Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

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

Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby SooYiMongSeng » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:30 pm

So given that I've already factored in and considered the huge vat of delusion that is definitely involved in romantic relationships (whether it is seeking out, not seeking out and entering, sustaining/maintaining, and coping with the end of), I'd really like to hear about people's personal accounts with how Buddhism has directly affected how they either exist or do not exist with one other in a romantic relationship. I'll define "romantic relationship" as any relationship that involves interaction on an intimate, sexual, physically-cohabiting for short or long periods of time, and spouses & potential/current partners in marriage.

So I'll state this question, How has buddhism affected your own personal view of romantic relationships? How has it affected your view of marriage? Could you compare your previous "idealization" of what a relationship is versus your current "understanding" of what a romantic/sexual/intimate relationship is? *** If at all possible, please be as empirical about this as much as possible. I really hope to hear your testimony on perhaps dissolving your own delusions about this concept.

What extent of detachment is healthy in a relationship? What extent of attachment -can- be healthy in a relationship if at all?

Please cite or account any teachings as it pertains directly to dharma as much as you are able to.

All the best to you,
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Indrajala » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:14 pm

What extent of detachment is healthy in a relationship? What extent of attachment -can- be healthy in a relationship if at all?


If you're really detached, you won't have relationships.

You are born alone.
Also you die alone.
As others cannot share your suffering,
Of what use is the hindrance of loved ones?


Engaging in Bodhisattva Deeds


Detachment and renunciation are prone to ruin relationships because you'll likely want to leave and emotionally drop out of the relationship. Perhaps sexually as well. On top of that you won't want to give your time to "relationship building activities" as it could be better spent elsewhere. Your partner will likely not appreciate this and possibly feel betrayed as a result.

If you're serious about liberation you'll drop all pursuits of romance and sex.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby SooYiMongSeng » Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:56 pm

I very much agree with your citation. This is an inherent fact, yes. However, I find this to be beneficial in a more broad-spectrum perspective of life and a little bit of a help in certain moments.

Is this what you put into practice in your personal life, Huseng? What is your personal account of this very notion you mention? How has it played out for you?

I personally do not find myself able to fully reject all relationships of this nature yet as you state by "not having relationships at all." I have learned that is is a very necessary precept for monasticism, though.

However, I feel that romantic relationships are still part of being human (we are drawn to certain people for whatever reason, karma and what not) and from what I gather, Buddha understood this as well.

So do you have, or have had any romantic relationships to share about, Huseng? I would like to hear about your theory in practice.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Andrew108 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:11 pm

Just to chime in here. My take is that relationships are extremely valuable. I couldn't imagine wanting to give them up. I think being open to them is the point. The joys and the sorrow are what make life special. Enjoy life. Enjoy the fact of it. Enjoy someone who enjoys the same things as you do.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:21 am

SooYiMongSeng wrote:Is this what you put into practice in your personal life, Huseng? What is your personal account of this very notion you mention? How has it played out for you?


I basically stopped dating. I'm not anti-social or intentionally avoiding favourable members of the opposite sex. I just don't take an interest in dating or pursuing relationships.

If the right woman came along who was fine with my eccentric ways and didn't mind me up and leaving for extended periods (and was a practitioner herself), that might be agreeable, but I doubt it would work out in the long run.

There's also the ongoing risk of unwanted pregnancy which would completely derail plans for extended retreats or travel. I don't want kids ever. I also don't want to own property at the moment. In my opinion most people eventually want children and property. Even if they don't, their parents and extended family will be actively pushing them in that direction.

So, at the end of the day, I think about all the bullshit that comes with relationships and don't see many benefits.

That being said, the potential economic benefits can't be ignored, especially in the long-term. If I don't become a monk, then having the mutual support of a life partner might prove optimal, especially in the coming decades as peak oil and prolonged environmental devastation cripple and destroy the economies of the world.

It is easy enough at the moment to live by yourself, but in the coming times having to grow some of your own food in a garden will become a necessary reality for many people. The old social arrangements will become necessary again. That means having the mutual support of a life partner would probably make life a lot easier, if not being a necessity (especially if someone gets sick and can't depend on the government for assistance, which is already becoming the case in many places in the 1st world).

Basically, it is easy enough to be a lay practitioner and get things done in the current arrangement in much of the 1st world, but times are changing and it will likely come to the point that having a partner will become a necessity in life unless you are in a commune of some sort. This was the case up until a few generations ago, although we've largely forgotten that reality.

