Relationships With Non-Buddhists

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

Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby tomamundsen » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:52 pm

Hi,

Does anyone have advice on being in a (romantic) relationship with a non-Buddhist? I just moved in with my (non-Buddhist) girlfriend, and we have been arguing a lot.

Thanks.
Last edited by tomamundsen on Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
tomamundsen
 
Posts: 539
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Konchog1 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:53 pm

Communication
Give and Take
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
User avatar
Konchog1
 
Posts: 1341
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2011 4:30 am

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby tomamundsen » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:05 pm

Maybe I should give a little more context. Our arguments often boil down to our different views, due to me being Buddhist and her, well, not being Buddhist. Particularly, I try to eliminate negative emotions and not express them, whereas she embraces them and believes that expressing them helps you work through things. Fundamentally, she believes that we have evolved to have negative emotions and they are useful for our survival. On the other hand, I look at negative emotions as an aberration to my natural state, and something that I ultimately want to get rid of.

This is just one example. I should also note: although she isn't Buddhist, she is Chinese and was raised in China for 20some years. So, she knows some things about Buddhism and even has Buddhist family.
User avatar
tomamundsen
 
Posts: 539
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:50 am
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby underthetree » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:14 pm

Well, I'm married to a non-Buddhist, the absolute love of my life... We work it out. Or rather, I work it out and if I get too frisky with the dharma she gives me one of her Atheist Looks.

It's taught me a lot. Huge teachings. One being, because I'm supposedly the Buddhist, why am I grumpy, annoyed, etc etc. I have to justify myself, which is very interesting. I have (quoting someone else on here a few threads ago) to own my bullshit. In that way, and many others, she isn't a 'non-Buddhist.' She's my blessed teacher.

And she is the Dakini, of course!
User avatar
underthetree
 
Posts: 220
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:44 pm
Location: UK

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:15 pm

tomamundsen wrote:Hi,
I just moved in with my (non-Buddhist) girlfriend, and we have been arguing a lot.



Of course, it never really works with non-practitioners. Better for you to find someone in your sangha or a least another practitioner.

M
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12239
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby underthetree » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:20 pm

Malcolm wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:Hi,
I just moved in with my (non-Buddhist) girlfriend, and we have been arguing a lot.



Of course, it never really works with non-practitioners. Better for you to find someone in your sangha or a least another practitioner.

M


Do you really think not, Malcolm? I often wonder about that, and the only conclusion I've come to thus far is that, if we were both practitioners, we'd weave a fake little Buddhist world for ourselves and exist inside a fluffy marshmallow of self-satisfaction.
User avatar
underthetree
 
Posts: 220
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:44 pm
Location: UK

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:24 pm

underthetree wrote:
Do you really think not, Malcolm?


I really think it is better for practitoners to be be partners with other practitioners. Of course, we should work with circumstances -- but in my life I have found that relationships with non-practitioners tend to be fraught with differing values and life-goals.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12239
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby underthetree » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:29 pm

relationships with non-practitioners tend to be fraught with differing values and life-goals.


As do all relationships, really. A relationship between two practitioners would be just as fraught when it came to worldly concerns, I'd have thought.

But I have no idea. You may very well be right. For me, my marriage - along with my family, my work and the rest of it - is part of my practice. I can't conceive of it any other way.
User avatar
underthetree
 
Posts: 220
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:44 pm
Location: UK

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Malcolm » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:38 pm

underthetree wrote:
relationships with non-practitioners tend to be fraught with differing values and life-goals.


As do all relationships, really. A relationship between two practitioners would be just as fraught when it came to worldly concerns, I'd have thought.

But I have no idea. You may very well be right. For me, my marriage - along with my family, my work and the rest of it - is part of my practice. I can't conceive of it any other way.



We should work with circumstances.
http://www.bhaisajya.net
http://www.bhaisajya.guru
http://atikosha.org
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
there are none not included in the dimension of the knowledge of the Great Perfection.

-- Buddha Samantabhadri
User avatar
Malcolm
 
Posts: 12239
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:19 am

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby underthetree » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:39 pm

Malcolm wrote:
underthetree wrote:
relationships with non-practitioners tend to be fraught with differing values and life-goals.


As do all relationships, really. A relationship between two practitioners would be just as fraught when it came to worldly concerns, I'd have thought.

But I have no idea. You may very well be right. For me, my marriage - along with my family, my work and the rest of it - is part of my practice. I can't conceive of it any other way.



We should work with circumstances.


Indeed. From one angle, they're all we've got.
User avatar
underthetree
 
Posts: 220
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:44 pm
Location: UK

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Sara H » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:52 pm

tomamundsen wrote:Maybe I should give a little more context. Our arguments often boil down to our different views, due to me being Buddhist and her, well, not being Buddhist. Particularly, I try to eliminate negative emotions and not express them, whereas she embraces them and believes that expressing them helps you work through things. Fundamentally, she believes that we have evolved to have negative emotions and they are useful for our survival. On the other hand, I look at negative emotions as an aberration to my natural state, and something that I ultimately want to get rid of.

