing serious parental objections, with some family members citing 'filial piety' as a reason for the objection (we are Asian, and big on filial piety).

I am conflicted on this, and I hope to gain some insights and opinions. All comments are appreciated. Thank you for reading.

Comments

  • Having been around Asian buddhists for a long time it can be difficult for a young person to become "left home" with family blessing. Sometimes the family will come to accept and everyone will be happy. Sometimes It leads to a separation never healed. This seems to be a really thorny issue in some Chinese families. Hope all works out well After all going to a way place to cultivate is so very wonderful.

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

    I wonder what the monastery has to say about the filial conundrum.

    spiderlily
  • 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

    @spiderlily said: Here is an issue that I'd like to gain some insights on.

    I have a niece, a young lady in her early 20's, who is set on becoming a nun, and has already been accepted into the monastry that's located in a foreign country. However, she is facing serious parental objections, with some family members citing 'filial piety' as a reason for the objection (we are Asian, and big on filial piety).

    I am conflicted on this, and I hope to gain some insights and opinions. All comments are appreciated. Thank you for reading.

    Greetings, @spiderlily... :)

    First of all, I don't know how much legal control the family can exert; that is to say, if she is of adult age and therefore the only pressure they can exert, is through 'guilt-tripping' if you understand my drift....

    Secondly, please don't think me rude, but what would it matter if you are conflicted? do you have influence, or is this simply something you find difficult to process for yourself?

    I am personally of the opinion (not that it matters a single jot what I think!) that the young lady's wishes should be respected.
    If this is something she has obviously given a lot of thought to, and has decided is her vocation, then I believe her family is misguided in objecting as they do.

    Why would they object?
    What reasons do they have?

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

    @federica -- I'm not quite sure, though my own age may have something to do with it ...

    And I don't mean to be flip since I have no concrete evidence....

    But the thought that came to mind after reading your response was...

    "Twenty is the new twelve...."

    federica
  • spiderlilyspiderlily Explorer
    edited December 2015

    @federica Nothing rude about that :) I have little influence over their respective decisions, and I don't really intend to interfere. I am asking to sort out thoughts that I have of my own, on this matter. Thank you for sharing your opinions.

    To answer your questions:
    We come from a society that values material success. And so to them, a proper way of living is to establish a respectable career, set up a family, own a house, a car etc.

    federica
  • @genkaku i see both sides of the story, and thus a conflict is born :o

  • @spiderlily. Is the monastery that your niece has been accepted too aware of the family objection? There are still some way places that might be difficult about granting full ordination if aware of such an objection. I would hate to see your niece disappointed.

    spiderlily
  • Perhaps my question should be: from a Buddhist point of view, what should the best course of action taken by my niece be, so that it is compassionate to both parties involved?

  • 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

    @spiderlily said:
    @federica Nothing rude about that :) I have little influence over their respective decisions, and I don't really intend to interfere. I am asking to sort out thoughts that I have of my own, on this matter. Thank you for sharing your opinions.

    To answer your questions:
    We come from a society that values material success. And so to them, a proper way of living is to establish a respectable career, set up a family, own a house, a car etc.

    @spiderlily said:
    @federica Nothing rude about that :) I have little influence over their respective decisions, and I don't really intend to interfere. I am asking to sort out thoughts that I have of my own, on this matter. Thank you for sharing your opinions.

    To answer your questions:
    We come from a society that values material success. And so to them, a proper way of living is to establish a respectable career, set up a family, own a house, a car etc.

    It's a shame that her parents cannot be shown that such materialism is transitory, fickle and fleeting, and can be gained and lost in the bat of an eyelid, but that a spiritual path, with renunciation of worldly hindrances is both commendable and more rewarding.

    spiderlily
  • spiderlilyspiderlily Explorer
    edited December 2015

    @federica yes it is, and it's all too deeply ingrained for them (the family) to do much about it. Ironically, they are Buddhists themselves.

  • Maybe your niece should begin her training but put off full ordination until hopefully the family would agree with and support her decision.

  • spiderlilyspiderlily Explorer
    edited December 2015

    @grackle I'm not sure about the details. I only managed to speak with her briefly about this. As of now, she is bidding her time and waiting to see how this will all unfold.

  • @grackle not possible :( The monastery is located overseas, so it's pretty much an all or nothing situation.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran
    edited December 2015

    @spiderlily

    Most traditions require the parental consent of the parents if the student is a minor.
    but
    as others have already said.....
    if she is planning on becoming a renunciate on the Buddhist path, this renunciation must also be applied to all manner of worldly influences, including a families wish to control her life.

    Otherwise Buddhism would never even have started.

    spiderlilyShoshin
  • @spiderlily said:
    Perhaps my question should be: from a Buddhist point of view, what should the best course of action taken by my niece be, so that it is compassionate to both parties involved?

    Is she an only child? If not, then the filial piety role will be covered by a sibling. Also, it's important to keep in mind that the decision may not be permanent, i.e. not life-long. And even in Asian cultures that are more materialistic, isn't it still kind of an honor to have a child opt for the monastic life?

    spiderlily
  • LionduckLionduck Veteran
    edited December 2015

    As a parent and grand parent, I understand their 'reluctance' and my heart goes out to the mom and dad and the daughter. Filiel piety is a strong yank on the heart sttrings, but - bottom line: If she want's to go to a nunnery and she is of age, mom and dad will most likely loose this battle.
    Of course, quite a few go off to be nuns or monks, etc only to find that isn't their 'calling' after all. Mom and dad can only hope.

    At least she isn't going off to join the Army or Marines. (Said by a proud Marine)

    If she is dead set on going, perhaps they should give her their (albiet reluctant) blessings and let her know the door is always open, if and when she decides to return.

