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Specifically when someone you love or whose opinion matters to you greatly attacks your way of life, your beliefs, or even on a smaller scale just makes you feel ignored, pushed around, etc.

I find I quickly lose confidence in my "inner voice" when my loved ones, particularly family, do this. Generally when a stranger does this to me it's easier to let go.

Does anyone have a useful visual metaphor or story around this? I try to see myself as a rock and their words like arrows pinging off me but it doesn't work.

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  • If you have more detailed questions which are unrelated to Buddhist doctrine or practice, please see if these other StackExchange sites may be of help to you: Interpersonal Skills, The Workplace, Parenting. – ruben2020 Apr 24 at 16:43
  • This question has been rolled back to its original state, to be on-topic for Buddhism.SE. – ruben2020 Apr 24 at 16:47
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Perhaps it is possible that you aren't confident in being right, perhaps you are wrong and people who are challenging your views are right. In that case you should figure it out and do as they say if they are right and do as you see fit if you are right. Whether you are or aren't is the most important factor in determining your course of action.

If you aren't certain then don't get into a discussion. In general avoid getting into a debate if you aren't certain in your righteousness and don't understand the opposing position better than the opposition does.

You can always say 'this is my conviction but i am not certain, if you have all the answers then teach me but if you are likewise of speculative persuation then let's set this discussion aside until one of us gains verified confidence'. It will solve your problem because this statement protects the truth and avoids arguments.

But to what extent, Master Gotama, is there the safeguarding of the truth? To what extent does one safeguard the truth? We ask Master Gotama about the safeguarding of the truth."

"If a person has conviction, his statement, 'This is my conviction,' safeguards the truth. But he doesn't yet come to the definite conclusion that 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless.' To this extent, Bharadvaja, there is the safeguarding of the truth. To this extent one safeguards the truth. I describe this as the safeguarding of the truth. But it is not yet an awakening to the truth.

"If a person likes something... holds an unbroken tradition... has something reasoned through analogy... has something he agrees to, having pondered views, his statement, 'This is what I agree to, having pondered views,' safeguards the truth. But he doesn't yet come to the definite conclusion that 'Only this is true; anything else is worthless.' To this extent, Bharadvaja, there is the safeguarding of the truth. To this extent one safeguards the truth. I describe this as the safeguarding of the truth. But it is not yet an awakening to the truth. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.095x.than.html

As to how one develops fortitude there is no simple answer but this very training does develop it, namely the four bases of mindfulness, five faculties, five bases of power, seven factors of awakening, this noble eightfold path. One should avoid associating with bullies and seclude oneself from abusive people until becoming such that one's forbearance is one's mighty army and one can endure both the abuse and one's own anger without letting it loose.

When it comes to parents we can't just go along with whatever they say because we owe them

I tell you, monks, there are two people who are not easy to repay. Which two? Your mother & father. Even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder & your father on the other shoulder for 100 years, and were to look after them by anointing, massaging, bathing, & rubbing their limbs, and they were to defecate & urinate right there [on your shoulders], you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. If you were to establish your mother & father in absolute sovereignty over this great earth, abounding in the seven treasures, you would not in that way pay or repay your parents. Why is that? Mother & father do much for their children. They care for them, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. But anyone who rouses his unbelieving mother & father, settles & establishes them in conviction; rouses his unvirtuous mother & father, settles & establishes them in virtue; rouses his stingy mother & father, settles & establishes them in generosity; rouses his foolish mother & father, settles & establishes them in discernment: To this extent one pays & repays one's mother & father."

It is normal that we want to bring people we like along with us and be aligned in view but we should associate with our equals or better and a person is neither of those by the virtue of kinship alone. Therefore it is entirely reasonable to seclude oneself and to that extent violate even kinship.

It is just sad to associate with people of different persuation because it is unpleasant to watch people we care about aim down and furthermore listening to their rationalization for doing so. If we don't agree with their rationalization a person will usually get upset and defensive about it. Therefore best leave them to their own until you have an ace in your sleeve so to speak.

Don't waste words of wisdom on people who are fixated in wrong views, don't throw pearls before swine.

There is no companionship with fools. Living with fools is painful as living with foes.

As to how to train in more detail, look up development of perceptions & contemplation, learn the defining of elements and practise jhana. .

If you are going to contemplate whilst people are abusing you then there are better themes:

I have compiled ~ 20 to be developed lines of reasoning and visualizations here (theravadin texts, mostly sutta):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kZxstsAvjhj9Svc47RUKRIyKQMuHMD4adIvr_7pp2uI/edit?usp=drivesdk

Something you should reflect on often is that people are like that. They critcized even the Buddha. Another thing is that bad people don't like good people.

Should one see a wise man, Who, like a revealer of treasures, Points out faults and reproves, Let one associate with such a one, Well is it, not ill, to associate with such a one.

Let him admonish, exhort, And shield from wrong. Truly, pleasing is he to the good, Displeasing is he to the bad.

