Buddhism, veganic gardening, compassion, and the vegan life calls all to deepen our relationships with Mother Earth and each other. Live sustainably, authentically, and lightly on the Earth. Manifest compassion for all sentient beings. The world is an altar. Worship in love.
Impermanence and Mediation as the Path to Understanding
a close friend who is going through a divorce. She and her husband of nine
years have two children. He asked for a divorce four months ago – a move
that stunned her and has left her very, very angry.
looking for relief from her anger, which is causing her suffering. She’s a curious new Buddhist, and is
hoping that there are teachings in the Dharma that can help her navigate her
way through what’s happening and what's to come.
are. It’s significant to recognize that for a Buddhist, marriage and divorce
are mere concepts. Marriage is not real; neither is divorce. Neither is
permanent. Like concepts of gender, race, age, and family, marriage and divorce
are illusory things that are ever changing, breaking apart, and appearing
Buddha taught that change is inevitable and therefore clinging is destructive. In
the case of divorce, something that seemed very real and whole has broken in
two, and revealed itself to be unreal; another concept of ours that reality
are three destructive emotions that can come in the wake of divorce that I’ve seen
acted out again and again to varying degrees: anger, jealousy, and greed. The real
suffering that comes from divorce are these negative emotions. Blaming each other for the failure of the marriage, greed in terms of
splitting up the belongings of the family, and jealousy in terms of competing
for the love and approval of the children or when an ex-spouse finds love with
someone else. All bad.
reality of divorce is that you do lose the stability, cohesion, and support of
marriage. There are benefits that come with a stable marriage. When these benefits
are torn away, there is such a thing as righteous anger. But that anger should
be as impermanent as the marriage was: in other words, it should soon disappear.
clinging, by holding on to disappointment, by keeping anger alive - for months,
and in some sad cases, years – we continue to suffer. But when we break away
from these emotions and the suffering that comes with them, we’re free to move
is clinging to anger. The Buddha taught that clinging – attachment – is at the root
of all suffering. All is transient. Stability is an illusion. If my good
friend can accept and live with reality and not cling to her ideas of what it
should have been, and release her anger at not getting the things she believes
she should have gotten, she will fly free.
no specific 'divorce' advice for my friend, but I did suggest she return to using her maiden
name. I heard a Buddhist teaching on divorce years ago, in which the lama said
that women sometimes hold on to their husband’s surnames for years after they’ve
divorced, for no reason other than they are clinging to their former identities as
these women are ashamed about returning to single status. They may say how they
have disengaged from their ex-spouse, but if they’re still using his surname
after they’re no longer married, this is an unhealthy attachment. If these women met this decision in honesty, they would admit that the reason they're still using their ex-husband's names is that they want to continue to identify as married persons or persons who have at least been married. Ego and self-loathing is behind all that thinking. There is nothing wrong with being single again. Find your truth in that. Aside from
this, I don’t have much advice for my friend. But I
know what meditation can do under any circumstances, and for anyone, and so I
suggested she take a meditation course.
meditation, we break attachments to the illusory (conceptual) self. Our way of
looking at reality changes. We experience life as it really is – impermanent and
not under our control. We gain a clear awareness of the pitfalls of attachment.
released from thoughts of the past or the future. We come to the wisdom that
love is not attachment, and attachment is not love. Whatever suffering that comes
from divorce can be ameliorated through understanding this. This is where
meditation is of great benefit for people going through divorce or any other change.
friend studies and practices the Dharma and meditates daily, her suffering will
end despite the dissolution of her marriage. But if she launches herself into a
new relationship in hopes of angering her spouse, makes mercenary grabs for spousal
and child support, watches him on social media, conducts character
assassinations behind his back, pits their children against him, and wishes him
the worst for years to come, her suffering will continue. HER suffering will
continue. What a waste of life that would be.
sent my friend the 2017 schedule of meditation meetings at the Buddhist Faith
Fellowship in Middletown, and the Sangha where I go each weekend. There, she’ll
find the truths in the Eternal Laws and Pure Reality, and though meditation, develop
an awakening mind.
releasing her husband and her illusions of marriage and divorce, she will
blossom. She’ll experience the purest and most complete love there is – the love
of the Buddha. Her anger will fall away. She will separate from her husband in a beautiful and loving way, and the love can still remain. Her life will move forward in love and
compassion for all.