Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Balancing family life and the Dhamma, in pursuit of a happy lay life.
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Javi
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Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by Javi » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:51 pm

Today this popped up on my feed: http://www.lionsroar.com/intimate-relat ... -crucible/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I read it and it was interesting. As someone who is in a romantic relationship I see how some of what it says is applicable. Mainly that close relationships, if they are skillful, help one in realizing our unconscious patterns of delusion and helps in breaking down our sense of selfishness and self-hood.

I am not a fan of the article's use true self talk here however, and it also seems to be quite shallow. Despite all the talk about charnel grounds and self transformation, I'm finding it difficult to actually find any dharma in it - it seems like this writer thinks that the work to be done is not in dispelling the hindrances and developing the brahmaviharas, but in simply "learning to ride the waves of our feelings rather than becoming submerged in them." My question for this writer is: what about learning to subdue the waves and find true peace?

I also think that this article is an example of the modern mixing of western psychology (psychoanalysis in this case) and Hinduism with Buddhism. I could not find much dharma in this article, partly because it was laced with this other stuff, its kind of unfortunate that a major Buddhist publication like Lion's Roar would make this mishmash of Hinduism and Psychology with some mention of Chogyam Trungpa their leading article. I guess this is the state of modern American Buddhism?

Anyways, on to my real question, what do you guys think is the place of romantic relationships within genuine Buddhist practice? How does one skillfully manage romance with Dharma practice? Besides keeping the precepts and being nice and responsible with each other as the Sigalovada Sutta states, what is a practicing Buddhist to do when they are in a romantic relationship? Are there any good resources on this that have a bit more depth than that article?
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā — All things decay and disappoint, it is through vigilance that you succeed — Mahāparinibbāna Sutta

Self-taught poverty is a help toward philosophy, for the things which philosophy attempts to teach by reasoning, poverty forces us to practice. — Diogenes of Sinope

I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind — Ecclesiastes 1.14

Cormac Brown
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by Cormac Brown » Mon Feb 15, 2016 2:47 pm

Yes, luckily we still have the suttas so that we don't need to pay attention to publications that consistently pour out such literature. Despite what we're told these days, we don't need to look outside of the suttas, or to those whose teachings contradict them, for guidance.

Some good examples of husband-wife relationships can be found there, such as that of Nakula's parents. In the first sutta, they can be seen expressing a wish to remain together faithfully in the life to come, and the Buddha advises them on how to achieve this:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

In the second, Nakula's father is gravely ill and receives a rousing talk from his wife, who is clearly someone skilled in the Dhamma. He recovers. The Buddha sings the praises of Nakula's mother, telling her husband that he is lucky to have her as his Dhamma teacher:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Thus it is suggested that a "romantic" relationship is healthiest and most profitable under the same conditions that any relationship is beneficial. I.e. when the people act as kalyanamittas towards one another, as friends in the Dhamma, pointing each other towards worthwhile activities such as virtue, concentration and discernment.

Since this is the case, familiarise yourself with the Buddha's teachings on what constitutes true and false friends. Look for a partner inclined towards Dhamma practice, and encourage each other in following the path to Nibbana. Make it enjoyable - go together to offer food to monastics, maybe meditate and chant together. That said, you both need to give each other time and space for solitary practice.

Be always faithful to each other, but don't become emotionally attached and dependent. Remember that at some point, in order to reach Nibbana, you'll have to completely let go of each other and of your concern for each other. Remember the example of the husband and wife, who, having heard the Dhamma, ordained and both became arahants.

If you're already in a relationship with someone who's not interested in the Dhamma, then lead by example. Prioritise your practice, try and win them round by intelligent persuasion and by showing them first-hand the benefits in your behaviour. Don't be discouraged if they aren't responsive. As is suggested in the Sigalovada Sutta, and others, be very generous towards your partner, giving them lots of pleasant and thoughtful gifts.

Another example worth emulating is that of Queen Mallika towards her husband, King Pasenadi of Kosala. Despite his initial reluctance, she wins him round to going for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

She can also be seen upholding the Dhamma in her rigorous honesty with her husband. Here she refuses to give the obvious "romantic" answer to King Pasenadi's question:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

Lastly, regarding the issue of remaining faithful to your partner, you'd do well to exercise sense-restraint as regards looking at other women.

