DZONGSAR KHYENTSE RINPOCHE ON LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS
A talk in Singapore on April 2012… (Part 3/4)
So we will come back to the communication a little bit later but first if we have problem with the communication, how do we share things? Ah, this is a big one. You know, everything about relationship is sharing. Now let me be a little bit, eh, very; here let me bring some of the Buddhist, eh, Buddhist, I don‟t know, wisdom or Buddhist understanding of sharing. In Buddhism, there is no such thing as sharing. We can assume that you are all looking at the same flower, except the same flower as the flower that I am looking at. But that is only an assumption. What you see, I will never see; not only the direction or the colour but you know, your idea of flower, your idea, I don‟t know – the good, all that paraphernalia of this flower. An individual experience; you can try your best describing this to somebody and this person, your partner assume that he or she has, she is, he or she is looking at the same thing. This is, this is very unlike Buddhism. If you read the classic Buddhist text like the sutras; it all begins with “Thus have I heard”. Once Buddha was here, there, you know, like that. “Thus have I heard.” It‟s a very important statement, because Ananda‟s saying “I don‟t know what he talked, but this is what I have heard.” It works like that in a relationship. When two couples in love, they may think that they are sharing this exquisite, blissful moment but both sides are hearing, experiencing, seeing their own version of bliss or pain, or whatever.
Now this, we are going quite, quite deep into the Buddhist psychology. But the reason why I want to say this – the, eh, communications – because in relationships communication happens to be a very important factor, right. So that this is why; I think this is why the relationship shrinks can help you, because at least, to a certain extent, not entirely. Because there is a successful misunderstanding happening between the two partners, you then hire another person who hopefully will hear things and misunderstand unsuccessfully. And then this shrink, psychologist or this, eh, therapist, would then give his or her own opinion. Many times it doesn‟t work but, you know, eh, such is the human, eh, sort of attitude that, you know, we have this habit of fixing things. We like to fix things. We like to mend things, this kind of, you know like eh, updating your software, you know like it‟s the fun kind of fixing. It, it, of course, it‟s a pain, but, you know, it is also a fun, let us download the latest version; and that‟s how we end our lives by downloading the new eh, thinking.
Later you ask the questions, but eh, there‟re a few more things. Then in the, you know, in the drama of relationship there is one very, eh, there‟s one powerful, there‟s one powerful, eh, I don‟t know, mental factor, should I say, that disrupts our relationship. And do you know what that is? It is the burden of being, burden of having to be nice. This is a burden, you know. This burden, you know, you feel you have to be nice – Oh, my god. Damn like opening the door, putting on the jacket, are you cold? Are you hot? Are you hungry? Do you want a little bit of this? The burden of needing to be nice – that, that KILLS the relationship many times – many times.
And you know, this, eh; and you try to be, you try to be nice, you know, you try to be nice to this person like, you know, opening the door, I don‟t know, all of that; lifting the, eh, if you are a man, then after you pee, eh, no – before you pee, you lift it up, right? Eh, if you‟re a man, after you do your bigger business, you put down, eh, things like that – you know all the small, small details.
Eh, in the process, you have taught your partner that‟s what she is supposed to assume. And one day, you are going to fail doing this. Then all the miscommunication begins. But insecurity is still not going to let go. Shall I tell you one of the biggest symbols of insecurity that we have? – Ring. Ha (sigh), exchanging the ring and then, a few minutes it‟s going to be so ridiculous, then go to a court – a sign we are married. These are basically insecurity talking, insecurity expressing. Actually, the whole term „marriage‟, I think should be changed now. I think the marriage is outdated. It‟s like last century‟s term actually. Now I think you should really call it „company‟. It‟s for economical reasons – right? And produce – maybe children. I think you‟ll have a lesser expectation and probably nicer relationship because you have less expectation. It‟s a company. And husband and the wife are shareholders of this company, and therefore you can have a proper, you know meeting, and disagreements and agreements, all that. But anyway, these are signs of insecurity. What time is it? Okay, we take a break like ten minutes break, ten, fifteen minutes. (Applause)
(After the short break) You may have assumed that I‟m, I‟m kind of anti-love and relationship; that‟s not true. Eh, I‟m all for it actually. Anyway when the karmic wind blows, if you are not strong enough we‟re like a feather in the wind. Wherever the wind blows, there we will be moved. Many of you, I am sure you think you‟re in control. That, that‟s it; now I‟m past middle age, you know, chances of me becoming, playing this stupid game of relationship and love is over. This is what you may think! But we don‟t know. You know, karmic wind from the least expected place such as Bolivia or, I don‟t know, Rwanda might; the karmic wind might blow towards you and the next you might eh, find yourself madly, truly, deeply, head over heels in love with the Rwandan, Bolivian, Chilean, I don‟t know, something that, you know, you least expect. This can happen – we don‟t know.
