Tag Archives: Buddhism

The Practical Buddhist Guide To Romance

This reblog is wonderful!

Thought Catalog

One evening, my girlfriend Daphne and I found ourselves confronted with red cardboard hearts and post-it love letters on the restaurant’s door after a dinner. We read all sorts of cliched phrases such as “I love you forever” and “I am always yours” written on the post-it notes and the experience forced us to look deeper into people’s strange take on love and romance. We realized how possessive people can get when it comes to ‘love’, and it is quite perplexing that our society continues to perpetuate such an unhealthy obsession.

As we walked out of the restaurant, we told each other how lucky we are to have a different point of view on love. We joked about writing a Buddhist Guide to Romance to enlighten other people and realized it’s probably not a bad idea after all. My girlfriend is a Catholic, but we just happen to naturally adapt…

View original post 899 more words

Advertisements

For Love of the Effort?

The behavioral economics lessons from my online course this week centered on motivation. This lecture mainly looked at motivation in the workplace, asking what, besides money, induces people to work, because the reward of money is not enough for an employee. The conclusion was drawn that people become more attached to things, tasks, ideas into which they put some effort into creating. Wow! I, being metaphorically inclined, immediately saw a connection to feeling invested in relationships.

Dan Ariely, my professor, describes this phenomenon of increasing fondness and attachment for an object through being involved in the effort of creation as “the IKEA Effect.” He has shown that people tend to value and esteem things they made even when the process is perceived as negative or the created product is of poor workmanship. Through effort, value and meaning increase.

This idea of effort leading to attachment does ring true to me on many levels. I felt like I put a lot into my relationship, so when we broke up I felt all sort of pain. I thought things like: “What a waste of time!” “I gave him so much and look what he does!” So much of breaking up was about detaching myself from the relationship, letting go of ideas, thoughts and attachments of all kinds. I had been willing to work, to put in effort and so I was the one who was most attached…I was willing to love that imperfect man and nourish our imperfect relationship because I was invested in a relationship I was helping to create.

Did I put too much effort into my relationship, leaving not enough for my partner? Am I too independent and self-motivated that no one perceives how to put effort into me? I ask these questions rhetorically, knowing they are not exactly the right questions…but intriguing to consider if that is possible.

When Ariely casually made a glib comment that tasks should “play hard to get” to keep us motivated to work on them, I had a shocking realization. I finally had a clear explanation of that little relationship game of playing hard to get which I have often refused to do! When someone “plays” hard to get, the other has to extend more effort to win a date or a kiss! Hence, the love of the chase!

Now, as I wrote this, I wanted to put a woman and a man in those roles respectively because this is how it has been described to me…men love the chase, so women have to play hard to get. But here are two questions; (1) If men are motivated by the effort of the chase, what is the great motivating effort of the women? and (2) how does this play out in homosexual relationships? During my recent break-up, my mother, in an attempt to help me, asked if I had ever considered if I were a lesbian. And (alas?) I am not. Perhaps if I were, I could be the chaser, and it would not be to my detriment. This is not about men and women, but it is about masculine and feminine.

So let me throw a wrench in the equation. This way of looking at things conflicts with some of my newly-tapped-into philosophical wisdom. From reading the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, various Buddhist texts, and the material from the School of Practical Philosophy, I am learning how attachment leads to suffering! As I just mentioned, breaking up was painful, and probably because of my attachment. 

So, now my challenge, my journey seems to be to learn to love while remaining detached; to be attached only after becoming conscious that I am already detached; to be yin and yang, feminine and masculine, both the receptive and the pursuing!

Playing hard to get intentionally to tease and entice a man seems incredibly manipulative. This is not the way for me. I do not believe all men require the chase, nor do I believe women must act demure in order to find love. However, I am a go-getter in many ways, tending to take charge and lead. My dad taught me to just go ahead and do something when you see it needs doing! In this modern world, women are losing touch with their feminine qualities and men are being emasculated as we all try to balance these two elements. It would be a game, a trick to simply act demure, whereas being demure could be honest if we have reclaimed the feminine principle truly. Setting out to accomplish a goal, even bagging a man with “feminine” wiles, is still, at it’s heart, accomplished with masculine energy. As long as I am trying to get something from a man, I will be competing with his masculine energy and negating my own feminine side. How do I remember my femininity? What form can effort take that draws on this more gentle, receptive energy? There is more to The Feminine than I realize, than we realize- so, let us all open up to how to reclaim the yin in this yanged-up world. Cheers!