    Peace to all

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

    @lionduck -- Except for the "reluctant," I agree ... AND ...

    Over quite a long piece of my life, I've had quite a lot of contact with aspirants in various stages of aspiration. After 40+ years, there is a wee thought I almost never express out loud to the young ones: "Go out and sin some more. In that way, your practice will have more meaning to you."

    Go out and sin some more.

    Let's pretend I never said that. :)

    lobsterspiderlily
  • @genkaku said:
    Let's pretend I never said that. :)

    I never heard it. o:)

    In traditional kabbalah one had to be a devout Jew of at least forty before studying the internal system. The priesthood of the gnostic Cathars only accepted people who had lived a full family life for inner training and development. Sufis often reject those escaping life as useless for interior development.

    How mature a practitioner is your neice? Unable to practice and fulfill obligations shows limited wisdom and a potentially third rate nun.

    Just so she knows. B)

    spiderlily
  • Hello all, I thank all of you for taking the time to leave your comments here. I've gained some wise insights that I wasn't able to figure out on my own. Thank you all for that. If ever my niece should come to me for advice, I shall convey your thoughts and opinions to her. In the meantime, I'll leave this thread here for any further insights to be offered. Good day to all :)

    @genkaku I have done my fair share of sinning, and then some! Wise words. Though I don't know who said that :lol:

    @lobster I shan't comment on her level of wisdom or nunhood rating, I haven't been 'present' enough to vouch for that. If she isn't already there yet, I shall pray for her to get to that place, maybe soon, maybe in the future.

  • spiderlilyspiderlily Explorer
    edited December 2015

    @Dakini said:

    Is she an only child? If not, then the filial piety role will be covered by a sibling. Also, it's important to keep in mind that the decision may not be permanent, i.e. not life-long. And even in Asian cultures that are more materialistic, isn't it still kind of an honor to have a child opt for the monastic life?

    Not entirely true. Over here, to a good 70-80% (my guesstimate, I do hope I'm wrong!) of the population, money is king, and religion (Buddhism) is mainly a means to 1. relieve feelings of guilt 2. gain blessings and a smooth path in life 3. guarantee a good 'afterlife'

  • For me not growing in a culture of filial piety I cannot understand that emotion or belief. I see that respect is a two way street and I expect my parents to allow me to make my own life and beliefs.

    spiderlily
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @genkaku said: Go out and sin some more.

    I'm glad I gave up going to confession. ;)

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

    I'm glad I gave up going to confession

    @SpinyNorman -- Are you sure? Buddhism is worse: Now you and I have to take responsibility.

    Akkkkkk! :)

    lobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    According to some Chinese texts, the most noble act of Filiel piety is to become a monastic and help save the parents, oneself and everyone else, from suffering. It doesn't mean obey.

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

    Excerpt from a letter by the Zen teacher Ta Hui (1088-1136) that may or may not ring some associative bells:

    "As a gentleman of affairs, your study of the Path differs greatly from mine as a homeleaver. Leavers of home do not serve their parents, and abandon all their relatives for good. With one jug and one bowl, in daily activities according to circumstances, there are not so many enemies to obstruct the Path. With one mind and one intent (homeleavers) just investigate this affair thoroughly. But when a gentleman of affairs opens his eyes and is mindful of what he sees, there is nothing that is not an enemy spirit blocking the Path. If he has wisdom, he makes his meditational effort right there. As Vimalakirti said, 'The companions of passion are the progenitors of the Tathagatas. I fear that people will destroy the worldly aspect to seek the real aspect.' He also made a comparison: 'It is like the high plateau not producing lotus flowers; it is the mud of the low-lying marshlands that produces these flowers.'....

    "We leavers of home are on the outside breaking in; gentlemen of affairs are on the inside breaking out. The power of one on the outside breaking in is weak; the power of one on the inside breaking out is strong. "Strong" means that what is opposed is heavy, so in overturning it, there is power. "Weak" means what is opposed is light, so in overturning it there is little power. Though there is strong and weak in terms of power, what is opposed is the same."

    -- Letter to Hsu Tun-chi in "Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui." Tr. Christopher Cleary.

    lobster
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @genkaku said:

    I'm glad I gave up going to confession

    @SpinyNorman -- Are you sure? Buddhism is worse: Now you and I have to take responsibility.

    Akkkkkk! :)

    Yeah, that's true, in the old days I could just say 3 Hail Marys and 4 Our Fathers. Pah, Catholics have it so easy! Mind you, I could pop down to the confessional again I suppose:
    "Bless me father, for I have sinned, it has been 45 years since my last confession and we may be here for some time...."

    Walkergenkaku
  • @genkaku said:
    @lionduck -- Except for the "reluctant," I agree ... AND ...

    Over quite a long piece of my life, I've had quite a lot of contact with aspirants in various stages of aspiration. After 40+ years, there is a wee thought I almost never express out loud to the young ones: "Go out and sin some more. In that way, your practice will have more meaning to you."

    Go out and ### some more.

    Let's pretend I never said that. :)

    Said what? ;)

    One culture's 'sin' is often not seen as the same in another culture. The Pilgrims, nice folks that they were, were horrified that in a certain native tribe, among other things, the women wore 'pants' and had a say in the affairs of the tribe and they were 'ungodly pagans'. The pilgrims proceed to annihilate that tribe and then held their first 'Thanksgiving' in honor of the massacre. As they say, there went the neighborhood.

    Ah, but I diverge, oops! :o

    Back to the original subject:
    Children will grow up and venture forth; parents will almost always worry; life continues to go on.

    Peace to all

    spiderlily
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