Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Family life for me

Family (with small children) sangha is harder than community sangha for me, and friends who go away (their home). Family exposes all your impatiences, cuts through the grandiosity. Being the adult around a child, being honest about housework with your partner, I'm finding honesty a challenge, though I'm also working to ask for help and confessing my limitations and struggles. The prefect place to grow. In a way, that's why they have communities and monasteries. To challenge one all the time.

Sangharakshita thought that if you worked in a right livelihood business, attended the center and lived in a single sex community of Buddhists, then you would essentially be on retreat all the time, and make the progress you make on retreat, in your regular life. And you wouldn't need to be in a monastery.

In the west we don't give out free lunches to Buddhists, though to be sure religious organizations can raise funds in the west, look at the mega churches. I wonder how much of the retreat from religion is just not wanting to part with time and money for a hollow lifeless religion. Spirituality takes upturns after deadening periods, and the Buddhism in the west is very vigorous and mostly Mahayana. I'm not trying to downgrade the Theravadan, it's just the one monastery I know if within driving distance is supported by Thai Internationals and Immigrants. I'm sure there are others, but I think another monastery is supported by International and Immigrant Sri Lancan folk. They essentially import their culture onto American soil, which has room for many. While amazing and vibrant transplants, they are hybrids that it will take time to fully blossom.

Family life is big on ethics, trying to develop positive habits and routines, civilize and culture the youth into good citizens who will be successful, and take responsibility for their lives. I always feel like I can communicate better, be more generous, have more equanimity, problem solve better. Not too many people are confident in these modern times. It's hard to imagine Trump not having insight into his own bluster, but the sad thing is that he's dragging us all along with his self deception.

The demands of modern life are many. Run to your car so you don't get a ticket. Try not to soak through your shirt on the subway before work. Take your son to soccer practice 3 times a week. The way utilities and electronics break down is a kind of lesson on impermanence. I remember seeing a light bulb in California that has been on since 1901. You can't even work a 9-5 job any more, those jobs are gone. I knew a guy who worked all night and his wife worked all day and they somehow raised their children in-between work and sleep. Was it only a fantasy of the 50's that women could be house wives? Everyone would like just a little more, one more notch up the class ladder.

Eating with moderation is difficult. I finish off the things my two year old doesn't eat. Meditation is difficult, but if I prioritize it, it's not difficult. Lack of sleep is a technique used in some zen monasteries, to challenge our attachment to comfort.

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