dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

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dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Basho » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:54 pm

Can anybody offer any advice on explaining to a mother the buddhist idea of 'leaving home'.
My mother is having great difficulty with it, which is probably fairly regular, especially in non-buddhist households.
I keep trying to explain to her that the path towards enlightenment is not an easy one... but the rewards are indeed worth the effort.
She keeps telling me how she cant sleep and cries all day and night because im leaving and even though i say "this just strengthens my resolve to end suffering." she just doesnt get it.
I fear she's even starting to demonize buddhism because of this.
I know this is not the easiest topic and im hoping im not in the wrong sub-forum thing or that a question like this hasnt been answered previously.
Any advice would help and be much appreciated.
Thank you all!
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby alwayson » Fri Sep 16, 2011 11:54 pm

where are you going?
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Basho » Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:02 am

im going to become a monk.
once i have enough merit, wisdom and right view, to go off on my own to dedicate myself strictly to studying and meditating i will be moving into seclusion.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby alwayson » Sat Sep 17, 2011 12:07 am

In what tradition?
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Basho » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:54 am

Tendai.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Epistemes » Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:01 am

First, I surmise that this isn't just a Buddhist "leaving home" thing. If you were to become a Carthusian, for instance, her suffering would still be apparent - perhaps worse. Those Carthusians are pretty ruthless.

There are no words that can explain this situation to her. There are no books or pamphlets or websites that will help her appreciate your view.

Quit talking like a Buddhist and start talking like your mother's child. Responding to her sleeplessness and tears with some quasi-salvific "This is why I must end suffering" definitely isn't going to make her feel better because you sound like you've been drafted by a cult.

Spend every moment that you can with her. Try to show her how Buddhism is influencing your character, how it's making you a better person, how your being a better person is helping her. Hug her tightly everyday and tell her you love her.

In the end, though, it's your life. You've got to live your life for yourself. Nobody else can live it for you.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sat Sep 17, 2011 3:52 am

I kind of have to agree with Epistemes. And I think the true "leaving home" is training in lessening one's attachment to material comforts, pleasures, and possessions and focusing more on practicing virtue and cultivating wisdom. And generally speaking it's not the "things" themselves that are the problem - it's the attachment to them. So you don't have to become a homeless, possession-less beggar to practice non-attachment.

Secondly, I don't want to discourage your from ordaining if you really feel a calling to that, but either way you really should consider not talking about your spiritual journey to your mother in a way that makes it sound like you're leaving her life or like you intend to become a savior. Maybe you really will become her and others' savior in the future, but to proclaim it - even though I don't doubt your compassion and bodhicitta motivation are genuine - makes one sound more than a little full of oneself and overzealous, don't you think?

Keep the motivation and continue to cultivate it, lose the salvific identity. Anyway, best wishes for your practice and life.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Virgo » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:09 am

The problem here is when you say "path to enlightenment" you assume it deals with leaving home. As a tendai practitioner, you are a tantrika, right?

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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Basho » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:47 am

To Epistemes : My mother and i have never really shared any type of 'mother, son' relationship. we dont relate to each other in pretty much any aspect of life. we speak to eachother like we would speak to anybody else. this is why im so surprised by this whole thing in the first place. (i suppose i should have stated about our relationship but its so normal, to me, i didnt even think about it) So i guess i should try to be somewhat careful about how i speak to her, but it would probably come off more "cultish" if i changed our way of communication. (we arent cold towards one another, just straight forward) As for the spending every moment with her, i actually live across the country in a dharma center. In fact i havent lived with her since for the past 8 years, she kicked me out of the house when i started studying other religions. (shes in a fundamental religious group, though now she says "i have no religion") If anything over the past 8 years we've become somewhat closer... as close as we can get i guess. She has, several times, commented on my demeanor since studying buddhism. Shes talked about the fact that ive clearly become more compassionate, less angry and even more quiet. Ive told her several times that i love her and always will no matter what, but shes really going crazy (or being extremely overdramatic. its hard to tell since we've only emailed, though her new husband did text me to re-affirm her inability to sleep and tears.) I feel at times somewhat unsympathetic towards her... only because i dont understand where shes coming from. Ive lost my grandfather, father, step father and all of my friends from my younger days (due to leaving the religion) so i guess im not very attached to her as much as im attached to the idea of her feeling so horrible.

