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Romantic love and dharma

Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/24/09 3:53 PM
I would love to hear some of the more advanced practitioners thoughts and experiences of how dharma practice helped / helps / influenced the way you see romantic love and relationships, the way you approach them, deal with them, experience them, etc.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/24/09 6:14 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
A lot of the posts on this thread cover that topic


http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/98527

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/25/09 1:37 AM as a reply to Mike Monson.
Thanks Mike,

Though I think the topic of that thread is more related to actual practice with relationships, which is also very interesting,
but I thought this would be a good place to discuss how dharma practice has transformed the way we relate to relationships in all aspects and not just in regards to actual dharma practice itself and sharing it with partners. I hope this is coherent enough emoticon

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/25/09 8:45 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Dear Yadid Bee,

I'm not an advanced practitioner. I float around in equanimity but I do have this to offer. I have found that, if one attemtps to explore the finer aspects of reality in the body, then one should also be looking to explore the finer aspects of reality outside the body too. So, I pay attention to the tone and vibration of my voice, my body language, my gestures, the manner in which I frame my language and thougths. I am an object of experience to others and as such, I trigger various formations in them. I trigger their 'stuff',' intentionally or not, it happens. I concern myself with being an object of 'compassion,' 'transformation' and 'love,' and 'healing.' I caused my wife and my children considerable emotional harm in the early part of my marriage. The transformation in my temperament which appears to be permanent now, has saved my marriage and begun a powerful healing process, particularly in my children. But, I fall off my perch from time to time. I consider every negative emotion to be an experience of resistance, a holding, a grasping, something to be let go of so that I can be transformed, and simultaneously, transform the relationships around me. If I can be an object of compassion and loving, then these experiences gain a foothold in the minds of others, their stuff isn't triggered, they feel loved and accepted, they heal...they change simultaneously with you.
Hope this helps
paul

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/25/09 6:25 PM as a reply to Paul Hurley.
Dear Yabid,

This is a pretty broad topic, and I was wondering if you could be a bit more specific in your questions and interest, as I found myself staring at the question and thinking of all sorts of tangents and directions to take it and couldn't figure out which one might be interesting or relevant. Bring it home a bit and hopefully this will make answering easier.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
10/1/09 1:54 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hi Daniel,

You are right, this is a bit of a broad topic so I will try to narrow it down a bit.

The subject Mitch touched in his post I find quite valuable to this thread - how he is now disinterested in romance for the sake of putting all his energy towards practice - obviously thats his personal choice and not something we all go through.

So basically I would like this thread to be a place for people to share their personal stories of how practice is affecting and being affected by these sort of things.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/26/09 4:22 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Ah, star-crossed love!

While there are many takes on this, I will offer the following:

* The heart does its own thing, and while insight may or may not effect what it does, it pretty much goes by the standard workings of the heart, which can be inconvenient, wonderful, painful, embarrassing, irrational, and a whole host of other things.
* Assuming that you can mitigate completely what the heart does through strong insight practice is in one sense obviously skillful, and in another sense is sort of like addressing crime by throwing people in jail, which is to say, it doesn't really address the root of the problem on that particular front, kind of like using the language of physiology when doing psychotherapy, or using the language of mathematics in a romantic poem.
* The fundamental insight problem is not the pain but the perception of the pain or the subject-object duality related to the pain, which won't necessarily make the pain better, and further awareness of pain sometimes makes it more clear, which is to say worse.
* You probably have to figure out some standard, ordinary, real-world solution to your crush problem, as just practicing like crazy is unlikely to solve it. There are many ways to develop, one is the insight front, another of many is the relationship front and what to do about the vagaries of the heart front.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/29/09 12:31 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Hmm..
Thanks Daniel, also realized some important things from your chapter in MCTB where you give characters and let sila, samadhi and panna argue.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/27/09 2:39 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
"Assuming that you can mitigate completely what the heart does through strong insight practice is in one sense obviously skillful, and in another sense is sort of like addressing crime by throwing people in jail, which is to say, it doesn't really address the root of the problem on that particular front, kind of like using the language of physiology when doing psychotherapy, or using the language of mathematics in a romantic poem."

