a difficult person

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: a difficult person

Postby Potato » Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:42 pm

sattva wrote:i wrote this in the Theravadan Dharma Wheel forum but thought i would post this here as well"

Any ideas on ways to approach developing loving-kindness and compassion for someone you don't like and who doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities? Part of the problem is that this person is so insincere and perhaps also a pathological liar that it is difficult to know if he is ever being straight up. Normally, i would focus on some good qualities a person has and do metta meditation with the person as the "enemy", but i am having a difficult time with this one.

Thanks for the input in advance.

Well...I take a two-pronged approach. One prong is to quash any ill-will and/or schadenfreude I feel toward the person. Sometimes I am better at that than at other times.

The second prong is to genuinely wish that the difficult person finds true happiness, and that their true happiness lies far away from me.

It is not perhaps the best Buddhist approach, but it's the best I can manage at my current level of Buddhist study and practice.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby ronnewmexico » Sat Dec 26, 2009 12:35 am

Well it seems complex...."Any ideas on ways to approach developing loving-kindness and compassion for someone you don't like and who doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities?"

But why would one not have compassion for such a offensive being? If they have no redeeming qualities there life is a living hell. How could we not be compassionate?

As to acting compassionate I do not always do so by appearence. If I say.... see one very young child acting offensively/selfishly to another I act offended or perhaps angry. This to express displeasure and to convey a lack of appropriateness to the offense. Am I really either...no. It is a inconsequential minor thing.But I must convey impression to instruct. So I do...act noncompassionately by appearence, but not necessarily in actuality.

Like dislike...a person, our personal view on a person....what does it matter? My mind is no great arbitrator of such things. Quite luckily I am not responsible for these determinations. I may avoid such peoples I dislike but ultimately this is a statement about me not about them. To act to harm them of course is out of the question.But to avoid them is not to harm them. Nor is it changing what I may dislike to like, necessary. It instructs me about myself. I will not run from that instruction nor pretend mind does not make such determinations. However they are usually not very significant.
What I like today I may dislike tomorrow, so it doesn't matter much at all. If I gauge compassion on such a thing,I would be forever changing that thing.
Mind cannot even see reality how can it see another objectively? Only in very simple cases it seems. And then the response is simply dictated and obvious as the only one that can be performed (usually).

So like or dislike is mainly not important to compassion it seems. Appearence is not actuality.
All the above suggestions are very good ones to add to or adhere compassion if one does not have such for those unfortunate beings of seemingly unredeemable qualities.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby muni » Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:25 am

:namaste: Own emotions increase the level of the difficult "outer" one. ( that bad one is getting color in the mirror of mind) Disturbation in own mind can be teaching for helping us to purify mind.

But to use this method in opposite way when not sure a person is ready, is
a big mistake.
No any harm, no any harsh speech, no any negative thought should be created by our own mind.

Aware of own state of mind; when a child beats another child, we don't give it that moment a kiss.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby pickledpitbull » Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:16 am

When I can't escape from this person(!), I also use the opportunity to practice.

I keep in mind that my anger arises from my perception of him.
I practice removing my anger from my mind.
I practice the recognition of habit energy (annoyance, impatience, frustration, more anger).
I practice new habit energy of lovingkindness.

And I plan my escape...
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Re: a difficult person

Postby catmoon » Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:20 am

My current experience with a difficult person runs like this:

I have included the difficult person in my metta meditations as part of the group "difficult people". This is much easier than working on them alone. I am currently working up goodwill towards the group as a whole, and when that is moderately strong, I intend to deal with individuals.

So I see two ways:

1. Self
2. Friends
3. Neutral people
4. Difficult people

1. Self
2. Friends
3. Townspeople
4. Countrymen
5. World population
6. Sentient beings

The second way is interesting because you can work it backwards. From goodwill towards sentient beings, which is pretty easy, you can work down towards smaller and smaller groups until you arrive at the difficult individual.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby Luke » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:45 pm

People have posted different ways of coping with such a person, but an entirely different approach is also possible.

When you're not around this person, you can try to perform as many positive actions as possible so that you will accumulate merit. If you accumulate enough merit, you might find that a situation with a difficult person might simply resolve itself.

I had this experience recently. There was an old cleaning woman at my school who was making unwanted sexual advances towards me and really annoying me. I thought over and over about how I should avoid her/firmly tell her off, but after a week or two, things just seemed to resolve themselves without me saying anything and she now treats me with respect again.

