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Don't harden your heart

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Don't harden your heart

Postby clyde on Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:15 pm

These days I’m reminded of a story I read about a Tibetan monk, Palden Gyatso, who was a prisoner of the Chinese. I don’t remember how I came across this or when, but it’s stuck with me for many years. The Chinese made his life hard, but they didn’t harden his heart and he worried about his guards and their well-being.

You can read about him here:
I asked, crudely, "What is the worst thing the Chinese did to you?" Silently, the Tibetan monk Palden Gyatso took out all his fake teeth, then curled his tongue upward exposing some deep scars. I just sat there, ashamed of my insensitive question. "The worst thing," the translator conveyed to me, "was that the Chinese almost made me lose my compassion for them." The old man put his teeth back in his mouth and smiled.

http://peacemagazine.org/archive/v18n2p13.htm (an article in Peace Magazine, April-Jun 2002)
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

DO NO HARM
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Avisitor on Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:16 pm

Thank you



Edit: It remind one that we do have a choice to act any way we choose to
And that actualization of enlightenment is to act with wisdom and compassion.
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby chairmanMeow on Sun Jan 04, 2015 8:33 pm

It is true, the wrongs of others can make us into mirrors. Its been bugging me too lately, injustice as the cause of a second more "righteous" injustice and so 2 sides form with swords swinging. I suppose its natural im bothered by how its the normal way of dealing with each other, as if no other options are available.
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Maitri on Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:06 pm

But, can we have compassion from afar? I have been hurt by people in the past, and I have chosen to let go of the anger, forgive…but I will not allow them into my life again, because if history is an indicator, they’ll only hurt me again. Is it ok to sever ties with people, but still possess a forgiving spirit?
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Michaeljc on Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:40 pm

Maitri wrote:But, can we have compassion from afar? I have been hurt by people in the past, and I have chosen to let go of the anger, forgive…but I will not allow them into my life again, because if history is an indicator, they’ll only hurt me again. Is it ok to sever ties with people, but still possess a forgiving spirit?


Maitri

We probably all have some of those. I certainly have

In Chan/Zen Buddhism the prime focus is with self. Meantime we try to not inflict harm on others and help out here and there

It is very introvert This is different to other religious disciplines what? It looks rather selfish.

But

Practice builds a universal compassion whether we like it or not. It manifests as action

If I keep a green bough in my heart the singing bird will come


Another very old saying from China

m
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby desert_woodworker on Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:05 pm

Maitri,

Maitri wrote:Is it ok to sever ties with people, but still possess a forgiving spirit?

"Sever" for now, and be ready to patch things up if the opportunity arises, or doors open. Things are always changing. That's the ONE constant. :heya:

Forgiveness -- and compassion -- is not only for the " 'other' party". It is also for ourselves. It's so that we can get on with what needs doing. Without bogging-down. Be magnanimous about it! :)

But -- and I remind "myself" -- let's not make too sharp a distinction between "self" and "others". Our practice (experience... ) informs us that there are no such things, and no such distinction ...not when you come right down to it.

But, let's be practical. That's the better-part of Wisdom, ...and Compassion.

Remember, too, that true Compassion is not always "Sweetness-and-Light". "Tough-love" can be a good operative concept, sometimes, especially if we "implement" it skilfully, out of necessity and correctness. Our practice "informs" us what's "necessary and correct", without thought, usually.

Zen Buddhist practice is for our every-day life. It is entirely and completely practical. We're well to rely on our practice rather than to "over-think" things. One of the pioneering Japanese Zen Buddhist teachers in USA used to say, "First thought, best thought!". Well, let's say it's close to what some call "intuition". Continued correct-practice makes this truer and truer as our practice (our life... ) goes forward. At first it may seem hit-or-miss. So, rely on the Heart. Or the Golden Rule. But, come to trust the determinations and grace of the open Heart (Mind).

Pardon me waxing verbose (it happens... ).

