Monday, July 27, 2009

How to avoid divorce.

(Picture from CK Hon's blog)

Question: (Unedited)

What is the buddhist perspective on upholding the institution of marriage? Should a married couple strive to keep their marriage intact in spite of numerous hurdles and challenges? We are a small family of 'dormant' buddhists. My wife and I constantly argue due to numerous financial constraints and she cites my irresponsibility as a reason to leave me. She has moved out from our home and is filing for a divorce. As a buddhist, should I be trying my level best to avoid this situation (divorce)? Thank you.

My comment:
Hi ,

Thank you for asking me.

I too always argue with my wife, and many times over very petty matters. I am very lucky to have a very patient and loving wife; she loves me without imposing any condition. Many times I acted like a fool, and she patiently waited for "time" to be my teacher. I am just fortunate and "lucky" to have such a wife. But how many are as lucky as me?

The Buddha taught us to live a noble and harmless life, by keeping the 5 precepts. Easier said than done. We are all foolish mortals always making mistakes and hurting others. In the end we hurt our own selves. The change has to come from us and not from the other party. We have to face facts squarely and see and realize what we have done wrong, why we are in this predicament. It is very easy to put in words as wise advice, but in reality it is much more than that. This is not a marriage counsel web site, which will be more pertinent to your present predicament. What I can comment is that all of us have faults. Perhaps it may be easier for us to try to correct our faults as best we can, and hope that the other party can understand she may have her faults as well. When both parties can come to terms with each own's faults, the situation may improve for the better, as the atmosphere for reconciliation is there. It is a win-win situation.

AS Buddhists we always try to understand our own weaknesses, and make amends should there be. In this way the other party may sympathize with us knowing that we are trying our best to live a harmonious life. We don't have to be Buddhists to know the importance of family life. All of us know. It is a secular commitment of both parties to live together harmoniously and to raise a family in a happy and loving home. The family is at stake, the children need the loving and harmonious family relationship to grow up to be a happy and confident lot. I speak with experience, for I know what it is like to grow up in a hostile and problematic family. For the sake of the children if nothing else, I would make great effort to safe the marriage and the family. The ball is at your feet, so to say. Have courage to say you are sorry and have the wisdom and compassion to forgive.

I am sorry I am of not much help but just to share with you my thoughts. Please take care, for the sake of the children.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ignore the fools.

(Picture from CK Hon)


I'm 16, from sweden and attend gymnasium at the first year.
I'll just get straight to the point. I have a problem my friends keep saying things like you suck, or please commit suicide to me. I don't think they meen it but it really is hard hearing them say such things everyday. this is generally normal for friends in sweden schools, to say downrating things to your friends.
It's not long since I've started reading about buddhism and I've found that it really helped making everyday easier in several ways.
But now that winter holidays is over I just can't take advantage of buddhism in everydaylife (because it's in school). I try to think of making people around me happy, gladly sharing my thoughts with those who ask my oppinon.
I don't ever say go and die to my friends but still they treat me the way they do.
Actually today they said in a math class that I sucked because I tried to work while they were chatting loudly with eachother.
Our teacher don't care much if people talk or work in her classes so she don't tell them to be quiet.
I can't concentrate in classes due to them taling and I can't be happy if they keep harassing me.
I can't figure out what to do, and I thought that your expertise was really fitting for this problem.
This is a practical problem. And I want to live in peace with my selfe and my friends.
I'm wery new at buddhism and are currently reading a lot of ebooks and trying to change my lifestyle to the buddhist way, if you give me a buddhist answare on this question it would really help me become more buddhist in my opinion

My comment:

Hi L,

Thank you for asking me.

The problem with this world is that people are behaving wrongly, due to their ignorance of the true nature of this world. Most people especially around your age are very sensitive to peer pressure and social dictates. There is this herd mentality to follow the crowd because it is the "in thing" and the "accepted norm" to behave like "the others". Otherwise, the person may be ostracized and be called names. Just like in your case. You are a very special person at your age to realize that what your friends are behaving is unskilful, and foolish. Not everyone can realize this, especially when the "social norm" is to behave the way you have described. Having estabished the reason(s) of your friends' behaviour, you can now understand why they are treating you differently. Knowing this reason, you can now empathize with their wrong behaviour, and to forgive their foolish remarks.

You have the intelligence to understand what is wholesome behaviour, which will lead to wholesome results. By following through this skilful living, you will be free from a lot of problems and troubles in the future. Continue to follow through the wholesome teachings of the Buddha and along the way you will meet friends with similar values and virtues. In no time, others will see the positive side of your personality, and will want to follow your ways. Think of the happiness you would have to be able to influence others to lead a wise and respectable life. Even if others do not follow your way, you still gain the benefits for yourself.

Patience and perseverance will see you through. Have the confidence that when you practise the Dhamma (the universal truths as taught by the Buddha) these truths will protect you. This is the confidence that all Buddhists have. When we tread the correct path; this path will lead us to peace and happiness.

Please come back if I am of any help to provide you with the moral support.

The Buddha encouraged us to strive on with diligence, even in the face of adversity. Have courage, and continue with your wholesome behaviour.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just strive on.

