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Thread: When a friend makes a mistake

  1. #1

    When a friend makes a mistake

    Perhaps this post should rest in the thread for precept discussion, but exactly where I am not sure. Jundo may move this post, that's fine.

    For me the precepts are interwoven into a single blanket - united as one, whilst each strand of weft and warp clearly visible still. "Do no harm" unifies them and each precept grows out of that root.

    This week I spoke to a friend who, I believe, is making a mistake in their life that they will regret in a few years time. Whilst knowing that I should not judge others, I have also promised to save all sentient beings. So, some sense of good and bad, of right and wrong, is useful when navigating through life. Despite being nothing special myself, I was the only person who would suggest an alternative way of living to my friend. Everyone else seems oblivious - or they are caught up in exactly the same patterns of behaviour and lifestyle. I am certainly not superior to them, yet how can I stand by and say nothing? In order to be true to my promise to keep these precepts and to keep the Boddhisattva vows, I opened a conversation.

    As tactfully as possible, but being open and honest, I presented my point of view - just opinions - not preaching fire and brimstone. My words from my heart, were not received well. But they were heard and may perhaps be remembered and considered at some future time.

    Having practiced zazen for two thirds of my life, I think I am less prone to feelings of strong emotion. This can be both good and bad. I am leaving this experience and conversation behind me now, I think I did the right thing, I would not have felt comfortable to do nothing and my intention was compassionate. Yet whatever our intent, we cannot be responsible for another person's reaction, especially when they are ruled by emotion. I know I was true to myself, to my understanding of the precepts. I was honest.

    Did I do the right thing?

    In Gassho
    Seiko
    stlah
    清 Sei (Pure)
    光 Ko (Light)

    My street name is 'Al'.

    Great support can be gained by sitting quietly amongst friends.

  2. #2
    Hi Seiko

    I don't think there are any hard and fast rules on this.

    Sometimes "saving all beings" looks like saying something, sometimes "saving all beings" is staying quiet. Sometimes "saving all beings" is going out for a quiet beer or offering a listening ear.

    For me, the most important thing is that it is done with the best wishes for the person involved and that it is the right thing to do for them and not out of some idea of what being a bodhisattva looks like or to follow a precept.

    I would not have felt comfortable to do nothing and my intention was compassionate.
    Sometimes compassion does not feel comfortable and the fact we are uncomfortable is not the best reason for acting, in my opinion.


    It is a really hard question to know if we are doing the right thing and the precepts are, at best, a very partial guide. I guess in the end for me it depends on intention and how we do things. I tend to find that asking questions if the person has considered if this is the right thing to do can be a good way to go. If they shut the conversation down, it is none of my business, and not for me to offer anything more unless they ask. If they are interested in talking about it, then it is fine to continue.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 10-20-2021 at 10:32 AM.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi Seiko

    I don't think there are any hard and fast rules on this.

    Sometimes "saving all beings" looks like saying something, sometimes "saving all beings" is staying quiet. Sometimes "saving all beings" is going out for a quiet beer or offering a listening ear.

    For me, the most important thing is that it is done with the best wishes for the person involved and that it is the right thing to do for them and not out of some idea of what being a bodhisattva looks like or to follow a precept.



    Sometimes compassion does not feel comfortable and the fact we are uncomfortable is not the best reason for acting, in my opinion.


    It is a really hard question to know if we are doing the right thing and the precepts are, at best, a very partial guide. I guess in the end for me it depends on intention and how we do things. I tend to find that asking questions if the person has considered if this is the right thing to do can be a good way to go. If they shut the conversation down, it is none of my business, and not for me to offer anything more unless they ask. If they are interested in talking about it, then it is fine to continue.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Thank you

    Perhaps "comfortable" was a poor choice of words. I was trying to say that I felt compelled to offer help and not doing so would have made me feel that I had not done my best for this friend.

    Bows

    Seiko
    stlah
    Last edited by Seiko; 10-20-2021 at 03:34 PM.
    清 Sei (Pure)
    光 Ko (Light)

    My street name is 'Al'.

    Great support can be gained by sitting quietly amongst friends.

