Na Mo Shakyamuni Buddha!
I became a newly minted Buddhist disciple a few months ago. My parents and husband are good people but do not believe in the Buddha. After I took refuge with the Triple Jewel, I started encountering obstructions from my family. My husband would often take issue about the Buddha with me.
He asked why don’t I use my brains to make a fortune instead of reciting the Buddha’s name: how does that help me bring home bread? My own parents would scold me when I would give them advice, saying that I barely know about Buddhism and yet I would try to teach them how to live their lives. In particular, when our dog bit their enemy, I advised my parents to let go of their enmity and pay a visit to reconcile. My parents got real upset with me and gave me a tongue lashing. My husband threatened to burn my Buddhist books and scriptures. Also, my new boss at work would pick on me and cause me a lot of trouble.
In order to avoid my parents and husband from creating additional offenses because of my cultivation, I decided to no longer recite sutras or recite the Buddha’s name at home. I only recite the Buddha’s name silently when I do not need to think. I also would sneak to the temple after work on the 14th and 30th days of the lunar month.
However, I am very sad because I do not how much longer I will be able to bear this before I can obtain liberation, end suffering and obtain rebirth to the Pure Land. Recently, I considered leaving the home life in order to cultivate in peace, however my daughter is only two years old and still needs a mother. That’s why I decided to continue to endure my circumstances as I wait for conditions improve.
I feel like I am sinking in the sea of suffering. I sincerely ask for your advice. What can I do to change my family’s attitude toward my cultivation? Please rescue me! I hope to hear from you soon.
In the past several years of teaching, I have encountered quite a few similar situations like yours.
Most of which are women receiving obstructions from their husbands. But there have been other instances as well. There was the man who only could sneak out to the temple when his Catholic wife was not paying attention. And there is the mother who is forbidden to practice vegetarianism or go to the temple by her own accomplished son and daughters.
To you all, I offer my sincere sympathy.
It is said that as soon as one resolves to cultivate, the obstructions would come with a vengeance, perhaps in order to test one’s resolve.
Let me see how we can help address some of your concerns.
First, I feel that you are very smart and have dealt with your situation pretty well. However, you are making the same mistake that many Buddhists make. Please stop giving advice and stop telling others what to do WHEN THEY DO NOT SINCERELY ASK FOR YOUR OPINION.
In particular, even though you were right in advising your parents to drop their enmity toward their enemy, you should have not given such advice because, as you have discovered, it would engender a typical adverse reaction from them and others.
Over all, your approach would indicate that you are quite intelligent and resourceful. What you need to understand is that the obstructions to your cultivation should be seen under two aspects:
- Repaying your past karmic debts to your family.
- The opportunity to practice the Buddhist Dharma of patience.
First, based on the Law of Cause and Effect, you are being obstructed in your cultivation because you obstructed others in the past. Now you must endure the consequences. Therefore, the astute Buddhist learns to practice repentance such as bowing to the Buddha, bowing repentances such as the Great Compassion Repentance or Emperor Liang’s Repentance. Repenting will alleviate the retributions.
Another way is to generate blessings on their behalf to more quickly pay off your past karmic debts. You can take advantage of “professional” help by going to a good Chinese temple and inquire about the Medicine Master Buddha Dharma in order to pay off your karmic debts to your family. There should be some information on that Dharma on our web site too in the sutra section as well as in the Q&A.
Moreover, enduring the difficult circumstances directly repays our karmic debts.
What I hear from you is that you are quite afflicted. I hope that you can find support and comfort from your temple. I hope that you understand that obstructions can be turned into opportunities to practice patience. Cultivation is fundamentally learning to patiently endure the circumstances and not lose faith and hope.
May I ask you to use your resourcefulness and determination to continue to endure it? That would bring you closer to liberation and end suffering. Along with that, generate blessings, a lot of blessings on their behalf using the methods mentioned above, in order to help them eventually benefit from Buddhism. Once they have enough blessings or once you’ve paid off your karmic debts to them, they will automatically stop giving you trouble.
Simultaneously, you should also learn to be grateful to them for allowing you to practice patience. Develop an attitude of compassion and understanding. They do not have the opportunity to experience the bliss and freedom from cultivation. Please work on your samadhi power and unfold your wisdom so that you can stop resenting them.
Come and see me if you can and I’ll give you more advice.