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I have been practicing vipassanā and mettā at least six months and I have embraced the teachings and practice in my everyday life. However there are certain situations in life where I find difficult to apply the teachings, which are the following:

  • How to respond to hate and violence to oneself
  • How to deal with hypocrisy
  • How to respond in situations of injustice
  • How to deal when someone abuses of your kindness
  • How to deal when someone takes advantage of your good intentions
  • How to apply the teachings in a society where oneself and ego predominates

I hope somebody can give me insights on how to deal with those situations. Thank you.

EDIT: Thank you everyone for your responses so far. I have learned something new in every single one of them.

To be more clear regarding the questions, the objective is how to find the balance in embracing the teachings in our interactions with other beings, but also living by the rules of the capitalism society, which most of us lives on.

As an example, consider the following: someone treats you with bad speech in front of others, and you react mindfully. In the society we live in, if you do not defend yourself and let it happen, it is highly probable that he will do it again, or others will start to take advantage of you, since you are not defending yourself. How to balance this?

  • 1
    Hi core. As a suggestion, you could perhaps transform your edit text into a new follow up question? – Thiago Apr 18 '15 at 18:57
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Good for you that you're following the path. However, that first year on the path can be a sensitive time as there is a power in meditation. The Buddha talked about this power as being both a way to build your path but also a trap if you dwell in it too long. Meditation is making you more sensitive to the world around you and allowing you to perceive people in a more honest way. As you're seeing, that's not always pretty.

I would suggest you practice right speech, which is a part of the Eightfold Path. Right speech forces us to be both compassionate to others while also being compassionate to ourselves. We should value ourselves as much as we value someone else. In every conversation -- in every relationship -- everyone should be equals.

The Buddha said that good speech honors the other person while also honoring yourself. If someone does something you don't like, it's not honorable to tear them down with hurtful speech. However, it's also not right to dishonor yourself by saying things you don't believe just to make them feel good. You've got to live your truth while also recognizing theirs and do so in a compassionate way.

It's a hard balancing act, but if you can do that, you'll find people will change the way they deal with you because you've changed the way you deal with the world.

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"How to respond to hate and violence to oneself"

"Monks, there are these five aspects of speech by which others may address you: timely or untimely, true or false, affectionate or harsh, beneficial or unbeneficial, with a mind of good-will or with inner hate. Others may address you in a timely way or an untimely way. They may address you with what is true or what is false. They may address you in an affectionate way or a harsh way. They may address you in a beneficial way or an unbeneficial way. They may address you with a mind of good-will or with inner hate.

In any event, you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic to that person's welfare, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading him with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with him, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves."

[...]

"Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words [...]' That's how you should train yourselves.

-- Kakacupama Sutta, MN 21

"How to deal with hypocrisy"

Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech; he speaks truth, adheres to truth, is trustworthy and reliable, one who is no deceiver of the world. Abandoning malicious speech, he abstains from malicious speech; he does not repeat elsewhere what he has heard here in order to divide [those people] from those; thus, he is one who reunites those who are divided, a promoter of friendships, who enjoys concord, rejoices on concord, delights on concord, a speaker of words that promote concord. Abandoning harsh speech, he abstains from harsh speech; he speaks such words as are gentle, pleasing to the ear, and lovable, as go to the heart, are courteous, desired by many, and agreeable by many. Abandoning gossip, he abstains from gossip; he speaks at the right time, speaks what is fact, speaks on what is good, speaks on the Dhamma, and the Discipline; at the right time he speaks such words as are worth recording, reasonable, moderate, and beneficial.

-- Culahatthipadopama Sutta, MN 27 (Nanamoli/Bodhi)

On a meditation setting, concerning your own thoughts:

[...] As I abided thus, diligent, ardent and resolute, a thought of [sensual desire, ill will, cruelty] arose in me. I understood thus: 'This thought of [sensual desire, ill will, cruelty] arose in me. This leads to my own affliction, to others affliction, and to the affliction of both; it obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbāna'. When I considered: 'This leads to my own affliction', it subsided in me; When I considered: 'This leads to others affliction', it subsided in me; When I considered: 'This leads to the affliction of both', it subsided in me; When I considered: 'This obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbāna', it subsided in me. Whenever a thought of [sensual desire, ill will, cruelty] arose in me, I abandoned it, removed it, did away with it.

Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. [...]

But with excessive thinking and pondering I might tire my body, and when the body is tired, the mind becomes strained, and when the mind is strained, it is far from concentration. So I steadied my mind internally, quieted it, brought it to singleness, and concentrated it. Why is that? So my mind should not be strained.

-- Dvedhāvitakka Sutta [Bodhi trans.], MN 19

and:

[...] If, while he is examining the danger in those thoughts, there still arise in him evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, with delusion, then he should try to forget those thoughts and should not give attention to them. When he tries to forget those thoughts and does not give attention to them, then any evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion are abandoned in him and subside. With the abandoning of them his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated. [...]

If, while he is trying to forget those thoughts and is not giving attention to them, there still arise in him evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate and with delusion, then he should give attention to stilling the thought-formation of those thoughts. [...]

If while he is giving attention to stilling the thought-formation of those thoughts, there still arise in him evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion, then, with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth, he should beat down, constrain and crush mind with mind.

-- Vitakkasanthāna Sutta, [Bodhi Trans.] MN 20

About the next ones: "How to respond in situations of injustice", "How to deal when someone abuses of your kindness" and "How to deal when someone takes advantage of your good intentions"...

The short answer is "do the above, rinse & repeat", be just, don't abuse kindness of others or their good intentions. And if people are unjust and abuse kindness, still, be just and don't abuse them. If they harm you and become a hindrance, consider staying away from their reach.

Or, in the suttas words, when these situations manifest, tolerate:

“And which is intolerant practice? There is the case where a certain individual, when insulted, returns the insult; when abused, returns the abuse; when bickered with, bickers in return. This is called intolerant practice.

“And which is tolerant practice? There is the case where a certain individual, when insulted, doesn’t return the insult; when abused, doesn’t return the abuse; when bickered with, doesn’t bicker in return. This is called tolerant practice.

-- AN 4.164

...and endure:

“And how is a monk an endurer? There is the case where a monk is resilient to cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. This is how a monk is an endurer.

-- AN 5.140

Once it's clear the inclinations of the people around and their inclination to harm, decide how to protect yourself in the future:

(1) “And what kind of person, bhikkhus, is to be looked upon with disgust, not to be associated with, followed, and served? Here, some person is immoral, of bad character, impure, of suspect behavior, secretive in his actions, not an ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. Such a person is to be looked upon with disgust, not to be associated with, followed, and served. For what reason? Even though one does not follow the example of such a person, a bad report still circulates about oneself: ‘He has bad friends, bad companions, bad comrades.’ Just as a snake that has passed through feces, though it does not bite one, would smear one, so too, though one does not follow the example of such a person, a bad report still circulates about oneself: ‘He has bad friends, bad companions, bad comrades.’ Therefore such a person is to be looked upon with disgust, not to be associated with, followed, and served.

(2) “And what kind of person is to be looked upon with equanimity, not to be associated with, followed, and served? Here, some person is prone to anger an.i.127 and easily exasperated. Even if he is criticized slightly he loses his temper and becomes irritated, hostile, and stubborn; he displays irritation, hatred, and bitterness. Just as a festering sore, if struck by a stick or a shard, will discharge even more matter, so too … Just as a firebrand of the tinduka tree, if struck by a stick or shard, will sizzle and crackle even more, so too … Just as a pit of feces, if struck by a stick or a shard, becomes even more foul-smelling, so too some person here is prone to anger and … displays irritation, hatred, and bitterness. Such a person is to be looked upon with equanimity, not to be associated with, followed, and served. For what reason? With the thought: ‘He might insult me, revile me, and do me harm.’ Therefore such a person is to be looked upon with equanimity, not to be associated with, followed, and served.

