GRIEF

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GRIEF

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:58 pm

I'm interested in how fellow Buddhists regard grief.

Scripture seems to indicate that grief is driven by attachment:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html

If people have no attachment they cannot grieve, so there is no issue.

For those who have attachments, is it better to grieve, or to feel bad about 'attachment' and possibly end up with a mind which has not dealt with a bereavement?

I've decided for now that expresssing grief need not be seen as a negative display of 'attachment', it may be part of releasing that very 'attachment' so that we can move on.

I pray that people affected by a bereavement remember to be kind to themselves - and allow themselves to grieve and cry.

What to other Buddhists do?
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Re: GRIEF

Postby Mr. G » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:05 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:
I've decided for now that expresssing grief need not be seen as a negative display of 'attachment', it may be part of releasing that very 'attachment' so that we can move on.

I pray that people affected by a bereavement remember to be kind to themselves - and allow themselves to grieve and cry.

What to other Buddhists do?


Shinran had a groundedness to him I liked. Chapter 18 of the Kudensho where Shinran is recorded as saying:

    One should never comfort mourning people by adding
    more sadness to their grief. If so, you are not comforting
    them. Rather, you make them more lonely. Shinran says,
    "Sake is also 'boyu' (anxiety remover). You should pour
    some as a comfort until the person smiles, and then you
    should leave. That is the real mourning". We should
    remember this.

Personally, I just keep practicing and studying. I will learn Shitro soon as well.
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: GRIEF

Postby Blue Garuda » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:19 pm

Mr. G wrote:
Blue Garuda wrote:
I've decided for now that expresssing grief need not be seen as a negative display of 'attachment', it may be part of releasing that very 'attachment' so that we can move on.

I pray that people affected by a bereavement remember to be kind to themselves - and allow themselves to grieve and cry.

What to other Buddhists do?


Shinran had a groundedness to him I liked. Chapter 18 of the Kudensho where Shinran is recorded as saying:

    One should never comfort mourning people by adding
    more sadness to their grief. If so, you are not comforting
    them. Rather, you make them more lonely. Shinran says,
    "Sake is also 'boyu' (anxiety remover). You should pour
    some as a comfort until the person smiles, and then you
    should leave. That is the real mourning". We should
    remember this.

Personally, I just keep practicing and studying. I will learn Shitro soon as well.



Good point. :)

Compassion is not about making someone feel worse by feeling empathy and expressing sympathy if it simply reinforces their state of mind. It's about doing and saying what we hope will produce the best outcome.
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Re: GRIEF

Postby wisdom » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:22 pm

I feel that when people say "I'm sorry for your loss" this falls under that category. I never say that to people. I tell them I understand what its like if anything, or I just let them express themselves however they want.

In terms of Grief and being a Buddhist I have some personal experience with that I can share. I lost my mother a few years ago when I was 24. I did not have attachment to the idea of her not being alive when it became evident she would die. When she died, I accepted it and recognized it as a truth of existence, everything dies. My grief arose mostly from the pain she was in and her tremendous and unshakable fear of death, and from the pain it caused others, including my father, so it mostly arose from compassion for those who are still living. I have never and can't imagine myself beating my breast over "lost opportunities" and so forth, because those things never existed in the first place. Its nothing but a imputed desire on ones perception of the future, labeled as hope, and it gives rise to all kinds of sorrow and suffering. Its also selfish, because its all about what *we* wanted as individuals to do with *them*, its rarely actually about feeling upset because they were unable to fulfill their own dreams in life.

Whenever I talk about it I feel sorrow, but its not grief. I am just reminded of her tremendous suffering, and I would feel that kind of sorrow for anyone, especially people I was close to. While ultimately that in itself is a form of attachment because its not complete equanimity, also I can't be certain because I have not known of anyone else and experienced anyone elses suffering in that way.

You don't want a mind that has not properly grieved either. Non attachment means non attachment to the future, to the idea and belief in the inherent and permanent existence in things. Thats why grief arises. We think someone will always be here, we act like we will always be here, then one day that changes and we see its not true. However we have spent years imagining a future with them, and now thats never going to happen. Because of our attachment to that imagined future we feel tremendous grief. Then many people turn to the past, where they feel more grief over what will never be again. Both of these are ultimately delusional, but they are healthy enough for someone who has not realized emptiness. They are necessary in order for the person to be able to move on to the acceptance of the fact that whoever they have lost will never exist again.

