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Thread: family and friends

  1. #1

    family and friends

    how does everyone's family and friends react to your practice? do they let you practice or they are against it?
    do they practice with you?
    do they talk to you about it? or don't want to hear about it?

  2. #2

    Re: family and friends

    Hey Zen,

    My wife is very supportive. She is cool with helping me find time for me to sit, she's been supportive when I've done 1-3 day retreats, and she was there (with refreshments) at my Jukai with Jundo. She has recently expressed interest in sitting with me. With 2 small boys, our issue now is finding opportunities to actually sit together!

    How about you?

    Gassho,
    Keith

  3. #3

    Re: family and friends

    This is a great topic. People are seldom seen with family members in zendos (maybe they're having a good time elsewhere, as the statistic of a zen center showed that most attendants had alcoholic fathers).

    Not a religion to spread, I guess. Is it because there ain't nothing to spread?

    When I do zazen my wife and my kids do zazen, says the theory. But they don't know it. My wife calls zazen, jokingly, "praying to the Buddha".

    One of my friends says ommmmmm.

    And I won't disagree with any of that. I think it's funny. After all, where I come from, Buddha is nothing but a chubby plastic idol whose belly you rub to have good luck (ain't no teacher, so I can't really explain to them that rubbing for the sake of rubbing would be "more better").

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: family and friends

    My wife is also very supportive and although I'm just beginning she thinks it's a great thing for me to have found.

    Keith, how old are your boys? I have one myself turning 3 in a couple weeks.

    Gassho,
    Scott

  5. #5

    Re: family and friends

    My wife (Bernie) & children (Jenny 13 & Jack 11) are very patient with me and kindly keep the noise down to a dull roar when I sit. Bernie can see the difference when I don't practice, so supports me 100%, and patiently listens when I chunter on about the blindly obviously. My kids think its kinda cool too, if a little odd .
    Kind regards
    Jools

  6. #6

    Re: family and friends

    how does everyone's family and friends react to your practice? do they let you practice or they are against it?
    No problems from friends and family. I don't talk about it much with the friends, but they are cool with it.

    do they practice with you?
    My kids will occasionally sit for a minute or two, but that is about it. They are still a bit young to hold still for more than a couple of minutes.

    do they talk to you about it? or don't want to hear about it?
    My wife and I talk about it some, but nobody else in the family pays much mind to it. I have a friend or two who are interested and will occasionally ask about practice-type stuff.
    A colleague and I started a sitting group at the college where we teach, so we have some questions from college kids periodically. We answer as best we can considering our newbyness.

    Gassho,
    Bill

  7. #7

    Re: family and friends

    I dont find it so much of a problem, even though i have a one year baby. you just have to take the practice as it comes.
    He, my child has even sat with me on occation (although not for very long...).

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  8. #8

    Re: family and friends

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott
    Keith, how old are your boys? I have one myself turning 3 in a couple weeks.
    Hey Scott,

    Our oldest (Mateo) will be 5 in Sept. and our youngest (Diego) will be be 2 in Aug. The pic that is my avatar was taken at Everglades National Park this past January. I hope yours has a great 3rd birthday!

    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    A colleague and I started a sitting group at the college where we teach, so we have some questions from college kids periodically. We answer as best we can considering our newbyness.
    Hey Bill,

    That sounds great. I wish you and your colleague all the best with your group.

    Gassho,
    Keith

  9. #9

    Re: family and friends

    For family, my parents have no interest in religious or spiritual matters whatsoever. They don't know how I ended up with such a strong bend in that direction. Their view is 'whatever makes you happy, is okay'. My husband, in the same manner, has no interest in such things. Further, he doesn't like me going off and doing almost anything, that leaves him out. Further still, when I had an altar set up at home 20 years ago he expressed very strong negative feelings. So, now, I've told him I'm starting to meditate when I get to work in the morning. So far, so good. He's helped me with exercises when I told him I wanted to learn to sit cross-legged for this meditation. So far, better. He asked what I was reading on the computer, and I told him it was a Zen forum. Acknowledged, with no further reaction. That's as far as I've gotten, and it's fairly smooth. I can't access the 'blog' at work, and I only have an hour at home at night, (we have a 2 hour commute each way to work) so I haven't tried 'sitting' at night when he's home, or even listening to the talks under headphones. I think that will come, but I feel like I need to overcome opposition at each step. I have no kids, no siblings, no cousins, and no in-laws, so no other family whatsoever. I feel optimistic, however, and very comfortable here, in whatever limited capacity I can partake for now. Thanks for the kindness. Ann