Ideally I would just go put on robes and become a monk, but I've yet to find an arrangement that would prove suitable. In Taiwan here monks have little to no freedom and have immense expectations laid upon them in the way they walk, talk and eat. They also get assigned day jobs. In my mind if I become a monk it is to actually go and practice meditation for many years and live on the good charity of others.

A western monk with decades of experience as a monastic some months ago suggested that being a lay practitioner is actually better for your practice than being a monk. I can see his point. However, being a layman in a relationship with excessive amounts of BS will likely not prove fruitful either...


I personally do not find myself able to fully reject all relationships of this nature yet as you state by "not having relationships at all." I have learned that is is a very necessary precept for monasticism, though.


It is, but most of the time relationships bring vast amounts of bullshit which just have you sink deeper into samsaric ways.

However, I feel that romantic relationships are still part of being human (we are drawn to certain people for whatever reason, karma and what not) and from what I gather, Buddha understood this as well.


Imagine running with a flaming torch in your hand. It will burn your arm as you run, which means you have only to drop it to be free of it.

The natural order of things in samsara. To "go with the flow" is tantamount to going along with samsara which is suffering. We must go against the current of samsara if we are to be liberated from it.

Of course I'm just an ordinary person. I have the same afflictions as most people do. I often find myself looking at all the pretty girls around here (there are many in Taipei), but then I remind myself of my impending death and the uncertainty what lay on the far side of it. It reminds me that worldly pleasures, both emotional and physical, are just suffering cloaked in initially agreeable perceptions.

As Nagarjuna said,

You dwell among the causes of death
Like a butter lamp standing in a strong breeze.


And as Tsongkhapa said,


Unless you reflect on the truth of suffering to the point of actually becoming revolted by cyclic existence, your desire to attain liberation will be mere words, and whatever you do will lead to origins of further suffering.


Love and sex just ultimately fuel the fire of samsara.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:25 am

Andrew108 wrote:Just to chime in here. My take is that relationships are extremely valuable. I couldn't imagine wanting to give them up. I think being open to them is the point. The joys and the sorrow are what make life special. Enjoy life. Enjoy the fact of it. Enjoy someone who enjoys the same things as you do.



Unless you reflect on the truth of suffering to the point of actually becoming revolted by cyclic existence, your desire to attain liberation will be mere words, and whatever you do will lead to origins of further suffering. - Tsongkhapa
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Andrew108 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:28 am

Huseng wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Just to chime in here. My take is that relationships are extremely valuable. I couldn't imagine wanting to give them up. I think being open to them is the point. The joys and the sorrow are what make life special. Enjoy life. Enjoy the fact of it. Enjoy someone who enjoys the same things as you do.



Unless you reflect on the truth of suffering to the point of actually becoming revolted by cyclic existence, your desire to attain liberation will be mere words, and whatever you do will lead to origins of further suffering. - Tsongkhapa

Yes true my desire to attain liberation is mere words. Running after goals like liberation just makes me tired.
O.k true story time. Friend wanted to do 3 year retreat. Friend had a girlfriend. Girlfriend got pregnant before friend started retreat. Friend decided to do retreat. Friend left girlfriend to bring up baby by herself. Friend has rejected baby because of buddhist conditioning and his desire to attain liberation. Friend does lots of retreat. Still hasn't gained liberation. Baby misses having an involved father.
So look and you can see that the messy world of relationships can be valuable for your practice. Why? Above all why? If you hold on to concepts about a person then you are not on the path. If you are able to breakdown your constructed view of a person and what they are like and everyday see them in a fresh way then you are self-liberating concepts about that person and you are doing something yogic - you are on the path. You are practicing by looking at the illusory nature of the person you are attracted to. Baby is doing well because you don't hold onto concept 'baby'. Girlfriend or husband are doing well because you don't hold on to the decisions you've made about what they are really like. Everyday is a fresh opportunity to practice understanding the illusory nature of the appearance of family and friends and at the same time you are able to love. It's great.
But if you want to wear the coat of quotes and condition yourself then that's your business - may be there will be some value in that.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:07 am

SooYiMongSeng wrote:Please cite or account any teachings as it pertains directly to dharma as much as you are able to.

