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Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships

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Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Daniel M. Ingram 1/3/13 9:39 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships John Finley 4/10/09 1:03 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Chris Marti 4/10/09 2:43 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships tarin greco 4/10/09 3:02 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Vincent Horn 4/10/09 3:28 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Jackson Wilshire 4/10/09 4:42 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Wet Paint 4/10/09 5:12 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships tarin greco 4/10/09 5:53 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Daniel M. Ingram 4/10/09 6:05 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Andrew P 4/10/09 7:10 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships tarin greco 4/10/09 7:20 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships triple think 4/10/09 8:24 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Mike L 4/10/09 11:22 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Kenneth Folk 4/10/09 12:07 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Wet Paint 4/10/09 12:25 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Wet Paint 4/10/09 3:15 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships triple think 4/10/09 8:24 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Trent S. H. 4/11/09 3:46 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships beta wave 4/12/09 2:07 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Florian Weps 4/12/09 7:17 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships triple think 4/12/09 8:16 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Wet Paint 4/13/09 2:04 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships tarin greco 4/13/09 4:15 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships triple think 4/13/09 5:18 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships tarin greco 4/13/09 6:41 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Wet Paint 4/13/09 8:30 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships triple think 4/13/09 2:50 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Nathan I S 4/14/09 8:26 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Nathan I S 4/14/09 8:32 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships triple think 4/16/09 10:12 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Wet Paint 7/10/09 5:12 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Wet Paint 7/10/09 11:46 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Fitter Stoke 1/29/12 4:25 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Some Guy 1/3/13 8:51 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Andy W 1/3/13 3:39 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Cedric . 1/2/13 10:15 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Daniel M. Ingram 1/3/13 1:56 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Lara D 2/2/13 9:29 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Be Free Now 2/2/13 10:22 PM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Joshua, the solitary 2/3/13 9:10 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Joshua, the solitary 2/3/13 9:08 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Lara D 2/3/13 10:17 AM
RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships Bruno Loff 2/3/13 1:17 PM
Most meditation cultures, and particularly those that are more hardcore, and that includes the culture here, have something like the following assumptions:

  1. Knowing the Dharma is good.
  2. Meditation is good.
  3. Meditation and knowing the Dharma leads to changes in the mind, insights and abilities that are good.
  4. Once one has changed the mind in this way, things are better in some way than they were before.
  5. Thus, meditation mastery makes one better than before.


The problem is not that these are bad assumptions, but their very close shadow sides emerge in relationship to others along these general lines:

  1. I have meditated or meditate and achieved whatever, and so I am better than before.
  2. As you don’t meditate or in my judgement haven’t meditated as well as I have or in the specific way I do, I am better than you.
  3. You can be great like me also, so long as you follow the path that I do as well as I have done it, which anyone with half a brain obviously would.
  4. Until then, you are not as good as me, and I’m gonna let you know that in subtle and overt ways until you get with the program.


This is essentially relationship poison, destructive, counter-productive, toxic, and even small amounts of this sort of self-righteousness and arrogance leads predictably to profound resentment, dysfunction, communication breakdowns, and anger, which in turn often lead to the end of relationships, be they those with friends, family, girlfriends or boyfriends, and spouses/partners.

We, The Great Practitioner, may be so convinced that what they perceive as arrogance is just understandable confidence, and what they perceive as misguided pity is really just natural compassion, but regardless of who is right, the effect is the same.

I know about these things in excruciating detail as I have lived them for years and been caught in these traps many times, so hopefully those reading can benefit from the countless mistakes I have made over the years on these fronts. As is my style, I will tend to describe things in somewhat extreme terms, but realize that they don’t tend to be far off most of the time, which is sad but true.

Those in certain stages are particularly prone to toxic evangelism. The Arising and Passing (A&P), aka the 4th ñana, aka the 2nd Vipassana Jhana, is notorious for making people very excited about practice. They have seen amazing things, have profound insights, and are all excited about practice. It is only natural that they will wish to share that with others, and they have a hard time imagining that everyone won’t naturally share their enthusiasm right then. This tends to lead to reactions like this:

  1. While we can see you have had some interesting experience, you seem a bit crazy right now and we are concerned.
  2. We don’t know what to make of your change in behavior and religious zeal.
  3. You are creeping us out.