I feel this on the other hand, relating to my other attachments, like Food. i practice a lot of mindfulness of eating, w/c i thought/still think will lessen my over-all attachment to it, but throughout the months, i don't really think it has that big an effect. What I think I should be more aware of is just getting 'eating' over with, and not being preoccupied continually thinking about "eating"

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/30/09 2:57 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I agree that insight practice may not be the most useful thing for dealing with this form of suffering. It seems that part of your motivation for sitting is the specific desire for the cessation of this pain. While I hate to do anything to cause even the slightest lessening of a person's motivation to do insight, I have to wonder how skillful that form of motivation is. I think if your motivation for doing insight practices is to deal with a form of content, then that would interrupt the "ignore the content and look at bare sensations" part of the practice. I think that a more everyday, conventional thing somewhere in the Sila department would help you much more in dealing with this situation. Just like in MCTB it is said that you can't use cognitive restructuring to do the work of insight, I would turn it around in this situation and agree that fundamental insight about the human condition isn't a very good way to deal with these feelings. Cognitive and behavioral techniques would be much more helpful.

For once on this forum, this is something I actually have a great deal of personal experience with. I used to fall for people and have my world become total misery for months on end as they never reciprocated. In retrospect, I probably had mild clinical depression during that time. There was certainly a lot of thinking about suicide, not like "I want to do it," but it was certainly on my mind a lot. Luckily, there's a way out of it! I can say, on the authority of having done it myself, that you can learn how to control your own emotions WITHOUT REPRESSING them. In fact, not repressing them is key to doing it right; if you don't even know how you feel, or if you don't have the mindfulness to see the seeds of painful attraction being planted and sprouting, then you won't be able to do anything about it. Without going into "this is how you do CBT on yourself," the key is basically to realize that emotions and beliefs are a two-way street, and while you generally have a whole lot of direct control over your emotions, you actually have more than you think. Also, you CAN change your beliefs and thoughts, and those will influence the emotions. Fundamentally, an emotion is a combination of a bodily feeling and a cognition. (Sometimes there isn't even a bodily feeling.) If you have a high arousal level, you can interpret it as anxiety, or as attraction, or as excitement, or as simply being hyper. Usually, the mind just sticks with the first interpretation it picks, and if that's a negative one like anxiety, then you're screwed. Except not, because you can actually change your interpretation. It's under your control. (This is all, of course, using conventional language.)

None of this is meant to be instruction, but I just really want you to know that you can gain more emotional self-control, and it's totally not the same as "bottling everything up" or "being disconnected from your heart." It's quite the opposite of that second one because you have to be pretty aware of your feelings. It's not easy. It's definitely not the path of least resistance. But it greatly reduces the (conventional) suffering, and that's reason enough to put forth the effort to learn how to take the reins of your own mind.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
10/1/09 2:10 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
Hi Adam,

While there is probably some truth in the fact that in a way im trying to avoid this pain by doing insight practice,
it is more true that practice is helping me better acknowledge and accept all that arises, be it emotions or whatever - and that is extremely helpful in all aspects of life. Also - practice is helping me better control my actions which is also extremely helpful in all aspects of life.

My aspiration is to practice at least two hours a day, more if possible, whether i am in situations like this or not - so it is not like "oh no, i've got this X issue in my life - I better meditate more now".

I like what you said about interpretations.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
10/20/09 5:58 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Ah, star-crossed love!

While there are many takes on this, I will offer the following:

* The heart does its own thing, and while insight may or may not effect what it does, it pretty much goes by the standard workings of the heart, which can be inconvenient, wonderful, painful, embarrassing, irrational, and a whole host of other things.
* Assuming that you can mitigate completely what the heart does through strong insight practice is in one sense obviously skillful, and in another sense is sort of like addressing crime by throwing people in jail, which is to say, it doesn't really address the root of the problem on that particular front, kind of like using the language of physiology when doing psychotherapy, or using the language of mathematics in a romantic poem.


Ummm... what? For some reason this isn't sitting well...

So I'm gonna hit this with one of my favorite maps, which is the chemo-rationalist one. Biological breakdown time! B-chk-wa-wa!

So, you like someone, you see characteristics that you enjoy in them, the characteristics you enjoy according to Freudian analysis(and Tarthang Tulku will probably back me on this, which is good because I'm certain he's a little more appreciated round here than Freud's perv ass) are reflections of yourself. You demonize and deify based off of your own prejudice which is assumed via imprint, etc etc etc...

