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Zen and the art of family maintenance – lessons from the bestselling Buddhist monk

Haemin Sunim says a happy relationship and contented children are within reach for us all – if we could just slow down and pay attention to each other

Some people, if you ask them a question, answer quickly. Others take a moment to think first. Haemin Sunim looks up, slightly to the right, and allows 14 seconds to pass before he answers one of my questions. I counted, when I listened to the recording. And here’s something: waiting for his reply, I didn’t feel even remotely uncomfortable. Because taking time is Sunim’s thing. He’s a Buddhist monk who has become internationally famous for it.

Korean Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim in New York. Photograph: Sangbeom Lee

His book Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down was published in South Korea in 2012, quickly rose to No 1 on the bestseller list and stayed there for nearly a year, selling more than 3m copies. Written in response to requests for advice on social media (he has 1.25 million followers on Twitter), it directly addresses problems facing people around the world. Some of this is based on his personal experience. Much is based on what he has learned from people who ask for his help.

“I come out of a tradition of Zen Buddhism, and I practise meditation. I give lessons. The formal teaching is Buddhist doctrine and teachings. But in the temple, when people come in to pray, you might have coffee or tea, and the conversation is not usually about spiritual matters but about mundane, everyday life. I ask for questions. And often the questions are not about meditation but about daily struggle. What do I do to solve this problem, or that problem? Very specific. I try to offer my own answers.”

Korean Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim in New York. Photograph: Sangbeom Lee

Many of the questions are about family life. “I encourage people to have a very intimate and close relationship with their child, when the child is one, two, three, four and five. You should pour your attention and love into them. But when the child has grown up, it’s different. Often parents are so much in love with their child that they want to do everything – even when the child is in their 20s. I say, ‘Maybe you can let your child know that he is already an adult. Say, “I love you very much but it’s time for you to grow up.” Focusing less on him, and more on yourself, your partner, and the people around you, will bring benefits to your child.’”

This was Sunim’s experience. “I feel very lucky. My mother cares deeply about me, but is very happy with her own life, and doesn’t have any need to control me. I was in my mid-20s when I realised. I have a cousin, and like me he went abroad to study.” (Sunim moved to the US to study film, then found the religious life.) “My aunt would always pack everything – food, clothes, everything – and follow him to the airport to say goodbye. And I realised that my mum didn’t do that. Sometimes she didn’t even come to the airport! Not that she didn’t love me. She loved me very much.”

Did you ever tell her?

“Yes, I told her how grateful I am. She is a very happy person. The best gift you can give to your child is to be happy yourself, rather than trying to make your child happy.”

Sunim grew up in Seoul, South Korea and has a younger brother. The family was poor, he says. “Especially when I was in elementary school, but I always felt a sense of love.”

His mother is a housewife. His father sells art. “He has a tiny shop selling paintings. Other people’s paintings.”

Sunim was always interested in spirituality, he says, and the meaning of life. “What happens after we die – that sort of thing. So when I went to bookstores I would pick up those books. I started in high school, with a book that profoundly influenced me by Krishnamurti. There are so many wonderful books by him. I thought it was very interesting. That genuine freedom is freedom from your own thoughts. That was such a powerful teaching. I always thought of freedom as something to do with politics.”

What can he tell people who didn’t have a happy childhood?

“I get a lot of questions like that.I offer different ways to heal yourself. If you have the issue of abandonment, you feel that your parents didn’t care much about you, you were the middle child, or the last child, or your family was very poor and your parents were always very tired when they came back from work … Having your own child can become a way to heal yourself,” he says. “I have heard a number of times that caring for a child, and giving the kind of love you never received, can be transformative and healing for yourself,” he says.

And people who don’t have a child? He thinks for a while. “You can offer the love you haven’t received by doing volunteer work, perhaps in an orphanage. I heard from somebody who volunteered, and frequently washed the babies and children in an orphanage, and she always felt incredibly happy, and connected. So I think you can heal yourself by giving the love that you haven’t received from your own parent.”

Do you think families pause enough? Or is it always a fight to be heard?

“Usually, it’s a fight to be heard. When we pause, we can connect to our body, and to the person in front of us, instead of being wrapped up in our own thoughts.” One reason we don’t do that, he says, is sheer busyness.

“People have to work for many hours and they are sacrificing their health to make money. And because of the net and cellphones, people are losing their connections to family members or friends. They’re always online, so on your birthday, you get 50 birthday messages and realise you have nobody to have dinner with. And that’s very common.

“It would be great if we could gift to ourselves a moment of calm and quietude, to find our own centre, and go out and live more intentionally, rather than being pulled in many different directions and getting sucked in, and losing control,” he says.

What are the most useful pieces of advice you can offer families?