(Picture from CK Hon)

dear justin choo,
i am concentrating on meditating and focusing on speaking, thinking and acting kindly. I can work on finding happiness within myself but i have come across a problem.
When others around me are unhappy, or when others are directly taking their unhappiness out on me, i am finding it very hard to keep a peaceful and happy state of mind, i can't help but take their unhappiness on board and worry about them- which makes me unhappy.
i would like to know how buddha delt with others unhappiness?
what do you do when angry or unhappy people attack you? should it upset me? i want to stay loving and happy but how do i do that when others are not?
thankyou for taking the time to read this :)
love s.

My comment:

Hi S,

Thank you for asking me.

First we have to accept the fact that we learning to be good. We are not perfect and very unlikely that we can be perfect in this life. As Buddhists, what we are doing is to try our best to better ourselves in terms of being mindful of the real nature of this world and to accommodate problems as they arise. Unless we are very well trained in our mental culture, we will be succumbed to the sorrows of life. What we must realize is that we are going through a long and arduous journey of learning to walk the right path. The only difference of us from others is the knowledge that we are trying our best to live wisely by following the Buddha's teachings. Each time we fail, we take it as a lesson learnt. In this process we can live with our failures.

In theory it is very easily said that we should be detached from our problems as well as others' problems, and to stay happy at all times. In reality as you know, it is a very different cup of tea. It is natural that we get upset when people disturb us. It is also natural that we empathize with others' problems. However, the Buddha taught us a method of not dwelling into the problem continuously. This is what we refer as accepting that which we cannot avoid and "to note and to let go". It is certainly very difficult. On the practical side, we can strive to solve our problems and others as well. Having done our best, it is time to rest the issues. As getting angry with people, the only help is to realize that we are the ones to suffer and not our "enemies". This is so because we generate our hateful thoughts in our minds; we are the only recipients of these thoughts. Our systems burn inside us. For the sake of our well being we should then stop this unwholesome reaction.

To be skilful in our living it takes much effort and practice to be mindful of the nature of this world at every moment. Buddhist meditation is training to be more mindful in our lives. When we are able to maintain this mindfulness, we will find that we can respond to problems in a more skilful way.

In the meantime, let us strive on with diligence and vigilance.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Live for today.

(Picture from CK Hon)

Question: (Unedited)
In brief, my husband and I were not getting along, he became very depressed and began overdosing on tranquilizers, alcohol, antidepressants, really messed up his brain and then killed himself with the drugs. I was really angry for about a day but then I realized he was so messed up and not himself, and that I needed to love him and pray for him, especially after what he did. It has been really hard for me because his family and everyone blames me for his death, and I have had some pretty bad feelings of guilt, but mostly what has happened is that I realized that I have loved him all along, and he loved me all along, and things between us just got really messed up. I have been working very hard at trying to process and understand what was going on with him throughout his life and what was going on with us. My Vedic astrologer said that we were very karmically connected, that we were from the same soul family, that he was very sorry for what he did, that he had had such a tortured childhood (he had told me about it and it was) that he was just really messed up. I still feel like I failed because I couldn't love him as much as he needed. He yelled and raged and snapped at me and could be very mean and vindictive and I was really scared of him. The next day or so after he died I asked some Tibetan monks to pray for him. I have been praying for him. I put out food and beer for the first week, and have had pictures of him and I light a candle in front of the pictures when I am home This Wednesday is the 49th day after his death. I wish our souls could be together without all the misunderstanding that had been there for so long. Sometimes when I am calm and loving him I can really feel something in my heart (chakra?). What is the best thing to do to keep helping him? Today I actually considered trying to join him. But then I remembered I really want to be able to go to the Ultimate Luminosity and have him there too. Thanks for any insight you can give.

My comment:
Hi M,
It is very heart breaking to read tragic events like yours. It is also very easy to say I'm sorry to hear that. But that's not going to help. It is also very easy for me to comment because I am just an "arm-chair advisor". What authority have I to give advice? I am just an ordinary mortal. However, I shall try my best to share my views.

A very important decision that must be made is that what is past cannot be altered. There is no going back. So it will be a waste of time to constantly think back of past events. The more you think the more hurt you will feel. In the extreme case, a person may experience a nervous breakdown, simply because the system cannot take it anymore. The first step of remedy is not to trace back past events. Each time when the urge to think back surfaces, one has to be mindful and wise to stop the process. With constant attention to this effort, over time the mind will gradually let go of the past traumatic experiences and will enable the person to start a "new life".It is the present life available that is important and useful. Today is the beginning of the rest of your life. You have to start living your life now, and to stop feeling sorrow for past events irrespective of who was right or wrong.

Your Vedic astrologer may have his views, but I think you have the intelligence to think for yourself. The best approach now is to start living and forget about finding "answers" to what had already happened. From your description, I think you are an Asian. Asian cultures place much emphasis on respect for elders as well as for the deceased. The best way to show respect to and honour for him will be for you to straighten up your life and start living a beneficial life. This is to prove that your life is still worthwhile and it is essential that you have the wisdom and resilient to look forward to a better future.

Your life is in your hands; there is light at the end of the tunnel. Please strive forward with diligence, as the Buddha advised.

Below is my favourite comment:

Learn from yesterday

Strive for tomorrow


TIME is the greatest healer. Be patient and take care.

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