So Jack meets Jill. Jill's breasts remind him of his mothers breasts(this is probably a subconscious phenomena). Jack enjoys Jill's breasts like once he enjoyed his mothers. Jack tells Jill a secret. Jack knows he is guilty for telling Jill a secret he himself owns, and in telling has given his secret away, and replaced it with a bit of her. Jack and Jill are infatuated and cannot separate the rush of anxiety from the rush of affection. They feel both all the time when they are near. They know no different. Jack and Jill have sex and then BAM

Millions of itty-bitty things(neuropeptides) start renovating all sorts of chemical pathways to circulate the stimuli they give each other longer and keep the general link strong through a complex association of self with stimuli and stimuli with other. Together they each own half the jigsaw, but they are dismayed that when the finally put it all together it remains(legasp) still a puzzle! Puzzled and in pieces they give each other effigies of themselves and leave town, in opposite directions. Jack dies of heart failure. Jill marries an abusive man named Jim. Jim likes footba-

Carried away. Happens. So, the point? Well, first, let me explain that this entire story, minus the names and a few trivial details, are the blueprint for MOST human relationships.

To me it would appear that meditation serves to get you closer to the ambiguity of feeling, the oneness that all sense carries. Through observing how you perceive and filter/create phenomena you should gain a wisdom of it's general working. The stimuli-self-other trinity works only on a sort of juxtaposed premise...
A. The other exists as you conceive them. For that to happen...
B. You exist as you conceive you. For that to happen...
C. Stimuli exist as you conceive "them". (Here it may be important to note my jargon, namely... "conceive". I use this as a differAnce. Stimuli as you "perceive" them is a terminology I save for actual practice, for perception as opposed to conception, which is a weaker form of fantasy, a lighter placebo.)

Is not the entire point of meditation, especially insight, to go deeper into stimuli and your brains internal workings? Should not the connections you've forged between the stimuli, the self, and the other be made blatantly obvious by the entire practice?

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
10/22/09 9:27 AM as a reply to Jacob MickNeilson.
Jacob MickNeilson:

Is not the entire point of meditation, especially insight, to go deeper into stimuli and your brains internal workings? Should not the connections you've forged between the stimuli, the self, and the other be made blatantly obvious by the entire practice?


hi jacob,

because stimuli (and the internal workings of the brain) is an immeasurably deep and expansive and ongoing field, and the connections forged are forging and re-forging all the time, such exploration when attempted in a comprehensive and all-inclusive manner will be endless, as what is made blatantly obvious becomes unobvious again, each moment again .. unless one were to have an agenda, a clear goal, the desire to attain it, and access to the intent necessary to pursue it. what the intent is will define the results, and if the intent is not to solve the problems of the heart, it is unlikely they will be solved (by whatever method or practice).

tarin

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
10/22/09 3:34 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
the prisoner greco:
Jacob MickNeilson:

Is not the entire point of meditation, especially insight, to go deeper into stimuli and your brains internal workings? Should not the connections you've forged between the stimuli, the self, and the other be made blatantly obvious by the entire practice?


hi jacob,

because stimuli (and the internal workings of the brain) is an immeasurably deep and expansive and ongoing field, and the connections forged are forging and re-forging all the time, such exploration when attempted in a comprehensive and all-inclusive manner will be endless, as what is made blatantly obvious becomes unobvious again, each moment again .. unless one were to have an agenda, a clear goal, the desire to attain it, and access to the intent necessary to pursue it. what the intent is will define the results, and if the intent is not to solve the problems of the heart, it is unlikely they will be solved (by whatever method or practice).

tarin


I think regardless of the intent one puts into this thang a careful and holistic minded observer will note te dissolution of subject predicate, internal external, self other, at some point.

How exactly can one have a troubled heart TOWARDS another being, which is what we speak of here when we mention affection/carthaxis/etc... without the separation between self other, good bad?

I guess I don't find much relation to your general premise period actually, considering I entered insight for the hell of it, and found it impossible to ignore the application insight has to my general emotional life, my emotional life being one of stimulus. I also don't understand how one could go about this type of practice, reflect, and then still miss the application to the "rest" of their life, if you will. The life off the cushion.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
10/22/09 7:23 PM as a reply to Jacob MickNeilson.
Jacob MickNeilson:

I think regardless of the intent one puts into this thang a careful and holistic minded observer will note te dissolution of subject predicate, internal external, self other, at some point.


the intent to be careful and be holistic minded is not to be taken for granted.. i have seen many practitioners pound away diligently for months or years and not note the types of dissolution you mention.