To Pema : Both my mother and I are somewhat studiers. Whenever we have an interest we like to learn as much as we can about it, especially when it involves a decision. Now, she has been asking me over the past few years about Buddhism and the path she at one point even, asked me what a good book would be to read to learn more (though she never actually read it). So i guess, i was trying to explain to her certain aspects that, even though she seemed open to, maybe she wasnt ready to here? Im not sure. As far as discouraging me from becoming ordained, ive had this plan for quite some time now and nothing could ever discourage me from realizing it. When you say "leaving home to become a saviour" it kind of made me look at myself. I definitly never thought of myself in this light, i more or less thought of myself as someone who was just trying to help others and the only true way to help others is to first help myself. The only "real" help you can give to others is enlightenment anyways so first we must become enlightened. I think it definitly DOES make me seem VERY over-zealous though. Perhaps my problem is the way i speak, which often times sounds somewhat pretentious, though i really dont mean to. As far as losing any type of "salvific identity", although i never really thought of myself as someone who was has any special power to redeem people, i think the buddha taught... that we all actually do, when it comes down to it. Although you may be completely correct in the way that maybe i come off as some guy who thinks hes going to save the world. Unfortunately im not overly enthusiastic about changing my appearance so that people dont project some pompousness on to me. Also, in the Tendai school there is emphasis on living in the mountains and practicing in a group (since im not capable of practicing alone, yet) and dedicating fully to the path. Saicho is an excellent example in this.

To Virgo : Yes, Tendai does include Tantric Practice, though i have not started studying these being that they are far above my grasp at the moment.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Basho » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:48 am

To Epistemes : My mother and i have never really shared any type of 'mother, son' relationship. we dont relate to each other in pretty much any aspect of life. we speak to eachother like we would speak to anybody else. this is why im so surprised by this whole thing in the first place. (i suppose i should have stated about our relationship but its so normal, to me, i didnt even think about it) So i guess i should try to be somewhat careful about how i speak to her, but it would probably come off more "cultish" if i changed our way of communication. (we arent cold towards one another, just straight forward) As for the spending every moment with her, i actually live across the country in a dharma center. In fact i havent lived with her since for the past 8 years, she kicked me out of the house when i started studying other religions. (shes in a fundamental religious group, though now she says "i have no religion") If anything over the past 8 years we've become somewhat closer... as close as we can get i guess. She has, several times, commented on my demeanor since studying buddhism. Shes talked about the fact that ive clearly become more compassionate, less angry and even more quiet. Ive told her several times that i love her and always will no matter what, but shes really going crazy (or being extremely overdramatic. its hard to tell since we've only emailed, though her new husband did text me to re-affirm her inability to sleep and tears.) I feel at times somewhat unsympathetic towards her... only because i dont understand where shes coming from. Ive lost my grandfather, father, step father and all of my friends from my younger days (due to leaving the religion) so i guess im not very attached to her as much as im attached to the idea of her feeling so horrible.

To Pema : Both my mother and I are somewhat studiers. Whenever we have an interest we like to learn as much as we can about it, especially when it involves a decision. Now, she has been asking me over the past few years about Buddhism and the path she at one point even, asked me what a good book would be to read to learn more (though she never actually read it). So i guess, i was trying to explain to her certain aspects that, even though she seemed open to, maybe she wasnt ready to here? Im not sure. As far as discouraging me from becoming ordained, ive had this plan for quite some time now and nothing could ever discourage me from realizing it. When you say "leaving home to become a saviour" it kind of made me look at myself. I definitly never thought of myself in this light, i more or less thought of myself as someone who was just trying to help others and the only true way to help others is to first help myself. The only "real" help you can give to others is enlightenment anyways so first we must become enlightened. I think it definitly DOES make me seem VERY over-zealous though. Perhaps my problem is the way i speak, which often times sounds somewhat pretentious, though i really dont mean to. As far as losing any type of "salvific identity", although i never really thought of myself as someone who was has any special power to redeem people, i think the buddha taught... that we all actually do, when it comes down to it. Although you may be completely correct in the way that maybe i come off as some guy who thinks hes going to save the world. Unfortunately im not overly enthusiastic about changing my appearance so that people dont project some pompousness on to me. Also, in the Tendai school there is emphasis on living in the mountains and practicing in a group (since im not capable of practicing alone, yet) and dedicating fully to the path. Saicho is an excellent example in this.