The Dark Night states (aka the Dukkha Ñanas, the 3rd Vipassana Jhana, the 5th-10th ñanas, particularly the last two: Desire for Deliverance and Re-Observation), can cause all sorts of problems, particularly coupled with the residual evangelism of the previous stages. The unfortunate practitioner caught in this stage tends to lack the enthusiastic happiness of the A&P, may be somewhat tortured in their practice, may be having problems keeping their career and relationships functioning well, and may yet be very caught in the tendency to evangelize. As they themselves try to muster the internal courage and force needed to get through the Dark Night, they may try to drag everyone around them with them. I call this Dark Night Bleed-through, and it should be avoided like the plague. Unfortunately, the Dark Night by its nature can make avoiding it difficult.

Clearly, those observing them from the outside may not be impressed at best and may be really turned off at worst. Most people simply want to have their ordinary life untroubled by a the vortices of a Dysfunctional Spiritual Quester, and this leads predictably to the following reasonable reactions to all this on the part of the Significant Other, friend or family member:

  1. You clearly are doing worse because of the Dharma and are screwing your life up.
  2. You are a pain in the ass to be around.
  3. While we may love you, we can’t stand it when you are like this.
  4. Get your life together and stop ranting about the Dharma.
  5. Your arrogance and evangelism is simply pissing us off.
  6. Shut up about it or go away.


These reactions may have the combined effect of pushing someone who might have been a little into meditation away from it, causing a further widening in the relationship.

Those who have gotten into High Equanimity may have problems related to those who have crossed the A&P, as they have really seen something profound and good, but it rapidly fades, and they tend to fall back into the Dark Night, with the above problems arising again.

Unfortunately, everything is not necessarily better past Stream Entry or whatever you wish to call the first stage of awakening. They REALLY have seen something amazing, suddenly have all sorts of understandings and abilities that they may have a very hard time imagining everyone else wouldn’t suddenly want if they were just encouraged and supported in the right way, and yet the reactions tend to be basically the same as above. This can cause understandable frustration in the Stream Enterer, but if people are not into this stuff, they are not into this stuff, and it is the rarest spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend that makes a good teacher or even tolerable zealot from the point of view of their significant other.

The Stink of Enlightenment that can begin to develop around here and into the middle paths can really up the ante on the whole process. As the practitioner becomes more and more powerful in the dharma, this can have the paradoxical but predictable effect of seeming to crush the life out of the spiritual side of their significant other. This is not always the case, and it does happen sometimes that significant others do find something good in the accomplishments of practitioner, but there is absolutely no guarantee this will occur, and reactions tend to vary with time to these things and be a mixed bag.
This can even occur when both people in the relationship are strong practitioners, as they may progress at different rates, describe and think about their practice differently, and, as they both cycle through A&P events and Dark Night stages and these may have significant effects, instability can still and often does occur.

Even Arahatship, which does a lot to bring things back down to Earth, having ended some aspect of the practitioners spiritual quest and brought some higher degree of realism and normalcy to the life of the practitioner, can still not always free one from these sorts of difficulties, as labels, titles, teaching, and that sort of thing inherently can cause comparison and the related difficulties.

Further, once the “I am better than you” paradigm is locked in, it can be very difficult to undo.
Thus, my advice in these matters is some appropriately applied and adapted version of the following:

  1. Avoid evangelizing to your family and significant others. If they are not into it, the chances of your saying anything making them into it are low and the chances of causing bad reactions is high.
  2. If you are having weird or unusual experiences and able to compensate for them, keep your mouth shut or speak in very simple, safe terms if people are not really receptive to these things.
  3. If you are in territory that you can’t compensate for, keep your descriptions down to Earth and ordinary when speaking to people who are not hardcore practitioners and seek the guidance and support of those who know this territory.


Most people can handle statements like:

“I am feeling a lot of free-floating anxiety lately. I am sorry if this is affecting our relationship, but I am going to work on this, and help me remember to be kind and functional, as I am trying my best and really want things to work out and for us to be happy. I am so grateful for your support in this and let me know how I can support you.”

much better than they can handle statements like:

“I am plunging into the Dukkha Ñanas, headed for Stream Entry, and thus we should sit 3 hours every day together doing strict vipassana technique and the rest of the time planning for our long retreat!”

Last, and perhaps most importantly, let others do their thing whenever possible. Everyone doesn’t have to be into the same things you are, and relationships are often more interesting when people aren’t.

I am not saying let them do terrible things or crazy things, but so long as their thing is ok, let them do it and support them in it whenever possible, and do your very best to avoid the dark sides of the Spiritual Quest outlined above. If and when you are successful in your practice, you and everyone around you will appreciate you having done so.