With very best regards!,

--Joe
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Avisitor on Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:45 am

Maitri wrote:But, can we have compassion from afar? I have been hurt by people in the past, and I have chosen to let go of the anger, forgive…but I will not allow them into my life again, because if history is an indicator, they’ll only hurt me again. Is it ok to sever ties with people, but still possess a forgiving spirit?


Have asked oneself how is it letting go of anger and to forgive if one does not allow them in one's life??
It just sounds more like cutting off people who has hurt one
Where is the letting go of anger?
Where is the forgiving?

It may be necessary to sever ties if that is what one needs to recover from the hurt
But, IMO, the anger is still there and there is no forgiveness
Maybe that will come later
Compassion is acting with wisdom


Wow, someone broke my coffee mug and hid the pieces ... going to miss that mug .... :coffee:
Disclaimer: There is no intent to be offensive in my posts. None was intended and none should be interpreted as such.
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby clyde on Thu Jul 09, 2015 4:25 am

Maitri; I was talking with a Dharma friend earlier today about this very matter. Here’s how I see it:

If I saw a wounded tiger, I would feel sorrow that it was injured and sympathy for its suffering,
but if I can’t help, I wouldn’t approach it.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

DO NO HARM
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby desert_woodworker on Thu Jul 09, 2015 5:15 am

hi, Clyde,

clyde wrote:If I saw a wounded tiger, I would feel sorrow that it was injured and sympathy for its suffering,
but if I can’t help, I wouldn’t approach it.

A standard lead bullet of appropriate calibre, in the right place, or a tranquilizer dart, in the circumstances, would make all the difference. It's up to YOU!, your cababilities, your provisions, and your experience, who are THERE, and to what you have wisely on hand, and are ready and willing to APPLY.

That's the walk that we walk. Not always best-enabled by our variegated preparations, or prior projections, but mostly by LUCK, or habits, and by a moment's intimation as to "What to do", if we have some tools.

This is also where "Police" get in trouble, vis-a-vis "Public-opinion", about "appropriate" Police-"behavior".

Life on the razor's-edge is just that. Cutting! No fun for any party. And always ramifications downstream, instilled by second-guessers. Good luck, if you sign-up for this. But, I support you!

--Joe
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Maitri on Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:02 pm

Avisitor wrote:
Maitri wrote:But, can we have compassion from afar? I have been hurt by people in the past, and I have chosen to let go of the anger, forgive…but I will not allow them into my life again, because if history is an indicator, they’ll only hurt me again. Is it ok to sever ties with people, but still possess a forgiving spirit?


Have asked oneself how is it letting go of anger and to forgive if one does not allow them in one's life??
It just sounds more like cutting off people who has hurt one
Where is the letting go of anger?
Where is the forgiving?

It may be necessary to sever ties if that is what one needs to recover from the hurt
But, IMO, the anger is still there and there is no forgiveness
Maybe that will come later
Compassion is acting with wisdom


Wow, someone broke my coffee mug and hid the pieces ... going to miss that mug .... :coffee:


so being a doormat is part of zen? i don't think so. if so, that part...i don't intend on following. :(
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Maitri on Mon Jul 13, 2015 7:12 pm

clyde wrote:Maitri; I was talking with a Dharma friend earlier today about this very matter. Here’s how I see it:

If I saw a wounded tiger, I would feel sorrow that it was injured and sympathy for its suffering,
but if I can’t help, I wouldn’t approach it.


We cannot help people who do not want to be helped. I see your point, and agree. I will no longer waste my time trying to help those who view my help as weakness. I have a very toxic person in my life, who won't leave my life. I've closed the door now, and he said...zen would tell you to help me.

He is highly manipulative. I honestly am not sure if I have anymore sympathy for him. :cry:
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:59 am

so being a doormat is part of zen?


