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Thread: Seeing the perfection in others...

  1. #1

    Seeing the perfection in others...

    Hi all,

    A friend from a fledgling FWBO community has posted this on the topic of connectedness:

    “…Where I struggle though is in accepting social invitations from people in group settings because I feel different and it seems like hard work…. For example, if I go out with people from my workplace or from some other non-Buddhist groups I'm involved with, I find that I can become uncomfortable when the conversation takes a particular turn, like complaining about a co-worker or talking a lot about things like home renovations. Sometimes I sit in silence if people are being mean & then I feel self-conscious. If people are talking about things like home renovations, I try to ask questions and be interested in what they're doing (like maybe they are trying to create a better environment for spending time together as a family) but to be honest, I get bored. Sometimes in these situations I can see that people are having a bit of a laugh with each other but I don't really share the same sense of humour & I feel self-conscious again.

    …I think my dilemma isn't so much about communication skills as it is about wanting to find a sense of ease & authenticity with people. I would like it if I could sort of get out of my own road & not be thinking of myself/my reactions as much in these situations.

    At the moment I feel like I make excuses not to participate in group dinners etc because I don't enjoy them much but I also understand that these things can be important for building a sense of community & friendship. I don't want to withdraw from people.”
    I don’t know whether she’s heard of the Sixth Grave Precept yet: “See the perfection in others; do not speak of their errors and faults.” But I’m sure some advice from wiser heads than mine on this forum wouldn’t come amiss, especially as we’re due to start Jukai study soon.

    Any suggestions?

    Gassho

    Mike

  2. #2

    Re: Seeing the perfection in others...

    Well, 29 views till now, without any advice from "wiser heads than mine," so I replied to my friend:

    Thanks so much for sharing your difficulty in some social situations where you feel torn between two ethical values. I’m sure that most, if not all of us, have encountered the same challenges. I certainly have!

    Writing about the Fourth Precept, Vajragupta remarks (in ‘Buddhism: tools for living your life’ pg. 57,):

    “Ethically skilful communication involves more than just factual truth… We are trying to communicate not just truthfully, but also with loving-kindness. We try to avoid harsh, unkind comments. I once heard about a woman who worked in an office where there was a lot of gossip behind someone’s back. She was eventually asked what she thought of that person. She replied that she knew that she had plenty of faults herself, so she tried not to dwell on the faults of others. The gossip stopped.”

    This might be an example of how not to get involved in gossip, but in a helpful way, and without withdrawing or trying to make oneself seem “holier than thou.”

    A more active process of workplace peacemaking is described in detail in Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary http://dharma.ncf.ca/introduction/prece ... ept-4.html on the Precept. Quite a long read, but I found it a helpful way of turning frustration and self-doubt into compassion, however small. And, along the way, because it is positive, it can also a remedy for boredom."
    Mike

  3. #3

    Re: Seeing the perfection in others...

    Hi Mike,

    I seems like you gave your friend good advice all ways round, and the advice from Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary is wise all around.

    I might say too ...

    “…Where I struggle though is in accepting social invitations from people in group settings because I feel different and it seems like hard work…. For example, if I go out with people from my workplace or from some other non-Buddhist groups I'm involved with, I find that I can become uncomfortable when the conversation takes a particular turn, like complaining about a co-worker or talking a lot about things like home renovations. Sometimes I sit in silence if people are being mean & then I feel self-conscious. If people are talking about things like home renovations, I try to ask questions and be interested in what they're doing (like maybe they are trying to create a better environment for spending time together as a family) but to be honest, I get bored.
    Accept these uncomfortable situations as our place of Practice, as much as in any Zen hall on the Zafu, because life is chock full of difficult and uncomfortable situations. In such situations, we practice Zazen even as we are interacting with others ... we just observe without judgment on one level, even as on another level (not two) we chat and smile and interact. Both at once. We do not place ourselves as superior to others, but more, observe and learn.

    Furthermore, being in such situations can be a laboratory for insight, where our Buddhist practice allows us too see folk's motivations, materialism, greed, anger, etc. We just observe it all, and note that the Buddha was very insightful in describing what motivates many folks. We observe how folks suffer.

    But, in the end, we do as you spoke to your friend, and speak and interact with loving kindness.

    If we do all of the above, there is no reason to feel self-conscious (what "self" is that?) or feel resistance or discomfort in uncomfortable situations.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Seeing the perfection in others...

    Hey Mike,

    I'm pretty new here and didn't think I could offer anything as wise as other more experienced folks, but I do relate to your friend. I wouldn't say I get bored when other people are talking since in many cases I want to join in, but my fear is that I'll say the wrong thing. What could I say that would be wrong? Absolutely nothing, but I'm still usually in panic mode anyway. I have a neighbor who talks about very mudane things, but even then it's more about wanting to engage him and feeling confident in myself. In my family being smart and "correct" in all things was the paramount virtue and being wrong was bad behavior. The fact that it still affects me so strongly is one of the reasons I wanted to learn more about Zen.

    So, I don't really have much of any advice since his concern was different than mine, but I recognize many of his statements as my greatest fears. That and I have no idea what FWBO stands for. I hope the advice you were able to offer him helped.

    Gassho,
    Scott

  5. #5

    Re: Seeing the perfection in others...

    Hi, Scott,

    fyi: fwbo - friends of the western buddhist order.

    many blessings,
    lora

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