Why Christmas annoys me

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:15 pm

If Christmas pushes your buttons, then it's a good time to learn about your defilements.

When I first became a Buddhist, I spent the first Christmas period peeling sprouts to help out some charity. Show your Christian relatives and friends the true spirit of Christmas by practising what Jesus actually taught.

Don't try to give them all Dhamma books for Christmas, but at least try to give something that might make them do something wholesome — not a gift of a goat to someone in Africa, but something really thoughtful and useful to that person — not the usual bling, sweets, or plonk.
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Jayantha-NJ » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:03 am

manas wrote:1. It is quite possible that Jesus never actually existed, and even if he did, he would utterly disown the current churches that claim to represent him.

2. Assuming he did actually exist, apparently his birthday was not originally celebrated during the Solstice, but was shifted to that time. The church wanted to stop pagans from continuing their Solstice rituals, and superimposing their 'son' worship over the more ancient sun worship, seemed like a good way to do this.

3. What's with all the imagery of snow, reindeer, and a big man in a woolen suit? It's the middle of summer here (in australia). There are no reindeer here and there never were. And, is the proliferation of cheap plastic tinsel everywhere a subtle dig at the fakeness of it all, or just it's natural expression?

4. Welcome to the most blatantly commercial time of year. Spend as much as you can. Make sure you buy enough!

5. What about all the goodwill, you say? Well I do notice that people do tend to wish each other a happy christmas even in the street etc, especially on Christmas Eve. etc. And young kids certainly find it a magical time (this being the reason I grit my teeth and do my best to sort of celebrate it at my house, even though I'm a Buddhist. It's for the sake of my youngest child, and that is all). But look a little deeper, and we find that many folks get very stressed this time of year, there is a lot of financial stress arising from it and as for those who live alone or are isolated, let me tell you I've been there and it's a terrible time of year to endure, for those folks.

But if anyone can post some positive things about Christmas, please do. It might counteract my current annoyance with this thinly veiled retail profit-fest.

yours grumpily,

manas


1. It's also quite possible the Buddha never existed..and if he saw the state of buddhism today he would have lots of compassion for us poor fools :P

2. We celebrate the birth, parinibbana and awakening of the buddha all on one day..

3. Sucks that you live with opposite holidays on the calendar, you could always hop a flight over to NZ south island and spend some time near mount cook :)

4. the blatant spending stemmed from an original tradition of dana.. how many buddhist traditions do we see as silly now?

5. can't help other peoples stress and isolation, it all stems from certain expectations society has with regards to how the holiday is supposed to be celebrated. Every culture has similiar holidays where families come together.


coming from a catholic background and initially having a fair amount of aversion and even hatred regarding the church and it's people, I use to be pretty negative about church stuff, but never Christmas. I suppose all the good reasons for Christmas to me never changed, family, generosity, winter season, christmas tree, christmas lights. These days my practice has allowed me to let go of almost all of the aversion towards the old religion i was brought up in.


and also... I think that post of Ajahn Chah talking about Christmas was perfect..
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby fivebells » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:17 am

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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby manas » Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:38 am

Hello

thanks everyone for the many replies and insights. Yes Bhante you were right, I need to look at my own mind here. Aversion is the problem, and it arises due to where I place my attention. But after reading about some of the positives, as folks have written here, (eg how for some people, it is a happy time of year (of togetherness, family etc) then the aversion changed into sympathetic joy. I really am happy for those who can get some joy out of this time of the year. I am going to be honest - it is difficult for me at this time. And I am aware that it is even harder for many others who are lonely, and isolated. But we can't help those people by getting into aversion. Only by lending a hand, if we can.

Christmas - I don't really like it, but I'm just going to live and let live. Let em put up their tinsel everywhere. Whatever floats your boat, as the saying goes. I just hope that there isn't too much drunkenness, for the sake of all the children, whose parents will be possibly be indulging more than usual. Drunkenness in parents can be emotionally distressing for kids. But yeah I'm letting go of my grumpiness now and I think some good replacements would be patience, equanimity, and compassion.

metta everyone

manas.
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Mkoll » Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:43 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Don't try to give them all Dhamma books for Christmas

I'm afraid that is my plan. My reasoning goes as follows.

None of my relatives have never heard the genuine teachings of the Buddha before, ie. the Sutta Pitaka. It's possible that the only way they ever will hear of them in their entire lifetime is through my volition. Just sowing the seed of the Dhamma in their mindstream is something I feel would be beneficial. Whether or not it sprouts in this lifetime, it is there. I will only bother them with books this once.

"The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts"
-Dhp 354

Happy Holidays!

:smile:
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:27 am

Mkoll wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Don't try to give them all Dhamma books for Christmas

I'm afraid that is my plan. My reasoning goes as follows.