I am not saying that there won’t be times when we need to end relationships that no longer fit. I am also not saying that the above advice can always be perfectly applied and you are bad if you can’t do this, as most of the best practitioners here have probably had some of these difficulties despite their best efforts. However, there is hard-won wisdom in these basic principles and if you are having a hard time in relationships due to your dharma practice, see if something above might help.

I hope that there will be skillful discussion so that we can figure out good ways to grow in our practice while avoiding these difficulties.

-Daniel

***

I know first hand that many of us here, including myself, have run into some or all of these issues, and thus, as they are so common and can cause so many difficulties, I though we should bring the light of wisdom from the community to help figure out ways to promote hardcore practice that doesn't cause relationship difficulties whenever possible.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 1:03 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, thanks for this - it is profound in its simplicity and commonsense approach and will really come in handy as a reminder to all of us to keep in mind that others probably can't understand or relate to what we may experience as we progress in practice. Becoming irritated with them for not sharing our enthusiasm for this or that attainment, or getting frustrated when they don't understand when we try to explain about this weird experience that is currently is kicking our ass are not particularly skillful means for handling problems and its wise to have at least the outline of a contingency plan in your hip pocket for dealing with these issues before they manifest.

You hit a homer with this one!

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 2:43 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
It would also be interesting, and I think revealing, to talk about why dharma practitioners sometimes feel the need to engage with non-practitioners. Examining my own motivations to do so has lead me to realize that it's a combination of showing off ("I know something you don't know") and a desire to bring my loved ones into *my* practice with me.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 3:02 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
yeah thats what i mostly find too. its like there's some kind of gulf or gap that i might be able to bridge or cross or close by sharing my practice with my friends and companions. its a similar gap as the one that seems to be between my life and my practice (which is often there, however subtle), and loneliness has a part in it too. when i notice this cropping up i tend to think some kind of integration is what's really called for, an integration that has to happen silently thousands of times a day.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 3:28 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Ha, Ha, Ha, I think I may have actually said something like this when I was in the "plunging into" the Dark Night. Fortunately, my spouse had a high tolerance for misguided zealotry, extremely obsessive spiritual seeking, and all of the other weird shit that I put her through. It has really only been in the past couple years, and I'm not sure if that's because of the unfolding of the path or because I'm finally starting to learn from my mistakes, that I've started coming much more down-to-earth with this stuff. I remember for the first several years of practice, not drinking and doing drugs at all, not watching tv (at all), and wanting to be in a meditative state even when speaking with other people (not a great idea, let me tell you), and being noxiously judgemental about anyone who was into contemplative practice not fitting this mold. Pretty much a walking chronic dark night, nightmare. LOL.

Thanks for highlighting these issues Daniel. I've certainly learned a lot from speaking with people who have learned from their mistakes, though I suppose I still had to make my own. So, here's to caring for the people around us, accepting them as they are, and living a healthy and loving life to the best of our abilities. emoticon

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 4:42 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This page really hits home for me. I remember coming back from a Pentecostal youth camp when I was 13, having decided to really live for Jesus. When I got home, I went out and bought Christian shirts, books, stickers, CDs, and whatever else I could find. My friends didn't really like being around me any more because all I did was talk about youth group. I thought that if I could show them how great, and how real, the experience of God was, we could all go to church together, and I would no longer feel so isolated, and they would no longer think I was so weird.

I haven't done much dharma evangelization, but I won't say that I don't feel the urge to do so on occasion. I think I mentioned in other post how I tried to explain the progress of insight to my wife, and all she had to say in response was (half jokingly), "Do I need to be worried about you?" We've had some more down to earth conversations since then, which has put her mind at rest.

The way I see it, people come to the dharma when they need to. No one brought the dharma to me, I just went looking for it. I don't think it's very helpful to spread a message to someone who doesn't want it. There are bound to be people who would say, "Well, they just don’t know that they want it." Rubbish. If you've got insight disease bad enough, you're going to seek out a treatment.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 5:12 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Author: yadidb

Vince and Daniel, you couldn't have come at a better time with this issue! Dealing with this as we speak.

Vince, you made me laugh out loud here right now and I thank you so much for your quote!

I crossed the A&P for the second time few days ago on a retreat and just running into some troubles with the girlfriend.. though I am taking sooo much good advice from Daniel's book and advice from people here and avoiding many mistakes I guess others had to go through so that I may have their advice.

I dont know whether I'm still in the Dukkha Ñanas or not, but there is an amazing equanimity within me that is helping me sooo much now, and my girlfriend, though she doesn't know it. ("You're too calm! too Vipassana! I want the old you back! snap out of it!" - me: "yes.. I know.. I'm sorry.. "). I try to talk about what I'm going through as little as possible..

