"Enemies," Confessions & Chances to Practice!

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  • Seizan
    Member
    • Sep 2012
    • 213

    "Enemies," Confessions & Chances to Practice!

    "I must emphasize again that merely thinking that compassion and reason and patience are good will not be enough to develop them. We must wait for difficulties to arise and then attempt to practice them.

    And who creates such opportunities? Not our friends, of course, but our enemies. They are the ones who give us the most trouble, So if we truly wish to learn, we should consider enemies to be our best teacher!" ~ His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama

    This quote really struck home this week/weekend! I was really surprised at the little things that really set me off, I'm ashamed to admit. But every time I'm in a situation like that, I think about this quote. I spent literally hours on the phone with DirecTv over bill issues/an extreme amount of money being taken out of my bank account- each person I talked to was seemingly unhelpful, rude, and transferring me purposely to the wrong departments. I was almost in tears, and almost extremely unkind, and definitely thinking MORE than unkind thoughts. Even went so far as to "revenge" thoughts towards the company. Just little things I could do to annoy them. Automated phone systems, and large corporations where I can't talk to someone who knows what's up really get to me, to the core, the minute a robot voice comes on. I was definitely not very compassionate! Opportunity to practice #1. I took a step back, and was extremely polite to the next few people, and had some results. Not the best, but not bad.

    Sometimes your enemies are closer to home, too, though. For instance my dogs. They destroyed an impressive amount when left alone for only a few hours. My first feelings was concern, and the minute I saw they were okay, I became so angry, which was so pointless as they don't even understand what they did! I didn't take it out on them at all, of course, but what an uncomfortable feeling to be going through my head. I did not roll with the situation well and was definitely overcome. Opportunity to practice #2. I went into the bedroom, sat for some time, let things go, then went out and gave the dogs love. After all, my initial concern was their health- did they eat anything in the garbage that could poison them?? I had just cleaned out the fridge, after all. The one dog locked himself in the bathroom- did he drink the mop water I had left in haste? How the heck he did that I won't figure out- I had made sure the door was securely closed when I left the house (due to mop water/cleaning supplies being around.) My initial reaction to the situation was fine, just worry, but the following anger was not. So I sat, and after I was calm reflected on my initial emotion. I then acted off of that, not the anger, which led to RELIEF- no one was harmed! Left the mess to clean up until today.

    Then there are the myriad little things- in a social situation, my husband accidentally cut me off twice in about 30 seconds, and I snapped at him (which is unlike him and rather unlike me, to the contrary of this confession post.) To through in a little funny aside, I had posted on Facebook that I was undertaking the precepts, and a few friends joked that I forgot the "Lloyd factor." He's the one super close friend that enjoys pushing my buttons- and he was in the car when I snapped. They joked that he would be a trigger and a test!!!

    But really, aren't all these big and little scenarios that we face in daily life incredible blessings? I remember hearing a story about TNH torching a student's hut because they were too attached to their solitude. Things were too easy there! Don't know the truth to that story, but the point is there.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_thur...ompassion.html Robert Thurman rather wittily tells the story here of Asanga (the whole video is more than worth watching, but that story starts at 03:05.) He goes on retreat, for multiple long periods of time, but because he is living in a cave and not actually practicing and understanding he just isn't getting it right, despite the devotion!

    Anyone else have confessions to make on trigger situations?? Those wonderful opportunities to practice?


    To throw in a positive, my job has been an awesome opportunity to practice- I work in detox with the mental health group out here, and I get called in to work at all hours. It is so EASY to be grumpy at 2am when you are shaking off sleep to go to.. dun dun dun... WORK, but I look at my job as helping people and worked on changing that outlook. When I did that, I was more engaged, and better able to get people in to treatment for their addictions- voila! Awesome opportunity, that happened to come with an immense reward!

    Okay gonna wrap up this long post now,
    Gassho,
    Dani

    PS. I'm rather new to Treeleaf so please don't get the impression that I am an angry person. These situations are few and far between, which is why they stand out so much to me and worry me. I know the exact date of the last time I acted so.. icky! Just a disclaimer
    Last edited by Seizan; 10-22-2012, 02:33 AM.
  • Heishu
    Member
    • Sep 2012
    • 484

    #2
    From one multiple dog owner to another. Think about crates. They are humane, the dogs consider the crate their personal den and you can have peace of mind when you can't be there. They will still love you.

