The holidays often seem to bring out relationship issues with the people we care about.
Caring is bad…
Ok, it is fine to care. But sometimes when we care deeply about something and that thing is not going our way our reptilian brain takes over and it resorts to anger.
Anger is OK, it is not the real problem. The problem comes in when we allow it to override our rational brain, and we fail to restrain that anger. You see, I think we have to train both of these together.
I can not seem to escape Buddhist law. I don’t think anyone can. If I felt differently I don’t think I could call myself a Buddhist Zealot.
So here is the deal, you (or what you think of as you) are going to die.
Let that sink in for a moment. Reading this can wait. Sit with it, go on, and come back here in a bit.
Those closest to you are going to die too. Pick someone close to you. Sit with that, sit with them lying down, decomposing, showing bone, falling apart, and flesh falls away from the bones, bones bleaching, and eventually turning to dust.
I know it is gruesome. Go sit with it anyway.
Go on now, do it, hate me later.
I totally freaked out when I had the vision above unexpectedly play out in my head with my then three year old daughter in the role of the corpse. It sucked. A good friend told me I should look for the teaching in that. I spat back that I already understood impermanence! She said; what about attachment? Yeah. Expletive deleted. That hit me pretty hard. I am totally attached to the ones I love. I do not think that is a big problem though.
The problem arises when we expect a person we care greatly about to behave in ways that they are not behaving in.
We care and want to hold them close, and they squirm to get away. We care and try to push them into roles or situations that they are not ready for or otherwise are resistant to and they become resentful. What do we do? Naturally we get angry! My (insert loved one here) dose not understand the importance of such and such!
14, 40, 65 age dose not make much of a difference, we get conditioned by our own (faulty)feelings and have a hard time breaking away from them. And of course our own “faulty sensory perception” (thanks Mike C) exasperates(read may be the cause of) the problem of this conditioning.
How do I modify the behaviors of this person to meet my perception of how they respond?
You see, that person, is not yours to change. You can advise and encourage. But you’re not going to do that with a stick. You just make them smarter at doing whatever it is that you don’t want them to do. The American prison system is a good example of that. Person “A” committed a crime so we punish them by locking them up with a bunch of people that have also committed crimes. We create a criminal university, hooray! Extreme example I know. But that is an example of how we think. We want to protect the rest of the herd by excluding those who do harmful things, without examining the cause or trying to be compassionate to their needs.
So what do we do?
I contributed ½ the DNA for my girls. I say “My girls” but really they are not mine at all. I don’t own them. I am by law, responsible for them. But even that is indicative of our wrong outlook. How can we be responsible for a sentient being? We can’t. We are responsible too them. Wrap your mind around that for a bit. We are responsible too them.
Interestingly, if we investigate the word responsible we find it is rooted in “Respond.”
So what do we do?
Respond with love. Respond with compassion. Perhaps most importantly respond with empathy, understanding, and appreciation.
It is really a precious thing to come into this world as a human being.
Do not waste this opportunity.
"We're Only Gonna Die From Our Own Arrogance"
Early man walked away as modern man took control.
Their minds weren't all the same, to conquer was his big goal,
So he built his great empire and slaughtered his own kind,
Then he died a confused man, killed himself with his own mind.
We're only gonna die from our own arrogance. [x4]