Thank you all.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 5:53 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
yeah you gotta be careful with those relationships man, those can be tricky. most girls just want to date their dude, they dont want to date the buddha. dont expect yours to be as into the changes that you wish to see more of as you are. at best, she'll be happy for you, at worst your relationship will end.. most likely case though is it'll just become like anything else and you'll continue to adapt to each other. it may be helpful at this point if she's having trouble dealing with you to tell her that a lot of what seems extreme to her is just after-effects from the course that will wear off soon enough (you could call it the after-glow). as is implied throughout daniel's article, being considerate also goes a long way.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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4/10/09 6:05 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Dear Tarin,

There are also plenty of women, and some hang out here, who are the hardcore practitioners, and their husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends/partners have the same reactions, so it goes both ways and is not at all a gender-specific thing.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 7:10 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Bing-friggin'-go.

Excellent essay. Excellent introspection. I can relate to all of this.

What's funny is that my wife was the one that initially borrowed Buddhism for Dummies book from the library. This started the conversation about our (spiritual) values and off I went. Read the book. Got all excited. YES! This is it! Read some more, looked up local sangha scene, went on some retreats and got all (relatively) Austere - became all vegetarian, no alcohol, forcing "mindful" listening when talking to others (let me tell you how well that went over). All the while getting the "should I be worried about you" looks from the spouse. All effort, no ease.

I'm not sure whether this is some sort of natural progression one goes through, starting out with conceptual understanding and moving to intuitive/direct experience. And the more intuitive experience of the dharma - the more some models break down while others apply (which ones is probably the topic in Vince's application of models essay).

I am greatful to this community beyond words. It provided so much needed perspective and pointers of integration of practice and life (which really shouldn't be that different anyway).

Thanks a LOT.

Andrew

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 7:20 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
yes yes, i did not mean to imply that women are any more likely to be reactive toward their partner's practices than men. thank you for catching the ambiguity and addressing it before anyone else did.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 8:24 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Way overdue discussion in Dharma circles. Someone write the book on this so I can force everyone to read it!!! :-}

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 11:22 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
John Gottman recently gave an excellent talk about relationships. He was speaking about long-term romantic relationships, but I think the info is more broadly applicable. Borrowing his terms, I can see where the toxic evangelism and bleed-through are bids for connection (to cross the gaps), but can easily come off as, or devolve to, contempt (I can help you be as good as me). Worth listening to, particularly for the info on better ways to do things:

http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=17294

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 12:07 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Shortly after my wife and I began dating in 2004, we were sitting in the car in a parking lot in Amherst, Massachusetts, arguing about something inconsequential. I said something about how she would agree with me if she would just take a moment to look at the clear light of awareness, to which she (rightly) replied that there was a time for communing with the Absolute and a time for dealing with the business of relationship, and that this moment fell into the latter category. Furthermore, she continued, she didn't think my way was the only way, and she had her own ideas about what awakening meant.

Stung, I blurted out, "Do you have any idea how enlightened I am?"

There was dead silence for a moment, as both of us processed the absurd and self-contradictory drivel that had just escaped my lips. Too kind to rub it in and sensing my embarrassment, my future wife refrained from comment.

"OK," I said, "that was the stupidest thing I've ever said and I hope you'll never repeat it to ANYONE." :-))

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 12:25 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Author: ccasey

Yes, there can be loneliness and arrogance, which is momentary when seen through with compassion. I’m glad when a teacher can see that when a student calls that it may be an active effort to not burden those close by with questions or events from one’s insight practice.

This thread topic is not at all unfamiliar to individuals who are long standing members of a twelve step program. The traditions actually spell out these issues. Old-timers will remind newcomers of the need for discernment and care when carrying the message. It is a program of attraction rather than promotion. I’m a grateful member of this program and was so glad to find my old friends who supported me were waiting for me when I got home to set up a day for play and fun. Even though now it appears we are on different wavelengths, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go this road unless they were really calling on me to help them like in the sutra where the guy asked the Buddha three times in the middle of his alms round--because it is a tough road.

I try to live with my family and friends with peace, harmony and playfulness, and that’s all that really matters to me. In the end, my program, an ongoing training, is perfect.

