brandwach wrote:To Marry or Ordain -Which resources should I consult before making a decision?
I have a very serious Girlfriend. I love her. I also have a business that produces nearly passive income in quantities to afford a comfortable lifestyle (The business thing is, of course, in Samsara, and of course subject to decline.)
However, I do want to make the thrust of my life spiritual practice/study/meditation etc.
I guess I need to figure out if I will make it the only or just the principal thrust of my life.
I would greatly appreciate suggestions for resources to consult: books, and even lay and monastic masters who might offer telephone consultations about this matter.
Thanks and best to you all.
PS: I study Dharma about 1 hr per day, and meditate 2 hrs per day, seated and do about 1 hr walking meditation. I go to a retreat frequently, about three or four per year. I have been a buddhist for about 7 years, and am 32 years old. I have had a principally Theravada focus for about 6 months.
My first time here so I'm probably stepping over the line in commenting, but I just wanted to share my personal experience and recent realisations with you, as the same thoughts had been running through my mind. Hopefully it'll help you a little
A lot of people around me have recently been having relationship dramas. I myself have been happily single for four years, and as I watch my friends spend a lot of time, energy and effort maintaining their relationships, I wonder what all their work is for. Don't get me wrong, I am not looking down on them and there ARE loving relationships I admire but even those take time and effort to maintain. Then at the end of our lives, death removes these pleasures from us...so why invest so much energy into something that just ends? Whilst each of my friends love their partners deeply, at the time of death what is there to show for their relationships?
I also thought about what I considered the most important in my life - do I want a relationship or do I want attainments such as renunciation and bodhicitta, which are attainments that I can take with me at the time of death? Do I want the temporary pleasures of companionship, intimacy, sex, etc or do I want to know that in my next life, I will meet the Dharma again and continue on my path to ultimate happines? Then this extract really drove home what I wanted and summed it all up:-
Lama Yeshe on Bodhicitta: “Bodhicitta is extremely precious, like a diamond mine. In order to have space for it, you have first to equalize your feelings towards all universal living beings. You need to generate a deep, sincere feeling of equanimity, from the bottom of your heart. Without extending this feeling of equanimity to all living beings, it is not possible to say that you want to dedicate your life to others.
“When you understand your own disastrous situation–with your problems of egotism, craving, desire, anger, and so forth–you see yourself as an object of compassion. You then remember that you are not the only one in this situation. In society, some people are high class, some are middle class, and others are low class, but everybody is the same as you, in wanting happiness and not wanting to be miserable.
“Consider your relationship to friends, enemies and strangers. Your craving over-estimation of one person, your hatred of another, and your ignorant indifference to yet another come from your own three poisonous minds of desire, hatred and ignorance. They are objects of your own mind. They do not exist externally. Like renunciation, equanimity has to do with inner experience.
“In your daily life, you should practice equanimity as much as you can, by trying not to have enemies and not to have exaggerated grasping towards people. In the space of equanimity, you can then nurture your Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is an extremely high realization that is the complete opposite of the self-cherishing attitude. Self-cherishing thought is like a sword you put through your heart; Bodhicitta is like medicine. Once you begin to open your heart to others, you gain tremendous peace, tremendous pleasure, and inexhaustible energy. When you work for yourself, you are in the iron grip of ego.
“What really matters is your attitude. The dedicated attitude of opening your heart to all universal living beings brings relaxation. In our lives, we don’t have time for meditation, and even when we try to meditate, our minds are sluggish. However, I really believe that making a strong determination that today, and for the rest of your life, you will dedicate yourself to others, as much as possible, is very powerful. In my opinion, this Bodhicitta attitude is much more powerful and much more practical in the Western environment, than doing meditations in which you squeeze yourself.”
Source: Excerpt from a Lama Yeshe talk given in France at Institute VajraYogini in October 1982
So as long as I am in a relationship (an exaggerated grasping towards one person) and I do not have equanimity, I will never gain bodhicitta. That was quite shocking to me. I thought about it a bit more deeply...if I were in a relationship, my boyfriend will only be my boyfriend in this life. In my next life, I might come back as a dog and him as a beetle - what good did I do then to be with him? So should I stay with him to further deepen our attachments and desires, or should I do us both a favour and end it, and not create more karma together?
I KNOW it sounds cruel and cold-hearted, but believe me that if I did break up it would not be because I didn't love them. And I'm certainly not encouraging you to break up with anyone. I guess what I am trying to say is, consider what you find the most important in your life. If you find spirituality the most important in your life, go all the way with it and don't be half-hearted. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to become ordained (although it would be wonderful if you did!) but I think sitting on the fence will lead to no results because you haven't committed either way (to your gf / to your Dharma practice). It's like someone training for a marathon...if you are totally committed to your training and don't cheat at all with your diet, then you have a greater chance of completing the marathon. But if you cheat once in a while here and there, and sneak a chocolate bar every so often, perhaps the result will be less fruitful.
Having said ALL of that, if your objective is to be a good Buddhist or a better Buddhist, I don't think you have to become a monk anyway in order to accomplish that since the whole object of our practice is to do as little harm as possible, until we do no harm at all