“I think that a lot of mothers, with a full-time job, carry a sense of guilt, about not spending enough time with her child. My advice would be to think that quality matters more than quantity. So even if it’s a very short amount of time, shower your child with your full attention and loving care,” he says.

“That intimacy can have huge benefits for the child, compared with being there but being stressed and annoyed and anxious that you have to get away. A lot of mothers, they get depressed because they don’t feel they have enough time. But maybe because you are working, you feel a little more fulfilled. And with that, you can bring positivity to your child.”

“I also get a lot of questions about husband-and-wife relationship problems. If your child is emotionally upset, it could be because the husband didn’t pay enough attention to his wife. So being kinder to your wife can help your child to have balance.”

Does that kind of teaching usually arise in response to husbands?

“Usually wives.”

Do men seek your advice as well? “Usually the husband tells me, ‘My wife nags, she tries to control me, she tells me: “Do this, do that, you’re not good enough.”’ So I jokingly tell my female audience, ‘You thought before you got married that you would be able to somehow change him, and you now know how impossible that is. And a part of love is acceptance, rather than trying to change your husband. To a certain degree, we have to reconcile and accept differences.”

You said something like that earlier, about your mother not trying to control you …

“That’s one of the lessons that I try to share. When you are trying to control people, you feel that something is missing within you, and you want to find somebody else who can give you the things that you need. And in the process, you want to control that person. But often you can just go out and get that which you have been longing to have, rather than use other people to get it,” he says.

What did you see, and hear, that made you know that you were loved as a child?

“Well, my parents would sacrifice financial means to give me the best education. I felt that they were willing to invest their resource into me. And when I was with them, they asked many questions. Questions about how I’m doing, how I’m feeling. And whenever I write something, my mum collects my newspaper columns. She talks about whether this week’s column is good, or not so good. She’s definitely interested in my writing.”

So it’s something to do with having their attention? Not lots of hugs and kisses? Sunim shakes his head.

“I say that in my book. If you can pay attention to somebody, without being carried away by your thoughts, that’s an expression of love. Only when you love somebody can you do that. Krishnamurti tells us to go out and get any stone in the world, and put it in your living room, and to pay attention to it every time you pass by. And after two months that will be the most important stone in the world. Because you paid attention to it.”

Do you have a stone in your living room? “Hahaha! No!”


From: the Guardian

Author: John-Paul Flintoff

Date: 2017-02-25

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我们离家越来越远,但我们的心不会与家渐行渐远。希望这篇文章对大家对待生活和家庭的态度能有益处。

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禅与家——慧敏和尚启示录

家庭是人们生活中重要组成部分,家是每个人人生最初和最重要的阶段,各种习惯、性格、待人处事的方式都在这一阶段逐步成型。我们每个人对家庭的认知和感觉都各有不同,国际知名僧侣慧敏和尚也对家和生活表达了自己的感悟。

慧敏和尚曾说:“如果我们能够放慢生活,关心彼此,那么孩子们将会自得其乐,融洽愉悦的家庭关系也将触手可及。”

有这样一类人,当他们面对他人提出的问题时总是能快速作答。而另一类人,在回答问题之前会思考片刻。慧敏和尚就属于后者:他抬起头,缓缓向右转,在他回答我之前,十四秒钟已经过去了。我有个习惯,在听他录音的时候默默地数秒,值得一提的是,在等待他的回答的时候,我没有一丝不舒服的感觉。因为体会时间的奥义正是他所擅长的,他也因此成为国际知名的和尚。

慧敏和尚在纽约 摄影 / Sangbeom Lee

慧敏和尚在纽约 摄影 / Sangbeom Lee

2012年,他的著作《慢下来才能看到的东西》(Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down)在韩国出版,并迅速成为畅销书榜单首位,在将近一年的时间里卖出三百多万册。他也会在社交平台上与世界各地的人互动(他在推特上有125万粉丝),直面他们的难题。在他所给出的建议中,一部分来自于他的个人经历,更多的是从向他求助的人那里学到的东西。

“我所修的是传统的佛教禅宗,参禅悟道,也讲授课程。正规的课程是讲授佛教教义,但是在寺庙里,当人们来祈祷的时候,品着茶或咖啡,谈话内容大多并非是精神层面的,而是关于世俗生活的。当我向别人提问,通常问题也不是关于悟道,而是一些日常琐事。应该如何来解决种种琐事难题,我会试着给出非常具体的答案。”