Anyone could work a program around this issue or others and it would complement his or her insight practice immensely. As this community grows it is not unusual for this issue to arise as it did for the early founders of the 12 step program.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 3:15 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Author: Ant_808

I like this thread because of the light hearted approach some people have taken.
My wife has stuck with me through a lot toxic dhamma. Funny looking back on it now (not for her tho) but we had planned to get married after I got back from a long retreat, came out in dark night having crossed A&P for the first time, knowing nothing of the stages or maps. Told her "i'm not sure its such a good idea we get married anymore"... some how managed to pull things back together, got married and stopped meditation for months- then the fun started, fighting all the time wanting to just get the hell out.... until came across Daniels Book/dho started meditating working through dark night issues, relationship slowly started to get better and better now its no problem. She just doesn't like it when i start talking about "the truth" lol.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/10/09 8:24 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I can never let down my guard with this stuff, my father is a baptist preacher for c______'s sake, it may as well be a defective chromosome. Aside from continually surveying intentions and motivations for forms of hidden agitation there is the other side of this, stopping short of the anxiety that leads to paranoia and paralysis. In the middle somewhere is a complacency that doesn't wear well either. Sigh. Dhamma if I do dhamma if I don't, life again.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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4/11/09 3:46 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I ranted to my girlfriend in this way for a while. I use to talk about no-self (I tried to be sensitive and respectful) quite a bit, just sharing my interest. As innocent as I felt it was, it is now used in the most hilarious fashion. Say we're arguing, she will say "FOR SOMEONE WITH NO SELF, YOU SURE ARE A SELFISH ASSHOLE!" Argument usually ensues because I can be pretty hard headed, but the raw truth in that line is sobering and more enlightening then 95% of the dharma. Haha.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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4/12/09 2:07 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks Kenneth, my wife and I had a great laugh reading this together!

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/12/09 7:17 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Reading this thread, I realize that I've been on the receiving end of a related situation in a very different context once. Sentences like, "I want the old you back!" and "Do I need to be worried about you?" suddenly resonated with those memories.

Here's the story: A few years ago, my wife underwent extensive medical examinations in order to evaluate the pro and con of neurosurgery to treat her epilepsy. I was scared, because surgery would have affected the right frontal lobe, and I was worried about her literally not being her old self afterwards. In the end, surgery would have involved too much risk, and it didn't happen. She was deeply disappointed, I was deeply relieved, and it took a lot of time to resolve the unhelpful feelings which grew in that space.

"Self" goes both ways, inward and outward. The ones who love us have quite a few attachments to our "self", and when we start poking at our attachments to our own sense of self, interconnectedness can really bite us from unexpected angles. Empathy will ensure that when we hit dissolution, those who love us will experience it too, with regard to our shared "sense of us" and maybe even in deeper ways. The phrase "not me, not mine, not myself" also means "not *just* me, mine, myself", I've found.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/12/09 8:16 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Yeah, totally. Not "us", "ours" or "ourselves" either. It can easily get even nuttier than the 'horizontal integration' does. Maybe this is the z-axis of all of it?

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/13/09 2:04 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Author: Ant_808

"Empathy will ensure that when we hit dissolution, those who love us will experience it too, with regard to our shared "sense of us" and maybe even in deeper ways. The phrase "not me, not mine, not myself" also means "not *just* me, mine, myself", I've found.

Cheers,
Florian"

Good point Florian i can resonate with it.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/13/09 4:15 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
let's not forget the sets of axes that encompass the other sets but in various orders..

bzzt!

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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4/13/09 5:18 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
bzzzap, right. I'm a bit swamped with activity to the point of not having much time to reflect this week and next. Perhaps you could clarify or expand on that a little, sounds more on target but I'm not quite sure what you mean. fzzzort

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/13/09 6:41 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
you know, im not always sure what i meant, and sometimes i not sure if im remembering or im just taking a bunch of pieces and arranging them all together on the spot each moment again, but whatever, ok, i'll try. today always writes history anyway. i was alluding to how the ways and things we even *define* and *mean* by the different axes of realisation are not the same from person to person, or moment to moment, because the words don't mean the same things to different people, and quite frequently they don't mean the same thing to one person over time either. the assumptions that characterise and define each formation and the ancient roots of causality that brought them about are so varying, and vastly unique,.. and meaningful associations are so diverse that it is amazingly easy to construct a meaning but another thing completely to 'keep your meanings straight'. sometimes i find the amount of casual agreement that goes on, that i do myself, mystifying.

ironically, i now ask.. was this what you had in mind?

vwuuurk

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
Answer
4/13/09 8:30 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Author: nails888

I'm going through this right now ( I think I've entered dark night) and I'm trying to avoid "being that guy" by watching my mouth
Another way to deal with the situation is, in my opinion to understand that reality is good as it is ( I guess this realization might occur at later stages). Other people really need no correction or evangelization, no matter how profound my insights are.