(3) “And what kind of person is to be associated with, followed, and served? Here, some person is virtuous and of good character. Such a person is to be associated with, followed, and served. For what reason? Even though one does not follow the example of such a person, a good report still circulates about oneself: ‘He has good friends, good companions, good comrades.’ Therefore such a person is to be associated with, followed, and served.

-- AN 3.27

For illustration, here's a discourse where the Buddha is insulted:

Angered & displeased, [the brahman Akkosaka] went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words. [The Buddha replied]:

"that with which you have insulted me, who is not insulting; that with which you have taunted me, who is not taunting; that with which you have berated me, who is not berating: that I don't accept from you. It's all yours, brahman. It's all yours."

"Whoever returns insult to one who is insulting, returns taunts to one who is taunting, returns a berating to one who is berating, is said to be eating together, sharing company, with that person. But I am neither eating together nor sharing your company, brahman. It's all yours. It's all yours."

-- SN 7.2

"How to apply the teachings in a society where oneself and ego predominates"

By choice.

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To all your questions, the answer is to respond with the mindfulness of Metta as outlined in the Karaniya Metta Sutta. There's more in Metta Sutta.

If you are mindful at all waking times with Metta, then the benefits include sleeping and waking in comfort, as well as becoming dear to other human beings.

Although these Suttas do not describe this detail, I believe that by this practice, you will begin to understand the deep-seated true motives of people who wish to do harm to others. For e.g. they may crave attention or praise, or they may want to hold on to their power or position, or they have greed or envy.

When you practise Metta, you don't set your self up as the victim or the receiving end of these people. Instead, with your mind not preoccupied with fighting or reacting back, it has the space to understand the true motives of people and deal with it in such a way that it will cease or be avoided. And for those people, without a receptive victim to attack, they may cease or take their harmful tendencies elsewhere.

From the Karaniya Metta Sutta:

Think: Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another or despise anyone anywhere, or through anger or irritation wish for another to suffer.

As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings. With good will for the entire cosmos, cultivate a limitless heart: Above, below, & all around, unobstructed, without enmity or hate. Whether standing, walking, sitting, or lying down, as long as one is alert, one should be resolved on this mindfulness. This is called a sublime abiding here & now.

The benefits of Metta is described in the Mettanisamsa Sutta:

1."He sleeps in comfort. 2. He awakes in comfort. 3. He sees no evil dreams. 4. He is dear to human beings. 5. He is dear to non-human beings. 6. Devas (gods) protect him. 7. Fire, poison, and sword cannot touch him. 8. His mind can concentrate quickly. 9. His countenance is serene. 10. He dies without being confused in mind. 11. If he fails to attain arahantship (the highest sanctity) here and now, he will be reborn in the brahma-world.

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What ever the situation you mention, what happens is your sense a situation. You perceive it as positive or negative and then mentally react to it. When you sense it you get a sensation and when you mentally perceive the situation you get a sensation.

In face of the sensations and feeling arising in whatever situation you should try to keep your composure and equanimity. 1st at

  • least to the extent you do not physically or verbally react, then
  • try to curtail your your mental reaction to the sensations with craving and clinging.
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Most things seems to have already good answers, my person gives possible useful in regard of those questions:

  • How to deal when someone abuses of your kindness
  • How to deal when someone takes advantage of your good intentions
  • How to apply the teachings in a society where oneself and ego predominates

Paths to benevolence - Dr. Hecker

Generally my person likes to tell you straight forward that popular Vipassana is really useless if not having trained or train the basics. My person knows less, came across less people who as lay people practicing Vipassana and have actually gained anything benefical for a long therm benefit.

Generally most of them are more worse as people having not done because they usually terrible overestimete themselves and apply the certain skills for wordily interests.

So one is wise to step onto the path in a humble step by step way as well. When time and kammic prerequisites are right, when all moves on a "rightous" level, fruits can be expected. It's needed to do the raw stuff first.

No areas are more unvirtuose, unpleasant, wordily, political and violent as those where "Vipassana-Freaks" dwell (especially layman leaded, but also where monks make their livelihood in teaching such to those not prepared actually).

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma, not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gain by means of trade and exchange]

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