  4. #4
    Without any context, it's hard to know what this is about. There's a fine line between trying to help people and being a buttinsky. And sometimes people need to make mistakes in order to learn from them.

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    sat
    流文

    I know nothing.

  5. #5
    Seiko,

    For me its like the distinction between being nice or being kind. People often say I'm nice, but I tend to think of myself as kind.

    The difference being if you are "nice", then you will offer the answer and suggestions that will make the receiver happy or feel better. Whereas being "kind" you act from a place of compassion and caring for the person. So we might not offer the answer they always want. But our intention in giving a truthful answer comes from a place of compassion.

    Jundo has said before that when his wife asks "How does this dress look?" he will always reply "Wonderful!" And I would say that is an example of being kind. There is no reason to say I hate yellow on you, or it's maybe too short if they are happy with the clothing.

    On the other hand if I asked a dear friend to help me pick out clothing for a job interview, I would hope they would be kind and tell me directly when something doesn't look or present the best imagine.

    It's a hard line to walk and to know when you are doing the right thing. Even with all the details you could ask 10 people and get 11 different answers.

    But as Kokuu said there are no hard and fast rules, and often being compassionate doesn't mean its comfortable.

    Gassho,
    Shoka
    (she/her)
    sat

    “Nice” is defined as “pleasing; agreeable; delightful”, while “kind” is defined as “having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence.”
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  6. #6
    Perhaps "comfortable" was a poor choice of words. I was trying to say that I felt compelled to offer help and not doing so would have made me feel that I had not done my best for this friend.
    Thank you for clarifying, Seiko. I totally get that.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  7. #7
    In your post, you say "...we cannot be responsible for another person's reaction...". I think this is a key comment. You look at the world through your experiences, and see one thing. Another person, with different experiences, sees things differently. As "wrong" as you may feel their decision to be, it is possible that for THEM, with THEIR experiences, the decision for THEM is right. We can counsel, advise, suggest, but ultimately, that is all we can do. Everyone is responsible for their own decisions, and must accept the consequences. If you act with compassion and generosity, it is the right thing and all you can do.

    Gassho

    Dick

    sat/lah

  8. #8

  9. #9
    To review and question allows us to learn, but the wind does not pause after the reed or leaf. Where is your umbrella?
    Gassho
    David
    Sat/lah

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by serenewolf View Post
    To review and question allows us to learn, but the wind does not pause after the reed or leaf. Where is your umbrella?
    Gassho
    David
    Sat/lah
    "No umbrella, getting soaked, I'll just use the rain as my raincoat."

    Sorry, couldn't help myself. Your post brought to mind one of my favourite Daito's poems

    Gassho
    Sat

  11. #11
    Seiko, I remember reading about Ryokan meeting a monk who had drinking problem. Ryokan tried helping but in effect he got beaten up. Next day he kept asking villagers about the monk, worried about his well being.
    Sometimes the only thing we can do is to hold someone in compassion and wishing for their wellbeing.
    Gassho
    Sat

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Inshin View Post
    "No umbrella, getting soaked, I'll just use the rain as my raincoat."
    Love it.



    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  13. #13
    Thank you everyone.

    Bows
    Seiko
    stlah
    清 Sei (Pure)
    光 Ko (Light)

    My street name is 'Al'.

    Great support can be gained by sitting quietly amongst friends.

  14. #14
    Member Getchi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Between Sea and Sky, Australia.
    Kishin, you are cheeky��

    Honestly, not talking to our friends is not bring a friend, yet being a friend means hear and no need to talk.

    How fast was your friend running to pain? Maybe they just need a kind word, maybe to be scraped up after.

    What you do is not there choice, please just be there for them.

    You sound like a good friend.

    Gassho

    Geoff.

    SatToday

    LaH.
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

  15. #15
    I've found value in the following to determine when to speak.

    Majjima Nikaya 58:

    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.

    Angel - sat

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Angel View Post
    I've found value in the following to determine when to speak.

    Majjima Nikaya 58:

    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, unendearing & disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, unbeneficial, but endearing & agreeable to others, he does not say them.
    In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.

    Angel - sat
    He didn't talk much it seems.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  17. #17
    We donít know what the best path is for others. Our job is to be present and aware.

    🙏💜🧘*♂️

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