On the other hand, recognizing that the evangelism is a new facace that the identity assumes is understanding what's going on with me.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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4/13/09 2:50 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
foooop...Yeah, I reflected through the day how I was likewise unsure what I meant, something...something beyond the inter-being aspect I guess something inter-elemental and a bit alien feeling but no less responsive to the synchronistic feedback loops we are in, that universal, interpenetrating fractal that has it's singularity in the unconditioned and an expression that reaches out into the microcosmic temporalities of all that apparently 'is'. But then again, this thread was a lot more down to earth to begin with so, fade to white... and now back to our program.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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4/14/09 8:26 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
You know, I've never been a dharmvangelist myself. I'm a big advocate of people chilling the fuck out and stopping compulsive worrying (it's called a calendar, or a to-do list. You write down what you need to do it and OMG it's there the the next day so it doesn't matter if you forget), because I think compulsion prevents planning and systematic action and is generally annoying, but those people aren't going to change. No one changes on account of outside suggestions to do so.

Anyway I think Daniel says something to the extent of one possible suggestion being that only people who have inadvertantly crossed the A&P should learn to meditate, and i tend to fall more into that camp than not.

The bigger issue I run into is trying to explain the unfolding of the process to my significant other--the amount of concentration needed for even access is totally alien to most people, so they simply aren't going to believe it's possible that a person could and every sensation would feel like ants were crawling all over him without either drugs or mental "illness." Likewise, I don't think most people believe jhana is possible.

Considering that you run into plenty of those folks *in* dharma (or drug, another topic for another time) scenes, how many would you run into outside of them? Anyway I don't expect anyone to understand.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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4/14/09 8:32 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
To give another example, it's like transactional analysis, or really anything of that sort, or say, e.g., R.D. Laing's or Alice Miller's critcism of our institutions. Most people either don't care or refuse to look at alternative angles with regards to their relative socially conditioned experience: are you going to expect them to think differently about the absolute? I remember in high school my history teacher outlined a bunch of different turn of the 20th Century thinkers who influenced public schooling such that institutional schooling was designed to produced dullards and submissive rule-followers, and these people said it pretty much explicitly. There was some girl who absolutely refused to believe that any institution could serve the interests of power, and who thought that idea is silly.

So what I mean is, by way of that analogy, plenty of people are extremely close-minded (and many of them will ask you to be open-minded about their close-mindedness) about the relative world. Why would that be any different? Only those with little dust in their eyes would see.

There's a reason the texts say Siddhartha had to use his psychic powers to decide who he'd teach each day, and I suspect his real-world success in that endeavor wasn't as great as the texts make it out to be (e.g., think exploding Buddhist statues in Pipelineistan).

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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4/16/09 10:12 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
fwiw...
people change
and
people do change people

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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7/10/09 5:12 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Author: JuliaMay

I agree. A female practitioner with a male non-practitioner partner, I get frustrated with the "girl just can't understand" dialogue. In fact, I think I'm the only woman who has replied to this thread, although I'm patternly imprecise, so that may not be true. My biggest worry is that examining the nature of no-self will bring about a kind of dismissive language towards my partner and his solid ideas of the world. I always have to remind myself that it is fortunately not my job to pull apart the fiber of someone else's sense of solidity.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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7/10/09 11:46 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Author: telecaster

My wife is a Christain with extremely strong faith. And her Christianity has the most gentle, accepting and non-judgmental qualities that I've ever encountered. She really has no belief in "sin" per se. She likes to do a LOT of stuff that many Christians would consider sins but has no problem with because she feels that God made her the way she is with the various desires she has and God would not have made her that way if God didn't want her to enjoy fullfiling those desires. She is mostly calm, peaceful and drama-free. Mostly.
Anyway, I was trying to explain to her the "three characteristics" last night. She didn't like any of them and didn't believe any of the three were true. Which didn't surprise me -- I wasn't trying to convert her , just wanted to talk about it. When I got to No-self/emptiness she was particularly resistent. But, when I admitted that yes, we are both here right now talking and explained that it was about no "permenent, unchanging self" it went down a little easier. She still didn't buy it, but it made more sense. I don't really think of her as needing all of this the way I do, you know? But, if I go on any retreats now, she wants to come, which will be interesting.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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1/29/12 4:25 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I'm late to the discussion, but I just wanted to say this is really helpful and just what I needed to read right now.

