Friday, September 30, 2011

Loyalty and Betrayal According to Buddhist Beliefs

Thanks for sticking with my while I took a brief break.  Based on some recent events from my life, I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of loyalty and if there even is such a thing as loyalty in Buddhism.  I have reached the conclusion that loyalty is a concept that comes from the deluded mind.  It is often attachment, ignorance or anger masquerading as something virtuous.  If we were all enlightened beings, there would be no disloyalty or betrayal because disloyalty and betrayal come from our own ignorance and delusions or the ignorance or delusions of others.  In fact, I don't even know that loyalty would be a concept because it would just be the norm of someone loving all sentient beings.

One of the basic ideas of Buddhism is that all beings are interconnected.  Because of the belief in reincarnation and the belief in a different concept of time, it is said that every being could have once been our mother.  If every being has been our mother at one point or another, shouldn't we love them all?  Shouldn't they all have equal standing in our minds?  All beings do not have the same standing in our minds because we have deluded minds.  Loyalty or disloyalty is a reflection of our progress on the path to enlightenment.  Those who are enlightened love all beings and other enlightened beings never misinterpret that love for anything other than the pure and unconditional love that it is.  Alas, those of us who are not quite there yet struggle with these concepts.

In my life, I've watched many relationships deteriorate.  I recently asked my brother if I could crash on his couch for one night. He said no.  My parents are still married, but I wouldn't say they are happily married.  I had a boyfriend who said he loved me, but his actions said otherwise.  These are just a few examples of things that people might call "disloyalty".  What is the real problem here?  People throw around the word "love".  They claim that they love people, but their actions show otherwise.  It's great to say you love someone, but I believe that you can only truly say you love someone if you are willing to sacrifice yourself and/or endure suffering for that person.  You know, that old I'd-take-a-bullet-for-you game.  People just don't practice love as much as they should.

Today I became really angry when I realized that one of my friends betrayed me.  And by "betrayed me", I really mean did something that wasn't nice to someone else.  But if you love all beings and believe that we are all connected, then a betrayal of one is a betrayal of any and all.  I told myself angrily that we would never be friends again.  It has been very hard for me to look at the reason's behind my friend's behavior and overlook my anger, but I am trying to work on it.  I used to think of myself as fiercely loyal and felt disappointed when I saw others act in ways that I felt was disloyal.  My views have changed because my practice of love has changed.

I no longer really believe in loyalty because I no longer have a me vs. them or us vs. them mentality.  Sometimes my old ways of thinking creep back in and I believe in betrayal, but really, I need to recognize that it's my anger and delusions and the anger and delusions of the other person that are doing the talking.  Nonetheless, I'm still feeling disturbed by my friend's actions.  My grandmother used to always give me advice to not make waves.  I guess I still believe in going with the flow and not making waves, but sometimes it's hard to keep loving when other people don't think about the consequences of their actions.

How do you deal with loyalty and betrayal in light of Buddhist beliefs?


jenvegas said...

I feel that this is something I constantly struggle with... I am back and forth! Depending on what my situation is within life, sometimes I think if I expect too much from others I only disappoint myself. When I accept others for who they are good (and the very bad), I feel a lot better, but it's difficult not to create waves as you say :)

After several experiences back to back with people who seem disloyal and not having as many friends since moving here, I tend to take many more things to heart and constantly feel let down. It's something I want to change and know that it will be over with soon, since I'll hopefully be back home soon.

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deadlock said...

I find it very difficult to overcome feelings of betrayal, especially if I feel I tried my best to not cause any harm. However, I don't think it's "supposed" to be easy. You must be honest with yourself and accept your feelings of anger but not act upon them. After some time of being hurt you realize that it's really something in your head that does the hurting. You must also realize that no person would probably hurt someone else if he/she was fully aware of the consequences of his/her actions. That helps you to find peace and forgiveness. I am not an "official" Buddhist however, I just find certain concepts of this philosophy very simple and pragmatic at the same time.