[Because Yudhishtara’s talks are spontaneous, he willingly accepts questions and comments from the audience. The following three questions about various aspects of dealing with others brought forth some tools for skillful living which many appreciated S.]
1) Yudhishtara, do we have to have vigilance with whatever comes up in families?
Vigilance is just being aware, being cognizant of what is happeningbeing aware and taking action, if it is called for, when we become aware.
Be vigilant with the Beloved.
We must not only be vigilant that this is our Beloved that we can’t speak about, but also be vigilant to love the Beloved. When I suggest that we get up in the morning and say, “I love you my Beloved,” this is being vigilant and attentive. It’s paying respect and being straight forward. If we say, “I love you; thank you,” we are vigilant. We are paying attention. We didn’t just ignore everything. We need to do this until the time comes that, without any effort, we are saying thank you. It becomes a good habit as opposed to the habit of not doing it.
We also have to become vigilant and aware
of forces around us
that are trying to mold us to the way
that they think we should be.
We have our own energy. And there are energies from other places. All these energies say that they think we should live this way or that way. They say, “I don’t think you are going to amount to very much in your life if you don’t follow our traditions, if you don’t follow the way that I have done it. If you don’t do what I’m telling you, you are not being good or you’re worthless.” They tell us that either directly or indirectly.
We hear this and we say, “I want to pay attention and I love you. I know that you are telling me many things because you love me, but you don’t seem to understand that we are different. You don’t respect that we are different. But at the same time I can understand that you don’t understand me.” So it’s a big struggle.
Then we have to face the fact that eventually we have to break this hold on us that prevents us from fully being our own energy, our own consciousness, and having our own life. Otherwise we are living the life of somebody else. We are living their instructions. We are not free. We’re slaves. That bond has to be broken.
Now how do we break this bond that has to be broken? We can break that with anger and say, “Don’t ever talk to me again. Don’t tell me what to do. You don’t know anything and don’t ever speak to me again.” Or we can use controlled folly.
Controlled folly means there comes a point where we realize that we are not going to change someone’s mind about certain subjects because they are too ingrained. That person is just too tight for change. We can have conversations from now until the end of the world, but he or she is not going to change. So what we do in this situation is that we have controlled folly, meaning that we are in agreement with what is being said. We acknowledge what he or she is saying. This is making the other person feel comfortable that we understand what he or she is saying but at the same time we do what we think is best. There’s no point in arguing forever. This situation is controlled folly.
In the end we do what we think is important. Eventually the other person starts to see that there is not much that can be done anymore. But we continue loving and say, “I love you. And I’ve got to do this my wayfor me. I love you and I have to do this this way.”
Blood relationships are the most difficult things to changethings pertaining to mothers and sons and daughters and husbands and children. Those situations are very difficult to change because there is so much emotion invested in them.
People take too many liberties when they say, “Because I am your father or your mother or your brother or sister, I have the right to tell you. I don’t have a right to tell a stranger because we are not blood related but I have a right to tell you.” But this blood relationship stuff goes too far.
The fact that we’re blood related, doesn’t mean that they have the right to tell us how to dress, how to speak, how to behave, how to breathe. This is especially true when we are older. When we are small children, of course, they have to take care of us because we don’t know very much. But when we become older, they have to let us breathe. Many parents cannot let their children breathe and they want them to be children forever. But children have to be allowed to grow and to breathe. When the time comes and parents do not let us breathe, then we have to start breathing on our own regardless of what they say. But the love for them must remain because they are acting from a loving place.
But doesn’t this cause a conflict? Should we be open to this reaction in a way?
Eventually this situation will not have a reactioneventually. It will be the kind of a thing that you will say to yourself, “These are comments and statements that they are making. These are their ideas. These are their opinions. They have the right to have them and express them. And I have the right to accept some of them or not to accept any of them. I have the same kind of rights. Now do I argue or what do I do? Arguments are just about trying to prove that you’re right and they’re wrong and vice versa.
Controlled folly is, “Thank you for telling me what you’re saying. I appreciate what you are saying. Thank you.” After we thank them, we choose whether we are going to do what they say or not.
Part of my problem is that I might agree with what they have to say.
If we think that some of the things they have to say are right, there is nothing wrong with that. If they are not right, then they are not right. But deep down in our hearts we know if they are right or not right. So who are we fooling?
We don’t want to fool anybody. We want to be happy. We want to have a life of our own. At the same time we don’t want to insult or harm our parents. So it’s hard to do both things. It’s very hardso I’m suggesting a helpful tool.
We have a choice of being argumentative. Sometimes we want to argue and to prove that the ways we want to do things are better than what they are saying. But that often hasn’t worked.
Another choice is not to speak to them again. So we say, “Okay, I’m leaving. Good-bye. Don’t ever speak to me again. As far as I’m concerned you’re nothing in my life.” A lot of people do that. And then years later they regret it because they say, “How could I treat my parents this way.” So I think that the pain of that behavior is a hundred times worse.