FWIW - I had a week recently where I was feeling a lot of friction between myself and others, and a lot of it had to do with dharma. It was getting me down, but then I did the "the war within" meditation from Jack Kornfield's A Path with Heart. I was able to just observe those feelings of conflict, and I realized most of it was originating in me, not outside of me. That cut down on a lot of the noise.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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1/2/13 10:15 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Yep, right on!
I have been reading Hard Core Dharma related materiel for the past two weeks with great abandon and practicing a lot more. I am in a very contagious/evangelical stage right now and it hasn't been the best for my relationships.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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1/3/13 1:56 AM as a reply to Cedric ..
I do so love it that this thread keeps getting bumped, as it is really important stuff.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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1/3/13 8:51 AM as a reply to Fitter Stoke.
Fitter Stoke:
I'm late to the discussion, but I just wanted to say this is really helpful and just what I needed to read right now.

FWIW - I had a week recently where I was feeling a lot of friction between myself and others, and a lot of it had to do with dharma. It was getting me down, but then I did the "the war within" meditation from Jack Kornfield's A Path with Heart. I was able to just observe those feelings of conflict, and I realized most of it was originating in me, not outside of me. That cut down on a lot of the noise.


Funny, I've been having similar contemplations. emoticon

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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1/3/13 3:39 PM as a reply to Some Guy.
Toxic evangelism! What a great phrase. I have also described myself on occasions as a "freelance zealot", due to my (hopefully now diminishing) toxically evangelical tendencies with a whole gamut of spiritual/political/philosophical hobby horses.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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2/2/13 9:29 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This was useful. I'll do my best to keep it in mind.

I remember awhile back I went on a diet-crusade and couldn't stop talking about nutrition and how everyone around me, particularly my boyfriend at the time was eating all the wrong things. It certainly didn't earn me any praise and my "I know better than you" attitude certainly got out of hand. Luckily, I eventually learned how to not muck things up and let people be who they are. If they come seeking my advice, I'm more than happy to give it. But I try not to go overboard anymore unless it's specifically requested. emoticon

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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2/2/13 10:22 PM as a reply to Lara D.
This is taken from here.

#11 really stands out regarding this discussion.

The Eighteen Root Downfalls [of Bodhisattvas].

1. praising oneself and belittling others
2. not sharing with others one’s wealth and Dharma
3. not forgiving even when others apologise
4. doubting and denying the doctrine of the Great Vehicle
5. taking offerings intended for the Three Jewels
6. abandoning the doctrine through sectarianism
7. causing an ordained person to disrobe
8. committing one of the five crimes of immediate retribution
9. holding perverted views
10. destroying places such as towns
11. teaching emptiness to the untrained
12. discouraging others from seeking full enlightenment
13. causing others to break the vows of Individual Liberation
14. belittling those who follow the path of Individual Liberation
15. proclaiming false realisations such as the realisation of emptiness
16. accepting gifts that have been misappropriated from the belongings of the Three Jewels
17. laying down harmful regulations and passing false judgement
18. giving up the pledge of altruistic aspiration

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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2/3/13 9:08 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
It looks like you are all letting yourselves off the hook a bit easy. It is no doubt easier to keep all knowledge of meditative attainment to oneself, so dont lets pretend this is necessarily the noble thing to do. When a good friend of mine began to take up smoking, it would have been easier and less arkward to let it be, yet I still gave it a good to of explaining the direct effects of it, before dropping the issue.
Of course one will put up resistance to meditation, as it would unfurl their identity. It is hardly ignoble to persist even through the first part of reaction. I speak of those in the five percent who are not absolutely unreceptive.

Consider the story of the lion cub that grows up with the sheep. Its way of life is pitiful, until a day once it is fully grown, a foreign lion comes and attacks the herd. Imagine the reaction of the tame lion, it must hate this attacking one. But then the attacking lion grabs the tame lion and drags him to a clear lake to look into its reflection. While previously struggling and full of hate and fear, the tame lion feels boundless gratitude for he other lion for revealing its true nature.

The impression I get from posts in this thread is that a lot of you think it would be more moral to let the tame lion be, with the sheep. On the other hand, I may just be playing devils advocate for I have not brought anyone to the a&p myself, and have effectively given up with that sort of endeavour.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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2/3/13 9:10 AM as a reply to Be Free Now.
Be Free Now:
This is taken from here.

#11 really stands out regarding this discussion.

The Eighteen Root Downfalls [of Bodhisattvas].

