We have so many concepts about others, and sometimes even before we know that person, we’ve already given them this label: “Difficult.” It’s like a big tag they’re wearing whenever we see them. So I think what’s obstructing us from dealing with them is our prejudgments and preconceptions about who they are. We have so many thoughts about them even before we get to know them. In a sense, this may make you less able to deal with a “difficult” person. And actually, if you take a closer look, it may turn out that the difficult person is you.
In this interesting transcript of a talk that Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche gave, he mentions how our increasing use of technology often alienates ourselves from one another. This however can be countered by being in a spiritual community, where one can foster inner peace. He mentions:
The prevalence of technology in modern society presents us with a dilemma: the more dependent we become, the greater the chances that we begin to see technology as a sort of savior, as something that will become our ultimate friend, our source of joy and comfort. Our love affair with technology increases day by day, and we rely on it far beyond its original, practical application; it’s place in our lives is at this point beyond our control. At this moment, human society is at risk of losing its moral and ethical basis as we work less and less with one another as fellow human beings.
Unless something changes dramatically in this co-dependence between people and technology, the isolation between fellow human beings will only increase further and further; there is no way around it. Only in small pockets of communities built around alternative lifestyles, which offer an opportunity to relate to one another in a different way, would this occur less.
There are the Amish, for example, who follow an 18th or 17th century lifestyle, which I am sure protects their minds. But for how long will they be able to remain like that? They are on the verge of losing their lifestyle and I am sure they feel incredibly threatened.
In alternative communities in general, however much they do offer a different way of life, there will always be the initial foundation of egotism as well and the never-ending problems that arise from that.
Only in the case of the Sangha, which we define as a noble community of people who base their mind on the way of life on the Dharma, could this isolation not occur. But even in a Sangha, we have actually to fulfill the potential of living life according to the Dharma if we are to avoid the pitfalls of technological culture and egotism; it does not happen on its own. To achieve this takes a process.
So check up now. Wisdom is unemotional in nature. Fear of illness, impermanence and death is emotional; that’s why you cry. That’s why you can’t sleep. You think, “I’m going to die tomorrow,” and your stupid, relative emotions pump you up and push you so that you can’t sleep. True understanding wisdom sees illness and death as natural, so there’s no emotional nervousness upon hearing about impermanence and death.
Venerable Damcho of Sravasti Abbey talks about her reflections on planning a Buddhist education
Parents need to learn how to take care of their children properly. Whether you are a mother or father, or even if you are not a parent but are involved in taking care of children, your attitude should be the very same: you should consider those children to be your main object of practice or meditation. Since you spend so many years of your life with them, it is important to make them the focus of your Dharma practice. But, by saying this, I am not suggesting that everyone have children! My point is that if you are planning to have children, you should be really careful and, before having children, learn how to make their lives as beneficial as possible. Of course, there is still no guarantee that everything will work out; your children will have their own karma. But, because children spend so much time with their parents, you can potentially have an enormous influence on them. Therefore, parents have a huge responsibility. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about this and so don’t plan what they are going to do with that new life after giving birth to it. Instead they tend to think that having children will be pure bliss, without a single problem, like a wonderful dream come true.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about seeing the greater, bigger picture where beings are interconnected, in order to create a bright and harmonious future.
In this interesting article, Venerble Thuben Chodron outlines the differences in living conditions for monastics in an asian setting and monastics in a western setting, and the particular set of challenges that western monastics face. She mentions:
Tibetans grow up with Buddhism and monastics. They know what the life of a monastic entails and when they ordain, they are welcomed into a monastery where they live with monastic relatives and others who are from the same area of Tibet as they are. While Tibetan monastics in general are not rich, the senior monastics take care of the juniors, providing them with room, board, and teachings, and together they share the experience of living in community.
The situation for Western monastics is considerably different. There are very few monasteries where they can stay in the West. They may live in a Dharma center, in which case they often spend long hours doing volunteer work building the center or planning activities for the lay people. They usually do not receive special training as monastics because the Dharma centers are designed principally for lay people. Tibetan monastics are sponsored at Dharma centers and receive offerings and stipends, most of which they send to support their disciples in India and Tibet. However, many Western monastics have to work at jobs in the city in order to support themselves as some Dharma centers ask the monastics to pay in addition to volunteering their services. They do not have time to study and practice the Dharma, which inhibits their ability to serve the lay people by teaching and setting a good example. Keeping their vows is very difficult for those who must work in the city, and many do not survive as monastics.