Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dhammacaka | Face to Face (part 2) | Mei, 2009 | by Setiawan Liu

After getting re-married, some particular group of people ‘judge’ you to have misled either the Buddhist practice or other teaching, how do you see their judgement? (please advise me if you follow or unfollow Buddhism)

I guess it eventually depends on how one perceives ‘teaching’, ‘religious practice’, or just ‘religion’ in general, and how one posits them in his/her life. As for myself, religious practices and teaching are always open to interpretation, so I do not see any singular, fixed truth about anything. Truth is organic. Religion, for me, should be organic. It lives and grows. And that is why, for me personally, authenticity matters much more than mere do’s and don’t’s. I see no point in living in a lie or in a social deception just to please other people or to uphold some rules. What I have decided in my life is something that I will bear on my own. I care less about public opinion, not in order to live in an anti-social bubble, but it’s so obvious we can never please everybody. As my husband, Reza, always says: the moment we care too much about other’s opinion or pleasing people, we officially put ourselves on the fastest path towards misery and unhappiness. I’m still a Buddhist, by the way.

What is really on your mind about ‘having a good (re)marriage’ – how do you see that in either Buddhism or in general ideas? 

To be honest, other than keeping it realistic and truthful, I do not have any other idea of what a good relationship ideals are—and that includes marriage, of course. Too fixated in defining what’s good and bad can be very stressful, because we’ll be led up by ideals and not by the ever-changing moment-to-moment truth. In my current marriage, our commitment to each other is just to stay as honest and truthful as possible. We do not give promises, but just hold intentions. It implies vast difference. And we communicate everything as clear, complete, and concise as we can, no matter how ugly they may be. For me, that’s the best gift we can offer to someone. 

If only you have two choices, married with the man with two wives, or being in separation with your beloved husband? 

I do not like hypothetical question very much. Most of the time it’s pointless, because when we face the reality, we could go for a complete opposite direction from our previous hypothetical answer. But so far, I do not see myself as a polygamous person. 

How does Buddhism influence each step of your life? Do you practice another religious teaching besides Buddhism? 

I think what Buddhism really inspires me is the spirit of self-inquiry. Ehipassiko. I now pay more respect to direct experiences. We can talk until our mouths foam about concepts of truth or teachings, but only by experiencing we can ever truly learn about anything. And that moves me to practice meditation in the first place. I appreciate many teachings, especially what people called ‘mystics’, also for the same reason. The mystic tradition emphasizes on experiencing, not so much do’s and don’t’s, or the more ‘political’ side of religion/spirituality.

So far, after getting remarried, do you always feel comfortable with this ‘new’ situation? 

(note: actually I’m not so clear with what you meant by ‘new’ situation. Is it the marriage? The social aspect? Work? What exactly the situation do you address? Anyhow, I’m going to answer it from relationship angle).If you define ‘always feel comfortable’ as ‘being happy all the time’, of course it’s not realistic. Relating is a not a sugary sweet fairy tale all the time. Like all relating that has ups and downs, we have to adapt so many things in our togetherness. We re-learn to live and to co-evolve with one another’s presence. But if you define ‘comfortable’ as acceptance, I do embrace every aspect of this new life I have—comfortably. This has been one of the best gifts that life has ever given to me. I feel so blessed.