self-pity & harsh speech

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self-pity & harsh speech

Postby padma norbu » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:23 pm

I had a comical read this morning that instantly reminded me of Dharma Wheel and a couple incidents I've had...

So, I was reading a book on the subway this morning and there's a chapter on self-pity. The author points out that it is the one emotion that knows it is reviled and causes instant disgust, but it doesn't care because it exists for the self, to baby itself in the face of harsh reality. As I begin to read this, I'm thinking already, "this is what people accuse me of on Dharma Wheel, but it's utterly inaccurate..." and I become eager to see what he says about self-pity.

He then he goes on to explain that self-pity is something we learn early on to revile when we are toddlers. At six years old, we begin to distinguish ourselves from babies who skin their knee on the pavement and then milk it for everything it's worth to get sympathetic adults "to heal it with their magic kisses." In school, he says, when some other kid hurt our feelings, we turned to the teacher to make things right and force them to apologize. An apology doesn't really solve anything, it just contributes to the idea that injustice should be corrected and things should be fair. Basically, this self-pity is something we associate with babies and children who turn to someone ELSE to solve their problems for them rather than bucking up, realizing life isn't fair, and taking responsibility for our own lives. When we begin to become independent, we learn to be disgusted by this self-pitying behavior because it's weak and begs assistance from others who are in the same situation but self-sufficient enough to solve their own problems.

YES! I finally understand the reactions I'm getting!

This is EXACTLY what happens on Dharma Wheel. Some people who are presumably trying to be compassionate get disgusted by what they perceive as "self-pity" and interpret it as though someone (me) is looking for someone ELSE to solve their problems for them. Or that some whiny baby (me) just wants some attention and for you all to make my pain go away with your "magic kisses."

There are some key phrases I've got from individuals on Dharma Wheel that give their attitude away. People have told me to "stop whining and do something about it!" They also ask exasperatedly, "what do you want us to say?" and "what do you want us to do about it?"

In these instances, my reaction has always been the same: mild surprise followed by a very simple and direct response: I don't expect you to do or say anything. If you have something to contribute, feel free. Otherwise, buzz off; I don't care. What's with the attitude?

Don't put yourself in the position of problem-solver and you won't have this little dilemma. Just because you can't solve a problem doesn't mean you have to contribute to it by piling on your own emotional garbage.

In my mind, I'm having a discussion, not a pity party, and I'm expressing the situation as accurately as possible and to the best of my ability. I'm analytical by nature and try to be brutally honest with myself, which may come across as "self-pitying," but it's really not. I put the problems of reality in the context of my own experience and don't consider myself to be particularly worthy of pity. I am just looking for honest feedback which may or may not be helpful. I am navigating the labyrinth of my own mind.

The interesting thing about this chapter is the author finishes off by stating exactly what I've said many times: nobody owes you anything, you are born alone and will die alone. Even in our compassionate Buddhism, I have read that if a mother has a baby in a field and leaves it for dead, she has accumulated no negative karma by abandoning the baby. She is simply not doing something. She is not required by law to care for the baby. By the act of caring for the baby, however, she generates positive karma. The point the author is making is that this is reality: self-pity is not a solution, take responsibility for your own self. Yet just talking about this very fact seems to urge some people toward harsh speech. It's happened to me discussing this very topic, e.g. "I know the solution, I know it's my responsibility, but for some reason I just don't do what I need to do..." elicits a response of "So stop whining and get on with it!" I mean, is such a response even necessary? Or helpful? If you think so, I don't even know what to say about that. It suggests to me you're not very detail-oriented and probably shouldn't be trying to help someone else sort through their thoughts.

I think some of the angry responses amount to "stop making me think about this!" It seems usually these people initially try to help by offering what helps them (or what they imagine might help them if they were in such a situation), and then they get exasperated by the lack of closure on the topic when the discussion drags on beyond what they can bare. This is probably when they should just leave the thread, no? That's what I would do, personally.

There are many, many ways to come at the dharma. As an analytical type of aggregator personality, I have spent quite a while experimenting with and thinking about the various ways of approaching reality and one's mental attitude toward it. And I have also confused myself in the process. So what? Whether or not it does any good to intellectually analyze things the way I do is not for you to decide. Everyone's mental make-up is different. I'm not sure why dharma students often take it upon themselves to be such "tough love" hardasses when you'd be hard-pressed to find a monk, lama, etc. who behaves this way.