Competitive Grieving

Note to Self:

A little over a week ago, I emailed my ex to see if he would meet me to have a happy closing to our relationship, see my previous reblogged post. With no reponse and some acquired inner peace, I decided to retract my request.

Last night, I sent him a somewhat wine-induced email that I hope read as beautifully poetic, but who knows. I wrote it for me, thanking him and speaking my one last piece/peace, then it was goodbye. I felt good when I hit send! My heartbeat was regular, my thoughts on good realities. Sleep came easy.

As I was scribbling notes for my book in Bryant Park, I got a reply from him. Instantly, my heart stampeded and my thoughts began to howl. I steadfastly returned to finish my thoughts on book, claiming my present once more.

Before I let myself read the response, I demanded an examination of my reaction from Mind. Dutifully, We identified thoughts and their effect, We agreed to eat some food to counter the caffeine jitters (which only aggravate anxiety!) and We came to see there was a competition afoot!

Without contact, I have been free to make up many stories about my ex which all basically assume he is worse off without me than I am without him. This has regrettably brought me satisfaction. So I want to think I am doing better than he is.

His response basically confirmed what I had thought he would say: he doesn’t need any closure from me like I was asking for from him. I was furious! And why? 

I have become competitive about grieving! I want to be better, faster…etc.

That is silly. I am so glad I took the time to write out my thoughts. Now I can remind myself to cease with this comparison and be happy for him and happy for myself. I have been moving on, and as my ex said, in my own way…but it is more important to focus on what I have gained now. I am good, my life is good and I have no regrets for how I have treated my ex. I forgive him and I forgive myself for all that needs forgiveness.

May we both be free from harm,
May we both be happy,
May we both be healthy and
May we both live with ease.

Self


Briefy, some Buddhism

Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness, on mudita, “sympathetic joy,” or joy for others’ happiness, and one of the four brahma-viharas:

Mudita depends on rapture, on our capacity to take active delight in things- and this depends upon our ability to actually let ourselves feel joy. We have to let go of feeling guilty about our own happiness or feeling threatened that it will be taken from us.”

When we can allow true happiness into our lives we can genuinely rejoice when other people are as well. Sometimes I think it has been easier for me to be happy for others, because I believed I needed too much to be happy for it ever to be true.

I was pursuing the wrong happiness for myself while at the same time experiencing real happiness for others. But as a grabbing, attachment-making person, I then came to believe making people happy was the way to my happiness. This is also not the way.

My true happiness is beckoning me to drop my needs, let go of my attachments, come the other direction. Happiness comes the stillness and openness of our being. Happiness is easy now.


Compassionate Dating?

Dear Heart,

Let me first commend you for taking the bold step of starting to date again! Well done! I know you were very anxious about dating again, because you prefer being in a relationship to searching for one. Let Us take a moment, to remind Our Self that attitude matters so much when dating. If you can approach dating with an excitement, thinking, “I may meet a great love today!” you can transform your dating jitters into something far more enjoyable.

I am not sure what part of Us can take responsibility for Our dreams, but We had a nightmare last week about this blind date. So many factors in the dream led to greater and greater anxiety before even meeting the date, so Our dream self was in no fit for anything…and We woke up with our physical heart thumping and the rest of Us very unsettled. To avoid having the chance to get anxious We scheduled the date right after a discussion of the Tao Te Ching (and I was actually a bit late as a result).

I came to the date, fully present and engaged, practicing Buddhism’s lovingkindness for this other individual who was seeking love. We were both searching for happiness, both for the evening and for our future. I came without expectation, without desperation, without a need to find a body to touch, or a heart to love. My attention was open, come what may.

So, Heart, you were open, but i also sense you were guarded in some small way…but no, that cannot be true. What I can see as being guarded is just less desperate and eager to find love. You were calm! It is amazing to see how you have evolved.

Our Mind was quite entertained and engaged by our date, wouldn’t you agree? The conversation flowed well and was deep while still being quite playful. Mind was definitely intrigued, but thankfully, not the only part of Us that was engaged…

A truly important feature to the experience of human love is physical chemistry. And, Body was not feeling intrigued by this date. Basically, Body was enjoying the wine and not expecting to be called up to bat on a first date. I had made it clear that I was not someone what wanted physical intimacy on a first date. Well, our date decided to kiss me, and We let it happen, but Body was shocked by the absolute absence of any feeling in response!