Often,Yes

But, we don't have to force this

Its acceptability becomes more tolerable and natural as practice matures. Practice and wait - making a relevant decision is not difficult when the right time comes

There is some beautiful stories about this in Zen history:

Once upon a time a monk was accused of fathering an illegitimate child by its young mother.
He adopted the child and reared it alone as his own. When the child was around 12 the mother admitted that he was not the father and that they had had no relationship. She demanded the child back. He submitted and handed the child back
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Linda Anderson on Tue Jul 14, 2015 6:29 pm

Michaeljc wrote:
so being a doormat is part of zen?


Often,Yes

But, we don't have to force this

Its acceptability becomes more tolerable and natural as practice matures. Practice and wait - making a relevant decision is not difficult when the right time comes

There is some beautiful stories about this in Zen history:

Once upon a time a monk was accused of fathering an illegitimate child by its young mother.
He adopted the child and reared it alone as his own. When the child was around 12 the mother admitted that he was not the father and that they had had no relationship. She demanded the child back. He submitted and handed the child back


These are beautiful stories that teach about surrender and the absence of picking and choosing.

BUT, the way I see it, they are not about so-called "being a doormat" which generally means a person, often a woman, is subjected to abuse, humiliation and denegration as well as being treated badly in a toxic relationship. Forgiveness in this situation simply means that one has healed enough to drop the reactivity. If one is wise, they won't subject themselves to more bad behavior... they will leave. It is impossible to "forgive" bad behavior or a person as if to condone. It is only possible to quiet and soften one's own heart and move on.
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not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:32 pm

Linda, thanks.

Like you, I don't care for the turn of phrase chosen by the OP (hi!, Maitri) -- "doormat". Although it's a blunt and attention-getting term, it doesn't reflect the spirit of the true Zen-person's "attitude" at all.

First of all, the "attitude" is not an attitude. No fixed anything! But, a Zen-person's skilful and highly-resourceful "character", a well of Life.

Let's take the nice example of the Zen-worthy in the story Michael paraphrases. An important part of the story that Michael has left OUT (but no worries, Michael!) is what the old-worthy uttered, each time the Universe brought those surprises to him. To wit:

When the mother of the child wrongly blamed the old monk, he said, "Is that so?" (as if to say, "WOW, the things the Universe brings never cease to amaze!").

When the woman later 'fessed-up, and came to claim the child, he said, "Is that so?" (as if to say, "WOW, the things the Universe brings never cease to amaze!").

Each slap in the face was fresh, new, and given the same mild response of surprise, equanimity, and full participation, without attachment.

That's not only an example for practitioners, but also a portrait of what can actually be attained (established) through correct practice.

I'd list: Equanimity; no-self; no reactivity; true Compassion (even in the face of unfairness); and simply doing the needed-thing in the situation that presents itself, without hesitation, without weaseling; yes, no picking or choosing. True Wisdom, and True Compassion, at the helm. Not a Creed, a Philosophy, or decision-tree

There are other such stories. I like the one where an old woman burns down the hut she extended to the Zen hermit, after the hermit refused the attentions of her daughter. She didn't hesitate, either, did she.

"Strong practice", :)

:Namaste:,

--Joe
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:55 pm

There are other such stories. I like the one where an old woman burns down the hut she extended to the Zen hermit, after the hermit refused the attentions of her daughter. She didn't hesitate, either, did she


Joe - there is more to this story then meets the eye? - Do you see what I see?

Linda - I am suggesting that when in doubt, practice and wait, until a decision becomes obvious - either way. If we are not practicing with such a dilemma, another will arrive, like waves on a shore.
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby desert_woodworker on Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:18 pm

Michael,

Michaeljc wrote:Joe - there is more to this story then meets the eye? - Do you see what I see?

I know you're good for it. And I'll ask you later to lay it on me, man. Hold off, for now?

Meanwhile, let's see what more juice Linda has on any of this. And Maitri.

