Familiarity breeds Contempt

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

Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby shel » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:29 am

Clueless Git wrote:Can I now safely assume that you do believe the buddha would have lied to save lives?

It would be pointless for me to guess at what the Buddha would have done in our contrived scenario, because I don't know enough about him. From what I do know he's been attributed with qualities that I don't understand, like transcendent and omniscient, for instance. If he were omniscient, as I now conceive omniscience, he could've possessed the ability to foresee the consequences of his actions and act in ways that wouldn't make sense to someone lacking that ability, like myself. Transcendence is also difficult to apply to the scenario.
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:43 am

Personally I place value on both moral principles and common sense. And for me familiarity tends to breed attachment more than contempt. It is an interesting question and OP. It doesn't seem to me that principles and values are necessarily opposed to each other and can co-exist in harmony.

I agree with Shel that Buddhist practice is good for learning to embrace differences and sometimes even frustrations with others. Part of practicing Buddhism is practicing compassion.

Best,
Laura :)
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Clueless Git » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:11 am

shel wrote:
Clueless Git wrote:Can I now safely assume that you do believe the buddha would have lied to save lives?

It would be pointless for me to guess at what the Buddha would have done in our contrived scenario, because I don't know enough about him. From what I do know he's been attributed with qualities that I don't understand, like transcendent and omniscient, for instance. If he were omniscient, as I now conceive omniscience, he could've possessed the ability to foresee the consequences of his actions and act in ways that wouldn't make sense to someone lacking that ability, like myself. Transcendence is also difficult to apply to the scenario.

That is fair enough Shel :)

My personal understanding is that to lie, even to save lives, would constitute false speech.

However I could see that a counter argument to that would be that to tell the truth knowing it would cost lives would be a breech of the first precept.

Such may have produced an interesting discussion on the difference twix values and principles but there is no way it would ever have produced anything conclusive.

Nice to have spoken with you Shel :smile:
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Clueless Git » Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:24 am

Ngawang Drolma wrote:Personally I place value on both moral principles and common sense. And for me familiarity tends to breed attachment more than contempt. It is an interesting question and OP.

It was indeed an intesting question.

Many :bow:'s to the OP for that!
It doesn't seem to me that principles and values are necessarily opposed to each other and can co-exist in harmony
. It is when principles collide that a scale of 'values' are created Laura.
I agree with Shel that Buddhist practice is good for learning to embrace differences and sometimes even frustrations with others. Part of practicing Buddhism is practicing compassion.

Best,
Laura :)

I agree with that wholeheartedly too!

Would just add though ... Compassion towards those different to us is much aided by understanding. Unfortunately the process of gaining understanding of others can often take on the appearance of conflict, particularly in the early stages.

M'other observation on embracing differences is that, according to Bikkhu Nanamolis 'Life of the Buddha', the buddha was a bit of a 'hard man' on the matter of booting those with 'differences' out of his Sangha.
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:46 pm

Clueless Git wrote:Would just add though ... Compassion towards those different to us is much aided by understanding. Unfortunately the process of gaining understanding of others can often take on the appearance of conflict, particularly in the early stages.

M'other observation on embracing differences is that, according to Bikkhu Nanamolis 'Life of the Buddha', the buddha was a bit of a 'hard man' on the matter of booting those with 'differences' out of his Sangha.


Hi CG,

Yes, I've heard and read the same about the Buddha of our time. For example I've heard that he mocked people who held different beliefs. That said, I am not a Buddha. So for as long as I'm in this unawakened and ignorant state, I must rely on common sense, values and principles sprinkled with kindness and properly placed compassion to see me through life and the situations that arise. So if I mock or ridicule someone would that be wholesome speech? To me, it wouldn't be wholesome speech for an ordinary human such as myself to use.

I have no doubt that I'm a product of many factors as were the people of the Buddha's time and place. I'm a Generation X-er who grew up in the very liberal Southern California with parents who embraced diversity. The Buddha's time and place was different in many ways. But there are probably a lot of similarities, too.

A lot of times in these kinds of conversations people begin to present wild scenarios that most people don't encounter. These hypotheticals usually include murder and mayhem. So that's where I start using common sense. For example if you're a Buddhist and therefore don't want to be faced with a situation to use a firearm or be violent, but you live in a dangerous neighborhood, exercise your options. For example a person could find a way to move to a less violent place and not keep a firearm. I'm not saying that would be an easy or simple task, but certainly to which I'd want to aspire. I say this because the self-defense question often comes up! Or the hypothetical situation of seeing someone being harmed and wanting to protect him/her.

When values or principles conflict with each other (ie. I don't like being rude but I don't like telling falsehoods either) I try to employ my common sense. Being truthful is very good as long as you're aware of other people and their feelings. Even better, practicing empathy can really help us to be sensitive while maintaining honesty and integrity. So the scale that you mention is actually very useful! It's part of the common sense factor, for me at least.

So I'm just throwing out some ideas and perspectives. Apologies for the length of this post, I'm usually much briefer in posting. But like I said, this is an interesting topic which encourages discussion!