:group:
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:35 pm

Yes, of course you are right! Everybody else is to blame!
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One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby padma norbu » Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:43 pm

Sadly, I was not logged in just now and had to view that old cliche. You are on ignore for a reason, Greg. Glad I don't think in those boxes.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:48 pm

(14) When we hear only language that is foul and abusive,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
Till now we have said many things without thinking;
We have slandered and caused many friendships to end.
Hereafter let’s censure all thoughtless remarks.
...
(77) Someone gives us advice from the depths of his heart,
Which is for our own good, but is harsh to our ears,
And with anger we view him as if he’s our foe.
Yet when someone without any true feelings for us
Deceitfully tells us what we like to hear,
With no taste or discernment we’re kind in return.
...
(81) We don’t pay attention to what others tell us;
We’re a trial to be with; we strain others’ nerves.
Our feelings are hurt at the slightest remark,
And we hold grudges strongly – we never forgive.
Trample him, trample him, dance on the head
Of this treacherous concept of selfish concern.
Tear out the heart of this self-centered butcher
Who slaughters our chance to gain final release

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"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby Drew » Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:52 pm

I have read that if a mother has a baby in a field and leaves it for dead . . . She is not required by law to care for the baby.

Huh? Yes, there is a law against neglect and abandonment of children.

Honest feedback may include Magic kisses or reactions that you are having a pity party. Accept all potential outcomes.

How does the judging others for their judgments of you help you?
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby padma norbu » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:42 pm

Ah, someone moved this thread on me. Forgive the double post, then (in Lounge).

Drew wrote:I have read that if a mother has a baby in a field and leaves it for dead . . . She is not required by law to care for the baby.

Huh? Yes, there is a law against neglect and abandonment of children.


I didn't realize man's laws of specific countries were actual laws of karma. I was told differently by Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche and/or Lama Tsering Everest.

Drew wrote:Honest feedback may include Magic kisses or reactions that you are having a pity party. Accept all potential outcomes.


That is obvious. I disregard and ignore such reactions, but they are to be expected and therefore accepted as a potential outcome. Just like cancer is accepted as a potential outcome of living.

Drew wrote:How does the judging others for their judgments of you help you?

It doesn't. I don't care. And it is not judgement; it is mere speculation on my part. This speculation was, however, anything but offensive.

I honestly thought the topic was quite interesting and helpful. Dharma hardasses are a bit of a problem, imo. They certainly aren't limited to this forum. They are everywhere about, little helpful pixies who seem to get off on criticizing others in that helpful guru-like way. I thought considering these ideas might be helpful to some. For me, personally, if I was the sort of person that thought I was doling out no-bs, tough love, good solid advice and I read this, it would make me think twice about how sure I am of my perception of various situations.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby padma norbu » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:55 pm

This is the book, btw:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/This-How-Molest ... 330&sr=1-1

Pretty interesting, advance copies are at Strand and other decent bookstores... well, okay, it's not that interesting, actually. I read his book about getting sober and that is why I like the author. It is one of the more unique self-help books I've ever read, though.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby Drew » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:19 pm

"I disregard and ignore such reactions, "

Your post above belies your words.
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby padma norbu » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:23 pm

Drew wrote:"I disregard and ignore such reactions, "

Your post above belies your words.


This supposes a lot based on very little information. I came across something this morning that I found helpful and insightful. This happened just a day after putting a second person on my "ignore list." I came to the conclusion of actually adding people to the ignore list by pondering Lama Tsering's advice about dharma egos and abusive relationships and what is actually compassionate action. You'll just have to trust me when I tell you I care not one whit about such comments. If not... I really couldn't care less.
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby Drew » Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:06 pm

I did not presume anything other than reading what you said and you described them yourself as "incidents you have had"

If you had truly disregarded and ignored, there would be no incidents.

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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby padma norbu » Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:20 pm

Drew wrote:I did not presume anything other than reading what you said and you described them yourself as "incidents you have had"

If you had truly disregarded and ignored, there would be no incidents.

Best wishes.