I always tell people that who a person is, who they are, and who they always were was within us all along. That our memory of anyone is all we ever have, and so if we cherish that memory the person is in a sense always alive within us. That we should learn to be thankful for the experiences we were permitted to have with our loved ones before they passed away, and we should recognize that ultimately our loved ones would want us to continue to be happy and would not want us to be unduly upset over their loss. However this is not always good to mention right away. Rather, when grief has run its course but an attachment to grief is apparent, I find thats when this statement has the most power and does the most good as it helps them realize the truth and move on with their life. Even if they don't immediately accept it, it will have an unconscious impact.
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Re: GRIEF

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:53 pm

Blue Garuda wrote:I'm interested in how fellow Buddhists regard grief.

Scripture seems to indicate that grief is driven by attachment


The post above (by wisdom) has a very important three word phrase in the last paragraph: "attachment to grief".
Emotions happen but their nature is emptiness.
Nothing wrong with grief. But the attachment is a problem.
We do grieve because have attachment. But everybody has attachment.
So if you say, "if you don't have attachment..." that has no application.

We hold thoughts about people in our minds.
Think about every single person you know right now.
All that exists for you is your memory of them...even if it was a conversation you had 10 seconds ago.
So, we only preserve the past memory to begin with.
We think we know somebody right now, but all we really know is the most recent memory we have of them,
regardless of whether they are alive or not.

When we suddenly find out that a friend or loved one had died,
our memory of them (the same memory we had exactly one second before hearing the sad news) suddenly changes.
It takes on a new characteristic, because we know that we will not have any new, upcoming memories to look forward to.
So, in one sense, it is not the attachment to that person that causes us to grieve,
even though that is exactly what it seems like.
But that person is gone now
and it is attachment to our own lingering thoughts that is painful.

Sometimes being sad over a death is a really good thing
because it puts us in touch with something so basic.
.
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Re: GRIEF

Postby ground » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:43 am

I take "grief" and "distress" to be synonyms here

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation distress? The distress coming from the longing that arises in one who is filled with longing for the unexcelled liberations when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — he sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change and he is filled with this longing: 'O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that the noble ones now enter & remain in?' This is called renunciation distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Kind regards
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Re: GRIEF

Postby Blue Garuda » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:18 am

wisdom wrote:I feel that when people say "I'm sorry for your loss" this falls under that category. I never say that to people. I tell them I understand what its like if anything, or I just let them express themselves however they want.

In terms of Grief and being a Buddhist I have some personal experience with that I can share. I lost my mother a few years ago when I was 24. I did not have attachment to the idea of her not being alive when it became evident she would die. When she died, I accepted it and recognized it as a truth of existence, everything dies. My grief arose mostly from the pain she was in and her tremendous and unshakable fear of death, and from the pain it caused others, including my father, so it mostly arose from compassion for those who are still living. I have never and can't imagine myself beating my breast over "lost opportunities" and so forth, because those things never existed in the first place. Its nothing but a imputed desire on ones perception of the future, labeled as hope, and it gives rise to all kinds of sorrow and suffering. Its also selfish, because its all about what *we* wanted as individuals to do with *them*, its rarely actually about feeling upset because they were unable to fulfill their own dreams in life.

Whenever I talk about it I feel sorrow, but its not grief. I am just reminded of her tremendous suffering, and I would feel that kind of sorrow for anyone, especially people I was close to. While ultimately that in itself is a form of attachment because its not complete equanimity, also I can't be certain because I have not known of anyone else and experienced anyone elses suffering in that way.

You don't want a mind that has not properly grieved either. Non attachment means non attachment to the future, to the idea and belief in the inherent and permanent existence in things. Thats why grief arises. We think someone will always be here, we act like we will always be here, then one day that changes and we see its not true. However we have spent years imagining a future with them, and now thats never going to happen. Because of our attachment to that imagined future we feel tremendous grief. Then many people turn to the past, where they feel more grief over what will never be again. Both of these are ultimately delusional, but they are healthy enough for someone who has not realized emptiness. They are necessary in order for the person to be able to move on to the acceptance of the fact that whoever they have lost will never exist again.

I always tell people that who a person is, who they are, and who they always were was within us all along. That our memory of anyone is all we ever have, and so if we cherish that memory the person is in a sense always alive within us. That we should learn to be thankful for the experiences we were permitted to have with our loved ones before they passed away, and we should recognize that ultimately our loved ones would want us to continue to be happy and would not want us to be unduly upset over their loss. However this is not always good to mention right away. Rather, when grief has run its course but an attachment to grief is apparent, I find thats when this statement has the most power and does the most good as it helps them realize the truth and move on with their life. Even if they don't immediately accept it, it will have an unconscious impact.



Thanks for that story, which does highlight the way in which our mind turns.

In grief, people may also be experiencing fear about their own future, coping without the person who died, and the reminders of a future empty of their presence when looking at their empty chair etc. I include the loss of animal companions in this, as powerful bonds can form with them.

