Love relationships and renunciation

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Love relationships and renunciation

Postby kareniel » Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:04 am

I've been considering renunciation for a few years now. Month after month, I worked delicately at detaching myself from worldly pleasures, contenting myself with less and less, and maintaining a profound joy and confidence. Practice has been very rewarding, and it seemed as though most obstacles have been cleared for me to go forth in the homeless life.
"...having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of renunciation, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at renunciation, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace."— AN 9.41

But something unexpected happened last winter, during a period when I didn't practice regularly, and indulged in intoxicants. I grew fond of the person I was living with. I am currently in a relationship with this beautiful, kind and compassionate woman who is very dear to me. We've been dating for a few months. She has two kids and takes care of them alone. I was not careful and have said things that generated expectations from her. As I am practicing more and more, getting back on track, my goal comes back to the surface and I've come to see this relationship as a hindrance. I am now in front of a situation and choice I never thought would happen.

A part of me wants to leave her, although she is very dear to me, and go into preparatory retreats for a few months before approaching a monastery for ordination as an anagarika.
Another part of me sees this as very neglectful of her feelings and irresponsible, as though I was engaged profoundly in something that was beyond me. It would be hard for to find peace knowing that I have broken someone's heart and given the dhamma a bad reputation at the same time.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this. I am not taking this matter lightly, and don't want to rush this decision to regret it afterwards.
I also think that this is a good opportunity to discuss the moral repercussions surrounding this topic relating to the Buddhist doctrine.
Another case would be divorce for the sake of ordination. It also applies to friendships and family relationships.

What are your thoughts?
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby ground » Fri Jul 29, 2011 3:49 am

kareniel wrote:But something unexpected happened last winter, ...

Whatever you do can you expect that "something unexpected" will not happen again? What are you going to do to avoid "unexpected somethings" to happen again? The situation you are now in isn't it again an "unexpected something" in relation to your experience last winter? Retreat or ordination are no protection against "unexpected somethings". There are many who decide to ordain and then disrobe later, i.e. who experience "unexpected somethings" while being ordained.

kareniel wrote:A part of me wants to ...

And the other parts?

kareniel wrote:I would like to hear your thoughts on this. I am not taking this matter lightly, and don't want to rush this decision to regret it afterwards.
I also think that this is a good opportunity to discuss the moral repercussions surrounding this topic relating to the Buddhist doctrine.
Another case would be divorce for the sake of ordination. It also applies to friendships and family relationships.

What are your thoughts?


In times of doubt one may be receptive to opinions of others and seeking those. But one should never take those as basis for one's own decisions. First remove your doubts through investigating into the reason for those "unexpected somethings". "Removing doubt" is very different from "changing outer conditions". The latter may be an effect of the former but it will never be the cause of the former. The latter may just obscure doubt ... until "something unexpected" happens again.


Just my thoughts ...


Kind regards
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:58 am

kareniel wrote:I've been considering renunciation for a few years now. Month after month, I worked delicately at detaching myself from worldly pleasures, contenting myself with less and less, and maintaining a profound joy and confidence. Practice has been very rewarding, and it seemed as though most obstacles have been cleared for me to go forth in the homeless life.
"...having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of renunciation, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at renunciation, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace."— AN 9.41

But something unexpected happened last winter, during a period when I didn't practice regularly, and indulged in intoxicants. I grew fond of the person I was living with. I am currently in a relationship with this beautiful, kind and compassionate woman who is very dear to me. We've been dating for a few months. She has two kids and takes care of them alone. I was not careful and have said things that generated expectations from her. As I am practicing more and more, getting back on track, my goal comes back to the surface and I've come to see this relationship as a hindrance. I am now in front of a situation and choice I never thought would happen.

A part of me wants to leave her, although she is very dear to me, and go into preparatory retreats for a few months before approaching a monastery for ordination as an anagarika.
Another part of me sees this as very neglectful of her feelings and irresponsible, as though I was engaged profoundly in something that was beyond me. It would be hard for to find peace knowing that I have broken someone's heart and given the dhamma a bad reputation at the same time.



Hi Kareniel,

You could choose either way -- but about one thing I am sure: if you do decide to stay in the relationship, you should drop the idea that she is a "hindrance".

If you're not willing to walk the journey with her, breaking her heart is probably the kindest choice. Otherwise you'll have just wasted her time and diminished her chances of finding somebody else.

Just my two cents.
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby Reductor » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:43 am

Good points above.

Sadly I do not think there is an easy answer, but the cause of your prediciment is easy to see. Your desire has changed yet again, and you wish to browse some other pasture. What happens when you find that pasture does not satisfy either?

Regardless whether you go forth or not, I would suggest you put the brakes on your romance with this woman, as you are not yet mature enough to take on the responsibilties that come with serious relationships. Continuing on as a lukewarm husband and father figure will not do any of them a lick of good.

Be that as it may, I assure you that practice can be rich and meaningful even as a husband and father. In fact your practice enriches you and every other person that comes in conact with you. To practice as a layman doesn't condem you to a fruitless spritual life.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby Claudia » Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:09 am

Dear kareniel,

a relationship or a beloved partner needn't to be necessarily a hindrance.
My husband and I are married since 20 years now and we support each other to grow inside. My husband is not a practicing buddhist, but to me he is a role model in calmness, kindness, patience....
and we are completing each other from the first moment of our relationship and: we also can "let go" each other.

Of course there are also attachments, but he supported me more, to get free of some bad attachements instead of generating more attachments.