This is just one example. I should also note: although she isn't Buddhist, she is Chinese and was raised in China for 20some years. So, she knows some things about Buddhism and even has Buddhist family.


Well, I belive there is an old saying that two religions can't share the same bed?

Communication, patience, love, compassion, kindness, and more communication and trust! lots of trust! will go a long way.

Ultimately it will come down to communication, love and trust.

You have to do your own training.

It certainly it possible it might not work out.

Then again, just because someone isn't officially "Buddhist" when the relationship starts doesn't mean it wont end up working.

You might try getting a better understanding of those views so you can explain them better.

Rather than viewing "refraining from anger" as simply as a "thou shalt not" comandment, maybe look deeper at it so you can explain exactly why it is harmful, rather than just a hard and fast rule.

And look at her views and see why they don't work and explain it to her with compassion for her.

And if she isn't willing to listen or isn't ready or just doesn't understand no matter what you try, just maybe back off and sit still with it for a while and just do your own training and try to refrain from anger and devisive speach and don't worry about her.

She might need time to absorb it or learn things on her own.

And it will either work out or it will not.

Just sit still with it, trust your gut, and work on compassion, that would be my advice.

In Gasshō,

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
User avatar
Sara H
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby dharmagoat » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:07 pm

underthetree wrote:I often wonder about that, and the only conclusion I've come to thus far is that, if we were both practitioners, we'd weave a fake little Buddhist world for ourselves and exist inside a fluffy marshmallow of self-satisfaction.

If only.

More likely you will find some small point of Buddhist doctrine to argue about. Like, for example...
May all beings be happy
dharmagoat
 
Posts: 1270
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:39 pm
Location: Gone Bush

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby lisehull » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:46 am

My husband is not Buddhist, and doesn't practice any other religion, and we don't have any issues about that or my being Buddhist. He is completely supportive and encourages me in my practice. I don't talk dharma issues with him as I am a relative newbie (at four years) and am not confident about expressing the dharma, but I do talk generally sometimes and he is supportive and attentive.
:applause:
lisehull
 
Posts: 126
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:39 pm

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Tarpa » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:40 am

I've found that relationships with non pracs don't work too well in my experience, I found they waste an incredible amount of my time and energy, then again relationships with other Buddhists may not be wonderful either if they are practicing on a totally different level and look down upon vajrayana for instance or whatever u are practicing. I hang out with witches instead, they have a tremendous respect for buddhism, because their tradition is piece meal and fragmented and from many traditions and cultures they have an ingrained open mind toward other traditions, especially esoteric ones. I don't have to be on my best behaviour around them and feel constrained by feeling I have to fit into the " shiny good buddhist " posterchild stereotype around them, there's a mutual respect of each others thing and the need for time and privacy to do it. They have a fresh open curiosity about a lot of things that makes it enjoyable to teach them, and they help me learn things too and have a deeper understanding of some things, as opposed to having a boring 5 hour convo with other buddhists about madhyamika, or anything else. All in all I would rather be in a relationship with a practicing witch than with a materialist or Buddhist, I find it works out very well, being alone ALL THE TIME gets old.
The nonexistence of the transcendence of suffering
is what the protector of the world has taught as the transcendence
of suffering.
Knots tied on space
are untied by space itself.

May I never be seperated from perfect masters in all lives,
and delightfully experiencing the magnificent dharma,
completing all qualities of the stages of the paths
may I quickly attain the state of Vajradhara
Tarpa
 
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:20 am
Location: Apache Junction, Arizona

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Sara H » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:27 am

odysseus wrote:just don´t assert your conviction too much and rather explain more what it´s about. Merge your partner´s views with your own.


Thank you, you said that better than me.

In Gasshō

Sara H
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
User avatar
Sara H
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby anjali » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:30 am

tomamundsen wrote:Maybe I should give a little more context. Our arguments often boil down to our different views, due to me being Buddhist and her, well, not being Buddhist. Particularly, I try to eliminate negative emotions and not express them, whereas she embraces them and believes that expressing them helps you work through things. Fundamentally, she believes that we have evolved to have negative emotions and they are useful for our survival. On the other hand, I look at negative emotions as an aberration to my natural state, and something that I ultimately want to get rid of.

This is just one example. I should also note: although she isn't Buddhist, she is Chinese and was raised in China for 20some years. So, she knows some things about Buddhism and even has Buddhist family.