How many times have we all heard that the first kiss can really help determine if there is chemistry? I only partially bought it…I never had fireworks explode on a first kiss, but I have had bad ones before…but mostly I knew already that I was not interested before those former kisses occurred. Mind thought We wanted to see this man again, Heart was waiting to be more appealed to, but Body vetoed this poor man absolutely! Our kiss was so bad, that my lips did not feel like they were mine, and neither his nor mine felt like living flesh! It was too long for a first-date first kiss and it was not executed well. Our overall opinion went from an optimistic “there is potential here!” to a confident “there will be no second date!” in seconds.

Unfortunately, our first kiss was not our last kiss. He kissed me goodbye in the same way, causing me to endure it out of lovingkindness, but then having to laugh it away after I was safely in the subway station alone.

When this gentleman texted me eagerly this morning to ask for a second date, I had to reflect on how my open,genuine enjoyment of our time together could be perceived by a date as confirmation of equal attraction. I knew I had to refuse his request, but could not anticipate the task with joy. The truth of the matter was, I did enjoy myself, and I was glad to have met him. I think we had lots of things in common, but it was just simply and truly not enough for us to have a romantic relationship. I employed lovingkindness again in my reply.

I am curious, Heart, what you feel is the best way to date with compassion. There is so much advice that recommends being yourself when on a date, but in this world where love is so hard to feel on a day to day basis from strangers around us, I worry that my attitude of lovingkindness is not truly kind to the people who are misinterpreting it to mean I am really interested in them. Mind, is whispering these worries in my ear, so I am going to just say one more thing on this subject…mainly to Mind…

By practicing lovingkindness last night both my date and I had a wonderful night. By practicing lovingkindness as I told my date I was not interested in pursuing our relationship further, I received a very lovely and respectful response that seemed to only express gratitude as well. So my dears, let Us continue to practice lovingkindness, since it seems to be working just fine!

Kindly,

Self


Letting Go with Compassion is Hard!

Dear troubled Mind,

I have been once again watching you think yourself into knots and traps of your own making. You are trying to learn to be more aware of what you think, but there is no rush to get it right. You have always striven to be the best student, but you are too hard on yourself. It is ok to do things in the order and at the pace at which they need to be done. You have committed yourself to improve your powers of attention as We increase our awareness of Our Self and Our loving nature.

Remember, Mind, We are in this together and you do not have to do it alone. Trust in us, and relinquish your belief that you are more right, relinquish your pride. If I may suggest, try to stop and listen before shouting out an answer. You are just a beginner at this kind of mindfulness, so there is no need to pretend to be an expert. No one is fooled by you here. You have read about this and you have studied this quite a lot, but you have not practiced it yet, in truth. So be humble, and listen, observe.

Both Heart and you, Mind, have many tendencies towards egoism. You want your issue to be the center of attention, and you can be quite demanding and petulant about getting quick results. This just reminds me of how much you need to learn, but I am still new at practicing compassion to you. I apologize for trying harder to cultivate compassion for people outside of me, rather than for all of Me. [Side note: I used “me” to show that when I experience separation of self and others in a very concrete way, I have not acknowledged the unifying “Me” to which all of us belong.]

We have all agreed we want to be free of attachment, but we have not fully defined what this means. Heart wants to be free of the pain that accompanies believing We need to be in a defined love relationship to this other person; Mind wants to be free of the negative (i.e. untrue) stories that spring up so easily from speculation and expectation; Body wants to be free of the worry that no one will love it if it does not conform to societal standards of beauty; and, as for My Self, I would like to practice being free from My attachment to Heart, Mind and Body more and more, so as to connect with the stillness.

Sitting here now, calm and peaceful, isn’t it easy to observe how much progress We all have made? How wonderful! 

We can celebrate this moment and when another moment arises in which suffering again returns, which it inevitable will do, we can remember that we are not fighting suffering, but letting go of suffering. We can read texts that remind all of Us that there will still be suffering, but we do not need to fear it. Let’s recommend to Our Self, this passage from Lovingkindness, by Sharon Salzberg.

“[We] are brought up with the feeling that suffering is somehow wrong, or to be avoided. We get the idea that suffering is unbearable and should not even be faced.”

