My mother has been visiting me for the last few weeks, and together we were looking through an old Osho darshan book, detailing the meetings that sannyasins had with Osho... these were basically one-on-one conversations with a small audience, a chance to ask personal questions. We were looking at the photographs and I noticed a beautiful young woman, and my mother remarked "all the people who came there were beautiful, they were innocent".
It struck me later while thinking about Buddhists that I had met that many people on the spiritual path have a special quality. Perhaps the mere fact that they have gone looking in spiritual places attracts a certain kind of person, someone with a kind of gentleness, sensitivity and purity. Sometimes they surprise you...
What have your experiences been with the kind of people on the spiritual path?
Stick around. The glow dims or waxes, but whose business is that? Everyone suffers or has unsatisfactory corners in their lives. How they address their suffering varies. Gentleness and sensitivity are nice, but in my experience not everyone is gentle and nice and frankly I prefer the ones who are a little less serene and a lot less pure.,,, they're more likely to find some honest usefulness and truth.
Just my two cents.
Interesting post. Gentle and nice is a constant goal for me, but it doesn't always solve issues, particularly (for example) in the work/professional world.
That's certainly true, people who have or had some darkness in them and have realised that often have more to say about how they overcame those aspects of themselves.
Here in the jails we have spiritual representatives, including Buddhist ones. That strikes me as the extreme, where some people you talk to may be lacking certain values and norms. But if you do find one of those, an ex-prisoner who is making real progress, I feel it must be very rewarding.
They are often not (on the spiritual path).
Those who are, may come in shades of outer ugliness or invisibility that might surprise the lovely hippies, beautiful yoginis, blissed out sanyassins and other luvvies ...
Sometimes they surprise you...
I forget who said it, but I always liked it: "Do not be too virtuous. Too much virtue makes a person crazy."
I would not be at all surprised if that was true, thinking of things like crusades and religious intolerance in the past.
Only those guilty of atrocities connected to their beliefs would misguidedly call themselves virtuous. It would be a singular and subjective opinion, therefore invalid as an example.
It can do. Just persevere, if only as an experiment. That persistence will bring the insights required to tackle all problems with gentle and nice.
Depends on where you work and what industry
Come on now. When you have to fire someone there is no gentle and nice.
I don't know about this. I realize that when most people say something to the effect of, "I don't know about that", they mean, "I disagree vehemently". I mean it literally, I don't know, but I would like to, so here's a question with accompanying explanation and/or background:
I've come on here a few times recently trying to figure out how to handle some issues in my home life with my wife. Her spending habits being one example. I struggled as many folks here spoke about giving her an ultimatum. I've been talking with, and working through some things with my therapist surrounding this issue along the way.
During our last session, I don't remember the exact conversation because I was so struck by what she said that it sort of deleted everything that came before it. It wasn't that no one had ever said something similar to me before, but I heard it this time. She said that the recent instances where I did put my foot down and gave my wife an ultimatum, was loving. It certainly didn't feel that way when I gave the ultimatum, but for the first time, I could see how it was. Pin this thought, I'll be right back to it.
So, last Tuesday, a week ago today, I took a trip. I quit my job two weeks ago because my health simply wouldn't let me continue any longer, took a week off and then headed to the coast - a seven hour drive away, to play poker. I don't recall if I ever spoke about it here but I played poker professionally for twenty-four years and have written a book on No-Limit that was published about twelve years ago. I haven't played since then. The hope was that I could make sufficient money that I could play three or four days a week, twice a month and make as much as I did in the traditional job I just quit.
This first trip was going to be a little longer so that I could compare the games on the weekdays to the weekends. I left on Tuesday and had plans to return on Sunday. Saturday morning though, my wife's phone call didn't come in at the pre-arranged time of 7am. I called her at 7:30am and no answer. And at 8am. And at 8:30am. By 2pm, I was genuinely fearful for her life. She never misses a call. In fact, she blows my phone up pretty continuously whether or not I am busy or not.
I send someone to the house to check on her and her truck is there but there is no answer at the door. Finally, I have them enter the house to look for her. She was in the bedroom hiding in a meth induced psychosis. She had been clean for two years. By this time, I was racing home already. I practiced my response along the way. When I got home, this was our conversation:
Me: Do you still want to be together?
Her: Yes, of course!
Me: Good. So do I. In fact, from the moment I saw you all those years ago, spending my life with you is all I ever wanted. That has not changed...
(Brief explanation here...I do not give my word. Ever. My wife has never heard me do so and we have discussed why I don't. The reasons are probably unimportant here but the fact that I refuse to do so is pretty germane to the rest of this)
Me: But. And you have my word on this. If you choose drugs over me, our marriage and our life together one more time, I will walk out the door and not look back.