其中关于家庭生活的问题很多。

“我鼓励人们在他们的孩子年龄低于5岁的时候,和孩子应该保持非常亲密的关系,并付出极大的时间与精力去给予他们足够的关爱。而当孩子长大以后,这种方式应该有所变化。通常父母的溺爱会导致孩子贪得无厌,甚至有的孩子已经20多岁了仍然极度依赖父母。”我告诉他们:“你可以让你的孩子知道他已经是一个成年人了,你应该告诉他你很爱他,但是同时他也应该成熟了。不要过多的关照他,把生活的重心放在你自己、你的伴侣和你周围的人身上。这些教育方式对你的孩子大有裨益。”

这些都是慧敏的经验之谈。

“我很幸运,我的母亲非常关心我,同时她自己也生活得很愉快,对她来说,没有任何必要来控制我的生活,当我20多岁的时候我才意识到这一点。我有一个同我一样出国留学的表弟(慧敏曾经去美国学习电影,这也是他虔诚的宗教生活的开端),我的姑姑,也就是他的母亲总是为他准备好一切,包括食物、衣服等生活用品,而且她会送表弟到机场同他道再见。我的母亲从来都不会这样做。有时候她甚至都不来机场送我!但是我明白不是她不爱我,相反我知道她对我的爱一直很深。”

“你有向她表达过吗?”

“我曾经告诉过她我非常感谢她。她是一个非常乐观的人,其实父母不必试图逗孩子开心,一个乐观的自己就是送给孩子最好的礼物。”

慧敏和他的哥哥在韩国首尔长大,那时他们家很穷,慧敏说:“特别是我在上小学的时候,家庭状况更是糟糕,但是我总能感受到家庭的爱。”

他的母亲是一位家庭主妇,父亲靠卖画为生。“他有一个专门卖画的小商店,里面都是一些艺术家的画作。”

慧敏一直对灵性很感兴趣,他说这就是生命的意义。“我会关注诸如我们死了之后会怎样之类的问题,所以当我去书店的时候我会着重挑选这一类的书籍。在我上高中的时候,一本克里希那穆提(Jiddu Krishnamurti,印度哲学家。是近代第一位用通俗的语言,向西方全面深入阐述东方哲学智慧的印度哲学家)的著作对我产生了很大的影响。他有很多伟大的作品,这引起了我极大的兴趣。‘真正的自由是思想的自由’,这对我有很大的启发,在这之前我一直认为自由仅仅是和政治关联的。”

慧敏和尚在纽约 摄影 / Sangbeom Lee

慧敏和尚在纽约 摄影 / Sangbeom Lee

“你会向那些拥有不幸童年的人说些什么呢?”

“我收到过很多类似的问题。我提供了一些不同的方式来自我治愈。如果你有一种被抛弃的感觉,觉得你的父母没有给你足够的关心,是家庭中排行第二或最末的孩子,又或者是你的家庭很贫困,你的父母下班回家后总是很疲惫……那么拥有一个你自己的孩子会是一个不错的弥补创伤的方式,”他说,“给予孩子你从未得到过的爱,可以让你从童年的不幸中解脱出来。”

“那些没有孩子的人该怎么办呢?”

他思考了片刻。“你可以通过志愿者工作去表达这种爱,一位在孤儿院当志愿者的女士告诉我,她经常去帮助那些孩子,而且她自己也总能从其中得到难以言表的快乐和满足。所以我认为你可以通过付出自己的爱来释放自己。”

“你觉得如今的家庭生活是普遍平静的吗?还是像很多人认为的那样是一场忙碌的战斗?”

“通常来说,这普遍是一场战斗。当我们停下来的时候,我们的思想会与身体产生某种联系,促使我们去了解面前的人,而不是整天沉浸在自己原本的世界中无法自拔。”他说,“但是繁忙的生活阻止了我们那样做。”

“人们不得不长时间地工作,他们透支了自己的身体来赚钱。由于网络和智能手机,人们正逐渐失去和亲朋好友之间的联系。他们把时间都花在网上,所以在你的生日聚会那天,你可能收到了五十条祝福短信,然而却没有人和你一起吃晚餐。这是非常普遍的现象。”

“如果我们可以给自己片刻的平静,用来找寻自己的内心,去活得更有意义,而不是被外界随意拉扯,陷入漩涡,失去控制,这将会是一份巨大的收获。”他说。

“你对家庭生活有哪些最实用的建议?”

“我认为,有很多这样的母亲,她们在外有全职工作,心中却怀揣着一丝愧疚。因为她们没有花足够的时间来陪伴孩子。我的建议是与其长时间地和孩子黏在一起,不如陪孩子做一些有意义的事情。即使是很短的时间,也要向你的孩子表达足够的关心和爱。”他说。

“这种亲密关系对孩子有很大的好处,很多母亲由于生活忙碌而变得焦虑。但是从另一方面考虑,或许她们因为工作而感觉到充实,也能够通过这种方式为孩子带来积极向上的能量。”

“我也收到过一些关于夫妻关系的问题。如果孩子情绪总是很沮丧,那也有可能是因为丈夫没有给予妻子足够的关爱。因此,对妻子付出更多的关爱有助于改善孩子的情绪。”

“所以这些建议通常是针对丈夫的吗?”

