If what you find attractive in someone
is the Dharma embodied and expressed,
why be attached to the manner and form?
There are a few great regrets I have when it comes to relationships. Ironically, the most troubling ones are those which are somewhat related to the Dharma. Many years ago, I met someone, who was interested in the Dharma I was sharing. Later, she confessed that she developed a liking for me. When I politely rejected her, while promising to remain as good Dharma friends, she felt so troubled that she said she is likely to turn away from the Dharma because it reminds her of me. It was very sad indeed, because what she was attracted to in me was the Dharma I had to share… but she unmindfully digressed… when she ‘fell in love’ with the fool expressing it. It was lopsided… as if I was more important than the Dharma. I asked a monk for advice on her ‘threat’ to disown the Dharma because of me. Surprisingly, he said to simply ignore it.
It felt heartless, though I couldn’t really tell if it was good advice. Maybe monks, who have less worldly entanglements are more clear-cut about these dilemmas? I maintained friendly but not too intimate contact, and she eventually slipped away. She did join another Dharma group though. But I seriously can’t tell if it was for better or worse due to the group’s somewhat controversial nature. But there was no way to get closer again, even dharmically, due to the fear of stirring up her painful memories. And she seemed to be maintaining a distance too. Or maybe I had become insignificant and was forgotten. Such tension is very unfortunate, because over the years, there is much wonderful Dharma that I’m eager to share with her, but am unable to. I have to respect the preference of keeping the distance.
Though I can’t really get closer unless conditions change, the truth is, our karmic affinities never end. Even if they appear to fade away, they only remain ‘dormant’ for a while, and change, for better or worse. Why not conscientiously better them then? Even more sadly, looking back, she is not the only one who had this problem with me. To prevent accidental future ‘crushes’, I decided to be as faceless as I can, especially when sharing the Dharma online. But really, I’m just a non-descript person. Without the Dharma, I’m as ‘charming’ as a piece of blank paper. So much said, I have to let go of the attachment of wanting to heal the relationship too, and the sadness involved, while remaining open. If you are reading this, I hope you will let go of your attachment and sadness too – if any. If you can, there’s so much we can catch up on our Dharma friendship!
If what you find more attractive in someone
is the manner and form,
you might miss the Dharma embodied and expressed.
Story: A student confided in Suzuki Roshi that she had tremendous feelings of love for him, and that it confused her. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘You can let yourself have all the feelings you have for your teacher. That’s good. I have enough discipline for both of us.’ – David Chadwick (To Shine One Corner Of The World)
Note: I would say, ‘You should focus on developing pure feelings of great reverence towards the Dharma shared by your teacher, instead of worldly love towards the teacher. If your teacher has enough discipline, there should be no fear that something untoward happens. If something untoward does happen, it would be time to change your teacher.’
The Buddha’s Admonition Against Not Severing Lust