On the way home Saturday I thought about this conversation, as well as the conversations with my therapist and you folks here and decided that this was the kindest, most loving thing I could say - for both of us. And I meant it. So basically, I threatened to 'fire' my wife and I will follow through if she uses again. But I no longer see it as unkind or even ungentle - and certainly not unloving.
Is this apples to oranges, or do you think I am seeing this wrong?
I have seen/talked to various people from Thai Forest practitioners, Abbot of Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery in America, Catholic Lay Apostlates, Carthusians, Yogis, etc.
Loving kindness, humbleness, and an expanse/openness that is hard to explain is usually a tell-tale sign of all walking the path in a true and earnest way.
Polemics can screw anyone up though I think.
A lot of beautiful souls out there
Okay, this is just me. Others will probably disagree.
Many Buddhists, and I think especially Western Buddhists, think they can wrap everything in the world into a warm, soft blanket called compassion. Sort of like the hippies back during the Vietnam War thought they could all sit around and sing "Kumbaya" and the Age Of Aquarius would dawn and we would have "Harmony and understanding, Sympathy and trust abounding, No more falsehoods or derisions, Golden living dreams of visions, Mystic crystal revelation, And the mind's true liberation". Let's keep in mind that the Dalai Lama lives in India, not Tibet. That the Buddhist Thais are still dealing with that nasty little Buddhist/Muslim conflict in the deep south, and that we have monks doing very un-monk-like things in Burma. Life is still life. One of the problems with Americans seeing the reality of life is that Americans alive today have never known war in the homeland.
Buddhism guides us, comforts us, comforts others. But the world around us is not Buddhist (and even if it was...well, let's just say that you might want to read about the wars of the Buddhist nations of Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, and Vietnam).
On a very personal level, my significant other in Thailand stole $15,000 from me when I left Thailand. I was compassionate and forgave. More recently my significant other "stole" my Buddha statues (long story). A thief is thief. No more compassion. I don't wish him ill, but any relationship/communication is simply over. Somewhere in Buddhist scriptures Buddha said that we should be careful with whom we associate.
I think there are MANY instances in life where we, as Buddhists, have to do unpleasant things. When that happens, I think the best we can hope for is that we are mindful of not only what we are doing, but how we are doing it. We don't have to make "it" (whatever "it" is) worse than it already is.
@yagr. Are you certain that your ultimatum was not simply the result of very understandable frustration? Because for that ultimatum to be effective your wife would have to have a greater insight than she probably does. She is not choosing her addictive behaviors over you. It sounds as though she is stuck and you want to become unstuck. Her journey to the place where she can honor her person seems far from completion. Without that how can she honor you?
Yes. It seems that I have an unlimited capacity for frustration. This choice I made to take this position was very difficult for me and completely out of character - it would have been easier for me to continue doing what I always do which is to simply accept that things are the way they are, she is who she is, etc.
I chose this position because my evolving understanding tells me that this is the most loving position to take for all involved, which includes me.
I used the word 'ultimatum' because it is the way my dealings with my wife were framed here with other members, but I don't look at it as an ultimatum. I am simply informing her of where I am, my position, my choices going forward, and how her actions will influence both of us.
You may be right in that she is not choosing her addictive behaviors over me, though I think the difference is semantics. I am an addict, though one who has been clean for over twenty-five years. Typically in addiction circles, the idea is embraced that as an addict you have a choice to have the first one, and after that you lose the power of choice. I don't accept the latter half of that 100%, but I do agree with the first half. She had been clean for two years. Picking up the first one was something within her power to stop.
Regardless, she made a choice to pick up. I made a choice about what would happen if she did so again. My choice was not out of anger or frustration. It was out of love for myself and her, as well as the hope that her knowing the consequences of her actions moving forward might help her to seek the help she needs to prevent playing Russian roulette with her life...which simultaneously effects my life, our marriage and our lives together.
I love her. I want her to be happy and healthy. What I have been doing to support her has not been successful. Perhaps she needs me to leave. Perhaps that won't help either. I don't know, but I am willing to make a new and different mistake than the ones that I have been making up until this point in order to help. If that takes me leaving, then I am willing to do so.
Just you is just fine. I concluded long ago that if no one disagrees with me, I am almost certainly wrong.
I understand that you handled these two situations differently, but I'm not sure that both weren't compassionate. I mean, in the second case, you do not wish him ill, you are just protecting yourself from further such occurrences. Still compassionate, just in this case it was you on the (obvious) receiving end. Doesn't mean that the loss of your friendship won't change the thief for the better.
