Religion or family

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Religion or family

Postby nirmal » Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:17 pm

Which do you consider to be more important? Here's what some people feel.

My family is my religion and my religion is my family. The two are synonymous. That's just part of "the thing" with cultural/tribal faiths. Without one, you don't have the either.

It depends on ones mental condition and destiny. It varies from person to person. Some people stick to responsibility to family while some renounce family and take up responsibility to religion.

First name me a religion that doesn't place a great deal of importance on the family.

Religion because god takes care of your family

(Matthew 10:37-39) . . .He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. 38 .............................

What's the Buddhist take on this?
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Re: Religion or family

Postby Astus » Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:45 pm

If one is a householder it is likely one has a family. Because there are several duties one has to perform because of one's responsibility towards one's family there is little motivation to practice the Dharma. And even if there is some motivation it is usually a low level goal one wants to achieve. Rarely, if one does have great determination toward the Dharma, family then can appear as a major obstacle. Only a few fortunate people can manage having family and being deeply involved in the Dharma. That's why most of those who aspire for liberation leave the family behind and become renunciates, just like Siddhartha. Thus in Buddhism family is rather a symbol of attachment and samsara rather than something sacred, primarily because the Buddhist tradition is preserved and transmitted by monastics.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Religion or family

Postby Epistemes » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:16 am

Astus wrote:If one is a householder it is likely one has a family. Because there are several duties one has to perform because of one's responsibility towards one's family there is little motivation to practice the Dharma. And even if there is some motivation it is usually a low level goal one wants to achieve. Rarely, if one does have great determination toward the Dharma, family then can appear as a major obstacle. Only a few fortunate people can manage having family and being deeply involved in the Dharma. That's why most of those who aspire for liberation leave the family behind and become renunciates, just like Siddhartha. Thus in Buddhism family is rather a symbol of attachment and samsara rather than something sacred, primarily because the Buddhist tradition is preserved and transmitted by monastics.


You sound like the St. Paul of the Dharma:

"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided."

What about suttas such as the Samajivina Sutta (AN 4.55) where the Buddha gives advice for how a husband and wife can be reunited in their future lives? Rather than curbing his lay disciples' desires of the world, the Buddha was ready to show those under the sway of worldly desire how to obtain the objects of their desire -- provided that the fulfillment of desire be regulated by ethical principles.

I think it's a shame that, in the past and even today, monks display little interest in showing those of us stuck in the world how to use the wisdom of the Dharma to deal with the problems of ordinary life. While I agree that the heart of the Buddha's teachings lie in the path to final release from dukkha, isn't the function of a Buddha to discover, realize, and proclaim the Dharma in all its range and depth in all its multiple dimensions? This would include the complex conditions of human life for people in the world. As such, the Pali Canon does contain a great vast literature dealing with householders and the merits even they can achieve in practicing right livelihood, moral discipline, generosity, wisdom and having faith in the Buddha.

Aside from what the Pali Canon states, family can be a prime mover of bodhicitta. It - or they - can be a better guru than your guru. If a person refuses to practice the Dharma, it can't be blamed on family. A person practices Dharma if they have the desire to practice Dharma -- even the Buddha knew that.
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Re: Religion or family

Postby el_chupacabra » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:56 am

Personally I've found that Buddhism has helped me to deal with other people (family included) so that it doesn't have to be an either/or, though it has been touch and go at times.
Monks may not be great at leading the way in such issues, but you have to find your own path and work with what you've got. Buddhism is a lot more flexible than many other religions and teaches us many skills in dealing with others (and ourselves) if we're not overly dogmatic about it.
My family have never actively prevented me from finding my own path, though were they to challenge me I would certainly call their bluff on that, confindent in the knowledge that they would be acting on unsustainable grounds - prejudice, fear, etc. - but as for getting them on the right path, I can only hope that I've planted a seed.
I try to practice non-attachment and non-aversion to my family's own quirks and equally towards the dharma - it is only the path and not the goal, and having taken the Bodhisattva vow I know that any benefit of my own accomplishments are dependent all others reaching that same level. Regarding all sentient beings as my mother - or equally as my children - one has to apply expedient means - its a balancing act between disowning them and proselytising, taking the middle way. Almost including both and family and religion, but ultimately neither one nor the other.
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Re: Religion or family

Postby Astus » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:27 am

"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Religion or family

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:07 pm

Not to take away from what Astus has said but why does it have to be either/or? Awareness is awareness whether you're aware of other monks or of other family members. As long as that awareness is undistracted why try to change where we already are?
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Re: Religion or family

Postby Astus » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:30 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Not to take away from what Astus has said but why does it have to be either/or? Awareness is awareness whether you're aware of other monks or of other family members. As long as that awareness is undistracted why try to change where we already are?


Being aware of doing something wrong is not enough to change such acts. Being aware of suffering is not enough to eliminate suffering.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Religion or family

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:44 pm

Astus wrote:
Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Not to take away from what Astus has said but why does it have to be either/or? Awareness is awareness whether you're aware of other monks or of other family members. As long as that awareness is undistracted why try to change where we already are?


Being aware of doing something wrong is not enough to change such acts. Being aware of suffering is not enough to eliminate suffering.


If what you mean is that compassion is necessary as well as wisdom, very well, but why must monks have more compassion than householders? As you say the primary function of the monastic is to preserve and transmit the dharma not to leave the world behind. Both monastics and householders have duties to perform and both are in the world as much as the other. I have a feeling, but I don't know, that the notion that only monastics can exist in this realm of dharma is a romantic idea of what it is to be a monastic. Can't get rid of the nuts and bolts no matter what function you perform.
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Re: Religion or family

Postby Astus » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:07 pm

Both monastics and lay people are humans, so there is no difference here. A major difference is in the environment. A householder life with job and family has limited freedom and there are binding duties one can't really avoid, including family dinners and earning enough to pay the children's education, plus all the other emotional baggage. A renunciant has a lot more freedom, not bound by family relationships, has nobody else to take care of while at the same time being taken care of through donations. Of course, one can be a householder bodhisattva and a renunciant worldly person, so one's spiritual qualities are not determined by one's social situation.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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