Hope this is of some help.

Metta

Cormac
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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BlkMettaCat
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by BlkMettaCat » Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:22 pm

Cormac Brown wrote:Yes, luckily we still have the suttas so that we don't need to pay attention to publications that consistently pour out such literature. Despite what we're told these days, we don't need to look outside of the suttas, or to those whose teachings contradict them, for guidance.

Some good examples of husband-wife relationships can be found there, such as that of Nakula's parents. In the first sutta, they can be seen expressing a wish to remain together faithfully in the life to come, and the Buddha advises them on how to achieve this:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

In the second, Nakula's father is gravely ill and receives a rousing talk from his wife, who is clearly someone skilled in the Dhamma. He recovers. The Buddha sings the praises of Nakula's mother, telling her husband that he is lucky to have her as his Dhamma teacher:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Thus it is suggested that a "romantic" relationship is healthiest and most profitable under the same conditions that any relationship is beneficial. I.e. when the people act as kalyanamittas towards one another, as friends in the Dhamma, pointing each other towards worthwhile activities such as virtue, concentration and discernment.

Since this is the case, familiarise yourself with the Buddha's teachings on what constitutes true and false friends. Look for a partner inclined towards Dhamma practice, and encourage each other in following the path to Nibbana. Make it enjoyable - go together to offer food to monastics, maybe meditate and chant together. That said, you both need to give each other time and space for solitary practice.

Be always faithful to each other, but don't become emotionally attached and dependent. Remember that at some point, in order to reach Nibbana, you'll have to completely let go of each other and of your concern for each other. Remember the example of the husband and wife, who, having heard the Dhamma, ordained and both became arahants.

If you're already in a relationship with someone who's not interested in the Dhamma, then lead by example. Prioritise your practice, try and win them round by intelligent persuasion and by showing them first-hand the benefits in your behaviour. Don't be discouraged if they aren't responsive. As is suggested in the Sigalovada Sutta, and others, be very generous towards your partner, giving them lots of pleasant and thoughtful gifts.

Another example worth emulating is that of Queen Mallika towards her husband, King Pasenadi of Kosala. Despite his initial reluctance, she wins him round to going for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

She can also be seen upholding the Dhamma in her rigorous honesty with her husband. Here she refuses to give the obvious "romantic" answer to King Pasenadi's question:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

Lastly, regarding the issue of remaining faithful to your partner, you'd do well to exercise sense-restraint as regards looking at other women.

Hope this is of some help.

Metta

Cormac

:goodpost:
:buddha1:

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Sea Turtle
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by Sea Turtle » Tue Feb 16, 2016 2:58 pm

Agreed. This is a really good post, Cormac.

:anjali:

JohnK
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by JohnK » Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:39 pm

Yes, lots of good stuff in the post. I'll quote here the two points that don't quite ring true for me.
Cormac Brown wrote: ...Remember that at some point, in order to reach Nibbana, you'll have to completely let go of each other and of your concern for each other.

If you're already in a relationship with someone who's not interested in the Dhamma, then lead by example. Prioritise your practice, try and win them round by intelligent persuasion and by showing them first-hand the benefits in your behaviour...
Metta

Cormac
Thanks for the sutta links (I do want to read them, but have not had the chance to yet). I apologize if they answer the two things I'm noting.
First, it's the "let go of concern" part that doesn't feel quite right; is that really necessary? (let go of attachment makes a lot of sense to me.)
Second, it's the "win them round" part that doesn't feel quite right; I guess that feels a bit evangelical, my partner's path is her own, and I respect that. As I said, lots of good stuff in the post -- these may be minor points, but I did want to express them in the spirit of investigation.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

Cormac Brown
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by Cormac Brown » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:27 pm

JohnK wrote:Yes, lots of good stuff in the post. I'll quote here the two points that don't quite ring true for me.
Cormac Brown wrote: ...Remember that at some point, in order to reach Nibbana, you'll have to completely let go of each other and of your concern for each other.