Huseng wrote:Unless you reflect on the truth of suffering to the point of actually becoming revolted by cyclic existence, your desire to attain liberation will be mere words, and whatever you do will lead to origins of further suffering. - Tsongkhapa


Didn't Je Tsongkhapa also say that a Karmamudra is necessary for the fruition of the Completion Stage? (i.e. 'Without Karmamudra, no Mahamudra") ? In other words, becoming revolted by samsara is only a step toward getting to the level of being able to apply Sexual Yoga practices (in the Kadampa/Gelugpa system anyway)....

Adding fuel to the fire is actually, according to Vajrayana in general, a very powerful way to transform impurity into purity.

Although in Dzogchen, sexuality doesn't seem to be given as much importance for Realization as it does in Vajrayana; however, sexuality is certainly not renounced in Dzogchen (unless of course one is a Dzogchen nun or monk, which although rare, do exist). But it is said that there is mention of this topic in (a commentary on?) the Lama Yangthig and in the Khandro Nyingthig.

If one chooses the celibate route—then in order to sublimate the powerful energy of sex—looking into some daily Yantra Yoga and/or Kumbhaka or other Pranayama practices, would be a very good idea.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:20 am

Huseng wrote:
Andrew108 wrote:Just to chime in here. My take is that relationships are extremely valuable. I couldn't imagine wanting to give them up. I think being open to them is the point. The joys and the sorrow are what make life special. Enjoy life. Enjoy the fact of it. Enjoy someone who enjoys the same things as you do.



Unless you reflect on the truth of suffering to the point of actually becoming revolted by cyclic existence, your desire to attain liberation will be mere words, and whatever you do will lead to origins of further suffering. - Tsongkhapa


Quoting Tsongkhapa at people who practice Dzogchen may be pretty pointless, you know.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Jun 02, 2012 1:00 pm

SooYiMongSeng wrote: How has buddhism affected your own personal view of romantic relationships?



Here is how:

The way one approaches romantic relationships changes with time. So, what a person needs out of a relationship is different when they are 20 years old from when they are 50, and their needs and expectations are going to be a little different. It's not that the love people want is different, but the way people love each other, the expectations, the ways love manifests itself are going to change a little, and so this will affect where "attachment" is greater or lesser. If you are younger, you rely a lot more on that "crush" feeling, being madly in love and so forth. When you are older, having done that already (a lot if you are a hopeless romantic) this intense longing is not so much of a requirement. What you need and feel perhaps more subtle.

Huseng said: "If you're really detached, you won't have relationships." The fact is, we are already in relationships with everybody on the planet, even with people we don't know. That's basic interconnectedness. This is the foundation from which the intense, romantic relationships are extracted. It's like a funnel-filter. Out of the billions of people in the world, we relate to very few, and out of those very few we may or may not find a person who might be one's "life partner" or whatever. But even then, even if you find somebody and get married for example, you are still, ultimately "alone". You are always going to be just yourself and nobody else, even when you are alone with that person. So the dynamics of the relationship reflect that fact about you as well as about your partner.

There are actually six people involved in a romantic relationship:
1. the person you think you are
2. the person the other person thinks you are
3. the person the other person thinks they are
4. the person you think the other person is
5. the person you really are
6. the person the other person really is

And most of the time, it is the first four who get into relationships and whose relationships fall apart because of misunderstandings. These four imagine themselves as sort of a permanent-identity of this or that, with a lot of attachment to the self. Lots of projections of mind. But everything is always changing. People continually change and grow. When this happens, these first four just don't survive.

Less often do we find the last two in a relationship. If two individuals are really in tune with who they really are inside, and are honest with themselves, there is not so much need for attachment. You don't have the Frankenstein effect, where two people who feel somehow "not complete unless there is someone else in my life" latch on to each other, like sewing together the halves of two different people, trying to make one whole person. You see that a lot. It doesn't work!!!

Sometimes the other four have to get out of the way, and this might take a lot of work, but it is the last two who are the ones who know if they are are compatible or not. Ultimately, it is the last two who have a lasting and loving (and healthy) relationship, because all the bullsh** is finally out of the way.