In a close relationship there will always be occasional disagreements/arguments. That's to be expected. When it is frequent there is a problem. At that point one has to look at what the foundation for the relationship is. One can reasonably ask, is the foundation of the relationship based on loving-kindness and compassion? Do you feel joy in each other's happiness? On the whole, does the relationship promote peace/equanimity? A while back I read Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva. When I read your post, I thought of verse 5:

In bad company, the three poisons grow stronger,
Listening, reflection, and meditation decline,
And loving-kindness and compassion vanish--
to avoid unsuitable friends is the practice of a bodhisattva.


Here is an extended extract from DKR's commentary on the verse,

And unsuitable friend is one who is fond of distractions, totally immersed in ordinary worldly activities, and who does not care in the least about achieving liberation--a friend who has no interest or faith in the Three Jewels. The more time you spend with such a person, the more the three poisons will permeate your mind. Even if you do not initially agree with their ideas and actions, if you spend a lot of time with unsuitable friends, you will eventually be influenced by their bad habits. Your resolve to act positively will decline, and you will waster your life. Such people will prevent you from spending any time studying, reflecting, and meditating--which are the roots of liberation. And they will make you lose whatever qualities you may have developed, especially compassion and love--which are the very essence of the teachings of the Great Vehicle. An unsuitable friend is like a bad captain who steers his ship onto the rocks. Such people are your worst enemy. You owe it to yourself to stay away from them.

In contrast, being with people who embody or aspire to gentleness, compassion, and love will encourage you to develop those qualities so essential to the path. Inspired by their example, you will become filled with love for all beings, and come to see the inherent negativity of attachment and hatred....

This advice is about friends in general, but is also applicable to boy/girl friends and any close relationship that has a strong influence on us. I know the advice might come across as harsh, but your heart will be saved a lot of grief if you follow this advice.
  • The object of the game is to go on playing it. --John Von Neumann
  • All activities are like the games children play. If started, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let them be, like castles made of sand. --Khenpo Nyoshul Rinpoche
anjali
 
Posts: 357
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:33 pm

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Yudron » Thu Jul 26, 2012 2:23 am

tomamundsen wrote:Maybe I should give a little more context. Our arguments often boil down to our different views, due to me being Buddhist and her, well, not being Buddhist. Particularly, I try to eliminate negative emotions and not express them, whereas she embraces them and believes that expressing them helps you work through things. Fundamentally, she believes that we have evolved to have negative emotions and they are useful for our survival. On the other hand, I look at negative emotions as an aberration to my natural state, and something that I ultimately want to get rid of.


I don't expect I will ever be involved with someone who is not a practitioner again. It is tough, it's true.

That being said, can I ruffle your feathers just a little bit?

If you were a Theravadin practitioner these issues you mentioned might be big concerns. But if you are a Vajrayana practitioner, why would you want to get rid of those so-called negative emotions? As Vajrayana practitioners they are our best friends, helping us for find our natural state. Trying to artificially eliminate them, or even labeling them as aberrations has nothing to do with the practice of the Vajrayana or Dzogchen.
Yudron
 
Posts: 1054
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:55 pm
Location: Sunny California

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Kunzang » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:59 am

Malcolm wrote:
tomamundsen wrote:Hi,
I just moved in with my (non-Buddhist) girlfriend, and we have been arguing a lot.



Of course, it never really works with non-practitioners. Better for you to find someone in your sangha or a least another practitioner.

M


Never really works, huh?

We'll be having our 26th anniversary in September.
Kunzang
 
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 3:10 am

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Dave The Seeker » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:25 pm

tomamundsen wrote:Maybe I should give a little more context. Our arguments often boil down to our different views, due to me being Buddhist and her, well, not being Buddhist. Particularly, I try to eliminate negative emotions and not express them, whereas she embraces them and believes that expressing them helps you work through things.


I'm also in a relationship with a non-Buddhist, we love each other and accept the other as they are.
I don't push my views on her and she doesn't push hers on me. Each person is different, so even two Buddhists will have different views to an extent.

You two must have some love for each other or you wouldn't be together. There is a lot of things you find out about each other in living together, you now share a space instead of going home when things get "uncomfortable". It can surly be a rough road for the first little while until you're both used to the sharing of a home.

As to the negative emotions, we all have them and need to work through them. Each in our own way of course.
Just be sure to keep an open mind to what she says as her opinion, and in mindfulness accept that.
There will be many challenges ahead, but they're only temporary challenges and each will work themselves out in one way or another.

Check the first quote in my signature. :twothumbsup:

Wishing you all the best my friend.

With Metta, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
User avatar
Dave The Seeker
 
Posts: 409
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:02 pm
Location: Reading MI USA

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:37 pm

tomamundsen wrote: I look at negative emotions as an aberration to my natural state, and something that I ultimately want to get rid of.


You cannot get rid of negative emotional states. They come and they go.
The point is to get rid of your attachment to them.
Since this situation is creating negative emotional states,
don't become attached to them.
Then your disagreements will not matter.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
 
Posts: 2845
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Next

Return to Personal Experience

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 8 guests

cron
>