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karma and other people's stuff

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karma and other people's stuff
Answer
4/22/11 9:47 PM
Hi guys,
I'm new here so I figured I'd start off by asking what I perceive to be a difficult question. This question is related to training in morality more so than concentration. Hopefully you guys aren't "insight only" dharma nerds ;) Ok here goes:

I've observed that many of my loved ones have decided to experience suffering whenever my actions diverge from their expectations in ways they do not understand. I can see why this would be a useful instinct in parents while they are taking care of children because it keeps the parent focused on helping the child avoid injury, but why does this need to go on indefinitely ? Why should the parent's long term happiness be a function of the child's ability to conform to expectations laid out by social conditioning ? What's the correct thing to do when you find yourself surrounded by a group of people who are threatening to subject themselves to stress/suffering whenever you behave in ways they don't understand ?

Please understand when I speak about me "behaving in ways they don't understand" I'm not talking about doing anything really extreme and crazy like becoming a drug dealer, joining scientology, or claiming to be enlightened. >_0 These people stress out about the most trivial diversions from the norm.

I'm left with the impression that life is a minefield and if I step in the wrong direction for even a moment it will result in other people experiencing pyschological pain. This impression is not just an impression it's true. One false step and other people will self-harm and they will be sure to let me know how painful it is. It's sort of like my whole life is a suicide hostage negotiation where I'm not free to act based on my own values or instincts because other people are threatening to harm themselves if I don't do exactly what is expected. What's the most skilful way to deal with or even look at such a situation ? This is not limited to the family example, this goes on in romantic relationships, dharma circles, and can even be observed at macroscopic levels within society.

One possible solution to the problem is to try to live a life that conforms to as many of the expectations as possible in an attempt to limit the amount of self-abuse that occurs. There are several problems with this technique. The main downside is that it can never be done correctly. No matter how hard you try to conform to social conditioning there will always be cases where you trigger the self-harm behavior in loved ones. The harder you try in this regard the more people expect from you so you just end up causing them to self-harm for progressively more subtle reasons instead of actually stopping the self-harm. On top of it you've limited your choices in life to a very narrow range which was decided for you by other people. Another problem with this technique is that many of the expectations set up by social conditioning are actually unhealthy. As Jiddu Krishnamurti once put it "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

Another possible solution is to just ignore the links between other people's self-abuse patterns and your own actions. In other words do what you think is right and let the chips fall where they may. This solution sounds nice but is problematic in practice because it generally leads to situations where other people are causing themselves a lot of pain and you come off as uncaring. People will become jealous that you are free to do as you see fit while they have to "be responsible for how their loved ones feel", so they'll attack you for that.

How does the concept of karma fit into this puzzle ? Did Buddha give any applicable advice ? The early suttas are overflowing with advice in this area which sounds downright anti-social for example:

Khaggavisana Sutta
Snp 1.3
PTS: Sn 35-75
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html


"For a sociable person there are allurements; on the heels of allurement, this pain. Seeing allurement's drawback, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

One whose mind is enmeshed in sympathy for friends & companions, neglects the true goal. Seeing this danger in intimacy, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Like spreading bamboo, entwined, is concern for offspring & spouses. Like a bamboo sprout, unentangling, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

As a deer in the wilds, unfettered, goes for forage wherever it wants: the wise person, valuing freedom, wanders alone like a rhinoceros.

In the midst of companions — when staying at home, when going out wandering — you are prey to requests. Valuing the freedom wander alone like a rhinoceros.
"
etc etc etc. It's not just that sutta there's tons of other examples. What do you guys think about this stuff ? Is Buddhism anti-social ? Is it anti-family ? Buddha was supposed to have said stated that his path goes "against the flow". Did he meant it's anti-social ?

If I remember correctly Siddhartha's father didn't want his son to become an aesthetic he wanted him to become a strong ruler. Surely Buddha caused his family great pain when he left the household life to pursue a path that was incongruent with his family's social conditioning. In a sense he was rather ruthless.

What do you guys think ? If some of you have the balls to publicaly claim spiritual attainments then surely you've had to wrestle with some of these issues. Spill the beans please.

-Intj

RE: karma and other people's stuff
Answer
4/22/11 10:17 PM as a reply to donald knuth.
live well and be an example. others will (continue to) do whatever they wish, and will reap the rewards and pay the consequences of their actions (as usual). be considerate and allow them the pleasures and pains that they've chosen.

RE: karma and other people's stuff
Answer
4/22/11 10:31 PM as a reply to donald knuth.
Gxxxxx Jxxxx Mxxxxx:
I've observed that many of my loved ones have decided to experience suffering whenever my actions diverge from their expectations in ways they do not understand. I can see why this would be a useful instinct in parents while they are taking care of children because it keeps the parent focused on helping the child avoid injury, but why does this need to go on indefinitely ? Why should the parent's long term happiness be a function of the child's ability to conform to expectations laid out by social conditioning ? What's the correct thing to do when you find yourself surrounded by a group of people who are threatening to subject themselves to stress/suffering whenever you behave in ways they don't understand ?