She tells us that the first step to develop true compassion is to accept that suffering exists. If we are are unable to face this fact, we will never be able to let go of our pain. Our beliefs limit us; they too are thoughts to which we get easily attached. If we have hold to our belief that pain is bad, than we inevitable cause ourselves to feel more pain, in the form of self-directed negativity in the face of our pain. We have become attached to our pain

No wonder then, my darling Mind, that you have been struggling to let go. As you started to let go of certain thoughts, did you believe yourself to have gotten free? …only to struggle more and more, finding yet another belief holding you back. Perhaps you even thought you were going in the wrong direction because there just seemed to be getting more entangled? Did you even realize that you were getting frustrated with yourself and making up stories about doing something wrong?

This struggle is to be celebrated and commended because it shows how aware you are becoming! You have been confined by many, many thoughts, beliefs and opinions, unknowingly! So as you begin to truly know yourself, you are discovering more and more restraints which you will now be able to let go. You have witnessed how easy it is to be tricked into this almost invisible cage. I cannot help but be amazed at how easily we have been lulled into captivity where we feel safe and comfortable. We are living in the Matrix or on the set of the Truman Show.

So Mind, be easy, calm down, accept what happens, and keep up the good work! I know you are on your way to being compassionate with yourself as you keep letting go…the process is the end in itself.

Compassionately,

Self


Thoughts for the Heart,

Oh Heart,

I want to help you deal with this situation, but all my ideas don’t seem to help you, I want to take action, stand up for you. I feel like your big brother and I just want to go fight the problem, because I hate to see you hurting. I am not too good with just listening to you, letting you cry. I am trying though, and I hope you can tell.

So, here is what I understand about how you are feeling; let me prove to you I was paying attention this time:

We have already determined you are hurting over this break-up, but I also get this idea that you still love him. I think that is so weird. Can’t you just stop that? This would all be over then? Well, anyways, this love may be different than the love you had before, right? You are learning to transform the love you offered actively to love that you feel for all beings. I think that is what you said, I can understand that, I guess. 

You must be struggling to do that though, because I know you want to be able to take him back. You want it, even though we both know that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I know our Self has been helping you understand that you were doing too much in that relationship for us all to be healthy. We want you to still love our Self too. I hope I have helped you understand that you are ready for a big Love and none of us here think that guy was ready for it himself. 

I know you have a much shorter memory than I do, so I want to offer you my services whenever you need it, to remember how much you were hurting towards the end. How much you were trying to get him to notice you again, to love you back even a little. And remember too that you figured it out it was time to leave, you LEFT HIM! All of us are so proud of you for doing that, even though you hated doing it so much. We remember your pain then too!

You are such a wonderful Heart! You have so much love to give, and you were doing all you could for him, and he no longer wanted to accept it and give any back to you. That is HIS loss! I am barely holding back my own desire to march over there and DEMAND an explanation, but I know that wouldn’t make you feel better. This is hard for me too. I hate not understanding why this happened. I thought he loved you better than anyone before, and I really saw his potential to become your true partner, but he wasn’t ready for that.

When you wanted to go back to him, back to loving him, I understood that. You thought you had made a mistake and I know you were not the perfect lover in that relationship, so you told him how you felt, and you really wanted to believe he felt like returning to you. I am sorry that I encouraged you to believe him then. If I had my say in who you love, it would be someone that doesn’t confuse ME so much, but I know it is not fully up to me.

Your anger at him makes so much sense too, dear Heart. It was a shock when you returned from that trip to hear him being so cavalier about your feelings. Perhaps he showed his true colors to you then. Something I read recently made me think of you: I was reading Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness and she said that passion and sentimentality can both be confused for real love. The way she described sentimentality made me think of how he treated you. Let me see if I have the quote…

“Sentimentality, the other mental state that masquerades as love, is really an ally of delusion. It is a facsimile of caring that limits itself only to experiences of pleasure.”

-Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness

Do you recall, how he did not want to deal with you when things got difficult or challenging? He would run away from problems and always said everything was OK, even when it wasn’t. He is not ready for LOVE if that is how he deals with you. Hopefully, you have helped him get a little closer to being able for that, Heart.

Just stay strong, and heal. We all know how to give you your space, and I hope you come to us for support if you need it. Remember to pay attention to yourself, perform the act of loving (which you do so well) for your own benefit.

Thoughtfully,

Mind


Love for others…

Love for others without the foundation of love for ourselves becomes a loss of boundaries, codependency, and a painful and fruitless search for intimacy

-Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness:The revolutionary art of happiness


%d bloggers like this: