Relationships With Non-Buddhists

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

Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Silent Bob » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:40 pm

Malcolm wrote:
underthetree wrote:
Do you really think not, Malcolm?


I really think it is better for practitioners 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.


After being married to a non-practitioner for 27 years I've recently and sadly come around to Malcolm's way of thinking on this issue, despite having outspokenly disagreed with him about it in the past. If you are willing to settle for a cozy and even sustainable domestic relationship with someone, it's surely possible, but if you want to share the most important thing in your life with your partner and travel the same path together, I fear that in the long run you will be disappointed.

Chris
"All the sublime teachings, so profound--to throw away one and then grab yet another will not bear even a single fruit. Persevere, therefore, in simply one."
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby greentara » Fri Jul 27, 2012 12:46 am

I think the key words are supportive and encourages. If not there will be arguements and simmering discontent.
Above all relationships always mean compromise. Thats the mantra compromise!
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Tarpa » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:47 am

I think it definitely helps if you're with a mellow person, regardless of their spiritual trip or lack of, perhaps an avid reader, or a pothead lol, not someone always spazzing out about who knows what and running around like a headless chicken constantly looking for entertainment and excitement and loud groups of idiot herds, ie: " normal " life for most, status quo herd activity, the way of the cowens and the cow herds, no good can come of association with that noise, they will just waste your time doing all sorts of things and running around and probably having to meet a lot of people you'd rather not, generally spazzing out and freaking out, a whirlpool of neuroticism and emotionality that will suck you in, better to be alone. Patience may be a virtue but there are a hell of a lot of better practices to be doing than just practicing putting up with the b.s., better not to step in that dung in the first place.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:25 pm

Silent Bob wrote:After being married to a non-practitioner for 27 years I've recently and sadly come around to Malcolm's way of thinking on this issue, despite having outspokenly disagreed with him about it in the past. If you are willing to settle for a cozy and even sustainable domestic relationship with someone, it's surely possible, but if you want to share the most important thing in your life with your partner and travel the same path together, I fear that in the long run you will be disappointed.


In my experience, there is a lot of truth to this.
However, I would argue that one's own experience of disappointment is proportionate to, or perhaps a direct manifestation of, one's own tendency toward clinging to one's own happiness.

Dharma, as with life in general, is always a lonely path to some degree. I wish I could share, really share, my dharma experience with my spouse, and with all beings for that matter. But I don't see that ever happening.

On the one hand, this "mismatched" situation has resulted in my spouse being one of my best teachers ever.
On the other hand, it saddens me to watch the person closest to me suffer from little things for which a bit dharma medicine would be an easy remedy, but is a medicine that they simply refuse to swallow.

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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Ogyen » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:05 am

Relationships like life, ARE the art of letting go. Speaking personally, marriage to a non-Buddhist has been a very very steep the lesson in what does not work. The lesson it seems will end soon, much like the marriage. I'm inclined to agree that a fundamental key to practice is to have someone that inspires and stimulates it. It could be a non-Buddhist person, depending on the situation. Overall, there is a reason people marry in proximity (through work, social life, etc) - people need to have common ground. Practice is a pretty big common ground. Partnership to someone who does not share that common ground has its major challenges, it may not be at all bad, but it is definitely not helpful for every Buddhist's practice... I'm inclined to agree that it is preferable to find someone who can share such a fundamental life path.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby BuddhaSoup » Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:11 am

I feel it should be incumbent upon a Buddhist practitioner to be able to cultivate a relationship with someone who is not a practicing Buddhist. Part of our Bodhisattva practice is to devote ourselves to the cultivation of wellbeing of all sentient beings. Why not include one's spouse or significant other in this, instead of rejecting the possibility of having a relationship with a non-practitioner? As others have said, relationships thrive and fail based on many characteristics.

If your partner is a non-practitioner, but is otherwise kind, empathetic, and possesses other necessary qualities, then he/she may be a Bodhisattva and just not know it yet.

In my work life, I'm a divorce lawyer. Relationships fail, it seems to me, over many issues, including people selfishly clinging to expectations or ideals not achievable in marriage. Some people are just immature, or narcissistic, and cannot share in a relationship, cheat, or leave the relationship. Other people develop financial problems, and do not learn how to fight fairly...so they fight badly, and let the relationship sour and die.

Our practice is part of our life's blood, but it does not have to run contrary to the spiritual practices (or non-practices) of our partners.