Finally, I think that for a buddhist, one's partner can also be one's greatest teacher (even if they are unaware of that). You have to constantly put aside your own needs (some of them, temporarily) for the other person. You have to practice generosity, patience, wisdom, and effort, all the time knowing that the whole thing is temporary anyway, until "at death you do part". I joke with my teacher (lama) about the towers that Milarepa was ordered to build, by his teacher Marpa. This is a story from the Kagyu (Tibetan) Lineage. Marpa was a great teacher and he had a student, Milarepa, who was very wild. Marpa told him to build a stone tower, sort of an observation tower. When it was done, Marpa told him it wasn't right, knock it down and build it again. Move it a few feet to the right or whatever. He did this over and over again, it took years, and it was (part of) how Milarepa became enlightened. So, I joke with my teacher that Milarepa should have just gotten married, which is much harder, much more work and much more frustrating than building a series of stone towers, and he would have gotten enlightened a lot sooner!

If you are a monk or a yogi or something, then Huseng's comments are correct. But for people who want to be in relationships, this can also be a path. The degree to which one is attached to another person is really only a reflection of how much one is attached to one's "self". If you are in a romantic relationship, the more you cling to yourself, the more you cling to another person. It may not seem this way. On the surface, many people in relationships seem to ignore each other. So, this seems like the opposite of things, but really, I think this is the case. The more you can let go of clinging to "me", the more you and the other person can actually interact as healthy individuals. So, Buddhist practice of letting go of "me" is really beneficial to relationships.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Indrajala » Sat Jun 02, 2012 1:30 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:Didn't Je Tsongkhapa also say that a Karmamudra is necessary for the fruition of the Completion Stage? (i.e. 'Without Karmamudra, no Mahamudra") ? In other words, becoming revolted by samsara is only a step toward getting to the level of being able to apply Sexual Yoga practices (in the Kadampa/Gelugpa system anyway).....


Do you think such practices are motivated by lust?
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Astus » Sat Jun 02, 2012 1:58 pm

This is in the "Personal experience" section because the initial question is about one's personal experience regarding relationship and Buddhism. Impersonal theories can go to other threads. Thank you.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:29 pm

Huseng wrote:Do you think such practices are motivated by lust?


In my own experience, no.

And I can't say that I even have all that much experience; but from what little I've had, such practices actually help to reduce lustful craving.

A woman and man helping each other to control their sexual energy through Sexual Yoga practices can actually help them to fulfill one of the commitments of a certain level of Tantra practice, which is to retain the sexual seed:


H.H. the Dalai Lama wrote:"Although I am using this ordinary term, sexual climax, it does not imply the ordinary sexual act. The reference here is to the experience of entering into union with a consort of the opposite sex, by means of which the elements at the crown are melted, and through the power of Meditation the process is also reversed.

"A prerequisite of such a practice is that you should be able to protect yourself from the fault of seminal emission. According to the explanation of the Kalachakra Tantra in particular, such emission is said to be very damaging to your practice. Therefore, because you should not experience emission even in dreams, the tantras describe different techniques for overcoming this fault."


But for those who are totally celibate, even if they are doing a lot of meditation, yoga, pranayama practices, etc., there still more danger of having nocturnal emissions than there is for the man and woman engaging in Sexual Yoga.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:45 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:
Huseng wrote:Do you think such practices are motivated by lust?


In my own experience, no.

And I can't say that I even have all that much experience; but from what little I've had, such practices actually help to reduce lustful craving.

A woman and man helping each other to control their sexual energy through Sexual Yoga practices can actually help them to fulfill one of the commitments of a certain level of Tantra practice, which is to retain the sexual seed:


H.H. the Dalai Lama wrote:"Although I am using this ordinary term, sexual climax, it does not imply the ordinary sexual act. The reference here is to the experience of entering into union with a consort of the opposite sex, by means of which the elements at the crown are melted, and through the power of Meditation the process is also reversed.

"A prerequisite of such a practice is that you should be able to protect yourself from the fault of seminal emission. According to the explanation of the Kalachakra Tantra in particular, such emission is said to be very damaging to your practice. Therefore, because you should not experience emission even in dreams, the tantras describe different techniques for overcoming this fault."


But for those who are totally celibate, even if they are doing a lot of meditation, yoga, pranayama practices, etc., there still more danger of having nocturnal emissions than there is for the man and woman engaging in Sexual Yoga.


Karmamudra is not about getting rid of nocturnal emissions. Nor is it about getting rid of one's sexuality.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:11 pm

Neither of those statements was implied.

I simply said that for a certain level of Tantra practice at least—even if only in Kalachakra, and the Anuyoga cycle explained in Keith Dowman's translation of the Terma related to Yeshe Tsogyel in his book Sky Dancer—one is supposed to definitely retain the seed (see the above-posted quote from H.H. the Dalai Lama).

