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Question: Disappointment Pt. 3

Q&A #8

Disappointment, Part 3


A Reader recently wrote:


I think that one can only really take responsibility for their own attachments. We care about our friends, and it would be counterintuitive to just tell you to forget about it because it is his/her attachments that are at the heart of his/her problem. Clearly, part of the issue is your feelings about their feelings. Assuming that you have thought through a decision and came to the best decision for you, your friend really has the obligation to accept you. Love is more present in letting go of it. What your friend feels is possessive. You can only do your best to be honest about your decisions. Then, you have to accept your friends natural response. You can’t fix your friend. Just be honest. And then let it be.

I once had a similar situation. Only, I basically left in the middle of the night in anticipation of not facing a hard goodbye. I just left my portion of the remaining lease payment on the table and drove away. This is something that I regret having done. It was not until months later that we honestly talked and came to terms. Your friend needs to accept you for who you are and what you do. There is suffering in life, and that includes tearful goodbyes. Embrace what you both feel and let it be. Although Taoist, Lau Tsu once said something like, “If you want to shirk something, you must first allow it to expand.” This, to me, means that the solution to any difficulty is first in letting it truly manifest. Only in its true magnitude can it be settled. Hiding, burying, running, or even capitulating to avoid this thing you seek to shrink can only entrench it if you ask me.

I don’t think it is at all a matter of things not bothering us. I’ve never thought a Buddhist approach to be aimed at nihilistic vacuums inside a ethereal existence. Buddhism, as I try to discover it, aims at ontology, ignores metaphysics if it can help it, and helps in ways unique to each person. Do you think the Dali Lama is not bothered by the recent riots in Tibet? Of course he is. I can only imagine how hard it is for him to remember to work peacefully for peace.

I don’t have answer one for you. I only encourage you to be honest and open to how you feel and seek some measure of communication. I don’t think this path is about burying you heart.

A coworker asked me something that I would like to push forward in this thread. How is a Buddhist supposed to feel about what is happening in Darfur? How does one find equanimity in that? I’ve been stumped on that one. I still don’t know how to reply.



My Response:


I agree absolutely on your response to the original poster and won’t add to it.

Ah, the situation in Darfur. Tibet. Myanmar too.

There is suffering everywhere, no matter who you are. You should do what you can to reduce suffering, within your power and within the limits of your ability to do so. But what about a situation like Myanmar, where people are clamoring to send aid, but the government of Myanmar turns it away? Is there no way to help?

Talking about the problem won’t help a bit, and going to war only makes it worse. If talking or force won’t fix the problem, what will? It will be resolved in time, but many people don’t HAVE time.

Sorry, I don’t have an answer. I don’t know that anyone does.

1 comment to Question: Disappointment Pt. 3

  • Michael Layne

    Let me play devil’s advocate with you. I am clearly Buddhist in nearly every way that I try to approach my life. However, let me pose this to you. When you say that war makes things worse (which I generally do agree with), do you not conceded that there are times when we have to roll the hard six and act? I would personally have had a difficult time standing on the sidelines of, say, the US Civil war or WWII in the respect to ending Nazi aggression.

    When my friend asks about Darfur it is from a very reactionary mindset. However, I can’t help but think that there are times when an obligation to confront injustice (realizing this is a dangerously relative judgment to make) is a decision rule of sorts. If I shouldn’t let a man take a beating on the corner by some thug (you wouldn’t pass that by without trying to help… or would you?), why is it wrong or even not more compassionate to take an active part to end absolute injustice where we run out of negotiation options?

    I know that we can only accept the world for what it is. I know that we must work peacefully in order to not further entrench war and violence. However, what do you do when a man enters your home and directly threatens your family? I assume you defend it with your life. So, why is it no less justified to take the extreme cases of injustice in the world—and where not other good choices remain—to take on a similar paradigm in defense of those who cannot defend themselves against no less a clear threat?

    This is just a hard place for me to find acceptance. How do you think the Buddha would answer my above comments and questions?