Associate not with evil friends; Associate not with mean men; Associate with good friend; Associate with noble men.

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  • 'this is my conviction but i am not certain, if you have all the answers then teach me but if you are likewise of speculative persuation then let's set this discussion aside until one of us gains verified confidence' I like this a lot. Thanks. – pipichu Apr 6 at 18:46
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Our mental model of the world is one of the things that causes us the most suffering in our lives. When reality doesn't agree with it, we feel threatened and get upset.

If people are attacking you because of your beliefs/way of life, it's probably because they feel attacked by them, they feel threatened and insecure about their own way of life, their mental model is being challenged, so they lash out.

Remember that, in most cases, if someone hurts you it's because they themselves are suffering. So, try to develop understanding, compassion and kindness towards them, something like:

"These people I love and care about are hurting me, how they must be suffering!"

Of course, it's always important to question what we are doing and listen to valid criticism, but don't let yourself be abused, and if people are just hating, I think the best thing to do is just be compassionate for their suffering and be confident in yourself.

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    Wise words +1.. – user19910 Apr 5 at 3:50
  • I feel like it's actually easy for me to transform into compassion. What's hard is for me to sit in a position of neutrality, if that makes sense. I've been reading the Dalai Lama's stuff and he states it's important to first develop patience and tolerance even when someone criticizes you, and then move towards helping others. I don't know why I feel like it's hard to do the first. – pipichu Apr 6 at 18:54
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Does anyone have a useful visual metaphor or story around this? I try to see myself as a rock and their words like arrows pinging off me but it doesn't work.

I once read the opposite metaphor.

Someone, perhaps a yogi, magically made their body hard like a diamond -- and fought with someone else, trying to prove that they (with their diamond-like body) were superior. But the other person was even more invulnerable (therefore superior) -- because weapons just passed through his body without resistance, as if the body were smoke, insubstantial.

I think that's a metaphor about "ego" or something -- "identifying". It turns out though that the story is from a non-Buddhist source, I forget which one. And I'm not sure the strategy is sustainable.

A Buddhist metaphor I like is Akkosa Sutta: Insult (SN 7.2) -- which is "magnificent".

Incidentally that's inline with instruction from my martial arts teacher -- who said that if someone from outside the class offered to spar (or fight) then we must decline or refuse their invitation (to participate).

Specifically when someone you love or whose opinion matters to you greatly attacks your way of life, your beliefs

I find it unfortunate that "great attacks" should ever happen, or escalate to that.

The sutta Tittha Sutta: Sectarians (Ud 6.4) says that sectarians wound (or try to wound) each other with "weapons of the mouth" (i.e. "harsh words" I presume) -- and says they might argue because they see or focus on different aspects of something -- "my view is right" ... "no my view is right" etc.

Sectarian argument is also attributed to "conceit" -- more-or-less defined here or here.

... or even on a smaller scale just makes you feel ignored, pushed around, etc.

I don't know, is that the same thing? Can be related -- but isn't always?

There are a couple of Zen stories about feeling ignored and being pushed around -- the idea of feeling ignored reminds me of The Taste of Banzo's Sword -- and pushed around, Obedience.

I guess my point is that feeling ignored (not given what you want), and being pushed around, might be to some extent the way things are in adult society -- something which the ego may object to -- and something which, to some extent, you can train yourself accept. Perhaps it's a matter of degree though.

I think my other point is that "attacking" someone seems to me fairly questionable, but "ignoring" someone might be not so blameworthy.

I've felt ignored and maybe disliked it too sometimes, so condolences. But perhaps this lack or desire is something you might fill from within somehow, instead of requiring someone else to supply it.

One of the themes of Buddhist (monastic) literature is that it's ensnaring (not freeing) to maintain lay social relationships -- Khaggavisana Sutta: A Rhinoceros (SN 1.3). Some say that's an old sutta, pre-dating later practice of Buddhist monks living together in institutional monasteries. You might reach the same conclusion (that it's better to "go forth"), even if you don't you might it insightful and useful.

I find I quickly lose confidence in my "inner voice" when my loved ones, particularly family, do this. Generally when a stranger does this to me it's easier to let go.

I'm not sure what you imply by "family".

There a sutta Sigalovada Sutta (DN 31) which describes different types of family responsibility -- and mentions that how you treat your wife or husband isn't the same as how you treat your parents or children.

I kind of like this description of an ideal partner.

It's not easy to address your specific situation since you give so little detail. And generally I think that a relationship therapist might want to talk with more than one person in the relationship.

How to develop fortitude?

Well. In the abstract I suppose "fortitude" means "courage".

You might like to investigate what Buddhism says about each of the Bodhipakkhiyādhammā or possibly the Pāramitā -- conviction (faith), virtue, skilful virtue, wisdom, effort, patience, generosity -- and Brahmavihara.