I'm left with the impression that life is a minefield and if I step in the wrong direction for even a moment it will result in other people experiencing pyschological pain. This impression is not just an impression it's true. One false step and other people will self-harm and they will be sure to let me know how painful it is. It's sort of like my whole life is a suicide hostage negotiation where I'm not free to act based on my own values or instincts because other people are threatening to harm themselves if I don't do exactly what is expected. What's the most skilful way to deal with or even look at such a situation ? This is not limited to the family example, this goes on in romantic relationships, dharma circles, and can even be observed at macroscopic levels within society.


the correct thing to do is whatever you do. because whether the impression is true or false ... there is only what happens. have you ever noticed that they'll suffer some regardless of what you do? ... it's not you, it's them. when dealing with your feelings, and your empathy, however ... that's all 'you'. i think an excellent way to act is one which enables another to understand their mind ... even if that's something relatively small, like enabling someone to be honest with their feelings so that they are relatively free from that pain. to do so well requires that one is happy and harmless, or at least sincerely intending to be as benign and harmonious as possible.

Gxxxxx Jxxxx Mxxxxx:
Another possible solution is to just ignore the links between other people's self-abuse patterns and your own actions. In other words do what you think is right and let the chips fall where they may. This solution sounds nice but is problematic in practice because it generally leads to situations where other people are causing themselves a lot of pain and you come off as uncaring. People will become jealous that you are free to do as you see fit while they have to "be responsible for how their loved ones feel", so they'll attack you for that.


i recommend severing the links entirely, rather than ignoring them or maintaining them. then one is free to actually care (rather than feeling that one cares, or feeling that one doesn't care), and one would also be impervious to their malicious and sorrowful vibes.

Gxxxxx Jxxxx Mxxxxx:
How does the concept of karma fit into this puzzle ? Did Buddha give any applicable advice ? The early suttas are overflowing with advice in this area which sounds downright anti-social for example:

Khaggavisana Sutta
Snp 1.3
PTS: Sn 35-75
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html


"For a sociable person there are allurements; on the heels of allurement, this pain. Seeing allurement's drawback, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

One whose mind is enmeshed in sympathy for friends & companions, neglects the true goal. Seeing this danger in intimacy, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Like spreading bamboo, entwined, is concern for offspring & spouses. Like a bamboo sprout, unentangling, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

As a deer in the wilds, unfettered, goes for forage wherever it wants: the wise person, valuing freedom, wanders alone like a rhinoceros.

In the midst of companions — when staying at home, when going out wandering — you are prey to requests. Valuing the freedom wander alone like a rhinoceros.
"


it fits into the puzzle because what is ultimately being discussed here are feeling-felt relationships intuited as 'me' and 'other(s)'. these are psychic projections, which are born of the affective faculty. the practical usefulness of solitude is in that it helps to prevent one from projecting / dissociating one's self onto others, and prevents one from creating and maintaining relationships. by the way, this does not necessarily imply that one has to be alone or be 'anti-social'.

coincidentally, the more you know yourself, the less you project ... the less you project, the less interest you have in being with others ... the less interested you are in being with others, the less you may be around others ... and that solitude allows for even more time to get to know yourself. when 'i' am seen through entirely, then 'i' cease to 'be' at all ... and that means suffering has ended forever in one human being.

have i ever mentioned that autonomy is a wonderful thing?

trent

RE: karma and other people's stuff
Answer
4/23/11 3:34 AM as a reply to donald knuth.
Gxxxxx Jxxxx Mxxxxx:

etc etc etc. It's not just that sutta there's tons of other examples. What do you guys think about this stuff ? Is Buddhism anti-social ? Is it anti-family ?

Buddha was supposed to have said stated that his path goes "against the flow". Did he mean it's anti-social ?

By "Buddhism" I take it you are referring to the Dhamma that Gotama originally taught, as opposed to the Buddhist religion that developed and flourished after his demise, as Gotama never referred to what he taught as being "Buddhism." No, it is not. And no he did not "mean it is anti-social." "Against the flow" meaning against the flow of conditioned or conventional views. Not easily seen or comprehended, in other words. Subtle. Not something that most ordinary people (may be read as "socially conditioned" people) would be able to recognize right off the bat because their minds have been conditioned by predetermined views, which in essence blinds them to "what is" in its basic, unadorned essence.

Gxxxxx Jxxxx Mxxxxx:

If I remember correctly Siddhartha's father didn't want his son to become an aesthetic he wanted him to become a strong ruler. Surely Buddha caused his family great pain when he left the household life to pursue a path that was incongruent with his family's social conditioning. In a sense he was rather ruthless.

I'm not sure you thoroughly understand what you have said here (or seem to be implying). Are you familiar with the definition of "ruthless?" It means "without ruth; pitiless."

Ruth in this sense means:
ruth [rooth ] n. [ ME reuthe < reowen: see RUE1] Now Rare 1. pity; compassion

And hence, without compassion.

Gotama was anything but compassionless. Perhaps you need to do a bit more studying into the historical aspects of his personality and life?

Yet, to address the false logic of your assertion above (that "Buddha caused his family great pain...") Gotama's actions had nothing to do whatsoever with causing any "pain" his family may have experienced or not experienced. The origin of their suffering, if such it was, arose from within themselves. And Gotama's great compassion, as expressed in his teaching, was to point this out to them.

Trent .:
coincidentally, the more you know yourself, the less you project ... the less you project, the less interest you have in being with others ... the less interested you are in being with others, the less you may be around others ... and that solitude allows for even more time to get to know yourself....

Very nicely put, Trent.