  10. #10

  11. #11

    Re: family and friends

    Quote Originally Posted by chessie
    For family, my parents have no interest in religious or spiritual matters whatsoever. They don't know how I ended up with such a strong bend in that direction. Their view is 'whatever makes you happy, is okay'. My husband, in the same manner, has no interest in such things. Further, he doesn't like me going off and doing almost anything, that leaves him out. Further still, when I had an altar set up at home 20 years ago he expressed very strong negative feelings. So, now, I've told him I'm starting to meditate when I get to work in the morning. So far, so good. He's helped me with exercises when I told him I wanted to learn to sit cross-legged for this meditation. So far, better. He asked what I was reading on the computer, and I told him it was a Zen forum. Acknowledged, with no further reaction. That's as far as I've gotten, and it's fairly smooth. I can't access the 'blog' at work, and I only have an hour at home at night, (we have a 2 hour commute each way to work) so I haven't tried 'sitting' at night when he's home, or even listening to the talks under headphones. I think that will come, but I feel like I need to overcome opposition at each step. I have no kids, no siblings, no cousins, and no in-laws, so no other family whatsoever. I feel optimistic, however, and very comfortable here, in whatever limited capacity I can partake for now. Thanks for the kindness. Ann
    Good luck, Ann...

    My husband and daughter think I'm a bit of a nut with this but they think I'm a nut anyway so what's the difference? :lol: We're pretty laid back folks at home so I know they still love Mom the Nutball. My parents and brothers and sisters are mixed. My Dad, oldest brother and sister think it's cool. My Mom will say its good but makes frequent snide remarks. I don't know if my other two brothers know.

    My in-laws are Southern Baptist. No one mentions anything to them for fear they will not let me in their home for Christmas. :lol:

  12. #12

    Re: family and friends

    my family are pretty much ok with it. and my girlfriend too. they accept me as i am.
    but i do see that they are having a hard time... my girlfriend cant understand it so its hard for her... and my mother thinks that the fact that a person is always calm and doesnt let things bring him down or hurt him ( since i know that all things are just what they are i accept them as such )
    it sometimes drives her angry that i am not worried or running around, she says it is not normal for a person to be relaxed in our world...
    but the thing is i get by i dont let it bring me down.

    my friends accept it and dont care either way about it, except for being happy for me that i found something that helps me and i am sticking with it for many years now.

    it is really funny how people react to it...

    whenever it comes up in a conversation i practice some sort of buddhism people have their ideas of some monk sitting on a mountain and meditating speaking in riddles and being all calm and mystical and just being a perfect being of compassion and humility. it is funny how wrong they are that they forget that even monks fall of the wagon

  13. #13

    Re: family and friends

    Hi Guys

    my son Jack (11 years old), sat with me this morning for ten minutes. It was his first time and it was lovely that, unprompted, he wanted to share something. It was like trying to sit next to a washing machine, as he fidgeted so much, but towards the end I could sense that he was beginning to settle.

    Good stuff

    Jools

  14. #14
    Senior Member Kent's Avatar
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    Re: family and friends

    My family's reactions vary. Of my grown children, my son shows little or no interest, my daughter has shown some limited interest and i have offered to help her when she is ready. While involved in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism i rarely spoke with my wife about it. Since joining Treeleaf i have included her in most of what i've done, she has been a wonderful source of encouragement and appreciates the positve changes she has seen in me. She knows of Jundo as i speak of him often . My friends accept what i do and will sometimes ask a question or two.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: family and friends

    I feel that my wife was initialy uneasy: rather like Chessie's husband I think she felt that we have so little time together (we both work long hours, and have three kids) that she wasn't happy about my spending a proportion of my free time doing something which did not involve her. And I saw, and see, her point of view. One of the reasons why I moved my morning sitting to work was that, though it also fitted in better with my timetable. After a couple of years, now, I think it's less of a threat, and my wife is much more tolerant and even supportive, though my zen practice remains the only thing that matters to me that we don't talk about, which I regret.