    Gassho
    Alan


    “Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape." Author Unknown

    Comment

    • Seizan
      Member
      • Sep 2012
      • 213

      #3
      Crates are in their future! I am definitely not against them, but typically don't have issues with misbehavior :/ It is a sad recent development, and there hasn't been a lifestyle change or trigger! I've tried to kennel the old one before and it triggers severe anxiety for him, but I'm going to try to ease him into it. He's pretty set in his ways- a 10 yr wolf mix that I adopted about 2 years ago. The younger dog I'm sure will adapt. (Should throw in too that the kitchen was blocked off pretty severely. I'm baffled as to what happened last night- initially thought someone had come in the house!)

      Gassho, Dani
      Last edited by Seizan; 10-22-2012, 03:35 AM.

      Comment

      • Seiryu
        Member
        • Sep 2010
        • 620

        #4
        Hi Dani,

        Great post!!!

        really honest and open.

        And helpful that you have seen your mind's pattern for yourself. How difficult and how scary it is for so many of us to even admit to ourselves our mental habits.
        It is one thing to sit and hover over a lotus leaf during practice, ( hehehe) but actually being able to put into practice what we do, is such a wonderful thing indeed....

        Humbly,
        Seiryu
        Humbly,
        清竜 Seiryu

        Comment

        • Tb
          Member
          • Jan 2008
          • 3186

          #5
          Originally posted by kuanyinlove
          But really, aren't all these big and little scenarios that we face in daily life incredible blessings?
          Hi Dani.

          Thank you for a great post and opening to what can become an great thread.
          Yes,they can be.
          I know there's a guy around Treeleaf that always says "Its all good practice", and once you start getting there, the real work begins.
          We all have those opportunities whether just an old fool like me, or an lama in robes, the question is not if we have them but what we do with them.

          Thank you for your practice.

          Mtfbwy
          Fugen
          Life is our temple and its all good practice
          Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

          Comment

          • Kyonin
            Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
            • Oct 2010
            • 6739

            #6
            When we pay attention, life itself becomes a place for practice.

            One of my commitments for this Ango is to be mindful of my speech, to wait at least for a second before opening my mind and I have found it's been a great exercise for me.

            Just this last Saturday I was listening to my girlfriend talking about some of her family members and my mind was too quick to make judgments. I was about to say how dumb those people were, but I realized that and I simply let go of it and didn't say anything.

            And you have no idea how much trouble I have brought to myself in the past for being too quick to make judgments.

            Thank you for this post.

            Gassho,

            Kyonin
            Hondō Kyōnin
            奔道 協忍

            Comment

            • Taigu
              Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
              • Aug 2008
              • 2710

              #7
              Hi Dani,


              Don't give a a dam about great posts and threads and...
              But what you write here is spot on.
              It is where it shows.
              It is where it is met.
              And it is meeting us.


              gassho


              Taigu

              Comment

              • Rich
                Member
                • Apr 2009
                • 2587

                #8
                Corporations and the people that handle the phones don't want to talk to me but they don't mind email as much.

                Unless you have a video surveillance system you will never know exactly what happened and why. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try different and new things.

                Thanks for the post. I'll let you know the next situation or person that pulls my trigger.
                _/_
                Rich
                MUHYO
                無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

                https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

                Comment

                • Frankiel
                  Member
                  • Feb 2009
                  • 61

                  #9
                  I have many similar struggles on a similar basis, with people I care about, too.

                  One friend, we'll call him Liberty, just seems to take every opportunity to let me know when I'm screwing things up. It could be as complex an issue as our differences of opinion regarding respect for the dead, or as minor as my attempts to cook spaghetti (he confronted me as I cooked the meat for the sauce, telling me I was about to screw it all up and that he should take over - yeah, this one bothered me a LOT!)

                  What makes Liberty all the more frustrating is that he is the least receptive to criticism despite his willingness to dish it out. Arguments undoubtedly follow over the stupidest crap as we reflect our defensiveness onto one another. Every interaction with him risks becoming a screaming match.