Jacob MickNeilson:

How exactly can one have a troubled heart TOWARDS another being, which is what we speak of here when we mention affection/carthaxis/etc... without the separation between self other, good bad?


because the somatic charges (presumably what you mean by 'affection/carthaxis/etc') continue to arise even after the process of reifying a separate self has come to an end (at 4th path). good and bad do not need to be separate in order to exist (they can exist as intertwined opposites), and while i do not think that feelings can exist without inherently being *feelings toward*, the absence of a separate self shows that the movement of feelings necessarily happens as part of an undivided field of experience, even when the feelings are toward something (as any something is part of that same field in which the feelings arise).

as a side note, even in seemingly objectless affection (say, in the experience of pure love, or something of that sort), there is still an object, to find which one need look no further than the subject (or the Subject, as some may prefer).

Jacob MickNeilson:

I guess I don't find much relation to your general premise period actually, considering I entered insight for the hell of it, and found it impossible to ignore the application insight has to my general emotional life, my emotional life being one of stimulus. I also don't understand how one could go about this type of practice, reflect, and then still miss the application to the "rest" of their life, if you will. The life off the cushion.


then you should probably re-read my last post, as i stated quite clearly that i think one's intent defines one's results, and your most recent reply shows no different. regardless of why you got into insight practice in the first place, your last reply demonstrates that your intent is now to attend to the application it (insight practice) has to your general emotional life (else you would not be focusing on, much less noticing, such application). further, as you are so doggedly intent upon noticing such application (as to find it 'impossible to ignore'), it isn't surprising that you don't understand how some other insight practitioners may not share your intent or obsession.. they may have other areas to attend to or be themselves obsessed with. there is much to the 'rest' of life off the cushion, of which a person's general emotional life, or life of stimulus, is only part.

tarin

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
1/20/11 1:13 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Dear Mia,

Thanks for your interest in these things.

Your questions are very broad ones that I will suspect will be more able to be answered in some meaningful way for you if you try to bring them to a more personal level, as noted above for the original post.

Thus, what for you personally is behind or underlying or framing these questions now and what specifically in your life inspired you to post here? I think that will help me and everyone here be more able to say something specific and relevant rather than generic answers that might miss the mark. One question to help frame the marriage one: are you married, have you been married, and, if so, how long and/or how many times, just to get a background of experience on that front?

Daniel

PS: The DhO has gotten to the point that I don't necessarily read every single post in a timely fashion or sometimes at all, as I work a lot, so it was good you sent the PM to prompt me to read this thread, as I might have easily missed your directed question.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
1/20/11 2:46 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Mia Hansson:
Edit #2: I've reflected on whether I'm avoiding a personal question myself. And yes, because of the statements referred to above I worry that in choosing a relationship, I have in some way taken away from good spiritual practice; and that being in a relationship is a manifestation of the fact that I am a spiritually lesser person... "masters" who are not in relationships have said as much, whereas obviously people who are in relationships would say that's gobbledygook.


I think both people in relationships and single people, both people with kids and without, have succeeded in getting enlightened to some degree, so i don't know if it's a matter of, if you're in a relationship, you can't get enlightened. it might be harder, of course.. people become renunicants for that reason, to escape from worldly concerns while they work on their spiritual selves. but i've found daily life and spiritual practice to be able to co-exist, although sometimes daily life takes quite a hit like during the first Dark Night i had.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
1/20/11 3:02 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
While I do try to keep my private life relatively private, as there are my current and former wives involved, and I don't particularly want to bring them into this without their input, I can say some generic things that don't compromise anything related to them:

"Thanks Daniel. I don't know how useful it is to go into personal psychological 'stuff' but I can try. I'm in a happy stable long-term relationship, could be called a marriage in terms of commitment and trust. I've had some great relationships and some terrible ones, often ones with a bit of both, for anything from a couple of weeks to seven years. I've also had a great period of celibacy (3 years) some of which was at a monastery (a year). At this stage my interest in the question is probably more professional, since my lifelong interest is in working with psychology, teaching and communication."

How about your meditation practice? Would you classify yourself as a hardcore or accomplished or aspiring practitioner and, if so, care to be specific? Things can be a lot different in relationship to this questions of relationships depending on how deep, wild, etc. one's practice is and also how used to that sort of stuff one's partner is, and even then, two hardcore practitioners in a relationship tend to have a pretty wild ride unless at least one of them is really on the chill end of thing for a hardcore practitioner.

"I've learned stuff, it works, I'm thinking about it and figuring out how to express it in a way that your average person can benefit from (for some reason people listen to me so it would be nice to say something of value). This question here is the "thinking about it" part. You wrote in your book along the lines of how it's good to keep the absolute and relative separate, perhaps I'm trying however to allow the absolute to inform the relative."