    My mum has asked me to give her books on Buddhism. She's 78 and suffering a crisis of her own faith and I feel out of my depth in how to respond.

    My oldest son (17) is going to read philosophy at university and every now and then tries to prove me "wrong" with some new argument, but in a good natured way. My middle son (15) is interested, we've had some good talks, and he has been known to sit occasionally of his own accord. My youngest (13) is too absorbed in his own mental world to notice that I sit, mostly, though when he had some panic attacks at night after moving to a new school I got him to sit with me before bed just for five minutes and that seemed to help, though whether it was the closeness to a parent or the zazen that reassured him is open to question.

    At work, I suspect the staff think I'm nuts. But as I'm effectively the boss, they don't say anything. Not to my face anyway.

    Gassho

    Martin

  16. #16

    Re: family and friends

    My family attends and supports a local Shin temple. We attend service every Sunday and the boys attend dharma school while we enjoy the service. While my husband and I are definitely more zen than shin, we like the shin temple because it feels more family friendly with small children, and we enjoy being part of a sangha and participating in sangha events, even if our philosophy differs more on the small points. My husband and I just sit at home when the boys are either occupied or asleep. Sometimes our oldest joins us or short periods.

    As for extended family, my in-laws are supportive. My father is not a fan of any religion, but has a live and let live philosophy as long as no one shoves their beliefs down his throat. My mom believes there are many paths to the same god, and as long are your personal morals are in line with the golden rule you are on the right path. She would describe her self as someone who believes in god and Jesus, but she does not consider herself a Christian. Overall, we are very lucky to be accepted by those we love for believing as we do.

  17. #17

    Re: family and friends

    My wife supports me and has tried sitting her self but really didnt dig it. She keeps here glow-in-the-dark Jesus beside my bird feeder buddha. Our little one likes it when dad's on her level for climbing and the cats like a clean warm zabuton and my lap so its all good. My parents are supportive, and my brother kinda just shakes his head and furows his brow I don't talk much about my practice with any one else unless in our family unless they really dig and then i just try to keep it simple (which it is). Co workers don't say much to me and what is said when im not in ear shot, isnt my business anyways, so ill say they are supportive too!
    a couple of ppl there are very interested in the sitting part and nothing else.

    Gassho
    Dirk

  18. #18

    Re: family and friends

    Hellos to all posting here.
    I was first exposed to buddhism 27 years ago. Haven't had too much support from anyone in the family or friends or husband/boyfriend/significant other/lover departments.
    Isn't that what that jewel of one of the three treasures, 'sangha' is for?
    And of course, when there aren't others, then you are a 'sangha' of one, I support myself in the practice.


    In my experiences sitting with various groups and sanghas for 18 years now (time flies, 'whether you're having fun or not' as one quote says). It really isn't that hard to do. You just start and go from there. With no idea, you just do it and keep doing it. Then you read some and you start thinking, you have some ideas about what you're doing. Then you get over it. And it is just your life.

    Not having a supportive family is good practice, not easy practice, but good practice.
    I have fantasized 'wouldn't it be lovely to meet a nice buddhist?' but when it comes down to it, I'd just as soon not. I'd hate to sit around and have buddhist discussions as part of a relationship. I mean, it is nice to come here when I have time and inclination. Most of the time I'd rather not talk about it. It's just my life. I don't talk about my life. I live it.
    Maybe when I was younger...when I was younger I spent a lot of time talking about a lot of things. Nothing wrong with talking mind you, or blogging, or any of it, certainly nothing wrong with being younger!