I have found that it helps to be a Buddhist with a belief in rebirth, and the effectiveness of Phowa etc. I think Buddhism helps us to 'let go' more than, for example, clinging to a Christian belief that we will all meet again in heaven.
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Re: GRIEF

Postby Blue Garuda » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:27 am

TMingyur wrote:I take "grief" and "distress" to be synonyms here

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation distress? The distress coming from the longing that arises in one who is filled with longing for the unexcelled liberations when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — he sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change and he is filled with this longing: 'O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that the noble ones now enter & remain in?' This is called renunciation distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Kind regards


I don't think they are synonyms, and the quote is surely more about recognising impermanence and longing to escape samsara for yourself than grieving for another being.

It's a bit like experiencing a death and then immediately being concerned for the 'I'. Not the reaction of a Bodhisattva - the passage is about attaining equanimity free from renunciation joy or distress, and whilst being aware of what is happening, remaining untroubled. This is also exceeded by non-fashioning" (atammayata). So, is this counsel of perfection suitable to give to a person in grief, telling them how wrong-minded they are? ;)
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Re: GRIEF

Postby udawa » Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:10 am

There is this, from the life of Marpa....

"Lord Marpa also showed signs of grief. Previously there had been an old man and woman whose only son had died. At that time the guru thought that he could lessen the parent’s grief and so explained many general teachings to them. In particular he told them, ''If you dreamt that you had a son who died, you would feel grief. You would feel suffering for the death of someone who had not been born. Your suffering for your present son is not different from this. Think of all this as a dream, as an illusion, and don't be upset."

Now the old man and woman to whom he had said this came to him and said, "Guru sir, when our only child died, you said 'It is a dream, it is an illusion; don't be upset.' The guru has six sons headed by Tarma Samten. Although Tarma Dode has died, it is nothing more than a dream, nothing more than an illusion. Please do not be upset."

The guru said, "I explained the dharma according to your situation at that time. It is true, yet I do not suffer from clinging to something as real. If your son had lived, he would first have robbed you of your vitality and taken the food from your mouths. Next, he would have robbed the wealth from your hands, as well as your estate. Finally, he would have cast you to the three lower realms. This is not like my son. If my son had not died, he would have benefited the teachings of the Buddha and sentient beings. Among dreams, this would have been a super dream; among illusions, this would have been a super illusion."

From 'Seeing Accomplishes All'
The Life of Marpa the Translator
Prajna Press 1982
Edwards: You are a philosopher. Dr Johnson: I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but, I don't know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.
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Re: GRIEF

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:35 pm

The trouble is that when we lose a loved one, we find ourselves attached to someone who is no longer here, in this form.

Even my psychiatrist, who is a Buddhist, said that I am not putting into practice what I know already about Buddhism, impermenance, et.

But moving on isn't just some choice you can make, even if you are very intellectually aware of the situation. No matter what I think we need time to let go of the attachment, especially a healthy attachment. Time and human life are so precious, not a moment to be wasted. And if some of that time is spent in grief or sorrow, I think it's best to just be honest about it so as to not create future mental health issues.

Just my two cents. Thanks Garuda for the kind topic.

With warmth,
Laura
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Re: GRIEF

Postby Blue Garuda » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:19 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote:The trouble is that when we lose a loved one, we find ourselves attached to someone who is no longer here, in this form.

Even my psychiatrist, who is a Buddhist, said that I am not putting into practice what I know already about Buddhism, impermenance, et.

But moving on isn't just some choice you can make, even if you are very intellectually aware of the situation. No matter what I think we need time to let go of the attachment, especially a healthy attachment. Time and human life are so precious, not a moment to be wasted. And if some of that time is spent in grief or sorrow, I think it's best to just be honest about it so as to not create future mental health issues.

Just my two cents. Thanks Garuda for the kind topic.

With warmth,
Laura


A bereavement creates many challenges, and we all do the best we can.

You are so right - everyone needs to allow themselves whatever time it takes to grieve. I can only stand in awe of those who manage to keeep it all together, and hope one day I may be able to have the compassion of a person who always places the welfare of others above their own needs in bereavement.
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Re: GRIEF

Postby ground » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:08 am

Blue Garuda wrote:
TMingyur wrote:I take "grief" and "distress" to be synonyms here

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation distress? The distress coming from the longing that arises in one who is filled with longing for the unexcelled liberations when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — he sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change and he is filled with this longing: 'O when will I enter & remain in the dimension that the noble ones now enter & remain in?' This is called renunciation distress. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Kind regards


I don't think they are synonyms, and the quote is surely more about recognising impermanence and longing to escape samsara for yourself than grieving for another being.