Obviously that only goes so far, but there are reasons at times when practicing to erect those barriers as they help protect both to some degree.


"To me, love is the realization that everything is connected."

Everything is connected and we can call that what we like, love, unity, non-duality, causality, emptiness, luminosity, all sorts of stuff, but the thing is the same.

"I think the way that non-Buddhist practitioners realize this, is the realization of connection only with one person, and their limited group of friends/family. What took me aback initially was the statement by several Zen masters that you cannot attain full enlightenment if you choose to commit to another person in a romantic relationship (e.g. marriage) - never fully explained, but I think because it "takes away" from your commitment to practice."

They are making that up and it is old dogma that has long been overthrown by verifiable reality testing. I got stream entry while married, mastered the jhanas and all sorts of other stuff while married, studied really well when married, wrote MCTB while married, and arahatship while married, and I know plenty of others who have also or at least in committed relationships.

"I don't personally see that marriage and practice conflict, on the contrary my experience is that they can inform and support each other. But, I can't see them as separate things either - compartmentalisation - because nothing is separate from training."

That integrated perspective has its points when things in practice are good: the hard phases can cause substantial relationship disruption as things get reworked and before they stabilize on the other side: in those times how practice and relationships work could depend on what we mean by practice: morality? insight? zazen? tantra? The topic is vast and not straightforward.


"Does this give you any more specificity? It might sound totally surreal since I'm going for brevity - don't want to write a whole book in a message body...

Edit: More specific questions might be, how has your practice affected your marriage?"

My practice and the progress of the stages of insight on both sides probably served at once to make my first marriage very interesting and worked to destroy it. That is all I wish to say on that front. I made a lot of mistakes learned a lot then, and it helped inspire MCTB and the advice therein.

"And why did you get married? Do you think marriage is separate from practice? Is this none of my business? : )"

I got married as I wanted to be married, call it personal, idiosyncratic, empty reality doing its thing, love, or whatever you wish. The forces and factors that really cause things to happen are so vast that any analysis is superficial and complete.

Why did I get married twice? Was it love and romance? Was it pragmatism and the simple desire for company? Was it impersonal biochemistry and genetic conditioning? Was it empty compassion? Was it the universe just doing what it does? Any simplistic explanation is woefully lacking and feels like it is missing something on some front, and even the convergence or synthesis of those seems really off the mark. I might give you a different answer every hour or even minute were I just responding to the impressions of the moment as they came to me.

I generally look at marriage as a part of practice in the grand sense but in terms of formal practice keep them quite separate most of the time, and I think that is a more workable solution for us than some of the possible alternatives. People change, their interests and relationships to practice and those realms change, and to stick to more fundamental relationship things as the basis of one's relationship is more reliable than the vagaries of practice, which, at the hardcore end of things, can get quite unstable and wild, and so from that point of view, to have them as somewhat compartmentalized things that relate somehow but have their own place can help one keep both functioning, not that there aren't always interactions in both directions.

I learn a lot about myself from being married and it also helps show me things about my practice, and it is true that practice informs everything I do, including being married. However, just as I try not to bring my work home too much (trauma, misery, gore, disease and the like don't make for great dinner time conversation), just so with some of the more odd and complex areas of my practice, which are such a moving target that it is better to just let the things pass through rather than making them into something more. Partners of hard-core practitioners can find the descriptions of the experiences that hard-core practitioners sometimes have to be confusing, upsetting, threatening, and all sorts of other things that don't help anything at all. If you cruise through the DhO you will find many examples of how hardcore practitioners have had difficulties and how they dealt with it, but the basic theme is perennial. How to deal with that in ways that are beneficial is an ongoing conversation.

I think that for people doing what most people do, relatively integrated, gentle, somewhat psychological, non-hyper-intense, non-hardcore, non-ultratechnical practice, that this integration you speak of is easier and more informative. In the realm of the really out-there, the dramatic and intense, the super-deep, the bizarre, there is a lot to be said for having that as its own thing and letting something more processed, compartmentalized and conventional be present on the relationship front whenever possible, as, having tried the reverse and found it detrimental rather than helpful very single time without exception, this seems a superior and more stable solution, and also kinder and more skillful in some way. I am happily married at this time and this second marriage, having had substantially more compartmentalization at least around the big stuff than the first one, is a whole lot better for it, so it seems to me.

Have you read MCTB?

Helpful?