I feel blessed that we found each other. :smile:
Many greetings from

Claudia
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby altar » Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:26 pm

my friend, i have similar thoughts...

in such times i like to err on the side of the sutta "to gotami"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an08/an08.053.than.html
which states the dhamma in brief
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby kareniel » Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:00 pm

Already so many kind replies!

In times of doubt one may be receptive to opinions of others and seeking those. But one should never take those as basis for one's own decisions.

I couldn't agree more with you.
This is a good occasion to stir ideas and thoughts, to see what comes out of a collective understanding. What we get through this experience is mere exploration, food for thought, and should certainly not be a way to take decision.

Retreat or ordination are no protection against "unexpected somethings". There are many who decide to ordain and then disrobe later, i.e. who experience "unexpected somethings" while being ordained.

It appears to me as though the idea of thinking about ending this relationship might be a disguised fear of commitment. Which also means that this fear of commitment could also appear after renunciation, which could lead to disrobing and back to the beginning of the cycle again. If this is the case, then the hindrance is not the relationship itself but the fear of engaging myself fully in any endeavor, and this hindrance exists independently of the outer conditions.
What is the value of an ordination based on fear of commitment?
On this subject I believe that "thereductor" has said it very wisely:
Your desire has changed yet again, and you wish to browse some other pasture. What happens when you find that pasture does not satisfy either?


There is definitely a romantic ideal in my mind of the homeless life. It is clear to me that making decisions based on such ideals can be disastrous, because they are not based on direct experience.
What are the causes of idealism?

Regardless whether you go forth or not, I would suggest you put the brakes on your romance with this woman, as you are not yet mature enough to take on the responsibilties that come with serious relationships.

I understand what you mean. I do wonder, though, do you think that this kind of maturity be built only from the outside of such a relationship?

I feel blessed that we found each other. :smile:

Thank you some much for sharing your experience. It gladdens me to hear such a story of success and happiness. Does your husband follow a particular path? Do you have common friends who put forth spirituality in their lives?

Could monastic life, or the idea that we may have of it become the object of passion?
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:15 pm

Hi Karaniel,

As long as we have cravings and desires (call it what you will -fear of commitment- ie 'craving to have my own way'; craving for affection, craving for intimacy, craving for a lay life) you will not be able to fully commit to a renounced life - in fact, it is best to renounce life itself, in such an endeavor. Are you there yet?

:anjali:

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby Claudia » Fri Jul 29, 2011 5:39 pm

Thank you some much for sharing your experience. It gladdens me to hear such a story of success and happiness. Does your husband follow a particular path? Do you have common friends who put forth spirituality in their lives?

Could monastic life, or the idea that we may have of it become the object of passion?


Actually, my husband doesn't follow a particular path - but I would say, he has a deeply kind of buddhistic philosophy "inside" without ever hearing the Dhamma (in this life ;) ).
I remember many years ago...shortly before we adopted our eldest daughter (13 years old now): I had a deep crisis and a lot of fear to die.
My husband and I talked and talked and talked....what is death? What happens after death etc. etc.

I remember very well that one evening we visited an airport just for fun and I felt again this fear. We sat outside and I had my head in his lap and evening came. He told me, he believes in that every thing is connected, everything is a "whole" (?) thing. Difficult to express it in English. And he often said, he doesn't know why he lifes in this world - if he could decide, he never would like to be born, again.

That maybe sounds depressive - but he is absolutely not depressive. He is has a lot of humor, he loves to cheer people up. :smile:

Since I confess myself to Buddhism, he is supporting me and he already became in touch with the Dhamma. We are meditating together. At the moment I do not want to go to deep inside this issue, but I started to conduct a little close friends in meditation (a long story) - people who trust me and people, I trust.

And I was amazed about what there turned out, although I always thought I know "everything" about him.
Recently he went with me to a Dhamma talk and he was really interested in.

It starts that he is asking me things like: "What is Metta? What does this mean, what does that mean?"

And he is thinking about the "Self" in a way, that also absolutely amazed me.



But what I assume is:
if I shouldn't die before my husband, I never, never would get married again.
If my children are grown up and I should be "alone"....I would go to a monastry. I lived my life, I raised my children and nothing in this world maybe couldn't hold be back to go to a monastry or at least to try it.

I had everything I needed - nothing more would wait for me.

I hope this doesn't sound too paradox....it is so difficult to express it in the internet and in another language.
Many greetings from

Claudia
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby daverupa » Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:47 pm

Claudia wrote:And he often said, he doesn't know why he lifes in this world - if he could decide, he never would like to be born, again.


Alte Füchse gehen schwer in die Falle.

:heart:
    "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: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby Nicro » Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:08 pm

I think this is a matter of considering what you want more. Homelessness or a romantic partner. Which ever one you are drawn to the strongest wins.
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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:06 am

kareniel wrote:Could monastic life, or the idea that we may have of it become the object of passion?

Passion? Obsession? Attachment? The source of dukkha?
Absolutely, for some it does.
One has to wonder why some ordain and disrobe sometime afterwards.
Perhaps it would be wise to speak with some monks and those who have disrobed.
In the interim, continue to get yourself established on the path.
As thereductor rightly inferrd, the life of a lay person is hardly second rate.
kind regards

Ben
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
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but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Love relationships and renunciation

Postby Moth » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:37 pm

Consider that Buddha himself left his wife and newborn son.
May you be happy. May you be a peace. May you be free from suffering.
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