  19. #19

    Re: family and friends

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    With no idea, you just do it and keep doing it. Then you read some and you start thinking, you have some ideas about what you're doing. Then you get over it. And it is just your life.
    Thanks for posting that. I tend to go overboard with the ideas. The straightforward way you said that really hit me, in a good way.

    --Charles

  20. #20

    Re: family and friends

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    I'd hate to sit around and have buddhist discussions as part of a relationship. I mean, it is nice to come here when I have time and inclination. Most of the time I'd rather not talk about it. It's just my life.
    Very well put! thank you Keishin!

    Gassho
    Dirk

  21. #21
    Stephanie
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    Re: family and friends

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    I have fantasized 'wouldn't it be lovely to meet a nice buddhist?' but when it comes down to it, I'd just as soon not. I'd hate to sit around and have buddhist discussions as part of a relationship. I mean, it is nice to come here when I have time and inclination. Most of the time I'd rather not talk about it. It's just my life. I don't talk about my life. I live it.
    Oh yes. Well said. I also used to think that I wanted to get involved with another Buddhist. A "nice Buddhist" :lol: That we'd have this perfect understanding of where each other was coming from... :roll: But what I've learned is that the worst people to get involved with are Buddhists. There's so much (to use a phrase someone used on another board, that I love) "self-congratulatory delusion." Buddhists tend to think they're nice, wise, and all sorts of things, when what they're really good at isn't kind or compassionate behavior, it's justifying their behavior to themselves. It's my take now that there needs to be only one such asshole in any given relationship at any time :lol: So someone else being Buddhist is now a turn-off. I'd rather meet some rude person who doesn't know or care about Jesus or Buddha or any of 'em.

    At the end of the day I usually find that "nice" people are dishonest and have hidden cruelties that come out of the ways they lie to themselves to keep themselves thinking good thoughts about themselves. And religious people seem to be the worst of all in this "nice" game... over and over again, I find that the kindest people are those that don't try to pass themselves off that way. They might be a little harsh or mean, or say things that hurt your feelings, but they're the ones who'll come around when it means something. Whereas the "nice" people who know exactly what to say or do to give other people that warm, fuzzy, safe feeling are the ones who will stick the knife in as soon as you come between them and the image of themselves that they cherish. And they won't lift a finger to help you either, when you really need it. When it isn't glamorous to help. If they even think of you at all, in the din of all of their self-importance, and preening over how enlightened they are.

    Wait... how did I get on this rant? :lol:

  22. #22
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: family and friends

    I haven't really had any real-life experiences with other Buddhists, so despite what some folks above have said, I think I would like to try it.

    Very few people know that I am Buddhist. I don't talk about it, and I live alone so no one sees me sitting. As for family, my mom knows, but that's about it. My mom is into lots of new-age stuff, so she might be thinking I am one of "those." But who knows, since we don't talk about it. My dad is a pretty devout Lutheran, so I don't think he would care unless he knew I gave up being a Lutheran. My brother doesn't care. Of the few friends/colleagues I have, they usually say "cool" when they find out, and that's the end of the subject.

    AL

  23. #23

    Re: family and friends

    My wife does support my practice and says I'm a nicer person when I meditate. She also says the same thing of me riding my bike to work, too, though. If I lack for either, I get "mean" or "pissy" (her words). We have no kids so we can plop down anytime and she has a meditation cd she listens to sometimes on her iPod while I sit zazen. I usually sit alone, however. My family is unaware and that's okay.

  24. #24

    Re: family and friends

    Quote Originally Posted by fb2d
    My wife does support my practice and says I'm a nicer person when I meditate. She also says the same thing of me riding my bike to work, too, though. If I lack for either, I get "mean" or "pissy" (her words). We have no kids so we can plop down anytime and she has a meditation cd she listens to sometimes on her iPod while I sit zazen. I usually sit alone, however. My family is unaware and that's okay.
    Hi everybody.