1. praising oneself and belittling others
2. not sharing with others one’s wealth and Dharma
3. not forgiving even when others apologise
4. doubting and denying the doctrine of the Great Vehicle
5. taking offerings intended for the Three Jewels
6. abandoning the doctrine through sectarianism
7. causing an ordained person to disrobe
8. committing one of the five crimes of immediate retribution
9. holding perverted views
10. destroying places such as towns
11. teaching emptiness to the untrained
12. discouraging others from seeking full enlightenment
13. causing others to break the vows of Individual Liberation
14. belittling those who follow the path of Individual Liberation
15. proclaiming false realisations such as the realisation of emptiness
16. accepting gifts that have been misappropriated from the belongings of the Three Jewels
17. laying down harmful regulations and passing false judgement
18. giving up the pledge of altruistic aspiration



Number two just as clearly.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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2/3/13 10:17 AM as a reply to Joshua, the solitary.
Joshua ..:
It looks like you are all letting yourselves off the hook a bit easy. It is no doubt easier to keep all knowledge of meditative attainment to oneself, so dont lets pretend this is necessarily the noble thing to do. When a good friend of mine began to take up smoking, it would have been easier and less arkward to let it be, yet I still gave it a good to of explaining the direct effects of it, before dropping the issue.
Of course one will put up resistance to meditation, as it would unfurl their identity. It is hardly ignoble to persist even through the first part of reaction. I speak of those in the five percent who are not absolutely unreceptive.

Consider the story of the lion cub that grows up with the sheep. Its way of life is pitiful, until a day once it is fully grown, a foreign lion comes and attacks the herd. Imagine the reaction of the tame lion, it must hate this attacking one. But then the attacking lion grabs the tame lion and drags him to a clear lake to look into its reflection. While previously struggling and full of hate and fear, the tame lion feels boundless gratitude for he other lion for revealing its true nature.

The impression I get from posts in this thread is that a lot of you think it would be more moral to let the tame lion be, with the sheep. On the other hand, I may just be playing devils advocate for I have not brought anyone to the a&p myself, and have effectively given up with that sort of endeavour.

I think the issue is that, if someone doesn't want to hear or see something, no amount of "tough love" is gonna get through to them. Ultimately, they've gotta come to their own conclusions and follow their own path. It really doesn't matter what is the "right" or the "wrong" way. If you don't let people be people and respect them for who they are, they will just come to resent you.

If they eventually DO decide to follow in your footsteps, then they have arrived there because they want to be there. Remember that someone has to want to be free of their suffering. If they don't even realize they are suffering, they aren't gonna seek help. Never underestimate the ability of people to wrap themselves up in their own rationalizations and mind loops. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

Yes, I agree that compassion can be displayed in different ways, but I'd also caution that, unless we are very enlightened, we probably won't know what is true compassion and what is not. We can only perform according to our best intentions. We can desire for all beings to be free of suffering, but we can't force that suffering to end. In my opinion, the best way is to simply lead by example.

Finally, I'd also caution against the assumption that the dharma is the only way to get to enlightenment. It is one tried-and-tested way, but there are plenty of other valid spiritual traditions out there that also work. They just have different ways of going about the process. One size does not fit all... the world would be quite boring if it did.

RE: Toxic Evangelism, Hardcore Dharma and Relationships
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2/3/13 1:17 PM as a reply to Joshua, the solitary.
Joshua ..:
It looks like you are all letting yourselves off the hook a bit easy. It is no doubt easier to keep all knowledge of meditative attainment to oneself, so dont lets pretend this is necessarily the noble thing to do. When a good friend of mine began to take up smoking, it would have been easier and less arkward to let it be, yet I still gave it a good to of explaining the direct effects of it, before dropping the issue.
Of course one will put up resistance to meditation, as it would unfurl their identity. It is hardly ignoble to persist even through the first part of reaction. I speak of those in the five percent who are not absolutely unreceptive.

Consider the story of the lion cub that grows up with the sheep. Its way of life is pitiful, until a day once it is fully grown, a foreign lion comes and attacks the herd. Imagine the reaction of the tame lion, it must hate this attacking one. But then the attacking lion grabs the tame lion and drags him to a clear lake to look into its reflection. While previously struggling and full of hate and fear, the tame lion feels boundless gratitude for he other lion for revealing its true nature.

The impression I get from posts in this thread is that a lot of you think it would be more moral to let the tame lion be, with the sheep. On the other hand, I may just be playing devils advocate for I have not brought anyone to the a&p myself, and have effectively given up with that sort of endeavour.


All this under the assumption that the dharma follower is "the lion who knows best," an assumption in favor of which I personally have not found any evidence (so far).

Under that assumption, it might seem like discouraging evangelism is to speak against a noble duty.

Without that assumption, however, it is just modesty - a modesty I find quite appropriate.

What makes dharma anything more than a set of skills and activities and learnings that you happen to like?