So, same with me, really; you know, my, in my tradition, in the lineage that, eh, I belong to, not really lineage but sort of the custom, you know – I could get married. So, eh, when I was around seventeen, there was, you know, talk about some people saying that I should get married. And people actually, sort of suggest, you know, some, eh, you know like a two suggestions of bride basically. And I went to my father; my father is quite unique. He, himself, is a practitioner, was a practitioner. So I asked him what does he think. He looked at me and said “Well”; but actually my question was – I think; you know, I was very, I myself, I thought until I met that Dutch girl, I thought I was very free-spirited. And you know like, I don‟t know, you know, especially when I was seventeen, eighteen, I was very much, you know, like „relationship, love…grr‟ (Rinpoche grimaces); you know it‟s like, it‟s kind of, it‟s like a such a disgusting thing to do, you know, like… Because I was also trained and brought up in a monastic, partly monastery where there‟s a lot of ordained monks. I guess maybe there‟s the influence. So I went to my father; I asked him, you know “I think I‟m going to get ordination, I think I want to become a monk.” He looked at me and he said “Well, do whatever you like. But if you are asking me, you, between getting married and becoming a; eh, what, eh, becoming a monk and getting married, they are equally difficult.” (Laughter). And he said, he, he said a lot of things. He said – well, at least in the married situation, you will be less hypocritical. And that was good. That was very good advice, I think.
So I‟m not being anti-relationship here but many times what we are lacking; everything we do is the, you know, being objective basically. So we get caught up, we get entangled with certain value. Ah, and this, this, this is a big subject, I think especially in our society, in the Asian society. There‟re so many, I know so many, especially girls, the Asian Chinese origin; by the time they reach around the age twenty-five, they get SO stressed because they, they‟re in the midst of this whole society that‟s looking at them “Why are you still not married?” And I really feel for them because their parents, the older generations – they value the marriage. But the world has changed in many different levels. This modern world is, as much as we like to have relationship, we want to make merry, we want to throw parties, we want to get together, we want to rub our shoulders, and we want to rub, you know, others‟ part of the body, stuff like that.
But, but we are also; we also alienate ourselves so much, SO MUCH. Really it‟s happening, you know, like in every level. I mean, instead the family used to have no television, so they are forced to eat together. So there, there‟s some kind of relationship at least. Now the family has different rooms and different television in each room. And they all have different channels and people have to watch their own favourite program. So we alienate ourselves.
Then there is the Facebook, Twitter, eh, fast, you know, sort of broadband – methods of alienating ourselves. Eh, and then, of course, it‟s expensive; you know, costly, you know, relationship is so not cost-emotionally it‟s expensive, but even, you know, financially it can be very expensive. So; but there is this pressure, I feel, especially to the girls in this, in a particular society, eh, that they need to get married.
For, I don‟t know, but for all of this, it helps us to be objective. I‟m sure, including myself; we will end up doing everything opposite of what we talk today. But it‟s good to have that objective view about our life; and ideally remind ourselves, remind ourselves, remind ourselves this fact so that we are not, you know, hundred percent disappointed.
Because we build; I remember telling, giving this example – our life is like trying to put three strawberries on the top of each other. You know, you put one strawberry on top of one and then you try to put another one. And it doesn‟t work because they‟re slippery and they‟re bodily shaved, but the problem is the second one kind of sat on the first one; you know, strawberry, the problem is the second one sat on momentarily, and that gives us some hope it may work. But life, in general, it never works. You know, eh, it fails and how many; some of you younger generation might know, might not be aware of this crux – the older generation – we know, how many times we tried to fix and have so-called happily, what, living for ever – that situation, the Bollywood experience. How many times we try to have that; never really, really work – never really, really work. Eh, but I like to also say; I‟m sorry I‟m scattered here and there but when I think, when I remember something, eh, I have to say, otherwise I‟ll forget.
One should not be afraid of relationships too, you know. If the relationship comes to you from a very odd corner, I don‟t know; if it comes to you, you should be confident and accept it. Let the life flow. You know, you will never know; you will, you know. Eh, I have actually encountered people who are past, you know, like fifty, you know like both man and woman – and suddenly they find themselves being admired by, you know younger people. Then they get so flustered and so, you know, like agitated, what to do and you know like; they kind of happy, you know, inside and at the same time they are afraid “You know, I don‟t look good any more, I look saggy” – all of this, you understand.
When the karmic wind blows and I will tell you something. I can‟t mention the name. This one, definitely I cannot mention the name. When I was seven years old, seven, eight – I had a strong crush with a, one Rinpoche‟s mother (laughter). She was like maybe around like forty-five. Oh, my god; SO STRONG crush – I remember this so clearly that if anybody‟s talking to her, besides the Rinpoche, the son, I get jealous and I get like “What is this guy doing?” – You understand. And many, many, many hours, many, many days I would kind of make story about life with her – so ridiculous, isn‟t it? This is; she never knew, of course not (laughter), but she was very beautiful, I have to say.
But many, many of you know this Rinpoche so I cannot tell you the name. (Laughter) Then I will be really jobless.