                  My other friend, we'll call her Crayola, is in a destructive relationship with another friend, who we'll call Biff. Biff and Crayola started together about three years ago, and over the course of the relationship, Biff continually exploited Crayola's neediness, turning all sunshine and rainbows when time came to do the mattress mambo, but disappearing the moment she started being too attached. At first, we condemned Biff for his exploitation, but as Crayola became more a part of the group (and less Biff's girl) we started telling her what was up, how she was being used. Biff had covered himself with a "we're not dating" clause - so down to the letter of morality, I suppose he wasn't at fault - but we tried to show her how he was just going to continue hurting her. That was two years ago. Skip ahead to now, and this same sad girl is stuck in the same relationship and is still controlled by Biff despite her own knowledge of everything. It's so hard for me to interact with her - it's gotten to the point where she only calls to hang out if Biff isn't around for her, as though she's basically using us for those times when Biff's letting her down. Every time this happens, I have the hardest time not just screaming at her for bringing all of her issues on herself. I found myself so disgusted with just the thought of her (and her unwillingness to change her own situation) that I cut off most extended contact. After some time, I realized that this was not the way to proceed - I have additionally concerns about her health that are multiplied by her handling of her situation with Biff, and so I curbed my pride and apologized to her. Picking back up where we left off, though, I sort of realize why I cut back in the first place...

                  My life has many opportunities for practice, and I am grateful for them... I just wish that I knew better how to deal with all of this junk! How can I help friends that won't help themselves? How do resist the taunts of a friend who persistently and without provocation assualts my (every) way of life? Knowing that Liberty is insecure or that Crayola is "afraid of dying alone" (her words) don't change my ability to deal with them. Perhaps this belongs in a different thread, but at what point in our practice do we have to back off and allow others to be responsible for their decisions? How do we do that? This is all so convoluted, in part, no doubt, because it comes from a place of judgment - clearly I have judged Liberty to be an insecure asshole, and Crayola to be a weak-minded child. I don't believe these traits to be the only thing they are, but I can see myself defending my position with these assertions about their character. In a way, I find myself in the position of the prosyletizer - wishing to convert the aforementioned sinners to the side of Good so they can be Redeemed... I'm so full of myself!

                  I am not sure why it is so important to me that I be right about each of these people, or any of the others that give me agita. I don't know why I can't just hold my tongue.

                  I guess that's my confession.

                  Thanks for this opportunity for reflection!

                  Gassho,
                  Frankiel
                  "and if i claim to be a wise man, it surely means that i don't know"

                  Comment

                  • Seizan
                    Member
                    • Sep 2012
                    • 213

                    #10
                    Frankiel,

                    I am sure Jundo or Taigu will comment on this response with more insight, and Zen related reflections. They are the men you need for these topics, but I will take a stab

                    One thing that helped me was the teachings of the Buddha on karma. I learned about them in a Tibetan sense but also have read writings by TNH on them that lined up, and these basics are found in many sutras (which of course are not Shakyamuni's direct words.) Disclaimer aside, the point is that the things that happen in your life are the result of karmic seeds ripening. The situations gain steam when you react in ways that encourage the growth of that seed. You can also choose to mindfully uproot that seed- TNH calls it mind gardening.

                    For instance, in the case of your friend being hypercritical of you but not receptive to criticism himself, some Buddhists would say that is because you have been hypercritical and not receptive. The situation is in your life because the seed you planted by the action ripened into a scene. So how do you change that? It's all about your reaction to the situation. Were you annoyed, angry? You say that yelling matches occur- that is continuing the undesirable karma, encouraging the growth of a seed that could be uprooted. So how to uproot it? React with how you want the situation to play out in the future!

                    Those are just perspectives that helped me out, and I noticed a very pronounced change in my life. For instance, I used to have people (co workers specifically) yell at me, like flat out rage fits, quite frequently. I didn't respond well. I began consciously responding how I felt I should, to uproot the seed, and maybe it's a coincidence (maybe not) but my last few jobs have had only awesome co-workers and no yelling! I actually started a journal about the mind-gardening I've been pursuing and the changes I've been marking, and it's really astonishing me.

                    You can look at it as karma and the Buddha's teachings, or even just psychologically/from a neuroscience perspective. Our brain creates patterns, on a neuron level it has to do with actual routes between neurons being carved (maybe read Buddha's Brain if it interests you) and end of the story is we react to things in accordance with the patterns set, with what neurons we get used to firing. When we are consciously reacting we can rewire our brains, quite literally, changing the patterns and making new carvings. Our neurons begin firing differently, and we create patterns for more desirable reactions, and other people feed off of our reactions and outcomes can change just from that I believe.