“恰恰相反,通常是妻子。”

“那丈夫们也向你寻求建议吗?”

“通常都有丈夫告诉我说:我的妻子抱怨个不停,想让我处于她的控制之中,她总叫我干这干那的,然后又告诉我‘你不够好!’所以我总是用开玩笑的口吻给我的女性听众说:结婚之前你觉得你可以改变你的丈夫,而现在你发现那是不可能的了吧。爱的一部分就是互相包容,互相接受,而不是试着去改变你的丈夫。在某种程度上,我们必须调和矛盾,接受差异。”

“你之前分享过,关于你的母亲不想控制你…”

“那是我想分享的另一份经验。当你试着控制别人的时候,你会感觉到一种内在的缺乏感,因为你想从别人身上找到你需要的东西。而在这个过程中,你就不知不觉想控制那个人。但是,通常你都可以从外界寻找并得到你一直渴望拥有的东西,而不是通过控制别人来得到它。“他说。

“当你作为一个孩子的时候,是什么让你感受到了爱呢?”

“我的父母花了很多钱让我接受最好的教育。我觉得他们愿意把他们的资源投资在我身上。当我和他们在一起的时候,他们问了我许多问题,这些问题大多都是关于我对事情的处理方式和对事物的感觉。而且无论我写了什么,我的母亲都会把它们收集起来,她会经常谈论我的写作,不论我写的好或是不好。对于我写的东西,她总是充满了兴趣。”

“所以有什么事情可以表明他们对你的关心呢?每天都给你吻或者拥抱?”

慧敏摇了摇头:“我在我的书里说过。如果你对某个人的关心不会被其他纷繁复杂的想法所磨灭,那这就是爱了。只有当你爱一个人的时候你才会这样。克里希那穆提曾经这样说:到外面随捡一颗石头,把它放在你的房间里,每次经过它的时候都对它保持注意。两个月过后它就会成为这个世界上最重要的石头。因为你对它付出了极大的精力。”

“你的客厅里也有这样一颗石头吗?”

“哈哈!没有!”【全文完】


 

文章编译:熊航

责任编辑:刘子豪

原文作者:John-Paul Flintoff

文章来源:The Guardian

原文链接:Zen and the art of family maintenance – lessons from the bestselling Buddhist monk

发表时间:2017-02-25

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By | 2017-04-04T22:39:19+00:00 三月 8th, 2017|世界, 人物传记, 文艺杂文, 生活, 编辑推荐|5 Comments

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神奇小莺歌
为了艾泽拉斯 为了艾泽拉斯

我们离家越来越远,但我们的心不会与家渐行渐远。希望这篇文章对大家对待生活和家庭的态度能有益处。

5 Comments

  1. its ok
    its ok 2017年4月12日 at 下午10:10

    我有一个网上认识的朋友,28岁,他说他想做一个和尚。他现在跑到山里面过着特别清贫的生活,每天种种地,吃的都是自己种的菜。我当时就很困惑,为什么要跑到这么偏僻的地方去,然后他的回答让我很触动,他的原话是“不一样的生活方式,有什么好奇的”。虽然这个事情跟这篇文章好像没有什么关系,我也只是有感而发,就是觉得生活方式有很多种,什么禅与家的启示什么的,他们能帮你什么,只有自己去体会

  2. Aimee
    Aimee 2017年4月8日 at 下午5:42

    父母的爱真的是对一个孩子的成长和以后的发展息息相关,每个人的成长都需要爱和关心,不管你是给予方还是被给予方。

  3. Lindsay
    Lindsay 2017年3月22日 at 下午8:21

    有些建议真的挺好的,从所修之道中体味生活,去解决一些琐事,去欣赏美好

  4. figgur
    figgur 2017年3月12日 at 下午8:45

    真的感觉悟出好多人生大道理,他们接触了世界上很多事,认知、感悟、到总结。有点像《朝九晚五》中的和尚吧,脑中的知识比外界的人多得多。

  5. Ventiiz
    Ventiiz 2017年3月9日 at 下午12:46

    感觉不论是韩国的和尚还是日本的和尚,都不止钻研佛法,他们也在尘世俗事中感悟,他们去开阔眼界,去阅读,去分享悟道,更像古时的和尚广施善缘。但是我们的和尚大多都在寺庙里赚钱,真正能做到广结善缘的和尚很少。

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