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Thread: Buddhism Relationships

  1. #1

    Buddhism Relationships

    My girlfriend of nearly 4 years recently told me that she only expects we have a few years left before we are separated by graduate school. Effectively, she set an end-date for our relationship. This is someone that I have loved deeply for years, and as much as I repeat to myself "impermanence," "life is suffering," I'm having difficulty coping with a sudden rush of sadness.

    Does anyone have any advice on dealing with these difficulties from a practice/sutra perspective?

    I'm struggling to "be with her" for every moment we have left together.

  2. #2

    Re: Buddhism Relationships

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin
    My girlfriend of nearly 4 years recently told me that she only expects we have a few years left before we are separated by graduate school. Effectively, she set an end-date for our relationship. This is someone that I have loved deeply for years, and as much as I repeat to myself "impermanence," "life is suffering," I'm having difficulty coping with a sudden rush of sadness.

    Does anyone have any advice on dealing with these difficulties from a practice/sutra perspective?

    I'm struggling to "be with her" for every moment we have left together.
    Hi Justin,

    It is one of those times when all the sad love songs on the radio start speaking to you. And all the Buddhist teachings on attachment and impermanence (although perfectly accurate) will not be much help for a broken heart. (I really think a broken heart now and then is necessary for this practice ... but that does not make it fun when it happens). Maybe you can find a way to be together in 4 years but, if not, that is what is.

    All I can say is that one of those old songs, by a Buddha called Roy Orbison (although later by the Everly Brothers, Bon Jovi and others) goes ...

    Love hurts, love scars
    Love wounds, and mars any heart
    Not tough or stong enough
    To take a lot of pain, take a lot of pain
    Love is like a cloud, holds a lot of rain
    Love hurts......ooh, ooh love hurts

    Im young , I know, but even so
    I know a thing or two, and I learned from you
    I really learned a lot, really learned a lot
    Love is like a flame, it burns you when its hot
    Love hurts......ooh, ooh love hurts

    Some fools think of happiness
    Blissfulness, togetherness
    Some fools fool themselves I guess
    Theyre not foolin me
    I agree with all that, except the last part about "fools". See, I have been married for 18 years to the same woman. If I had not been dumped by, dumped (I must admit to having done that a few times) or amicably split from all the others ... well, I would not be here now, with this life.

    My friend Tom has been married 6 times, this last one now in its 12th successful year. So, before Tom's last wedding, I asked him directly:

    "Tom, you have been married more times to more women than anybody I know. You must have learned a lot about marriage and women. What did you learn about the secret to a successful marriage"

    Tom replied, "What I learned is: Don't marry my first five wives".

    Anyway, I hope I made you chuckle ...

    Since time takes you where it will, enjoy the next 4 years together and see what happens. It will likely be neither what you or your girlfriend expect it to be.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3
    Justin,

    Jundoís post was skillful and I like his take on it.
    This topic is a potential firebomb and any advice given will likely be wrong unless someone knows both you and your girlfriend intimately.

    That said I have some thoughts that may or may not help out.
    Relationships are constant work.
    I work in a community where about 75% of marriages fail.
    That will not qualify me as an expert on them but as someone who has observed a lot of failed relationships.

    Stuff your thoughts of impermanence and suffering away for a moment.

    What dose her prediction really mean?. Is she saying that she is ready to end the relationship? Or is it just a prediction brought about by contemplating possible futures? The future is never what we think. Things change, and so will you and your girlfriend. You may not even want to be together in a few years or you may be married.
    It is ok to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, but donít dwell on it, itís not a happy lot man.

    Now back to suffering and impermanence. Why do we suffer?

    There is a concept that you might consider. We suffer because of our attachment to our desires.
    Are you in heaven right now? Ask yourself , why not? Is attachment to something that dose not exist (the future) in reality keeping you from being content in this moment? Why? we are in a fourm put up for a religion that is based on cessation. That means letting go. I am not saying let go of your girlfriend, just let go of some of those worries associated with the attachment to the relationship.

    Easier said than done, but sit with it for a while.

    Hope that is helpful, or maybe I am just a big donkey
    Gassho,
    Jordan

  4. #4
    Wise words written by both Jundo and Jordon.

    I could not hope to give you advice about the situation. But, my heart goes out to you and I know that things will work out for you in the long run. No telling how, but you'll be alright.

    Gassho,

    Gregor

  5. #5
    Thank you all for your generous and clearly heartfelt responses.

    I will be doing my best to sit with these emotions and their attendant attatchments. Thank you all again.

    With a deep gassho,

    Justin

  6. #6

    zen and relationships

    Hello Justin:
    Of course there is no way of knowing how long anything will 'last.'
    I had a teacher who always said at the end of sitting, after we all had shared tea and conversation..."I hope to see you again" as each one of us would take our leave. He didn't say "I'll see you next week," he made it very clear, in this very simple way, that we do not know for a fact that we ever will see each other again when we part company in this moment. There is nothing maudlin or dramatic about this.
    I learned tremendously from just this manner he would say good bye to those of us who came to sit.

    I know of several extraordinary couples who lived in separate places--in fact, the abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, lives in LA and her partner lives in Seattle. Graduate school does place extraordinary demands on a relationship, but so do children, remodeling a house, residency, prison, and many other life circumstances.

    I wish you well in sitting your way through mountains and valleys.
    Best of luck.
    gassho
    Keishin

  7. #7
    Justin,

    How fortunate you have loved so deeply to ache so much. How blessed will be your next love. How difficult parts of this path. And all I can offer are my own footprints.

    Except also this hope: My wife and I separated for a year after 25 years of marriage. We celebrate two dates--our 'official' wedding date and the day we started dating again.

    -----------------
    Second thoughts...
    Perhaps when we love, when we are compassionate, we become attached to the joy the accompanies compassion. We ache for what we will lose but not who will lose, because we can love over distance/time. Perhaps. Perhaps I think too much. :roll:

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