Home » Excerpts » Handling Those Unsupportive of Our Dharma Practice

Since Dharma practice ultimately is to benefit all,
antagonising some with ‘Dharma practice’ is unbeneficial.

Stonepeace

What can we do if our family and friends are not supportive or are even resentful of our interest in Buddhism? First, accept that they feel that way and don’t get angry about it. Being irritated at them will only increase the tension. On the other hand, we need not give up our beliefs or our practice due to family pressure. While flaunting our practice with a rebellious attitude is unwise, we need not hide it out of fear either. We can adapt to the external situation while keeping our practice alive and firm internally. For example, if our family cannot relate to a shrine with pictures of the Buddha, we can keep the pictures in our Dharma books and take them out when we meditate.

In many cases our actions will convince others of the value of our Dharma practice.When our colleagues notice we’re more patient and tolerant, they will be curious about what we’ve done to bring about this change. If we help to clean the house and take out the garbage when visiting our parents, they may be very impressed, thinking, “This is the first time in forty years my son has helped around the house. Buddhism is great!” The non-Buddhist wife of one of my students has supported and encouraged her husband for years to attend our annual nine-day retreat. Why? Because every time he returns from retreat he is calmer, communicates better, and is much more loving to his family.

Predicting which of our friends and family will be interested in the Dharma is difficult. We may assume a very dear friend will be interested, but he is not. Similarly, we may assume that a relative will not want to discuss Buddhist ideas only to discover that she is receptive. Therefore, while having our own agenda often alienates people, going along with our friend’s level of interest and receptivity opens the door to good discussions.

Buddhism for Beginners
(Thubten Chodron)
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