Wikipedia defines virya for example as,

Vīrya (Sanskrit; Pāli: viriya) is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "energy", "diligence", "enthusiasm", or "effort". It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities, and it functions to cause one to accomplish wholesome or virtuous actions.

Another sutta says that "skilful virtue" (which I guess means, doing what you know to be right, not doing what you know to be wrong) should result in a lack of remorse -- and it seems to me that perhaps "remorse" might be the opposite of courage or enthusiasm.

One other thing, in deciding what's right -- the Kalama Sutta (AN 3.65) includes,

Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them.

... as if you should believe your own opinion, what you "know for yourself". But it also talks about what praised or criticised by "the wise", as if you should take their perspective into account and non only your own.

Buddhism is a bit like that, neither one extreme ("Do whatever the hell you feel like"), nor the other ("Do whatever everybody tells you"). Or sometimes the advice is situational, "Be a lamp unto yourself" in one context, "The holy (monastic) life is living with a spiritual friend (i.e. with the Buddha)" in another.

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  • I don't understand how the smoke body is superior to an indestructible body when both are invulnerable? – Letsbuddhism Apr 5 at 12:21
  • If I recall, at the end the yogi regretted having developed an indestructible body that he was stuck with, couldn't get rid of. – ChrisW Apr 5 at 12:26
  • I guess the diamond-like body was destructible? Then why does it say 'even more invulnerable'? Invulnerable is invulnerable, is there a range of invulnerability? – Letsbuddhism Apr 5 at 12:27
  • Nevermind, i guess the diamonds have a finite indestructability as it can be cut with a diamond whereas smoke can't be chopped. – Letsbuddhism Apr 5 at 12:33
  • I guess the metaphor is that a large diamond is hard but maybe a nuisance to live with. Something more insubstantial -- even non-existent -- may also be invulnerable in the sense that it can't be hurt ... because it's formless, not because its form is so rigid. Perhaps, I don't know, it can be a metaphor for having rigid views in general (though perhaps most obviously self-views). – ChrisW Apr 5 at 12:35
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It sounds like you have a sound idea on right and wrong. If you're not uncertain, and have conviction in what is right, and stick to it, do your best to be polite and respectful to parents, coworkers, etc, but stick to your conviction on things that are right, and that are important.

Developing samadhi and jhana in a holistic way is your best bet to strengthen fortitude. Obviously that's not going to happen right away, but using little mental tricks like visualizing and so forth, is not going to have power without samadhi. What I mean by holistic way, is doing enough physical exercise at least 1.5 hours a day, eating healthy, 2-4 hours of meditation a day or as much as you're able. When your jhana battery gets charged up enough, you'll have internal energy/viriya that gives you courage and strength to follow through with your convictions and principles. If you protect and nurture your internal energy, don't overindulge in sex, drinking, gambling, sensual pleasures, and meditate instead, you'll feel the difference in strength (physical and mental). If you go celibate for 100 days and meditate a lot, you'll feel a big difference, especially if you're young and healthy.

When I was a kid I was shy and afraid of public speaking, afraid of even answering the telephone. Now, I'm totally fearless in those situations, completely relaxed. I regularly stand up to bullies, and am not afraid to question and criticize even the most popular and powerful. If I had 20 million followers on facebook, and they were all bullying me and telling me I'm wrong, but I know that I'm right, I'd just laugh them off and pity those fools. That's samadhi.

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Buddhism prescribes a path for living, which includes a well-defined modes of behaviour.

From a Buddhist perspective, if criticisms by parents accord with Buddhist principles then their criticism are valid and your objections to them are invalid.

For example, if your parents are concerned about and against you taking drugs, partying, being sexually promiscuous, not studying, etc, your parent's concerns are in line with Buddhism.

If your parents are concerned about and against you becoming a Buddhist, because they are Christians, for example, your parent's concerns are not in line with Buddhism.

Or if your parents struggle with you declaring you are "gay", you should understand it is natural most parents will struggle with this because the millions of generations of families from the dawn of time were not born & nurtured from homosexuality.

Naturally, per Buddhist principles, the criticisms of your parents will affect you more because you are attached to your parents. Buddhism teaches the cause of suffering & neurosis is "attachment".

In summary, if your way of life & beliefs are contrary to Buddhist principles, Buddhism cannot offer you a means of "fortitude" because non-Buddhist ways of living inherently in themselves do not lead to fortitude but, instead, lead to weakness, instability, trouble & suffering.

If your way of life & beliefs are in line with Buddhist principles, then your faith & refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha (Enlightened Community) will give you fortitude.

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Try to see if you're doing anything wrong - if you're helping and changing this world to a better place. See if what they say is to help you improve or not for even better. If you don't understand why and it's really important, we should try to reason and arrive to an understanding.

Other thing is what your heart feels, why does it feel that way. Is it because of something you think/read/seen? Can you be misguided or is it because of something else? Deep down that you think is more true?

A Guru/Lama would give you better advices.

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