Daniel

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
1/21/11 11:25 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Sex is obviously so many complex things to different people. So many words come to mind for different people in different situations and phases of their lives:

Fun
Athletic
Addictive
Loving
Embarrassing
Procreative
Healthy
Unhealthy
Violent
Nurturing
Passionate
Monotonous
Silly
Serious
Dull
Playful
Recreative
Caring
Repulsive
Indifferent
Tortured
Satisfying
Unsatisfying
Confusing
Mysterious
Straightforward
Calming
Exciting
Boring
etc.

The list goes on and on....

Like Love, Sex is simply a very complex topic that even for any individual can vary by the second from one extreme to another or to no extremes at all. Simplistic answers like "to have children" show such a staggering lack of mental agility and narrowness of perspective as to be laughable or sad, depending on your point of view.

I don't think anything is easy on this one except to mention the obvious as above.

Regarding sex and practice: I know of countless examples of people who made good progress who still had sex, before, during and after. While I can imagine possible internal makeups, wiring and conditioning that might make sex a real problem for some, I don't see any reason for most to make this any more complex than it already is by trying to fit this huge topic into some small, ill-conceived box, as it were... (humor intended here)

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
1/22/11 5:52 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I personally know three people who were practicing when they married, became enlightened and are still practicing and still married. I've been married nearly 2 decades, have a pretty hardcore practice, (am not enlightened) and it's not affected the marriage. If there's issues in the relationship anyway, those might become a bigger problem. I think Daniel mentioned something really key (I paraphrase as I understood it): sometimes it's not helpful to share the gory details of your practice with your partner, especially if your partner either doesn't practice or practices at a much less advanced or less hardcore level. It's sort of like talking in detail about your period or bowel movements. Your doctor might need to know. Your husband doesn't need to know. "I'm having a challenging time today/just had a really cool meditation" can be a much more productive way of sharing with someone who hasn't covered the territory. The details of your inner life can be your own.

Not sure if that's applicable in your case, but I've seen it be a problem with other acquaintances. On your other argument, there's subsets of Buddhism where the priests/lamas etc marry, aren't there? I think it depends on the particular "sect."

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
3/24/11 8:37 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is a meaningful post to me, because I've been going through a crazy amount of suffering in especially the last few years regarding the uncertainty of what my desire for love is. Is what the heart feels simply craving and delusion in a masked form? In that case, the Dharma would say that has to be observed and uprooted through practice instead of indulged. What if the heart and my desires for romance don't have anything to do with the Dharma though? What if the need for the sort of human connection that I desire will always be present, no matter what? In that case, how do I reconcile that?

My observations about the nature of this very complex problem over a period of years now haven't arrived at any conclusions, but I have observed that the nature of the desire itself is very vague, and centered more upon an idea than anything else; questions like, "does the phenomenon of two people being really meant for each other objectively exist?" and "how would I function in an actual, long-term relationship?" seem to hold the most craving. In actual practice, I've paradoxically observed no real substance to this desire in some ways. As far as women are concerned, crushes just don't seem to happen. The wanting them to happen does, but in practice sexual attraction seems to present as being just as slippery as the rest of my thoughts and mind; nothing to hold onto, and no real consistent mind-object for attraction or stability of the conditions behind it. In looking back on a past relationship of sorts, I found value in it for what I learned from it but at the same time found that the vast majority of it was dominated by negative mind states of craving, aversion, and dissatisfaction. My intuition tells me I've been shooting myself in the foot in this area for a long time because of the Dark Night. All I can really do is sit here and observe it.

EDIT: On reflecting a bit more, I conclude that this entire post of mine and the very complicated emotions and such behind it are motivated at their root by a desire for a kind of stability/permanence. However, whatever it may mean, the suffering engendered by this whole complex is also real.

RE: Romantic love and dharma
Answer
9/26/09 12:23 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
the 'toxic evangelism and hardcore dharma' was a good thread somewhat related to this. i had a lot of laughs with that one

On a personal note:

I sort of shut off the romantic seeking side in my life the past few years, focusing on 'spiritual' growth (but i dont like that dogmatic/vague word), i think 'sanity' is a more suiting word.

Just earlier today, I had a new experience wherein I imagined myself as a melting snowman. I imagined the snowman frowning in fear. Then I saw its thought of fear, along with the snow, melt... Anyway what i thought after that was getting intouch back to that drive, the drive to seek a family. What i've experienced with the cycle-process is healing repressed emotions and making the mind healthier, and getting intouch with the reality of my animal body and emotions.