To Virgo : Yes, Tendai does include Tantric Practice, though i have not started studying these, being that they are far above my grasp at the moment.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Basho » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:49 am

Also, thank you all for the comments and help. I greatly appreciate it and hope to hear more!
:namaste:
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Virgo » Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:57 am

Basho wrote:To Epistemes : My mother and i have never really shared any type of 'mother, son' relationship. we dont relate to each other in pretty much any aspect of life. we speak to eachother like we would speak to anybody else. this is why im so surprised by this whole thing in the first place. (i suppose i should have stated about our relationship but its so normal, to me, i didnt even think about it)


Sounds like she doesn't show emotion very well. Deep down she feels it.

Basho wrote:Shes talked about the fact that ive clearly become more compassionate, less angry and even more quiet. Ive told her several times that i love her and always will no matter what, but shes really going crazy (or being extremely overdramatic. its hard to tell since we've only emailed, though her new husband did text me to re-affirm her inability to sleep and tears.)


My mother fainted the first time I told her I was going to be a monk.

Basho wrote:I think it definitly DOES make me seem VERY over-zealous though. Perhaps my problem is the way i speak, which often times sounds somewhat pretentious, though i really dont mean to.


Same withe me.

Basho wrote:Tantric Practice, though i have not started studying these, being that they are far above my grasp at the moment.


ROFL

No they are not.

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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Basho » Sat Sep 17, 2011 6:56 am

thank you for your confidence in my understand/capability, virgo! :smile:
i guess what i should say then is that i have yet to be initiated into these higher states of awareness practices.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Jikan » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:16 pm

I wish you all the best in your practice. If you persist in practice, your mother will benefit and your relationship will improve. She may not understand what you are doing immediately, but if you take a long view...
Need help getting on retreat? Want to support others in practice? Pay the Dana for Dharma forum a visit...

viewtopic.php?f=114&t=13727
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:56 pm

Basho wrote:Also, thank you all for the comments and help. I greatly appreciate it and hope to hear more!
:namaste:



Basho, sounds like you've come to where you are in life from very difficult circumstances - circumstances which persist. I'm truly sorry to hear about the loss of the relationships with your family due to their religious extremism. I imagine you must have some very strong karmic links to the Buddhadharma to have the strength and wherewithal to extricate yourself from such a situation and still be so determined to delve into the Dharma and benefit others. Sounds like you've got a good head on your shoulders. And your're right that the Buddha did say we can truly help others once we've removed some of the dust from our own eyes and actualized some of our potential. FWIW you've sounded completely genuine to me from the start, so my advice to be careful about the way you speak about the bodhisattva career to others is really just so you don't give others the wrong impression about yourself - and the Dharma, for non-Buddhists - which would create obstacles for your goal to benefit others and eventually guide them to the end of all suffering. It's good you're not into bending to the whims of others, but we do still have to try to be skillful or we won't accomplish much in terms of others' benefit. Sometimes we have to adapt to outwardly be what others need us to be - we just don't do it out of desire to gain their approval. We do it to adapt to their limitations or sensibilities so they can relate to us and open up so we and the Dharma can reach them. Inwardly, we know we're not changing at all, only being the kind of medicine a given being needs at a given time.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:58 pm

Jikan wrote:I wish you all the best in your practice. If you persist in practice, your mother will benefit and your relationship will improve. She may not understand what you are doing immediately, but if you take a long view...


I wholeheartedly second this.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby dakini_boi » Sat Sep 17, 2011 6:45 pm

Epistemes wrote:Quit talking like a Buddhist and start talking like your mother's child. . . Try to show her how Buddhism is influencing your character, how it's making you a better person, how your being a better person is helping her."