Incidents occur whether or not they are disregarded and ignored. Life is full of incidents, 99% are ignored and disregarded. They still occur.
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby undefineable » Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:47 am

padma norbu wrote:I honestly thought the topic was quite interesting and helpful. Dharma hardasses are a bit of a problem, imo. They certainly aren't limited to this forum. They are everywhere about, little helpful pixies who seem to get off on criticizing others in that helpful guru-like way. I thought considering these ideas might be helpful to some. For me, personally, if I was the sort of person that thought I was doling out no-bs, tough love, good solid advice and I read this, it would make me think twice about how sure I am of my perception of various situations.


I would have put myself in your 'self-pitying' camp by nature, but today I realised I've unwittingly gravitated, little by little, to somewhere around the 'hardasses' camp over the course of my adult life, having taken to the likes of Nietzsche and Trungpa to try and answer my 'pitiful' questions without recourse to my parents or any other poor sod(!) - I don't like it, and I'm not interested in reaping any further karmic fruits (all bitter I've no doubt) from the effects of this kind of behaviour.

Here on Dharmwheel (never mind the old e-sangha or various non-buddhist sites) I recently debated a 'hard' (Dennett-ian) materialist, and some who seem to hold that the skandhas constitute a concrete entity that defines every byte of us, a bit like Thomas Hardy's famous formulation of Fatalism -"Character is Fate"-. Whether either of these forms are in fact the one true dharma I neither know nor really care - Whatever is must be, and if we 'see' something different then atleast we still have our delusion. What I do know is that in challenging these positions in ways that did more than just tease out the dictionary meanings of the words used, I've mainly just caused offence to atleast four members and the deletion of a long portion of thread starting from my 1'st entry. I do see, as I'm 'posting' them, where my words could be perceived as harsh or cutting (I'm never 'blunt'), but always intend for any readers to benefit from any effects of seeing my point of view, and for their whole experience to be positive in the long run.

I've no capacity to teach dharma in this life, so can't speak for teachers. However, according to what I've read, genuine teachers won't be ham-fisted, and will perceive 'in advance' the effect of everything they plan to say and do on their student. So for me, only if I calculate exactly how my 'target audience' will react (e.g. if they're clearly gung-ho 'sport debaters' or what have you) am I happy to challenge other people's views.
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby catmoon » Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:06 am

As Job noted in the Bible, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between helpers and circling sharks.
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby padma norbu » Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:00 am

Yeah, it's pretty tough to know what other people's intentions are. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that everyone's intentions are good. In any case, every interaction can be helpful for training in mindfulness and patience, if they are causing unpleasant emotions to arise. But I'm not much concerned with that... I don't really care, I just don't have any interest in engaging in wasteful debate. And I wish I could stop the pattern for the sake of other people who I know are getting hit by the same thing. It's like watching someone dump trash out of their car or something. I'd like to stop it not because it offends me, personally, but because it's just an ugly problem.
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:10 am

catmoon wrote:As Job noted in the Bible, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between helpers and circling sharks.
In Greece we say "Not everybody that spits on you is your enemy and not everybody that licks* you is your friend".
*In Greece when we say "licks" in this context it is the same as "sucks up to" in English.
It's like watching someone dump trash out of their car or something.
Posting relevant lojong and tonglen texts by enlightened beings like Dharmarakshita is dumping trash??? I must be from another planet?! :alien: Beam me up Scotty!!!
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"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:46 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
catmoon wrote:As Job noted in the Bible, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between helpers and circling sharks.
In Greece we say "Not everybody that spits on you is your enemy and not everybody that licks* you is your friend".
*In Greece when we say "licks" in this context it is the same as "sucks up to" in English.
It's like watching someone dump trash out of their car or something.
Posting relevant lojong and tonglen texts by enlightened beings like Dharmarakshita is dumping trash??? I must be from another planet?! :alien: Beam me up Scotty!!!
:namaste:

Why people keep paying attention to PN's rants is a mystery for me. He clearly has issues and then blames others for his own crap. I've seen this happening between him and a lot of great members we have around. Never heard the expression that goes about "the executioner playing the victim"? Fits him like a glove. Whether he likes it or not, he can't ignore me as he does with you. It's positive he read your post, though. It's was right on the mark, Greg. But it's worthless as he's too self absorbed to check his own shortcomings.
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Re: self-pity & harsh speech

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sat Mar 31, 2012 3:47 pm

And, by the way, I'll close this topic. Even if this subforum is called Personal Experience that doesn't mean this board is your personal playground, padma norbu. You bait people to the topics you start and then mistreat them when they go through the trouble of giving you feedback. It's a nasty habit you need to drop. That ends here.
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