None of my relatives have never heard the genuine teachings of the Buddha before, ie. the Sutta Pitaka. It's possible that the only way they ever will hear of them in their entire lifetime is through my volition. Just sowing the seed of the Dhamma in their mindstream is something I feel would be beneficial. Whether or not it sprouts in this lifetime, it is there. I will only bother them with books this once.

"The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts"
-Dhp 354

Happy Holidays!

:smile:

There might be more subtle ways than something that is likely to be seen as proselytising, and so just instantly rejected. If you know they like books, then something like Jonathan Livingstone Seagull may awaken some understanding. I am sure there are others, but I am way out of date with reading non-Buddhist books. If they're not into books, there's always DVDs of good films (there must be one or two at least).
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Mkoll » Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:40 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:There might be more subtle ways than something that is likely to be seen as proselytising, and so just instantly rejected.

Thank you for the suggestion. Yes, I expect that they will only read a few passages or just shelve it. But I hope for those who in the future experience a disillusionment with life, they may remember something and dig deeper. And for those who will reject it now and forever reject it later in this life, hopefully at least some of the teachings may enter their mindstream and in some future life will arise once more. One moment of peace could have profound effects later on. The butterfly flapping its wings here may be a factor in forming the hurricane there.

"Better than a thousand useless verses is one useful verse, hearing which one attains peace." -Dhp 101

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:43 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:There might be more subtle ways than something that is likely to be seen as proselytising, and so just instantly rejected. If you know they like books, then something like Jonathan Livingstone Seagull may awaken some understanding. I am sure there are others, but I am way out of date with reading non-Buddhist books. If they're not into books, there's always DVDs of good films (there must be one or two at least).

Good thoughts there, bhante!
Mkoll, you could spread your options a bit by personalising any gifts - a dvd for a teen who doesn't read, a book for an older relative who does, a poster or calendar for someone else. (Fringe benefit: they can share. :smile: )
Check out the "Buddhist-themed movies" thread for suggestions in that form.
If you're short on book ideas, Amazon will provide: look up a book you do like, then go to "people who bought this also bought ..."

:coffee:
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Mkoll » Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:53 am

OK, you guys have convinced me!

I'm still getting The Dhammapada (Gil Fronsdal's translation) for the adults and older teeneagers but you've helped me realize that the kids aren't really ready for this. They are from 12-17 years old.

Any suggestions on what to get them that won't break the bank? I am a poor student.
Peace,
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:57 am

Monkey Mind wrote: .....drunkenness and consumerism driven debauchery.....


Here in the UK that goes on all year. :tongue:
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby binocular » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:19 am

Mkoll wrote:Any suggestions on what to get them that won't break the bank? I am a poor student.

A keychain with a neat turtle.
Something like this - http://p.globalsources.com/IMAGES/PDT/B ... ychain.jpg or a fancier version made of steel or stone.
It's neat, inexpensive, useful, symbolic and inoffensive even if they don't understand the symbolism.
(In fact, I wouldn't explain the symbolism at first at all, maybe sometime later if I see that they use the keychain and like it and the opportunity seems right to discuss the symbolism.)
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Mkoll » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:23 am

binocular wrote:
Mkoll wrote:Any suggestions on what to get them that won't break the bank? I am a poor student.

A keychain with a neat turtle.
Something like this - http://p.globalsources.com/IMAGES/PDT/B ... ychain.jpg or a fancier version made of steel or stone.
It's neat, inexpensive, useful, symbolic and inoffensive even if they don't understand the symbolism.
(In fact, I wouldn't explain the symbolism at first at all, maybe sometime later if I see that they use the keychain and like it and the opprtunity seems right to discuss the symbolism.)

I'm at a loss on the symbolism :?

Can you explain it please?
Peace,
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Doshin » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:30 am

Mkoll wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Don't try to give them all Dhamma books for Christmas

I'm afraid that is my plan. My reasoning goes as follows.

None of my relatives have never heard the genuine teachings of the Buddha before, ie. the Sutta Pitaka. It's possible that the only way they ever will hear of them in their entire lifetime is through my volition. Just sowing the seed of the Dhamma in their mindstream is something I feel would be beneficial. Whether or not it sprouts in this lifetime, it is there. I will only bother them with books this once.

Your gifts and relatives, and you know better then me, when and if it would be beneficial for them and you, to give them a book on a given subject.

Personally I think the Dhamma is best received, when one seeks/wants it out of free/own will.

Mkoll wrote:"The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts"
-Dhp 354

Actually you only quote the first line of that verse. You loose context, when only quoting one line.

I dont think that you can read it literally. From the commentary in "The Illustrated Dhammapada — Ven. Sarada Maha Thero", found in the list http://www.buddhanet.net/ftp12.htm (note there is a text-only version, as the illustrated is big++).

