One would think that given I’m by myself and have been for the better part of the last decade, I won’t have much to offer in terms of relationship advice. I guess I don’t.
Today I had a friend reach out to me to help work through relationship struggles. I was skeptical about offering a guy relationship advice, because evidently I haven’t found a suitable one yet.
However, last year’s failed relationship with Mike has been quite a learning experience. I wish I had been chanting regularly then. I wish I’d been more open, loving, and given him more freedom. It still may not have worked but I wouldn’t have regrets. I do know with my prayer that what happened was for the best and I can see it in my life.
Ultimately, it is about creating supreme happiness in my life that isn’t driven by external circumstances. Inline with that perhaps one day I won’t care about how happy chocolate brownies make me. 😝
I haven’t mastered how to give advice without having Buddhism in it. After all so much of what I could overcome in my life has been because of the practice. I’m at a loss when trying to suggest to someone how to bring out their greatest potential in another way. I can’t think or analyse myself into being a Buddha.
This is a life philosophy of practice, not of intellectual understanding. It’s like no amount of reading dietary and health advice is going to make you healthy unless you put it into practice.
There is an interesting story President Ikeda quoted:– NHR volume 3 (pg 187-89):
One of Shakyamuni’s disciples had a penchant for posing abstract philosophical questions, such as “Is the world finite or infinite?” or “Are the spirit and physical body one or separate?”
Shakyamuni would not heed such questions, knowing only too well that life’s problems could not be solved by abstract philosophical speculation divorced from the realities of living. This attitude irritated the disciple, who was fond of such intellectual discussion. One day, he rose and voiced his dissatisfaction, saying, “World-Honoured One, if you persist in refusing to to answer my questions, I shall leave the Order.”
At this, Shakyamuni said reprovingly:
“There was once a man who was hit by a poisoned arrow and law writhing in agony. His friends and loved ones rushed to his side and tried to remove the arrow and treat his wound. But the man wouldn’t let them. Who was it that shot the arrow? What was his name and what did he look like, he wanted to know. He insisted that no one remove the arrow and administer the medicine until these questions had been answered. He then proceeded to ask what kind of arrow it was, what it was made of and so on, until finally, he died.
“You, too will no doubt die without attaining anything, still exclaiming until your last breath that you too will not persevere in your practice unless you know whether the world is finite or infinite.”
We can seek to theoretically understand and turn this practice around in ours heads, but that will not change our lives. The way we can take power over our circumstances is by actively engaging with it, not analysing it. My solutions based on my practice will be the ones that bring out my unique contribution, this advice may not work for someone else, such as my friend. I can merely show them what might be another way to look at a situation. We all struggle to do this when we are mired in our suffering. Practising Nichiren Buddhism with SGI provides you a toolkit, manifesto and support of how to do this for yourself over and over. Can’t see why someone who has not been able to “solve” their life in any other way wouldn’t want to use the “Brahmastra” or “Magic Bullet” right in front of them.
The key things I said to my friend Anik today – Each of us is our own person and here to realise our life purpose. Every moment we live trying to bend our lives to meet our parents expectation is a waste. Incessantly talking to them or seeking their approval or pacifying their emotional drama by trying to change who we are doesn’t serve us. When we do that we are hampering their and our own growth. Each of us needs the right balance of love and space to grow. Each of us wants love that sets us free, free to be who we are, free to explore who we want to be, free to change or stay the same. Love that doesn’t do this is still tainted with expectation, ego and control. The next time there’s family emotional drama, be present in it, stand your ground, be the great Wall of China, an epitome of towering strength. Don’t be a football that gets kicked around or goes outside the field.
It takes immense strength to be present for the ones we love, to embrace them and their experience, acknowledge it and yet not try to control it, support them not rescue them, help them bring out their Buddha nature so they can realise their life purpose too. When we try to fix someone else, we are preventing them from evolving on their own. This very much applies to our own selves too.
This is the Hallmark of strong character though. It is how we accumulate treasures of the heart.
President Ikeda says in the lecture on Gosho “Three Kinds of Treasure”:
“Buddhism manifests itself in one’s behaviour. The Law is invisible to the eye, but it can be discerned in the conduct of those who correctly practice the Buddhist teachings. This is because their actions exemplify the great merit of the Law” …– Teachings for Victory Vol 1 Pg 161
“Buddha is another name for someone of dedicated action.”Teachings for Victory Vol 1 Pg 161
As the Buddhist teacher Nichiren states: “More valuable than treasures in a storehouse are the treasures of the body, and the treasures of the heart are the most valuable of all.” “Treasures of the storehouse” refer to money and other forms of material wealth. “Treasures of the body” are skills and abilities, as well as physical health. “Treasures of the heart” are the riches that we build within our lives. This indicates the kind of inner strength that cannot be defeated by any tribulation. It refers to the power to live out our lives in a creative way, with constant joy, fulfillment and vitality.https://www.ikedaquotes.org/power-of-the-heart/poweroftheheart614.ht
“In short, we need to make accumulating treasures of the heart our fundamental purpose in life. If we lose sight of this elemental objective, seeking merely to accumulate treasures of the storehouse and the body, it will only give rise to attachment. Fear of losing such material or physical treasures can then become a cause of suffering.Teachings for Victory vol 1 pg 196
Further, Buddhism highlights the principle of equality for all people. This transcends age too. When we are grown up, we make our own decisions and choices. Respecting someone does not mean acquiescing to ask their demands. Parents raised us but as grown ups it’s not about obeying their commands.
As Khalil Gibran says here:– The Prophet
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you “
It’s hard to break free of cultural conditioning a.k.a. millennia of family karma but now each of us has to do it. This is how we create peace and happiness for all.