    The same here. Its noticeable right away, my wife says, she even yells to me to "go sit in the corner!" :roll: :lol:

    May the force be with you
    Tb

  25. #25
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Re: family and friends

    Hello everyone,

    Zen, thanks for starting this thread, it is so helpful to hear what you and the others have experienced with your practice. Alberto, I thought that was interesting what you mentioned about the statistics of people in a Zendo. I guess you can add me to the numbers, my father was an alcoholic. Harry, I loved your comment on your wife being enlightened after giving birth twice. Let me just say its true - I definitely consider the birthing process(es) two of my "enlightening moments". :wink:

    I've only just started practicing Buddhism 4 months ago, but it feels so natural for me it seems I've been practicing my whole life. As for my immediate family, my husband and my two young boys (7 and 5), they are very open to it and they ask A LOT of questions. Not all I can answer at this time, but I will learn and then hopefully teach it to my boys. My husband is very good about giving me space and time to meditate and has said that he notices a different in my attitude (more patient and peaceful).

    My extended family, well...that's another story. My mom used to force us to go to Church (Roman Catholic) every Sunday, and now never goes to Church and really, I'm not sure what she believes anymore. She thinks I'm a nut for becoming Buddhist, but that's okay - she's dating someone 20 years younger than she is, so who is she to "judge". My one sister knows and is very cool with it as she is currently on her own spiritual journey. My other siblings have no idea at this time.

    My inlaws...well, I might have to stay in the closet on this one for a while. My Mother-in-law is very very involved in her Methodist Church and thinks Jesus is the bomb...so I don't think she'd take too well to my conversion. She knows very little of any other spiritual practice and would be extremely...horrified, yes I think that word fits her quite well. So myself and my husband are keeping it on the down-lo at this point. And as fb2d said, "that's okay!"

    I guess as long as I have my husband's support, the rest will be okay. He doesn't have an interest in becoming Buddhist himself, but is interested in my practices. That is enough for me.

    take care,
    Kelly

  26. #26

    Re: family and friends

    finally got around to this one, some great comments -- steph, particularly enjoyed yours -- after several divorces, have also thought about get me one of those cool buddhist partners -- and then i come to my senses

    sometimes my wifes anger gets to be a bit too intense, not towards me, but others -- shes sciliian/french, and has lots of familial reasons to "justify" her anger -- i suppose my main concern is the effect on her health -- although i am not perfect yet :wink:, i got to the point long a go where i don't want to kill my enemies -- it has really helped with "the ex from hell", the wealthy drug-addicted mom of my youngest -- i've long practiced "if you don't have something nice to say, dont' say nothing at all" with folks, but can't use that one in this case, as i have regular contact with her due to our daughter

    surprised no one wrote of the desire to proselytize -- i often see family, friends suffering, and want to lay some buddhist philosophy on them, cause i think it will help -- particularly at my age, when my older peers are running out of time(even at 60 you don't make long-range plans anymore), and are usually in heavy denial(cocktails, tourboats, etc., "aren't we having fun?") -- sometimes i do open the door a crack, of course without mentioning the "b" word, and it has helped at times -- the hardest to resist is my middle daughter, with whom i have a close relationship, and who is going through a very similar period of anxiety which i went through at her age, and who often seeks me out for advice -- when she asks, i respond, "all i can tell you is what works for me:...." -- she's stuck in that conceptual middle place, a nihilism where you've realized that the usual "coping" mechanisms of career, stress, partying, etc., do not work, but you also don't yet have a practice, have not yet seen the truth that emptiness is everything -- much self-inflicted suffering

    gassho, bob

  27. #27

    Re: family and friends

    There are some really great personal stories in this thread. I enjoyed reading all of them.

    My wife is an atheist, but she my #1 supporter in my practice. She always tries to help me find time to sit. She often expresses an interest in using meditative practices other than zazen (like visualizations, relaxation techniques, etc.) to help her calm down or sleep better. She particularly likes loving kindness meditation.

    My father is a lifelong meditator and his example has been a sustaining force for me. He has meditated an hour every morning since he was 16, and seeing him in his meditation posture every day while growing up was an amazing demonstration of the discipline required for practice. Though he doesn't consider himself a Buddhist, his openness toward meditation normalized the practice for me and made it personal at an early age. He taught me to meditate when I was about 6 or 7.

    Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences.

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