Thanks for your quick reply. Appreciate it.
I believe that I'm not in immediate danger. I am spending less time with my father and certainly staying away from "hot" topics. My family is talking with psychologists about some of his recent behavior...which I expect my father will find threatening.
I am new to Buddhism and most of my information has been acquired via books, but I have been going to a Dharma center here in town. I have not accepted refuge, as they put it, so I don't really have anyone to talk with about personal issues - from a Buddhist perspective.
This is how I practice:
For practicing love & kindness I have a set of beads. As I move from one bead to the next I say one of the following statements:
May my father be happy.
May my father be healthy.
May my father be live in safety.
May my father be free.
As I say these things I imagine how I am making him happy, how I am contributing to his health & safety, and how I help set him free self-deception. I perceive this as reminding myself what my intentions are with him. Sometimes I imagine him doing these things for himself, or just leave it at a general wish.
For practicing compassion I use the beads again with the following:
May my father be safe and free from accident
May my father be free from anger.
May my father be free from fear.
May my father be free from worry.
May my father be free from indifference.
My my father not be caught in the extremes of craving and aversion.
May my father not be the victim of self-deception.
Again, I imagine what part I play in these issues as I am doing the practice.
I think the next practice is intended to develop sympathetic joy.
Myself: I rejoice that I _______.
loved one: I rejoice that ________.
friend: I rejoice that _______.
neutral: I rejoice that _______.
difficult: I rejoice that _______.
all the above people together: I rejoice that _______.
ALL BEINGS: I rejoice that _______.
I did this practice a few times before the altercation with my father. My dad is the "difficult" person in the list. I recall being a bit surprised that I had trouble finding things I was able to rejoice over concerning my dad. I found that troubling, but didn't really follow it up.
Frankly, I wonder if that was a warning sign that I ignored. Maybe this attitude of mine contributed to him feeling unappreciated/threatened. And then he later hits me. I'm not blaming myself, but I am wondering what I can do to better manage all of this.
I am thinking that if I focus more on meditations such as the above I can improve my underlying attitudes and intentions which in turn will improve the relationship. Any thoughts on this?
Thinking about the concept of equanimity has helped me greatly, but I don't know how to formally practice it.
I am sorry to read that you are in such difficult circumstances at the moment.
However, in my own practice, I have found that all of my own suffering has been a great opportunity for insight, or at least motivation for practice.
My thoughts on the matter are:
1. Are you safe? Out of compassion for yourself, if you are in danger of harm, you should remove yourself from that danger.
2. You have already acknowledged that you may have acted unskillfully. It is worth reflecting further on the cause and effect elements at work here. Great insight and opportunity for further insight.
3. It is worth reflecting that it is hard enough for us to make changes in ourself, let-alone attempt to change others.
4. While we may attempt, out of compassion, to help others, without the wisdom to succeed, our efforts are likely to be wasted.
5. A good basis for action in the world are the Four Sublime States (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el006.html
): Lovingkindness (Metta), Compassion (Karuna), Sympathetic Joy (Mudita), and Equanimity (Upekkha). I have found the cultivation of these states of mind extremely useful for reducing suffering and improving skillful action.
6. As a first step to lovingkindness, it is important to acknowledge that, just like you and I, all unenlightened beings seek happiness and freedom from suffering, but they deluded about how to achieve it.
I am unsure of your current practice and understanding of the dhamma, so I'll stop there.
Also, I've only just joined these forums and I'm a bit rusty posts such as these.