This is great advice, and if you approach it like this, how can she argue? Let her know that this path makes you really happy and it's how you want to live. I think at the end of the day, your mother wants to know that you are happy. I think she's also more likely to take interest in what inspires you, rather than trying to understand some philososphical system you've bought into.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby deepbluehum » Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:44 pm

I would like share an experience I had that might help you understand why your mother is acting as she is. Mother son relationship shares close psychic ties. Before I became serious about dharma I was married. My ex and I were together for 10 years. We were very close. Recently, I feel I reached a milestone in my practice. My ex and I have been apart for six years now. Just a few weeks ago my ex tracked me down through our old acquaintances because she said she had a funny feeling and she wanted to see if I was ok. I reassured her I was fine and she is safe to carry on. One milestone that is reached in dharma practice is something called "change of lineage." You have probably heard of this. It's part of the Arhat account of the path, but it is a telling thing. You literally change your lineage from the lineage of human beings in samsara to the family of Arhats, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. Perhaps you have experienced this sort of development and your mother feels the psychic tie has been cut. If she is a religous person, then she may have developed some psychic power or have connection to some psychic deity. It is possible she feels the sense of your samadhi to some degree, and that may be terrifying her. But you should carry on, she will be reassured when she sees your positive radiance.
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Re: dealing with mothers on the path to enlightenment

Postby Basho » Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:12 pm

To Jikan : Thank you so much for your kind words! :namaste: I notice that the link on the signature of your post says Tendai in it! I was wondering, im believe you probably have much more experience with Tendai than i do, when i go live in the mountains and practice in the monastery, how will my relationship with my mother improve? I dont think ill be going on the computer or using a telephone at all while im there (i know for a fact these mountains are bad for internet connection AND phones, even the mountains i live in now arent very good for these two things). Do you mean our current relationship will improve, even though our future relationship will probably be somewhat non-existent for a time?

To Pema : Its funny that you say this about my circumstance being difficult. I was recently talking to friend of mine whos a monk in the Gelug tradition and he was telling me its strange that a person like me (whatever that means :shrug: ) was born into such a dysfunctional atmosphere, ( i think he said something about my drive or my intelligence, though in my honest opinion i think i come off as one with a lot more drive and intelligence than i actually have! :tongue: ) with my somewhat chaotic childhood (having lived in 35 different homes by the time i was 13 and the fact that my grandpa disowned me at 8 and my father at 12) somehow still wound up at a dharma center, with the ultimate "goal" :quoteunquote: (a dangerous word to use, i know) of realization. Thank you also for saying that it seems i have a good head on my shoulders! :namaste: I hope youre right :thanks: I realize now too, what you meant when you said i should be careful how i speak. Your'e completely right. Its almost close to the example that iv'e heard about the Buddha being able to speak countless different dialects (i only say countless because i myself am unaware of how many myself) when in foreign land. Not only would this help my current situation, with my explanations, but it would also help in the future when i accrue the merit needed to develop wisdom. Perhaps i shouldn't think of it as bending to the whims of others as much as developing enough compassion to assume a proper role in situations. Im sure if i follow your advice i will be able to increase my potential infinitely. So again, thank you so much :bow:

To Dakini : Your'e very right! Its much more appropriate to disarm an argument than it is to further the conflict, whether the furthering is accidental or not. She was taking an active interest in Buddhism a few years ago but she never really followed my advice and did any more research on topics. I know she's very busy working all of the time because she is, unfortunately, caught up in samsara (no more or less than most though). Its just that the past week or so she's been so depressed about my move, since i just moved about 3 months ago from ohio to california. (which is also weird to me because when i lived in ohio she didnt really try to keep that in touch. i guess you dont know what you've got til its gone, like they say) I just got an email from her today thats already showing she's understand at least a LITTLE bit more, the email basically said "please explain more about what you will be doing specifically, so that i can try to understand" (even though thats what ive been trying to do all this time, haha, but perhaps now that shes more calm it will sink in better. plus with all of the advice from you wonderful people, it should sink in even deeper now :smile: ) Thank you for your advice, ill be sure to use it to the best of my ability! :namaste:

To Deepblue : Wow, thats a great aspect to keep in mind. I have a shaman friend in Ecuador who kind of says similar things but who has not yet had the time to devote a response to my email. I very much appreciate your personal experience also :namaste: . I have also had a similar experience with my ex, though not as powerful as yours, so its a great way to think about our bonds with certain people. Perhaps in my practice ill be able to feel these energies better so that i can use them properly in my relationships.

Thank you all so much for the warmth, experience and time you've put into your responses. I hope you accrue mountains of merit (as im sure you are) from doing so. :bow:
If anybody has anymore ideas please feel free to expound!
Much Love
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