The verse is labelled "The Conquest Of All Suffering" in the section on "Craving", and commentary in that book states (my underlining):
The gift of Dhamma conquers all gifts. The Buddha, elucidating this statement, further stated all the great and impressive material gifts to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha were made possible because, initially, the gift of Dhamma had been made...


The context is (ending of) suffering, and the "gift" is the gift of Dhamma, given to the Buddha.

And that said, I could (also) be wrong, in my reading of the commentary's made in that book...

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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby binocular » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:34 am

In reference to the rarity of the human life and of the Dharma - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Doshin » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:34 am

Mkoll wrote:
binocular wrote:
Mkoll wrote:Any suggestions on what to get them that won't break the bank? I am a poor student.

A keychain with a neat turtle.
Something like this - http://p.globalsources.com/IMAGES/PDT/B ... ychain.jpg or a fancier version made of steel or stone.
It's neat, inexpensive, useful, symbolic and inoffensive even if they don't understand the symbolism.
(In fact, I wouldn't explain the symbolism at first at all, maybe sometime later if I see that they use the keychain and like it and the opprtunity seems right to discuss the symbolism.)

I'm at a loss on the symbolism :?

Can you explain it please?

I'm not certain what binocular implies, but my first thought was:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tml#ref1.2
"... The Buddha says that if a yoke with a single hole was floating at random on the sea, and a blind turtle living in the sea were to surface once every hundred years — the likelihood of the turtle pushing his neck through the hole in the yoke would be greater than that of a being in the evil destinations regaining human status. ..."


_/\_
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby binocular » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:44 am

Mkoll wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I'm afraid that is my plan. My reasoning goes as follows.

None of my relatives have never heard the genuine teachings of the Buddha before, ie. the Sutta Pitaka. It's possible that the only way they ever will hear of them in their entire lifetime is through my volition. Just sowing the seed of the Dhamma in their mindstream is something I feel would be beneficial. Whether or not it sprouts in this lifetime, it is there. I will only bother them with books this once.

"The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts"
-Dhp 354


Compare - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Mkoll » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:02 pm

binocular wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I'm afraid that is my plan. My reasoning goes as follows.

None of my relatives have never heard the genuine teachings of the Buddha before, ie. the Sutta Pitaka. It's possible that the only way they ever will hear of them in their entire lifetime is through my volition. Just sowing the seed of the Dhamma in their mindstream is something I feel would be beneficial. Whether or not it sprouts in this lifetime, it is there. I will only bother them with books this once.

"The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts"
-Dhp 354


Compare - http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


When I speak of the Dhamma, I do try to follow that sutta. However, I don't think books fall under the category of speaking or teaching but rather gift-giving. I learned of the Dhamma from books. I'd heard the word "Buddha" and "Buddhism" but only knew of it as an Eastern religion until I read Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das. If it weren't for books and writing and those willing to write and pass on those writings, the Suttas would never have been recorded and perhaps the Dhamma would have died in this world centuries ago and none of us would ever have learned of it thenceforth

As long as I give the gift with my own hand, with a mind of metta and karuna for the welfare of the person I am giving to, I think it is a wholesome action.

Any thoughts on this?
Peace,
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby daverupa » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:10 pm

Mkoll wrote:Any thoughts on this?


A book that's teaching something is the gift of a teaching book, not simply the gift of a book. You can't remove the content and focus on the medium, that's one-sided - as though I could give you a book of racial hatred and KKK pride, and tell you it was just a gift because it's a book, you see?

I would say that the content actually defines the gift, and not the medium, in this case. (Perhaps if one gives the gift of book-making technology, one has given the gift of books!)
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby binocular » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:32 pm

Mkoll wrote:Any thoughts on this?

But was a Dhamma book ever given to you specifically, without you asking for it or even having any previous interest in the Dhamma at all - like a person approaching you personally and giving you a Dhamma book just so, out of the blue?
Or did you out of your own interest go and take what was already offered?

I think giving a Dhamma book or any other Dhamma materials (such as cd's, films, statues of the Buddha) falls under the category of speaking or teaching.


For comparison: Suppose a Buddhist would give you a Buddhist book by a teacher whom you don't particularly appreciate. How would you probably experience that?
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Re: Why Christmas annoys me

Postby Jayantha-NJ » Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:36 pm

Mkoll wrote:OK, you guys have convinced me!

I'm still getting The Dhammapada (Gil Fronsdal's translation) for the adults and older teeneagers but you've helped me realize that the kids aren't really ready for this. They are from 12-17 years old.

Any suggestions on what to get them that won't break the bank? I am a poor student.



why not practice dhamma and then when they see how you live the dhamma and are interested, then they themselves can ask about it.
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