I agree with this. Unpleasant tasks fall to everyone regardless of the label we place upon ourselves. I'm not particularly averse to unpleasant tasks as much as I am averse to unskillfully dealing with tasks - pleasant or unpleasant.
Speaking as an alcohol abuser in recovery, I will say that every person has a duty to themselves to draw a line in the sand when it comes to loved ones and substance abuse, and only they can decide when and where to draw that line. It is not for us to say. Whether the abuser is willingly choosing what they are doing is irrelevant. It is not about the the abuser. It's about self protection. You would throw a rope to a drowning victim, but you would not allow yourself to get pulled in with him, would you? Whom would that serve?
I truly believe kindness and compassion is always possible, and always right. But that isn't the same as letting people walk all over you. I fired people. It was never in anger or disgust or any other such thing. It was simply a factual matter where enough evidence had been gathered that this person was either incapable of doing the job as required, or there was a problem (theft, for example). That doesn't mean we put the business at risk by feeling pity for them and allowing them to keep working, however. I can fire someone and still have compassion for them, just like I do with my own children. We absolutely should be mindful of how we do all things, perhaps especially the unpleasant ones. But for me, mindfulness stems from compassion.
It's good to keep in mind, too, that allowing someone else to continue bad behaviors doesn't help them, either. That is the definition of idiot compassion aka enabling. Sometimes you have to distance yourself from someone, such as an addict who is harming others in their actions. You might have immense compassion for them, but sometimes that means forcing them to be accountable for their choices. Compassion doesn't mean giving someone what they want. It means knowing when what someone wants isn't good for them and not contributing to it on their behalf. I'm not sure where the idea of compassion being all warm fuzzies and hugs comes into play. I've never thought of it that way. Sometimes compassion is tough love. But it is only that way if compassion is the foundation. If you practice "tough love" in an abusive manner, then it is abuse.
Excellent, realistic post.
When I entered the path compassion was not spoken of by itself but always with wisdom. Each supporting the other. A student was expected to accurately identify which was predominate so as to develop a balanced understanding. Otherwise we would have cultivation without results. Sometimes we know how to help but can't put it right. Our intension is good but we can't see the many ways that helpful intension can bear fruit.
As @grackle mentions compassion and wisdom are intertwined ...
For example in the vajrayana tradition that I was thrown out of (heresy is one of my hobbies - gets me back on the rhino sutra hard core dharma) wisdom and compassion are symbolised in dorje and bell ...
Too many are just playing at being on the 'spiritual path' ... Nobody here is like that apart from me, I hope ...
@lobster I too play the game of being on the spiritual path, by accepting the roll of the Dukkha dice and the karmic cards "I" am dealt ...In the spiritual path game, there are no winners or losers ...it's nothing special ... just a game...( be it a somewhat addictive one )
Innocence needs to always be respected and you can find it in some very unlikely places. I find that beautiful.
It's odd because I was thinking of starting a discussion on quirky paths - mine is full of quirks
And don't 'heretics' usually get repackaged as 'saints' at some point @lobster? Sorry for three in a row guys, I'm too fast on the trigger today!
Mod note: Sorted - !
Sometimes ... being non-kosher, Rabbi St Crusty is unlikely. Also my dervish fiends friends are probably busy being Allahified ... Being a Christian Beatitude is unlikely as I am currently a Buddhist ...
Maybe my credentials as Dudeist Priest will get me sanctified ... unlikely ...
Also I am only a part time heretic ... much like my spirituality ... a sort of game play that @Shoshin mentions ...
Thanks to the moderator if it's a game it's rather like the Bardo, so many colours and layers!
All part of the service, @kando ...
to you also @Federica - I would already count people here as people on the path well met - one encounter that has always stuck with me is having run into (literally) a Buddhist monk years ago on a Bombay street! He just smiled and said 'slow down' - it was good advice it took me years to follow!
Indeed. We need to look a little beyond the obvious qualities of egoic gaming spirituality. As we encounter and enable genuine insight in our self, though our efforts ...
We recognise others 'accomplishments'/insights/attainments/qualities
@lobster, I like how you brought this thread back to a very useful reference to the original post from August of last year.
Thanks @ScottPen I am practicing to be a saint ...
Also, gentleness and kindness often come from great suffering a darkness. Don't judge a book by its 'sweet and gentle' cover, often people have learned kindness from experiencing so much cruelty.
I think this plays into people not wanting to see the darkness in the world so they erase/gloss over it in others.
In addition, being 'kind' isn't the same as being good. I have watched Buddhist friends who were very warm and lovely on the surface not stand up against abuse and harassment. Other friends, who are less 'gentle' and warm on the surface and don't follow the Buddhist path, would not for a second hesitate in standing up against injustice. I think it's very unhealthy when people just use the path to melt away into passivity and lose sight of right and wrong in the name of some warped sense of compassion/gentleness/or kindness - which is really just a kind of decay...