And then we have the choice of saying, “Thank you for telling me what you’re saying. I appreciate what you are saying. I love you and thank you.” Then we do whatever we feel is right for usregardless of what anybody says.
Eventually they will realize that they don’t have much power over us and that we’re not being disrespectful. Even though it seems as if we are being cruel and that we are not listening to them, we are not being cruel because they do not have the right to tell us how to run our adult life. But at the same time they gave birth to us. They’ve brought us into this life which is a great gift, so we owe them respect.
The Buddhist traditions say many beautiful things about this subject. No matter what our parents do, we owe them much, much gratitude. But we do not owe them slavery. So we thank them and we start doing what we feel in our own hearts is right for us.
2) Yudhishtara, changing the scenario from a parent to a spouse who wants to twist and control and move your thoughts. How is it best to handle that?
Have you been argumentative so far?
Why don’t you try the approach of controlled folly by agreeing with everything she says.
Thank you … but?
No buts! Thank you! It’s an incredible thing how that calms people down. They say to us, “You’re incompetent. You haven’t done this. You haven’t done that.” And we say, “Thank you very much for telling me.” And then we just leave it.
“Thank you very much”period. No buts because a “but” starts an argument. “Thank you! Thank you for bringing that to my attention.” We’ve got to be vigilant to say only thank you for telling me that…thank you. Eventually, what they are saying is not going to have so much of an inflammatory effect. Then with a clearer head we are going to start seeing what the situation really is and we can start addressing the true cause of the problem.
But in the meantime we can see how this works. Many times people will change their ways when they feel they are being heard and acknowledged.
It’s incredible what happens if we say
thank you for the information
and then we don’t say anything else.
Over time this approach also teaches us that negative comments that are made to our egos, to our personalities, don’t have to stay with us so much because we have reduced their importance by not fighting them. If we just thank for the information, we’re not defending ourselves against those comments and therefore we’re not so susceptible to other kinds of problems that escalate from being defensive. We learn to say, in as genuine a way as possible, “Thank you for the information. Thank you for the data.” Period.
3) Yudhishtara, I am dealing with a couple of people that I really care about that have all the teachings and all the understanding. They claim they’ve got peace or whatever, but it’s more like a theoretical peace. They are stuck in negativity about themselves. They are sticking themselves in a box of limitation; and, no matter what I say, they are just defending their position and they can’t get out of the box. They can’t climb out of the box even though they say they understand everything. And that’s their defense“I already understand everything but this is where I am.” And they refuse to climb out of it.
So we let them be in the box. They want to be in the box. They are comfortable in the box. Otherwise what is going to happen is that we are going to try breaking their box the rest of our lives. We let the box be!
They are so attached to their limitation it is just unbelievable.
It doesn’t feel good to know that people we care about are in a box. So we want to get them out of the box. We know how to get them out of the box. But if they don’t want to get out of the box, they have a right to stay in the box. So we just let it be. Our efforts are better spent getting somebody else out of the box who wants to get out of the box.
I guess I just have to see that it’s perfect. They are doing exactly what they want to do. But they are expressing misery all the time and asking for help. But then they can’t seem to accept any kind of help. It’s very strange.
It’s very strange, indeed. But it isn’t strange. This is life. This is typical. This is normal. This is the way it often is. Now we have to make the decision of what to do about this if it is affecting us. As long as we can be there with them in our heart and are loving, we can stay there.
But when the time comes that we start noticing that this is affecting our own lives and we begin putting ourselves in a box of trying to break another boxthen we’re in that box and they’re in this box and now we have a lot of trouble!
So you have to notice and you have to be vigilant.
When we find ourselves in a box
of having to convince someone to change,
then we have to break your own box
and give it up.
My teachers hold certain concepts dear.
I have other ideas that I cherish.
And you, my friend, treasure thoughts of your own.
I find myself at ease with these differences
no desire to reshape myself around another’s beliefs,
no urge to mold you around mine.
Our differences entertain and expand me.
Like children peeping into the house of reality,
each of us looks through a different window
and sees a separate room.
Yet our different points of view do not diminish
the underlying truth of who we arethe essence of you and I.
So why should we be threatened by our playtime differences?
Let us relax and enjoy this game.
Sometimes we engage in animated debate;
sometimes we do not. It really doesn’t matter.
Amid all this play I stop a moment
and look into your eyes
where I see no difference.
In wordless silence
I know I love you.
This is the only reality.
I seem to have fallen out of “spiritual life”
into Life itself.
When did that happen?
Yet my perceptions are still infused
with melodies of awe, gratitude, and love.
My actions echo my perceptions.
I feel whole and I am at peace.
My mind, though curious,
I love the way I see through these eyes now.
Om, Shanti, Om