The quote was given with reference to these 2 statements of yours:
1. I'm interested in how fellow Buddhists regard grief
2. Scripture seems to indicate that grief is driven by attachment

to show how grief qua grief - provided one takes it as synonym here -
1. can also be regarded, the context quoted being the reference, and that
2. grief is not necessarily driven by attachment in the context of attachment's unwholesome dhamma meaning.

The quote was not given as a suggestion of how to approach the grief of another.

Blue Garuda wrote:It's a bit like experiencing a death and then immediately being concerned for the 'I'. Not the reaction of a Bodhisattva - the passage is about attaining equanimity free from renunciation joy or distress, and whilst being aware of what is happening, remaining untroubled. This is also exceeded by non-fashioning" (atammayata). So, is this counsel of perfection suitable to give to a person in grief, telling them how wrong-minded they are? ;)

There is nothing wrong - in the sense of negative - about the grief caused by attachment. In this context grief is just the mere effect of attachment. When there is attachment then grief arises. So there is also no reason to be troubled about the grief of another and to feel the urge to do anything about it just because oneself cannot stand seeing another grieving due to one's own attachments, just to get rid of one's own suffering arising when seeing another grieving.
So to make clear just that: when there is this then there is that is how to properly approach the grief of another caused by bereavement. In this context grief is just sort of "natural".


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Re: GRIEF

Postby Quiet Heart » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:37 am

:smile:
This is slightly off topic...but not that much, i believe.
My Thai wife is 63 years old and her mother and relatives are now in their 80's.
So, therefore, they are passing away. In the last 5 months, there have been 4 funerals in her family.
Naturally, this has caused my wife a lot of grief and suffering.
A couple of month's ago I had a realization about that...maybe obvious to others...but it wasn't to me until then.
While considering the question of the PURPOSE of grief and suffering it came to me that without grief and suffering the average person would have no reason to be unhappy with their (illusionary) "normal" life and therfore have to reason to seek the Dharma and the path to understanding.
Maybe that should have been obvious to me earlier. but it wasn't.
Anyhow, just to be clear, as I see it now...the very purpose of grief, suffering, and even death...apart from it's obvious suffering...is to start the (sentient being) human to seek that path of understanding.
For that reason, in my opinion, grief and suffering could be interpreted as "turning the Great Wheel of the Dharma"...and evidence of the boundless compassion of the Buddha.
Of course, others may disagree...and they are free to do so if they choose.
:smile:
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in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
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Re: GRIEF

Postby ground » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:45 am

:good:

dukkha is the best of all teachers ...

"The knowledge of destruction with respect to destruction has a supporting condition, I say, it does not lack a supporting condition. And what is the supporting condition for the knowledge of destruction? 'Emancipation' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for emancipation? 'Dispassion' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for dispassion? 'Disenchantment' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for disenchantment? 'The knowledge and vision of things as they really are' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for the knowledge and vision of things as they really are? 'Concentration' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for concentration? 'Happiness' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for happiness? 'Tranquillity' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for tranquillity? 'Rapture' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for rapture? 'Joy' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for joy? 'Faith' should be the reply.

... And what is the supporting condition for faith? 'Suffering' should be the reply.

...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .bodh.html


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Re: GRIEF

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:59 am

TMingyur wrote:There is nothing wrong - in the sense of negative - about the grief caused by attachment. In this context grief is just the mere effect of attachment. When there is attachment then grief arises.

Well put.

I think that there is a misunderstanding about attachment in Buddhism.
(and perhaps this should actually be a different topic, but since the context has arisen, I'll say it here).
As I understand it,
Attachment itself is not a bad thing, even though suffering is the result of attachment.
Likewise, poison ivy grows out of the soil but this does not make soil a bad thing.
While it is true that more you give up attachment, the less clinging you have, and so you produce less suffering.
nonetheless, you will always have attachment in this life,
even if you have hardly any. Even if you are a yogin or a sadhu, even if you don't fear being tortured or dying,
attachment is a condition of samsaric existence.
That is because attachment isn't a "thing" like some blemish you need to get rid of.
Attachment is more of a process of relating to appearances.
In some respects, it's like a house thermostat. Turned way up for hot and down for cool.
The term, Upadana which is usually translated as "attachment" or "grasping" suggests something that fuels suffering.
The problem that usually arises when one thinks they have given up attachment,
is that now they have become attached to the idea "I have given up attachment".
Cultivating less attachment is therefore a tool for one's development, rather than some poison one must get rid of.
So, when a person dies, we feel the attachment we have to that person
and if the attachment is turned way up, we suffer a lot.
But eventually the attachment may turn way down, and we let go and feel better.
.
.
.
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