--Joe
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:20 pm

Mmm - the story of the old women burning the hut has one intriguing interpretation

As I don't appreciate what Koans, Sutras and the like, mean (modern commentaries) I am never comfortable after spilling my own beans

She's a clever old girl, I'll give her that :)
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Maitri on Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:44 pm

Linda Anderson wrote:
Michaeljc wrote:
so being a doormat is part of zen?


Often,Yes

But, we don't have to force this

Its acceptability becomes more tolerable and natural as practice matures. Practice and wait - making a relevant decision is not difficult when the right time comes

There is some beautiful stories about this in Zen history:

Once upon a time a monk was accused of fathering an illegitimate child by its young mother.
He adopted the child and reared it alone as his own. When the child was around 12 the mother admitted that he was not the father and that they had had no relationship. She demanded the child back. He submitted and handed the child back


These are beautiful stories that teach about surrender and the absence of picking and choosing.

BUT, the way I see it, they are not about so-called "being a doormat" which generally means a person, often a woman, is subjected to abuse, humiliation and denegration as well as being treated badly in a toxic relationship. Forgiveness in this situation simply means that one has healed enough to drop the reactivity. If one is wise, they won't subject themselves to more bad behavior... they will leave. It is impossible to "forgive" bad behavior or a person as if to condone. It is only possible to quiet and soften one's own heart and move on.

this is it! this is what i needed to read. thank you for this!
'healed enough to drop the reactivity...'

that's excellent. and now, i think i can move on. there was like this one part that i've been stuck on...and it was how to interpret forgiveness in a sense like this. i realize that holding onto my angst has been awfully counter productive for me. and for others, for if we are not productive, we can't help others.

you have unstuck me! :lol2:
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Michaeljc on Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:46 pm

:)

Sit, with great faith

It's not unfounded

m
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Re: Don't harden your heart

Postby Maitri on Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:55 am

desert_woodworker wrote:Linda, thanks.

Like you, I don't care for the turn of phrase chosen by the OP (hi!, Maitri) -- "doormat". Although it's a blunt and attention-getting term, it doesn't reflect the spirit of the true Zen-person's "attitude" at all.

First of all, the "attitude" is not an attitude. No fixed anything! But, a Zen-person's skilful and highly-resourceful "character", a well of Life.

Let's take the nice example of the Zen-worthy in the story Michael paraphrases. An important part of the story that Michael has left OUT (but no worries, Michael!) is what the old-worthy uttered, each time the Universe brought those surprises to him. To wit:

When the mother of the child wrongly blamed the old monk, he said, "Is that so?" (as if to say, "WOW, the things the Universe brings never cease to amaze!").

When the woman later 'fessed-up, and came to claim the child, he said, "Is that so?" (as if to say, "WOW, the things the Universe brings never cease to amaze!").

Each slap in the face was fresh, new, and given the same mild response of surprise, equanimity, and full participation, without attachment.

That's not only an example for practitioners, but also a portrait of what can actually be attained (established) through correct practice.

I'd list: Equanimity; no-self; no reactivity; true Compassion (even in the face of unfairness); and simply doing the needed-thing in the situation that presents itself, without hesitation, without weaseling; yes, no picking or choosing. True Wisdom, and True Compassion, at the helm. Not a Creed, a Philosophy, or decision-tree

There are other such stories. I like the one where an old woman burns down the hut she extended to the Zen hermit, after the hermit refused the attentions of her daughter. She didn't hesitate, either, did she.

"Strong practice", :)

:Namaste:,

--Joe


There is beauty in compassion and surrender, but to me, there is no dignity or nobility in being a doormat. Sorry, I can't think of a better term to describe the circumstance in which people take repeated advantage of others. Going with the spirit of the thread title, I'd say there is no reason to harden one's heart, but one also doesn't need to keep extending olive branches to people who only wish to break them. I believe that we also have to love ourselves enough to walk away from people who don't love nor respect us.
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