Love, kindness, empathy. Passion. Mutual intellect and cultural curiosity. These are all Buddhist qualities, but not exclusive to Dharma practitioners. Find your Bodhisattva, but just don't tell them they're one.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby greentara » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:17 pm

Buddhasoup "Love, kindness, empathy. Passion. Mutual intellect and cultural curiosity. These are all Buddhist qualities" Maybe these are delightful human qualities but passion and cultural curiosity have very little to do with buddhism. Pause and please reflect the teachings of the buddha are for those with only a little dust in their eyes.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby BuddhaSoup » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:31 pm

greentara wrote:Buddhasoup "Love, kindness, empathy. Passion. Mutual intellect and cultural curiosity. These are all Buddhist qualities" Maybe these are delightful human qualities but passion and cultural curiosity have very little to do with buddhism. Pause and please reflect the teachings of the buddha are for those with only a little dust in their eyes.


Well, I guess my response would be for you to take a spin through the paramitas, as well as the Noble Eightfold Path, and tell me I'm just out of line here.

Some literary license should be available on the point I was trying to make. Another point that I can make is that so long as we as practitioners get caught up in the ego sense of being a standard bearer for strict Buddhavacana, and forget that being a Buddhist means being buddha, we can find a problem with any statement, or with any person. I do find some practitioners are far too wrapped up in being strict, and forget to be kind.

My impression of reading the sutras is that the Tatagatha was not a harsh person. I have this sense of kindness and calm wisdom coming from him. So, in relationships, we can take this same sense of peaceful prajna and apply it to our relationships. That's all I was trying to say. The Dharma is for everyone, dusty eyes or not.

" Moved by Brahma’s passionate plea, the Buddha surveyed the world with his spiritual eye and saw that there were indeed people of different predilections – ‘some with little dust in their eyes and with much dust in their eyes, with keen faculties and with dull faculties … easy to teach and hard to teach.’ His deep compassion (karuna) stirred by this vision, the Buddha resolved to remain in the world and accept Brahma’s request to teach the dhamma to all:

‘Open for them are the doors to the deathless,
Let those with ears now show their faith …’ "


“If you propose to speak always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
― Siddhārtha Gautama
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:59 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:“If you propose to speak always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
― Siddhārtha Gautama

Here, in a nutshell, is the Buddha's guide to posting on a Buddhist forum.
May all beings be happy
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:55 pm

Relationships are tough and provide many things to test our paramis including patience. There are many things to potentially dispute about, why add another big thing to the potential, if you are not already in a committed relationship?

By that I mean that for those already in an inter-faith marriage / committed relationship, best to make it work as much as possible. But for those who are not yet in a committed relationship, better to look to online dating, temples, Dharma centers, etc. to find someone on the same spiritual path. I imagine the online dating sites have a category where you list what you are looking for in a partner and the search results come with potential matches.

The spiritual path can include a partner in practice, in discussion, even to the same retreats. For those who don't have that there can not only be arguments, but also the other spouse may have the feeling that you "may burn in hell" or some other terrible place. Or all of your activities will be mostly separate from your partner and then what kind of relationship is that?
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby greentara » Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:01 am

Yes, relationships are tough! That for those already in an inter-faith marriage or relationship there's got to be lots of give and take. One of the biggest problems is rearing of children; if you have strong spiritual leanings and the partner is orthodox or religious in a conventional sense; for eg do you want the child educated in a Catholic school? You may very well not want that.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby KeithBC » Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:33 am

Being in a relationship with a non-Buddhist is tough. Being in a relationship with another Buddhist is tough. Being in a relationship is tough. Welcome to samsara!

The minimum requirement for it to work is respect. If it isn't there, the relationship is dead and cannot survive. It is difficult to respect something that you believe is wrong, but that's what it takes if it is to work. You and she both need to find a way to do that.

Do you share common core values? If you haven't talked about that, you need to. If your core values are in conflict with each other, the relationship cannot work. On the other hand, if you share basic values, that can be the foundation of mutual respect, even if those values are expressed in different religious beliefs.

After that, it's all just plain relationship stuff: communication, trust, etc. Every couple has to work on those, regardless of religion.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby meiji1 » Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:52 am

Ehh, my girlfriend is non-Buddhist. The only real point of contention is with Madhyamaka, or rather, my failure to defend and articulate it properly. It doesn't help that she has a background in neuroscience. Her idea of consciousness is completely entrenched in a reductive materialist view.