I do agree with you, @Kaydeekay.... Passive resistance is still a better tool than any violent kick-back though....
Turning the other cheek is not, as many people still believe, a way of permitting aggression to continue.
It has been misinterpreted thus.
It is a form of dare. A defiant gesture to the aggressor that such assault cannot diminish or subjugate the aggrieved.
Turning the other cheek is, in its perfect form, a clear and loud message to the assailant that their stance is not only repelled, it is also reduced, unsuccessful and ineffective.
Not a single blow is struck in retaliation. But the message is crystal clear. 'You do not do that to me, and leave with any level of dignity. You hit me? You lose.'
Hmm. I am talking about in cases where someone was sexually harassing someone, or another member of the group had admitted to sexual misconduct. The group was very passive and did not speak out about it. In such cases I think the right thing to do is to speak out.
Can you explain more what you mean though? I am interested in your thoughts. How would that apply in such circumstances?
I just thought that the passivity was toxic, but I think the system/group think was more toxic than the people per se. But then groups are made up of people and I am always one to speak out on such cases in which people are causing harm, no matter how unwelcome that is and try to associate with other people who do the same. I'd choose rough-around-the-edges, foot-in-the-mouth people over 'nice' people who shy away from making the right decision in the name of a faux peace and harmony any day.
I see. Well, I wasn't aware that you were referring to specifics, so I was referring more to a general attitude and mindset, rather than a direct response to a particular instance....
Well having now elaborated as you have, I am not sure how it would....
I think it's also important to determine, from their PoV, why they might take that stance.
There might be a variety of reasons for their failure or reluctance to speak out.
Someone who remains silent when they could have added their voice, might have felt intimidated or hesitant for personal reasons.
Silence isn't necessarily condonement...
However the silence of the 'spiritual' heads of the Jehovah Witnesses and Catholics over child abuse makes their behavour indictive of hypocrisy and criminality.
Being 'beautiful innocents' mentioned in the original post, produced gullible 'spiritual' cultish luvvies. Pah!
Now let us briefly mention a couple of Buddhist cults ...
Nothing in the tantric scriptures contradicts this critical approach, but as long as you’re in Buddhism for comfort, consolation and security, you won’t be going there.
Here is another example from earlier ...
Too harsh? Truth?
Hmm yes it is not condonement, I do not think they condoned it. But choosing to not speak out against a clear injustice is a form of complicity. Silence is a form of complicity. As Desmond Tutu says, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
Choosing to wilfully ignore it or having a prolonged chance to step in when it was clearly upsetting someone and not saying something - to me it seems to be a lack of moral backbone.
9/10 when someone doesn't speak out against injustice, or chooses to uphold the status quo and maintain loyalty with someone who is hurting others - it's because they don't want to disrupt their bubble or they feel a twisted sense of loyalty. I am not saying people need to get it right first time, such scenarios can be difficult for anyone, but if you are wilfully choosing to continue to bury your head in the sand then you really need to question your own moral backbone and take a long look at how your passivity is upholding harm to others.
Yes, right - how Buddhist are you if you are following people/not speaking out against people who have sexually abused others? You need to make the right choice to turn away from that or fiercely challenge it, no matter what you lose out on. The whole point of Buddhism is to not cause harm, if you are watching it happen/aware that it happens and are not speaking out against it then why are you even a Buddhist? Obviously there are more complex psychological processes going on in a cult like environment - warped sense of reality, loyalty, grooming etc - it is hard, but people need to face facts about the harm that is happening. Even if you are making a journey towards that and trying to move towards fighting it. People that do nothing, say nothing, do not work towards building the courage to say something - eh. And I'm not talking about people who have been abused themselves, that is clearly a different matter - such people need our support, but being complicit and not speaking out is one of the most damaging things that a person or a group can do to those who have been harmed or are vulnerable to harm.
Some people come to a lama, guru, religion, practice, community for respite, rest, refuge and in my case recreation. What do they find?
Ideally what they require and more importantly if available, a path of transformation or in some cases letting be ...
Letting be or acceptance is form of relaxation, rather than the continued cycle of selfies ...
This is where the non-spiritual, pseudo seekers and complicit delusional or abusive mentors meet. Tsk tsk ...
Hopefully sufficient good people can discern and direct into more constructive templates ...
The Christians put it like this:
Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless[a] as doves.
Matthew 10:16 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Buddhist approach is refuge in the three jewels: The community/sangha for group understanding, behavour development and alignment. The teaching/dharma from reputable and diverse awakenings. The Buddha/awake for transcending ignorance ...
As ever we are the plan ...