Reducing lustful craving through Karmamudra/Sexual Yoga, is not the same thing as 'getting rid of one's sexuality'. Quite the opposite actually.

So to remind everyone here that I'm remaining congruent with the original poster's request in this thread to "Please cite or account any teachings as it pertains directly to dharma as much as you are able to"; here's another interesting Tantra teaching from H.H. the Dalai Lama:

The Vow Not to Lose Seminal Energy-Drops

Although from what I understand, the Dzogchen view on this is a little different than the Kalachakra and Anuyoga view.

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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:09 pm

Lhug-Pa wrote:The Vow Not to Lose Seminal Energy-Drops

Although from what I understand, the Dzogchen view on this is a little different than the Kalachakra and Anuyoga view.


As far as I know, the Mahayoga and Anuyoga views are much closer in this respect to Dzogchen than to Kalachakra.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:24 pm

Sky Dancer by Keith Dowman wrote:"In Anuyoga, though not in Dzokchen Atiyoga, loss of semen is equated with killing a Buddha."

"Joy is created by the ascent of the blended red and white bodhicittas up the medial nerve from the sexual centre through the gut, heart, throat and head centres in turn (although the most intense feeling of joy is in the gut and the least intense in the head). The rising bodhicitta is kundalini....

"Refined semen is stored in the heart centre as "radiance," which produces long-life and gives a shine to the complexion. Unrefined semen is excreted during sexual intercourse and is, of course, procreative seed. The refined semen in the heart centre permeates the body as Awareness; "heart centre" is here a metaphor for the all-pervasive sphere of essential being (dharmakaya). Loss of semen, by any means, causes the life-span to be shortened and causes a pallid complexion....Loss of semen is equated with killing a Buddha. Semen, seed-essence and bodhicitta are synonymous. After initiation, intensity of desire is essential to force the bodhicitta up the medial nerve; not only is desire vitiated by orgasm, but the will to enlightenment itself is temporarily lost...."
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:36 pm

I am not sure whom or what Dowman is following in his exegesis, and how trustworthy it actually is. I am not saying he is wrong: I am certainly no specialist here - I don't even read Tibetan, let alone could pass for being a scholar of Tantra - but I've heard vastly different accounts from people who are certainly qualified (and experienced) enough to give them.
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby SooYiMongSeng » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:55 pm

Andrew108 wrote:Just to chime in here. My take is that relationships are extremely valuable. I couldn't imagine wanting to give them up. I think being open to them is the point. The joys and the sorrow are what make life special. Enjoy life. Enjoy the fact of it. Enjoy someone who enjoys the same things as you do.


I'm in very much of an agreement with this idea. I feel the greatest thing is that we can learn from our partners as if they are our familiars... or as our "mirrors." They become a major part of our reality.... and in that...after reflection and retrospect maybe a very significant and influential guru in our life?

Wow, all of you are very very brilliant. What a blessing to read all this great material from you all. My many thanks. :namaste:
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Re: Buddha on Romantic Relationships - Personal Empirical Observ

Postby SooYiMongSeng » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:12 pm

Huseng wrote:That being said, the potential economic benefits can't be ignored, especially in the long-term. If I don't become a monk, then having the mutual support of a life partner might prove optimal, especially in the coming decades as peak oil and prolonged environmental devastation cripple and destroy the economies of the world. ...
Love and sex just ultimately fuel the fire of samsara.


I've only ever had failures with romantic relationships but I don't find B.S. in it all, actually. I really do feel I've become an improved being thanks to my partners. Sure, the arrangement of how everything happened wasn't the best and YES I did suffer very much at the time. But after understanding and being aware of my own behavior and maybe their behavior in response, I began to see that much of it was just a reactive method of self-cherishing, fear, and delusion (expectation). I feel it was moreso the weight of my own defilements but I of course always place self-blame when things go wrong.

"When someone whom I have benefited or in whom I have placed
great trust and hope, harms me or treats me in hurtful ways without reason,
May I see that person as my precious teacher. "

And the other verses of Lojong state this, right? To accept the B.S. willingly...isn't this a great blessing for real, gritty, down in the dirty practice?

How could I feel anything but grateful... not avoidant? It's my most sincere request for you to ellaborate for me :) I really want to try to understand your viewpoint, fully, Huseng.
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