I don't mean to be obtuse but I still don't feel that there is conflict between values and principles very often. But perhaps other people experience it very differently than I. For me, like I mentioned, values, principles, and common sense are a very good combination especially when peppered with kindness and compassion. And the Buddha's Dharma :)

Kind wishes,
Laura
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby shel » Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:17 pm

Clueless Git wrote:M'other observation on embracing differences is that, according to Bikkhu Nanamolis 'Life of the Buddha', the buddha was a bit of a 'hard man' on the matter of booting those with 'differences' out of his Sangha.

Interesting and very relevant to the thread. Do you recall any key names or phrases that reference this whereby I could look it up online? I'd rather not have to buy the book.
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Clueless Git » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:13 pm

shel wrote:
Clueless Git wrote:M'other observation on embracing differences is that, according to Bikkhu Nanamolis 'Life of the Buddha', the buddha was a bit of a 'hard man' on the matter of booting those with 'differences' out of his Sangha.

Interesting and very relevant to the thread. Do you recall any key names or phrases that reference this whereby I could look it up online? I'd rather not have to buy the book.

'Lo Shel :)

Sorry I have tried to track the story but without re-reading the whole book I cannot remember enough detail to locate its source.

I found this bit which is also relevant to the discussion in hand tho ...

88. ... When Rahula was still a boy, the Buddha discussed with him aspects of Dharma that were suitable for the young and in such a way as he could understand and remember.


89. Once, he got a pot of water and calling Rahula to his side said to him:


"Rahula, do you see the small amount of water in this pot?"
"Yes, sir."
"Even so, little is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying."
The Buddha then threw the water away and said: "Do you see this small amount of water that I have thrown away?"
"Yes, sir."
"Even so, Rahula, thrown away is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying."
The Buddha then turned the pot over and said: "Do you see this pot that has been turned over?"
"Yes, sir."
"Even so, turned over is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying."
The Buddha then turned the pot upright again and said: "Do you see this pot now empty and void?"
"Yes, sir."
"Even so, Rahula, empty and void is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying."
The Buddha then impressed upon his son the importance of speaking the truth.
"Rahula, for anyone who has no shame at intentional lying, there is no evil that that person cannot do. Therefore, you should train yourself like this: 'I will not tell a lie, not even in jest.'"

SOURCE
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Clueless Git » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:53 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote: .. Being truthful is very good as long as you're aware of other people and their feelings. Even better, practicing empathy can really help us to be sensitive while maintaining honesty and integrity ..

Kind wishes,
Laura

I like that Laura :)

My own personal experience with empathy and absolute honesty is reflected in the snippet above I posted for Shel.

That reflection being that once I know a person to be capable of knowingly lying to me that any pain they may have wished to spare me comes at the price of my unconditional trust.

People you can go to for 'tea and sympathy' are ten a penny whilst people you can trust to be absolutely honest with you no matter what are as rare as rocking horse droppings.

It's a personal position but nowt ever hurts me more than when I have to move a person to my 'tea and sympathy' list from the list of those I thought I could trust.
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby shel » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:56 pm

Clueless Git wrote:
shel wrote:
Clueless Git wrote:M'other observation on embracing differences is that, according to Bikkhu Nanamolis 'Life of the Buddha', the buddha was a bit of a 'hard man' on the matter of booting those with 'differences' out of his Sangha.

Interesting and very relevant to the thread. Do you recall any key names or phrases that reference this whereby I could look it up online? I'd rather not have to buy the book.

'Lo Shel :)

Sorry I have tried to track the story but without re-reading the whole book I cannot remember enough detail to locate its source.

I found this bit which is also relevant to the discussion in hand tho ...

88. ... When Rahula was still a boy, the Buddha discussed with him aspects of Dharma that were suitable for the young and in such a way as he could understand and remember.


89. Once, he got a pot of water and calling Rahula to his side said to him:


"Rahula, do you see the small amount of water in this pot?"
"Yes, sir."
"Even so, little is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying."
The Buddha then threw the water away and said: "Do you see this small amount of water that I have thrown away?"
"Yes, sir."
"Even so, Rahula, thrown away is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying."
The Buddha then turned the pot over and said: "Do you see this pot that has been turned over?"
"Yes, sir."
"Even so, turned over is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying."
The Buddha then turned the pot upright again and said: "Do you see this pot now empty and void?"
"Yes, sir."
"Even so, Rahula, empty and void is the training of those who have no shame at intentional lying."
The Buddha then impressed upon his son the importance of speaking the truth.
"Rahula, for anyone who has no shame at intentional lying, there is no evil that that person cannot do. Therefore, you should train yourself like this: 'I will not tell a lie, not even in jest.'"

SOURCE

Yo CG, check out this bit from the Lotus Sutra. They're talking about some dude who lied to his children in order to coax them out of a burning house.
Now, Sâriputra, what is thy opinion? Has that man made himself guilty of a falsehood by first holding out to his children the prospect of three vehicles and afterwards giving to each of them the greatest vehicles only, the most magnificent vehicles?