This, this could happen to you, and when this happens, you should not be, because the SAME reason, the same reason why everything is dependent on condition, the same reason why we should not blindly fall for the value of the relationship; with the same reason why we should not be afraid of the relationship also. If it comes to you; tomorrow if you find yourself some, you know, and if you like this person; and of course, if this person is sleazy and you know like, eh, not your type, then of course, you either skillfully or directly avoid. But if you have a certain, eh, what is it? Lizard, lizard or butterfly in the belly? Which one, mm? Well butterfly, right? Butterfly – yes; if there‟s a butterfly in your belly upon seeing this person, by all means go for it. But from Day One, make sure that you will not be trapped by expectations and hope – from the Day One. If you do that, I think you will have a proper relationship.
So, actually, you know, I was telling you earlier – Buddhist marriage; couple‟s about to get married – not a bad idea if a, if the priest say “Well, you know, we never know what will happen to you two. You may even fall apart tonight” – that maybe not a bad idea to express this. It may sound very inauspicious. It might, you know, like eh, worry some overly protective in-laws, but maybe it‟s not a bad idea to actually talk the truth about separation and you know, fragility, fragility of eh, so-called married, marriage and relationship, and eh. But anyway, in or something more practical now; maybe we talk too much all the..; something more practical.
So, let‟s say you‟re already, you already have a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a wife or a husband; you‟re stuck basically, let‟s say you‟re already happened – now what do we do? Now after we discussed this, should we go ahead or should we all become monks? Remember, I‟ve given you the examples. That, I would say, if you already have a partner; I think it‟s important to remember in Buddhism, the whole idea, especially in Mahayana Buddhism – the core purpose of practicing Mahayana Buddhism is to give liberation to all sentient beings. Liberation, liberation means freedom basically. And many times, giving freedom to so-called all sentient beings is a bit like building a ladder to the sky. It‟s almost abstract, it‟s like unthinkable, ALL sentient beings? Maybe, my neighbour, yes; maybe like a few hundred maybe, but ALL sentient beings – that‟s a bit too much. You know it‟s like abstract.
But even though one may not be able to liberate and give freedom to all sentient beings, we can at least start with giving liberation and freedom to one‟s own partner, husband and wife. And that‟s very practical advice, l, I must say. Many times, when we are having relationship, it‟s basically standing each other, choking each other‟s and that‟s not a relationship. You should really give freedom to each other, who your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend text things to, who you know, he or she hanging around with, you know, freedom, give space, freedom; and I think this is important. Actually even if you have a really good relationship, I would suggest to retreat yourself from your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend, at least one hour a day. Don‟t talk, don‟t text, don‟t communicate, nothing. I think it would help.
Anyway, lastly I will conclude this so that we can go on with the questions. Shakyamuni Buddha himself said – you, we must all treat our life, our so-called family life, whatever, as an experience of (Tibetan phrase) which is basically „hotel‟. It is like a hotel. In the big hotels people check in and people check out, you understand. This is how it is. Our life is like that – new friends check in; old friends check out, you understand. And this is such an amazing teaching because this is how our life is. If you can think that this is the, this is the beauty of temporariness. You know, temporary stuffs are so nice. It‟s very blissful and it‟s beautiful. When things are stagnant and forever, it stinks. You should think that this life with my husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend – this is a, it is very temporary, even though you may not break up for this breathing life, one of these days, one of you will have to die.
And when you die, you go separate. After you die, probably for three days, you may remember your wife‟s and husband‟s name. By the fourth and fifth day, you‟ll only remember half the name. By about the tenth day, you don‟t even remember whether he was she or she was she, maybe he is he, she is he. Then by around twentieth day, you don‟t even know that there is a human being. Then the next life‟s force begins to creep in. For instance, if you are going to, about to reborn as a bird, your love and admiration; you know that sort of always wanting to smell your boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever – that, that‟s being replaced by feeling famished when you see a worm. Because you‟re about to become a bird now, you know; and feels like, you know feels like flying, so on and so forth. And by then, so-called beloved husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend – that chapter is closed. And then next time you see, you might reborn as a pigeon and sit, you know, eat, I don‟t know, breadcrumbs, you know, next to your ex-wife or ex-boyfriend, or girlfriend, in front – you wouldn‟t even notice. And he or she will also not notice; and that‟s how we, mm, that‟s how, eh, sort of play the samsaric game, you know.
It will be amazing if we can actually go somewhere up there (Rinpoche points to the sky) and look down at every life that we have in our previous lives. In fact, this is what Arhats, they can do that; you know, they go up and they look. It will be just so sad, and happy and joyful, and just amazing. How many people must have hanged themselves for the love of you? How many people have starved for the love of you? And you, yourself, how many times you have hanged for loving, for the sake of love and relationship for others. This, so remembering the temporariness; and this is not only for the relationship. Everything; this cup of coffee could be my last. This book that I am holding could be the last book that I am holding. And if you can have that kind of mindfulness, then you begin to really enjoy love, you know. Really, wow, what a good book (Rinpoche flips through a book) because otherwise we are always thinking about the next thing – plan to live forever basically. Anyway, what did Shakespeare say? Parting is …what? Yes, I think he‟s right. Sweet, sorrow is basically love and relationship.
(Transcribed from YouTube video “Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on Love & Relationships”)