I have so much desire for someone else’s partner (2)

Feb 20, 2023

 

QUESTION

Dearest Venerable Robina,

 

Thank you for your reply [see Q & A 13 February].

 

I’ve analyzed things endlessly and first of all, and above all, I am so grateful that I can practice daily learning to know the difference between compassion and pity, loving kindness and attachment, jealousy and rejoicing in all their subtle and gross appearances. I’ve even become more aware of my attachment to small things like chocolate.

 

I’ve realized, as you say, that in fact our contact is not inevitable: in my mind I had been acting as if we already were having sex again and I was totally confused about it.

 

We have agreed not to go there anymore, and although I miss it, I know it will never be totally and forever satisfying at all. 

 

At the same time, it is confusing, this combination of love and attachment and the pleasure that contact with the attachment object brings . . .

 

I pray and meditate for hours in order to separate the attachment from the loving kindness I feel, so that I can put the love that I feel for her into actions that are for the benefit of all sentient beings. And I also try to see all sentient beings with the same love.

 

So what to place on the tip of the wish? I wish that all the actions of my mind, body and speech will be for the benefit of all the people in my life and I deeply want to destroy the seeds that stand in the way.

 

But in regard to this I have this question, how can we move forward on the path in a balanced way? For example, an enlightened being can manifest and doesn’t need to eat food, but as long as I am not enlightened, how can I meet my own needs in a way I do not harm others? I move between helping others, patience, loving kindness, practicing giving etc., and being frustrated. I guess here comes the wisdom wing. I hear you saying, “one step at a time baby!”

 

I always thought it was a good thing to ignore my own needs, but it always takes revenge when I do not insert myself in the equation of acting with equanimity.

 

Thank you so much for reading me, Venerable Robina. Writing to you alone already gives me peace and insights. And it is your way of teaching, with so much compassion for our human condition, that helps me to be more honest with myself and in the investigations of my own mind.

 

Much love, wishing you all possible blessings and a long, long life,

R

 

ANSWER

Well, dearest R, I can only rejoice hugely in your clarity, your courage, your dedication to distinguishing between delusions and virtues — that’s the very essence of practice!

 

You will see, for sure, that working on your mind like this is the actual source of your contentment. Attachment is so utterly addicted to believing that satisfaction/contentment can only come from getting the object. But you are disproving that misconception.

 

And not only that, you are actively cultivating the altruistic state of mind called love. This can only increase your own contentment, not to mention enabling you to be of benefit to others — and particularly in your case helping you see the object of your attachment more realistically.

 

All this is practice! Well done, dearest R!

 

Your points: of course, where there is affection — in other words, because you love her so dearly (and I mean “love,” as above) — the sexual contact brings even more joy, more pleasure. No doubt about that. You are not wrong.

 

But until we’re highly realized, it’s almost impossible not to be seduced by attachment’s belief that the joy is the direct result of contact with the object of attachment.

 

It’s the twelve links of dependent arising at work: because of past contact with this particular object of attachment, the instant there is contact again (the 6th link), extremely pleasant feelings (the 7th) arise, which in turn instantly triggers attachment (the 8th), which paints an extremely exaggerated picture of the object of attachment. It all happens in an instant. And just naturally, we totally believe that that object is totally divine and is the main cause of the pleasure, and in order to get that joy again we believe we must have contact again. 

 

The reality is that the pleasant feelings – joy, bliss, happiness, whatever level it is – are the direct result of past virtue; the object of attachment is merely a catalyst. And by falling into the trap of believing the above lies, we continue to have contact again and again, utterly wasting all that past virtue and — the saddest part of it — instead of increasing our satisfaction, which is what attachment thinks will happen, all we do is increase our dissatisfaction, which increases attachment, which only brings suffering now and in the future. And so it goes on, endlessly.

 

Your own needs: we can misunderstand the Buddhist teachings on giving up self and working for others: we hear it as a martyr’s view, which is very much to do with attachment to an idea of our goodness, to being seen as a good person. All that does is open us up to being used by others, which then causes us to feel victimized and to get angry.

 

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, “Meaning well is not enough, we need wisdom.” Rushing around being good to others without wisdom just makes a mess.

 

Until we’re highly realized, the way to eat, sleep, take time for oneself — to stop neurotically helping others — is to do these things with not just the thought of bodhichitta, but also of renunciation: I’m eating and sleeping and taking time for myself so I can become a more fulfilled person.

 

So, dearest R, just keep moving, bravely, with clarity. Only good can come from it!

 

Much love,

Robina

 

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