Family problems and Buddhist response

Vesak 2008

The health and happiness of the family is essential to the he happiness of society. Despite material security and technological advances in many countries, individuals and families suffer from the lack of true communication and harmony, as well anger, violence, loneliness and despair. The papers in this address the powerful role Buddhist teaching and practice can be healing and transforming family problems at their root.

Most important are the Five Precepts or Mindfulness which provide us with crystal-clear guidelines for avoiding s and bringing peace and happiness not only to ourselves and our but also to our whole society. The first few papers address tin morality and ethical conduct as the very foundation of family which the structure of healthy family dynamics is built. Following papers address the specific challenges and joys of marriage and relationships, applying the Buddhist insight into non-attachment; impermanence and compassion to transform the common attachment and aversion into stable, loving partnership spiritual friends. The last several papers show how important Buddhist practices of mindfulness and compassion are to family and individual. Healing happens on many levels. As individuals we must heal the emotional blockages which can very often be a source of our physical ill-being. Deep listening and non-judgment well as developing our understanding of mental illness, is crucial; healing of families in turmoil due to mental illness. There is grief we need to experience and express for our deceased loved ones. Lastly, creating peace in our own lives and those of our families allows us to bring peace into the world.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh opens the section with a dharma talk full of concrete suggestions for creating harmony and happiness in our families. In a vivid story about a lioness and her lost lion cub, he addresses the pain many of us experience when we are cut off from our roots, whether it is our blood family, spiritual family or culture. When we are disconnected from our roots, we can’t be happy. As immigrants in a new country and new culture, we can benefit from the treasures of our root culture as well as our new home but we should be discerning so that we can let go of the unwholesome elements from both cultures. In many families, immigrant or not, there is a painful breakdown in communication due to the way we lose ourselves in TV, the pressures of work and unending busyness. He urges us to take time for our loved ones and to sit down as a family to eat together often, lie reminds parents of the need for humility, and the courage to apologize in order to reconcile with their children.

He calls families to practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings together, which allows us to perform our everyday activities as an act of prayer. Like the Third Training on right sexual conduct – it is a prayer we need to pray together with our bodies and minds. With the protection of the Five Mindfulness Trainings, the family cannot break.

In each of their papers, Venerables Thich Nu Chan Due and Thich Nu Chan Dang Nghiem discuss each of the Five Mindfulness Trainings in greater detail, offering concrete practices that a family can apply to address conflicts and encourage positive elements in each family member. In order to love and understand we need lime for each other. We cannot be so busy. We have to come out of the clutches of our fast-paced society with the help of our community of practice, our sangha. We need to go in a different direction and not allow ourselves and our family to be swept away on the waves of consumerism, power and profit.

Venerable Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Hue Lien describes the painful situation of domestic violence in Vietnam : greater social awareness, education and skillful intervention to address the suffering of so many families caught in this trap, educational structures are needed to develop greater re and to advance further towards gender equality. Ethical practice is also at the root of healing the wound of violence in families.

Laura Lester Fournier gives a beautiful personal healing capacity of the Fifth Mindfulness Training Consumption. After receiving the Five Trainings, she gives up alcohol, though not an alcoholic herself, as a gift of protection for past and future generations. She writes,

“I had a profound opportunity to transform something my ancestors and potentially in my daughter. It was m] a light on something that could alter my daughter’s Although 1 only have a drink once or twice a month, something that I continued to reach for. I could dedicate my ancestors, my precious child, and all those alcoholism.

[Now] I can choose to celebrate and fill my champagne flute something nourishing and joyful, rather than something cause me more suffering. I have the opportunity to remind myself of ways that I can avoid becoming so stressed. Rather than false peace, I can embrace a true peace. A peace that to the next generation.”

Ven Dr. Surfhammo gives inspiring examples of Buddhist groups in Asia that are finding creative ways to water seeds in youth and to build stronger families and societies.

Gratia Meyer writes about the various causes of suffering in the individual and the family. She encourages away suffering but rather embraces it. Resisting suffering creates tension within a family, impeding communication, growth and change. Suffering can be a way out of affliction. The greater the insight into suffering, the more the suffering is cased. Once we arc able to look deeply at our own suffering, we are able to create space for happiness in oneself and simultaneously water the seeds of happiness in our family and friends and all sentient beings.

She writes that most levels of suffering arc based on ego. Individual egos joins together to form a family collective ego and together they establish rules within their household and within their community. As long as the ego is present, there still will be suffering. In order to release the ego, the individual must slay open and calm. Only insight and releasing our wrong perceptions through right view into reality diminishes suffering.

Continuing onto the specific focus on marriage, Dr. Manpreet Singh writes eloquently of the central role fear plays in obstructing happy, loving relationships. This fear stems greatly from over-idealized, exaggerated perceptions of love and marriage, as well us grasping and the expectation of permanence, that lead to illusions of our partner that can rarely be fulfilled. He writes that attachment, which leads us to try to control our beloved or the situation, is the antithesis of compassion. Awareness, recognizing what is happening in our minds, letting go and accepting the truth of impermanence and non-self is the only way to true love and freedom within our relationships.

Shantum Seth offers the concrete practices of the Five Awarenesses (five vows made by a couple at their wedding which form the foundation of their marriage bond) and Beginning Anew (the practice of expressing gratitude and skillfully healing conflicts) which have helped him in his own marriage and family.

Yulianti addresses the Buddhist perspective on reproduction and its contribution to population control as it emphasizes reproduction as a matter of choice rather than religious obligation.

With Hanh Wieland-Nguyen’s paper we move to the sub-topic of healing the family. Because illness is often a result о she stresses the importance of living in a healthy and strong spiritual community to maintain Right Thinking preventative medicine. She also points out the imports a daily practice of peace, with sitting meditation, release stress and create a higher quality of living.

Mahasamdhana Ceta offers a very personal and of his work in helping families move through the up illness through the practice of deep listening, n compassion. He argues that social isolation in large apparently declining state of mental health in developed countries.

“While I have abundant respect and gratitude to professionals, I myself am not a psychiatrist, doctor or nurse, therefore in my work I do not see patients and illness, and I see beings who suffer… And I smile. Sometimes I believe path is just that: to smile.”

Ian Prattis also reflects on the transformative role and simply being present with acceptance and con which allowed him to help his son, and his son’s difficult experience of drug addiction.

Peace needs to start with ourselves before any 1 be effective, states David Arond. Conflict within one’s family or between nations can be healed by living the Buddhist insight into impermanence, emptiness, and interdependent practicing stopping, deep listening, and loving speed

Only when we can breathe, walk and eat pea compassion, look and speak to others with loving bring peace to our world. Thus, the transformation с the basis for transformation of the world.