But, she's a wonderful person who simply oozes compassion and empathy. She'll no doubt be reborn as a beautiful god, unless I get her to go to the dharma first..
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby catmoon » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:24 am

meiji1 wrote:Ehh, my girlfriend is non-Buddhist. The only real point of contention is with Madhyamaka, or rather, my failure to defend and articulate it properly. It doesn't help that she has a background in neuroscience. Her idea of consciousness is completely entrenched in a reductive materialist view.

But, she's a wonderful person who simply oozes compassion and empathy. She'll no doubt be reborn as a beautiful god, unless I get her to go to the dharma first..


Ahhhhh! This issue is one that I have discussed at length with a good friend of mine. He also holds the materialist position. I'm sure that somewhere at the roots of things, we have simply made different choices of axioms and we are currently looking for those differences, trying to pin them down. As things stand, I have to admit the question may not be logically resolvable. If it isn't, then argument is totaly futile.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:45 pm

meiji1 wrote: It doesn't help that she has a background in neuroscience. Her idea of consciousness is completely entrenched in a reductive materialist view.


I have many questions that I would pose to a Neuroscientist, for example, "who" is "experiencing" all of this electro-neurochemical activity we refer to as thought? Are the brain chemicals assuming the role of witness?

But this particular thread isn't the place for these questions.
Tell her that there are some buddhists on that forum thing you do who would like to ask her some questions.
maybe this sort of communication would be a good way to fill in those relationship-gaps!
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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.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Conceptual » Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:12 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
meiji1 wrote: It doesn't help that she has a background in neuroscience. Her idea of consciousness is completely entrenched in a reductive materialist view.


I have many questions that I would pose to a Neuroscientist, for example, "who" is "experiencing" all of this electro-neurochemical activity we refer to as thought? Are the brain chemicals assuming the role of witness?

But this particular thread isn't the place for these questions.
Tell her that there are some buddhists on that forum thing you do who would like to ask her some questions.
maybe this sort of communication would be a good way to fill in those relationship-gaps!


Perhaps she'd be interested in watching this TED talk.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFIyhseYTWg
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby meiji1 » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:54 pm

I can try encouraging her to come here. We've had this debate a number of times and I think she's finding it a little tiresome..

As for neuroscience.. have any of you read Sam Harris? He's a neuroscientist and 'scientism-ist', but his take on consciousness is very much in line with the doctrine of no-self. He's studied meditation under Buddhist and Hindu teachers, even. He wants to wrest thinking about meditation and consciousness from the superstitious likes of us.

OK, back on on-topic.. maybe we should open another thread, if one doesn't already exist. :-P
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby Shutoku » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:26 am

Kunzang wrote:
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.

My Atheist wife and I have been together for 21 years.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby wisdom » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:25 pm

Relationships for the most part will just entrench you further in Samsara. They are often predicated on desire and common likes and dislikes, strengthened by repeated sexual encounters and good feelings generated by the feeling of being "close" to another person, and made solid by ones reification of the whole situation as a real and objective thing happening between yourself and another person. This happens to the point that many people feel that their partner is the "center of their universe".

In essence they are based on the belief in self and other. If you look at someone and desire them, act on that desire, obtain them, and believe that there is some objective reality in the whole experience, you've just reified self. The ultimate reification is of course marriage, because who is being married to what? What is even the meaning of such a ceremony! Its quite hilarious from one perspective. Might as well marry a cup and a chair. People do this for years, decades, or what have you. Then when the inevitable happens and they break up or their partner dies they experience tremendous suffering and like all things samsaric are left with nothing lasting, nothing truly good from the whole situation but perhaps some memories which serve as further causes for suffering.

I am not saying there cannot be beauty or good things in relationships, but when considered fully its easy to see how easily a relationship becomes a purely samsaric activity. I am not saying relationships *cannot* be Dharmic, but only to examine them, examine your motivations, and come to your own conclusion. This is just my personal conclusion on the matter and I fully recognize the possibility of a relationship based on Dharma.
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Re: Relationships With Non-Buddhists

Postby waimengwan » Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:45 pm

We have to practice at the level we are at. Not many people can go turkey. If we could most of us would have started taking on the robes. Though taking on the robes in the kaliyuga age one will collect tremendous merits in this post modern era where everything goes.

But having said that yes desiring relationships and wanting to be in one does create further samsara for us.

I suppose it will help in a relationship to share the same kind of values otherwise one would be involved in endless arguments.
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