Sâriputra answered: By no means, Lord; by no means, Sugata. That is not sufficient, O Lord, to qualify the man as a speaker of falsehood, since it only was a skilful device to persuade his children to go out of the burning house and save their lives. Nay, besides recovering their very body, O Lord, they have received all those toys. If that man, O Lord, had given no single cart, even then he would not have been a speaker of falsehood, for he had previously been meditating on saving the little boys from a great mass of pain by some able device. Even in this case, O Lord, the man would not have been guilty of falsehood, and far less now that he, considering his having plenty of treasures and prompted by no other motive but the love of his children, gives to all, to coax them, vehicles of one kind, and those the greatest vehicles. That man, Lord, is not guilty of falsehood.

The venerable Siriputra having thus spoken, the Lord said to him: Very well, very well, Sâriputra, quite so; it is even as thou sayest.

Rationalization or merely a means to an end?
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby msmedusa » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:50 am

Ngawang Drolma wrote:


When values or principles conflict with each other (ie. I don't like being rude but I don't like telling falsehoods either) I try to employ my common sense. Being truthful is very good as long as you're aware of other people and their feelings. Even better, practicing empathy can really help us to be sensitive while maintaining honesty and integrity.
Kind wishes,
Laura




Hi Laura :smile:

I think there is a perpetual conflict between the need to deliver straightforward , honest speech and a desire to remain sensitive and compassionate at the same time. If we are able to be empathic and walk in the other mans boots we are half way there.

The 'tea and sympathy' approach CG mentions is plentiful, because it is easier and requires less courage. Honesty requires us to deliver words which may seem harsh or unfeeling. We run the risk of being met with hurt or anger, and we need to be prepared to witness the pain of another as they deal with the unwelcome truth.

But to do otherwise is a betrayal .It is not about our discomfort. It is not about whether we continue to be looked upon favourably or lovingly by the other person . It is about what is best for them. We need to examine what is best for them regardless of their reaction to our words.

The skill is in delivering the truth in the most compassionate manner we are able without weakening when we witness their distress. It is a daunting task .

Currently I am in the postion of needing to deliver some 'hard truths' to someone who I care for deeply . It is incredibly difficult and the temptation to weaken is frequent . But.. if I was this person in this position I would want someone to 'cut the crap' and tell it to me straight. I wouldnt want to hear it either and I would probably 'shoot the messenger ' too :smile: but later on reflection I would be glad someone had cared enough about me to tell the truth even if it meant facing be rejected in return.

Surely the measure of our love is the lengths we will go to secure the happiness and wellbeing of another regardless of the consequences to ourselves?


Medusa
'Love removes the masks that we fear we cannot live without, and know that we cannot live within'
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:01 pm

Hi Medusa,

I'm a big fan of honesty too. When people are honest with me it does show me that they care (if it's a person with whom I have a rapport). And I agree with you about the challenge in finding a way to give others that gift of honesty while giving an equal amount of support, tact, and so on.

I guess for me, I think of it as a balancing act and an opportunity to improve my skills more than anything. Perspective-taking helps, because you can tell people things in a way in which they can receive it. If I just have to be downright blunt with someone (and sometimes I do) then that's just the reality of it. But I think that we can often find a way to counter it with sensitivity, compassion, and kindness like you mentioned.

I hope it goes well for you in your upcoming discussion. And I like your version of the measuring stick, too.

Best,
Laura :)
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Clueless Git » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:05 am

shel wrote: Rationalization or merely a means to an end?

An interesting example of contradiction in the buddhas teachings there Shel!

To his own son he is reported to have said "Rahula, for anyone who has no shame at intentional lying, there is no evil that that person cannot do."

In your snippet he appears to exhonerate an intentional liar for having lied with good intent.

I am wondering if the critical element is whether one feels shame when they lie, or not.


Just for chit-chat, mebbe a tiny insight into my interest in honesty, absolute or otherwise ... I used to be a 'high pressure' salesman. I was trained extensively in the dark arts of deceiving by manipulation of words without having to speak any culpable untruths. Later in my career I became a trainer teaching others to do the same.
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby shel » Fri Apr 02, 2010 10:39 pm

I've never been a salesman myself but I am familiar with the influence techniques to which you refer. Technically not deception, appealing to the emotional or impulsive mind, which may not be in the best interest of the influenced. On the other hand, such techniques can also be used for the best interests of the influenced. Again, imo, it's just and means to an end.
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Re: Familiarity breeds Contempt

Postby Clueless Git » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:31 pm

shel wrote: Again, imo, it's just and means to an end.

Which is exactly what I first learned Shel and later what I taught.

White lie: A minor wrong that can be justified by it's outcome?

Unfortunately the ultimate outcome, to paraphrase a very famous person, is that "those who believe white lies to be permissable soon become colour blind."

From direct, and VERY profitable, personal experience I can assure you that 'colour blindness' to true and false is a highly desirable outcome for those who line their own pockets by cultivating lying into a highly developed art.

Not having a pop at you, or anyone else, by pursuing this line btw, Shel ...

Just that I once practiced lying as an art form myself. I'm just trying, in my own clumsy way, to share a little of what I learnt.
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