If you're already in a relationship with someone who's not interested in the Dhamma, then lead by example. Prioritise your practice, try and win them round by intelligent persuasion and by showing them first-hand the benefits in your behaviour...
Metta

Cormac
Thanks for the sutta links (I do want to read them, but have not had the chance to yet). I apologize if they answer the two things I'm noting.
First, it's the "let go of concern" part that doesn't feel quite right; is that really necessary? (let go of attachment makes a lot of sense to me.)
Second, it's the "win them round" part that doesn't feel quite right; I guess that feels a bit evangelical, my partner's path is her own, and I respect that. As I said, lots of good stuff in the post -- these may be minor points, but I did want to express them in the spirit of investigation.
Hi JohnK,

I do recommend looking at the suttas I've linked to, and at other suttas - they'll do a much better job of answering your concerns than I would.

Metta

Cormac
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

JohnK
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by JohnK » Wed Feb 17, 2016 4:54 pm

Will do, thanks for the links.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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samseva
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by samseva » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:51 am

Develop yourself to be strong alone, and then you can be even stronger with a partner!

(Or continue developing yourself to become stronger without one.)

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Ben
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by Ben » Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:12 am

Hi Javi,
Javi wrote: Anyways, on to my real question, what do you guys think is the place of romantic relationships within genuine Buddhist practice? How does one skillfully manage romance with Dharma practice? Besides keeping the precepts and being nice and responsible with each other as the Sigalovada Sutta states, what is a practicing Buddhist to do when they are in a romantic relationship? Are there any good resources on this that have a bit more depth than that article?
There are a number of Buddhists on this forum who have been in a romantic relationship for many years, myself included. Many of us are in long-term relationships with non-Buddhists, again, myself included. Buddhist practice isn't exclusive, its not something we do in isolation from the warp and weave of day-to-day life. You just get on with living a 'good' life. Keeping the precepts, developing samadhi, panna, practicing dana, being of service to others and practicing right livelihood.
I know it may sound obvious but being in a relationship with someone that you love is not a silver bullet for happiness. Its hard work just as being single is hard work in its own way.
Whatever happens I wish you all the best.

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

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ryanM
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by ryanM » Thu Feb 18, 2016 1:45 pm

An interesting quote from Rilke in the article...
For one person to love another, this is the most difficult of all our tasks.
But I think most of us would understand that to be ourselves. At least, that's how I know it ^.^ I came across a Buddhist book in my schools' library regarding intimacy/tantra as a way to enlightenment or something like that. I was dumbstruck to see this. However, I know it's a popular mode of thought in some schools.
sabbe dhammā nālaṃ abhinivesāya

"nothing whatsoever should be clung to"

JohnK
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by JohnK » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:59 pm

I posted this in a different thread, but I think it fits here.
I first heard it read as part of a Dharma talk.
From Peter Russell (The White Hole in Time,1992,p.128):

Love is not something you do,
It is not how you behave.
There's nothing you can do that constitutes loving another,
No action that is of itself loving.
Love is a way of being.
And more than that.
It is simply being,
Being with another person, however they may be.
Holding no judgments, having no agendas,
No need to have them experience your love,
No desire to demonstrate love,
No intrusion upon their soul.
Nothing but a total acceptance of their being,
Born of your acceptance of yours.

I especially like "no need to have them experience your love" -- that's a challenge, huh?
We usually want our loving to be acknowledged and appreciated -- and for us to be a cherished source of love so they'll love us back and won't leave us! -- cultivating their attachment to us! Serious practice!
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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Thisperson
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by Thisperson » Fri Feb 19, 2016 5:22 pm

I was just listening to this Dhamma talk from Ajahn Brahm when he said this on the topic of marriage around the 22 minute mark.

The three rings of marriage.

The first ring is the engagement ring. The second ring is the wedding ring. The third ring is the suffering.
:D :lol:

He then however goes on to explain that it doesn't have to be that way.


Dinsdale
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Re: Valentines day thread - romantic relationships

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:23 pm

Thisperson wrote:The first ring is the engagement ring. The second ring is the wedding ring. The third ring is the suffering.
:D :lol:
I do like the Ajahn's sense of humour. :clap:
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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