I almost always give money to homeless people and continue to practice Vajrayana. This doesn't make me so special, but perhaps this created enough good karma for me to be free of that situation.

If we encounter frustrating people in the present, it is only because of bad karma we created in the past.

May all beings be free of suffering.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby Nemo » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:04 pm

This would really depend on how difficult they were and your position.

Lets say "difficult person" worked in a hospital and was getting drunk in their car and still providing patient care. Equanimity would be a bit creepy. If you were their boss it would be negligent to do nothing. In these situations powerlessness evokes much stronger feelings than usual or necessary. Especially if the person in question is shameless or manipulative. In some cases the safe feeling of equanimity is a moral weakness. Maybe you are too attached to your self image of being a cool mellow Buddhist. A bit more background would be nice.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby Luke » Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:48 pm

I didn't say that people should always do nothing. All I meant was that sometimes problems seem to resolve themselves over time. My only point was that this sometimes happens. I didn't mean to imply that it can always happen.

Yes, certainly there are serious situations in which a Buddhist has to stand firm and act decisively. I guess I interpreted the title of this thread, "a difficult person," to mean a person who was just frustrating but not seriously harming others.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby KennC » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:29 pm

Ajahn Brahm give a Dharma talk on dealing with difficult people. It our daily life, we frequently have to face people that are hard to handle. Ajahn Brahm provide good ways in dealing with difficult people.
Here is the link for the talk. http://www.buddhastation.com/buddhism-videos/dharma-talks/ajahn-brahm/dealing-with-difficult-people-ajahn-brahm
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Re: a difficult person

Postby greentara » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:20 pm

medusa, I wish you well with your strapping seventeen year old 'moody' son. Mothers are wonderful as their love knows no bounds.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby Jainarayan » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:55 pm

I have a sister-in-law who has caused nothing but trouble for almost 17 years, despite helping her beyond what any other person should or would do. In previous times I hated her with a passion, and may I be forgiven, even wished her dead claiming the world would be a happier place without her. This may be a cheater's way out and a cop-out, but I avoid her, and have not spoken to her in over a year. I am happier for it. But I do pray for her, because she lives a miserable life, driving everyone away. She doesn't realize this though. I think it is her karma working. Not only do I think her karma from previous lives or existences (I come at it from the Hindu perspective) is at work, but actions we perform in this life can bear immediate fruit. John Lennon wasn't off the mark "Instant karma's gonna get you... "

All that said, what I try to keep in mind are a few verses:

Whenever I see ill-natured beings, or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds or suffering, I will cherish them as something rare, as though I’d found a priceless treasure. - v.4 Eight Verses of Mind Training, Geshe Langri Thangpa.

Even when someone I have helped, or in whom I have placed great hopes mistreats me very unjustly, I will view that person as a true spiritual teacher. v.6 Eight Verses of Mind Training, Geshe Langri Thangpa.

One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself [entitled to special rights] and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me, such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me. He for whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not disturbed by anyone, who is equipoise in happiness and distress, fear and anxiety, is very dear to Me. Bhagavad Gita 12.13-15
Worthy, wise and virtuous: Who is energetic and not indolent, in misfortune unshaken,
flawless in manner and intelligent, such one will honor gain. - Digha Nikaya III 273
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Re: a difficult person

Postby Punya » Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:12 pm

greentara wrote:medusa, I wish you well with your strapping seventeen year old 'moody' son. Mothers are wonderful as their love knows no bounds.

I wish you well too Medusa. When my youngest son was 17 he was in similar circumstances. As parents we always wish we could take away our children's pain. My son is now 20 and in a better situation. I think he has developed greater emotional intelligence than he might have otherwise had due to his previous experiences. Teaching our children to have compassion for their enemies, whether we put it in Buddhist language or not, does help.
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Re: a difficult person

Postby muni » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:14 pm

A babbling today, I maybe can share here.

What is a wonderful way to get rid of a difficult person is honestly wholeheartedly to dedicate all practices to him-her. Then the negative fixation get the opportunity to dissolve like a effervescent tablet in water.

The fixation onto the person and the person itself are not exactly different in experience.

There is easier opportunity to communicate by concern, since our own fixation/grasping extremes is losing power and a more softness is present.

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Re: a difficult person

Postby Ramon1920 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:34 pm

You need to apply emptiness analysis and destroy the false notion of that person as having set inherent qualities.

That's the root of this problem.
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