                    All these words are just things I learned that seemed to help me- I don't mean to come off preachy, this is just a subject I spend mass amounts of time thinking about!!! I can get quite nerdy when I go off on a curiosity tangent.

                    It takes work to change situations, from a science or spiritual aspect, but that is the opportunity to practice!

                    Gassho,
                    Dani
                    Last edited by Seizan; 10-22-2012, 07:57 PM.

                    Comment

                    • Heishu
                      Member
                      • Sep 2012
                      • 484

                      #11
                      Originally posted by kuanyinlove
                      Frankiel,

                      I am sure Jundo or Taigu will comment on this response with more insight, and Zen related reflections. They are the men you need for these topics, but I will take a stab

                      One thing that helped me was the teachings of the Buddha on karma. I learned about them in a Tibetan sense but also have read writings by TNH on them that lined up, and these basics are found in many sutras (which of course are not Shakyamuni's direct words.) Disclaimer aside, the point is that the things that happen in your life are the result of karmic seeds ripening. The situations gain steam when you react in ways that encourage the growth of that seed. You can also choose to mindfully uproot that seed- TNH calls it mind gardening.

                      For instance, in the case of your friend being hypercritical of you but not receptive to criticism himself, some Buddhists would say that is because you have been hypercritical and not receptive. The situation is in your life because the seed you planted by the action ripened into a scene. So how do you change that? It's all about your reaction to the situation. Were you annoyed, angry? You say that yelling matches occur- that is continuing the undesirable karma, encouraging the growth of a seed that could be uprooted. So how to uproot it? React with how you want the situation to play out in the future!

                      Those are just perspectives that helped me out, and I noticed a very pronounced change in my life. For instance, I used to have people (co workers specifically) yell at me, like flat out rage fits, quite frequently. I didn't respond well. I began consciously responding how I felt I should, to uproot the seed, and maybe it's a coincidence (maybe not) but my last few jobs have had only awesome co-workers and no yelling! I actually started a journal about the mind-gardening I've been pursuing and the changes I've been marking, and it's really astonishing me.

                      You can look at it as karma and the Buddha's teachings, or even just psychologically/from a neuroscience perspective. Our brain creates patterns, on a neuron level it has to do with actual routes between neurons being carved (maybe read Buddha's Brain if it interests you) and end of the story is we react to things in accordance with the patterns set, with what neurons we get used to firing. When we are consciously reacting we can rewire our brains, quite literally, changing the patterns and making new carvings. Our neurons begin firing differently, and we create patterns for more desirable reactions, and other people feed off of our reactions and outcomes can change just from that I believe.

                      All these words are just things I learned that seemed to help me- I don't mean to come off preachy, this is just a subject I spend mass amounts of time thinking about!!! I can get quite nerdy when I go off on a curiosity tangent.

                      It takes work to change situations, from a science or spiritual aspect, but that is the opportunity to practice!

                      Gassho,
                      Dani
                      Dani,

                      I think you covered that very well. It does take some work to live with what life presents. I liked that.

                      Gasssho,
                      Alan


                      “Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape." Author Unknown

                      Comment

                      • Geika
                        Treeleaf Unsui
                        • Jan 2010
                        • 4971

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Frankiel
                        ...Perhaps this belongs in a different thread, but at what point in our practice do we have to back off and allow others to be responsible for their decisions? How do we do that?...
                        Don't over-think it, just let what needs to happen happen, whether by your effort or not. You already recognize that trying to "convert" them, in a sense, is not really what you should be doing.
                        求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
                        I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

                        Comment

                        • Jundo
                          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                          • Apr 2006
                          • 39078

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Frankiel
                          My life has many opportunities for practice, and I am grateful for them... I just wish that I knew better how to deal with all of this junk! How can I help friends that won't help themselves? How do resist the taunts of a friend who persistently and without provocation assualts my (every) way of life? Knowing that Liberty is insecure or that Crayola is "afraid of dying alone" (her words) don't change my ability to deal with them. Perhaps this belongs in a different thread, but at what point in our practice do we have to back off and allow others to be responsible for their decisions? How do we do that? This is all so convoluted, in part, no doubt, because it comes from a place of judgment - clearly I have judged Liberty to be an insecure asshole, and Crayola to be a weak-minded child. I don't believe these traits to be the only thing they are, but I can see myself defending my position with these assertions about their character. In a way, I find myself in the position of the prosyletizer - wishing to convert the aforementioned sinners to the side of Good so they can be Redeemed... I'm so full of myself!

