Distressing situation with other people

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

Distressing situation with other people

Postby duckfiasco » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:24 am

Hi, all.

I've been practicing for about a year and a half, mostly half-assed. For about the last two months, I've really delved into practice. I've meditated daily, studied a few books, started to apply the lojong slogans, and attended a local center weekly. Monkey mind and I are still close friends, but I'm trying to be patient :) I've cut down on old habits that I gauged were time wasters, like refreshing Twitter and Facebook, playing lots of computer games, aimlessly using the internet.

There have been two opposite kinds of results, and I was hoping for some input on what may be going on.

On the one hand, I'm finding peace and joy more readily. Getting a filling done today was fascinating. When I was angry and frustrated last night, not even one ounce of bodhicitta available, I found I could at least take refuge while trying to go to sleep. Then I found I could at least recite the Medicine Buddha mantra some. Then there was a little bodhicitta there to work with after all. I was able to fall asleep with metta, thanks to the precious Three Jewels getting me there. It's becoming far easier in general not to respond to the anger or despair of others with more of the same, but instead try to help.

But on the other hand, and this is what's distressing, it seems like everyone in my life around me is getting progressively more and more miserable. My husband of seven years asks me if I'm mad at him all the time. I found out another friend thinks I'm disapproving of her lifestyle (smoking marijuana), partly because I decline to participate. Another friend told me it seemed like I had a lot on my plate, that I seemed stressed.

Now, from my perspective, I'm neither mad, judgmental, nor stressed. When I feel a negative thought or klesha coming on, I try to apply the appropriate antidote or use it as a steppingstone to compassion for other people feeling the same. I can't remember the last time I spent more than a short while in the throes of anger or sadness.

So I have this apparently internal climate of deepening peace and joy, and an external one of people seeming more miserable and telling me I seem more miserable lately, too.

I'm extremely confused. It sort of feels like I'm going crazy. Am I possibly acting unskillfully and not realizing it? Is it that by calming down, I'm gaining perspective on the sort of atmosphere I was unwittingly a part of before? Am I just in denial and repressing everything? :P I do know my husband is worried that I "don't seem interested in anything anymore" since I cut down on some activities that were just to fritter away time.

Have any of you had this experience?

Thank you very much.
:buddha1: :heart:
Namu Amida Butsu
"When people of the Pure Land school chant Namu amida butsu, they are doing zazen with their mouths, and when we do zazen, we are performing Namu amida butsu with our whole body." - Kosho Uchiyama (Opening the Hand of Thought)
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Re: Distressing situation with other people

Postby lobster » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:44 am

duckfiasco wrote:I'm extremely confused. It sort of feels like I'm going crazy. Am I possibly acting unskillfully and not realizing it? Is it that by calming down, I'm gaining perspective on the sort of atmosphere I was unwittingly a part of before? Am I just in denial and repressing everything? :P I do know my husband is worried that I "don't seem interested in anything anymore" since I cut down on some activities that were just to fritter away time.

Have any of you had this experience?

Thank you very much.
:buddha1: :heart:

:woohoo:
You are not going crazy :heart:
Quite the reverse. You have changed. Therefore the feedback is confirming the changes. :twothumbsup:
If you do more mindful things for others, for example making them popcorn :popcorn: or smile more, they will be more comfortable with the changes. At the moment you seem very focussed and without feeling or interest to others. They will get used to this but if a rapid transition it can be disconcerting for others. :anjali:

Bravo. :bow:
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Re: Distressing situation with other people

Postby Seishin » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:57 pm

This is suffering due to change. We tend to find stability when things stay the same but inevitably things change. When this happens people suffer because they want things to stay the same. I think this is what's happening for your friends.

When I gave up alcohol my friends were completly baffled. Years later I still get asked "are you still not drinking?" as if it's a phase or something.

In my office people seem to think if your not stressed you're not busy :tongue: People tend to associate something positive as something negative simply because that is the norm.
For example, you decided not to take part in smoking pot (positive) however your friend took it as you disproving of her lifestyle (negative)

I've found that when one starts to walk the path, things begin to change quickly with that person. For you it's perfectly natural, but for others it can be either welcoming or quite scary. Try to explain why you've given up these things and explain that you are not making a negative statement.

Gassho,
Seishin.
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Re: Distressing situation with other people

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:22 pm

(10) One moment, they're friends;
In an instant, they're enemies.
At a time for being delighted, they fall into a rage:
Ordinary beings are so difficult to please.

(11) Told what's of benefit, they get enraged
And cause me to turn from what's of benefit too.
But, if their words aren't listened to,
They fall into a rage and go, then, to a worse rebirth state.

-Engaging in Bodhisattva Behavior by Shantideva chapter eight
Just be honest and say "I'm paying more attention to what really matters in my life and discarding the non-essential. Thank you for your concern." If that doesn't work, let them believe what they want.
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
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Re: Distressing situation with other people

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:09 am

Funny you mention this Duck, i'm going through something similar.

I look at it like this:

As they say, misery loves company. Normally when someone is upset somehow the expectation is that you will be upset with them, two upset people instead of one. Since Buddhism teaches a totally different way of dealing with suffering, I think to a lot of people it comes across as indifference.

But..that might well be due to lack of insight on their part, not yours:

http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=128

I'm not sure there is much we can do about this, people who aren't Buddhist simply don't share the same views, there's only so much that you can do about that, be as kind as possible, don't bring up your beliefs unless asked, and try to cultivate some altruism, channel that into helping loved ones as best we can, having empathy without wallowing in other people's pain. You can try explaining that stuff simply bugs you less than it used to...but in my experience, people don't take that well, it's usually taken as a direct personal insult in fact.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Distressing situation with other people

Postby KeithBC » Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:50 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Normally when someone is upset somehow the expectation is that you will be upset with them, two upset people instead of one. Since Buddhism teaches a totally different way of dealing with suffering, I think to a lot of people it comes across as indifference.

But..that might well be due to lack of insight on their part, not yours:

It could also be poor communication skills. When someone else is upset, it is unskillful to get upset oneself in response. However, it is also unskillful to not acknowledge their upset. It is the lack of acknowledgement that comes across as indifference. You don't have to acknowledge it by getting upset yourself (the normal way) but you do have to acknowledge it.

Om mani padme hum
Keith
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Re: Distressing situation with other people

Postby greentara » Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:11 am

"To meet cheerfully whatever life brings is all the austerity you need" Nisargadatta
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