                          I am not sure why it is so important to me that I be right about each of these people, or any of the others that give me agita. I don't know why I can't just hold my tongue.
                          There are always difficult people in our lives. We are always surely a difficulty in somebody else's life too.

                          In dealing with people who I thought needed correcting, I have done everything from simply ignoring the situation (people are people, and maybe I am wrong) and letting it roll off me like water (most cases) to organizing a drug intervention (for a friend really in serious trouble) to calling the police (for a friend who was being physically abused). For dealing with large corporate computer glitches, I have sometimes let it go ... sometimes put on my lawyer hat. For political issues, there is a time to let it be and see through it all ... a time to march in the streets. Case by case, and all we can do is follow our heart in the moment. Even when concerned and intervening, even when silent or when loudly protesting ... we should SIMULTANEOUSLY let it roll through us ... and us through it ... like water. Don't get "agita".

                          For our non-Sopranos fans ... Agita (from the Italian), Heartburn, or a general pain from stress.

                          Still, it is hard. My son or wife (usually the people closest to us) can push our buttons sometimes. In our house, it is the usual stuff. Yesterday, I almost broke a foot stepping on some toy my son had left on the floor. Then, my wife got the chocolate ice cream when I SPECIFICALLY said cookies-&-cream!

                          I am not so much for a literal teaching of Karma and "Karmic Seeds" from past births (agnostic on that), but I do believe very much in the power of this nurturing seeds practice. We have one here we encourage as a daily practice, very much influenced by Thich Nhat Hanh and others. Please have a look.

                          RECOMMENDED DAILY Nurturing Seeds PRACTICE
                          Hi, Sometimes the simplest of practices can be most effective. The following is based on teachings by Thich Nhat Hahn as well as many others. It's roots stretch back to the very origins of Buddhism. It is a simple and common sense approach to changing how we think and feel ... realizing that our experience of life is always


                          Gassho, Jundo
                          Last edited by Jundo; 10-23-2012, 03:23 AM.
                          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                          Comment

                          • Mp

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Jundo
                            Case by case, and all we can do is follow our heart in the moment.
                            Love it! Clean and simple, thank you Jundo.

                            Gassho
                            Michael

                            Comment

                            • Jundo
                              Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                              • Apr 2006
                              • 39078

                              #15
                              One further important point is that we do not see people as "bad", even if some of their actions are so. Even the criminal who commits the most heinous crime is also, in his or her way, a victim of greed, anger and ignorance ... the true culprit. That does not mean we don't put such people in prison, but we also see them as sentient beings driven by delusion.

                              Also, even for smaller matters, it takes two to tango ... the annoying and the annoyed, and ultimately all is empty. I sometimes tell this personal story, and a famous parable of the boat from Joko Beck ...

                              Originally posted by Jundo
                              I am going to post a version of one of my favorite old stories on anger (as told by Joko Beck, I am sure many already know it). But I would like to tell my version of a similar story from my life (100% True Story).

                              For several years, my wife and I volunteered at a Hospice for the terminally ill. I was late to get to my post one morning, and took the toll road ... but did not have any small change (I think it was 25 cents), and only a large bill. The woman in the toll both could not take the large bill, refused to accept my promise to pay double on the return trip, gave me a hard time, filling out forms and blocking traffic too. I got a bit hot under the collar and told her off a bit. Jerk!

                              Not two hours later, I run into the same woman, crying next to her dying mother's bed in the hospice ...

                              Everyone's life has many causes and conditions that brought them to that place. The fellow who cuts you off in traffic may be worried about losing his job, or the rude sales clerk may just be having a bad day. I try to keep that in mind now.

                              Joko relates this ...

                              Say you're on a lake in your rowboat that you just painted and you're taking it out for the first time. The lake has a little fog on it.. not too much fog but just enough to make visibility difficult. As you're rowing, enjoying your time on the lake suddenly another rowboat comes out of the fog and is headed straight for your boat. Instantly you start screaming to the other boater... "look out.. what are you doing?" Then the boat smashes into your newly painted boat. You are so upset that someone would do this to you and your boat. How on earth would someone be so careless to let this happen. (Just imagine how angry you'd be.) Well this is when you realize that the other rowboat is empty. How do your feelings/anger change? Are you still mad at the other boat. After all it is just an empty boat.

                              Gassho, J
                              ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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