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March 30, 2016 – Q & A Dharma Talk Session in Seocho district , Seoul

First uploaded in Korean on 2016.03.30 (Morning)
Delivered by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim
Record in Korean: Lee JunGil
English Translation: Rei Yoon

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Questioner: “I have been married for 11 years. My husband is overly sensitive, timid, frets easily. Small things I say make him irritated. He picks on things like ‘my words are not soft enough,’ ‘your voice sounds sarcastic’ and so forth. If I negate, he wouldn’t even listen. He says he’s doing perfectly fine, so I should not be concerned and point out things to him. When I am only trying to initiate a conversation my husband vents his anger. Should I not talk to him at all, not even ask him questions? What should I do?”

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “Becoming irritated is your husband’s problem. Wanting to ask questions is your problem. Don’t worry if he gets upset; you just keep asking. Nothing difficult. You see, you are also sulking now, are you not? You see, you too are upset. You are worried whether you should talk to your husband because he gets mad easily and that shows how timid you are. If he gets mad, that’s his problem. If you have a question, you just ask.” (Laughter)

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Questioner: “It’s that his acts are not manly.”

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “Such thinking can be sexual discrimination. Men have the right to be timid and fret. Why is it that men have to be more embracing than women? Why should women take all the nice things? When having to carry a heavy load, women tend to say “why a man can’t pick it up?” When eating delicious food, women say “men should not be a sensuous eater.” These beliefs are just not fair. Men can be shy, timid, lazy, and greedy, too. Being timid is not a male and female thing, but a matter of the individual’s character.”

Questioner: “I just get so angry when I see my husband getting mad.”

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “Why is it that you become mad when your husband becomes mad?”

Questioner: “Because he does not answer to me. He just chooses to become angry.”

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “Why do you not just ask? Why do you have to get angry?”

Questioner: “Because he does not answer me but gets mad at me.”

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “If he doesn’t answer, just ask again. If he gets mad, never mind and ask again. You don’t need to get mad.” (Laughter)

“To me, you and your husband are not much different. You are thinking ‘I only asked, but you show anger and that is wrong.’ But then your husband would be thinking, ‘why would you get mad with me? That is wrong.’”

Questioner: “Yes. That is exactly what my husband says.” (Laughter)

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Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “Let’s be fair. If you think that your husband should not get mad when you ask questions, you should also think that you should not get mad when your husband gets mad. Based on your own working of mind, you should understand that your husband can, too, become angry in such a situation. Put yourself in his shoes, would you not get frustrated if your spouse keeps asking you questions that are difficult to answer or you do not want to talk about? “

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim:: So the solution is to think, ‘okay, I understand that you can get frustrated, but that is your problem, so I will keep asking.’ (Laughter)

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Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: Keep calm and keep asking ten or twenty times. If you are at peace, but your husband keeps choosing to get mad, who will suffer more?”

Questioner: “My husband.”

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “When your husband wants to get out of the suffering, he will start answering, or he may die from stress. Then, you have a chance of a brand new marriage. Next time you can get a ‘manly’ man as you desire.” (Laughter)

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Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “But I tell you what. If you indeed do find a manly man and get married, you will again suffer terribly. This shy, sulking man of yours right now simply refuses to answer questions, but a manly man will rule over you. He will become a tyrant. Then you will start missing your ex-husband. Knives are useful because they are sharp but they can hurt you. Cotton balls are nice and soft, but they cannot be strong. Everything has a dual aspect. Let me ask. Did your father have a strong personality?”

Questioner: “Yes.”

Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: “As you grew up, you disliked the strong personality of your father so you chose a soft man. It’s easy to become friends with a soft man. But now that you live with one, you find that he’s timid, not strong. You reap what you sow. (Laughter)

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Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: But you see, your husband does not have any problem. It is you that want too much. Sometimes you want your man to be soft and gentle, sometimes you want him to be manly and strong. If you live with a man who is soft and friendly, you will find him weak and frustrating; if you marry a charismatic man, he will over dominate you. Each has pros and cons. You cannot have everything you want when you want. Your husband will not change to suit your desires; that is impossible. This is called ‘greed.’

I, for example, might look like a soft man and you might really like me. But if you come closer and meet in person, I am unbelievably cold. I might look kind during lecture, but say you meet me outside and ask to take a picture together. I don’t even give a glance. (Laughter) Say you ask me to write your name along with my signature, I would answer ‘I write my name, you write yours.’ (Laughter)

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“Some flowers look beautiful from a distance, and some in proximity. You always see only one side and get trapped. You made a choice and you have to be accountable. Your husband was always that kind of person. He might want to change himself; but that is not an easy thing. Experience during youth and karma program a person to become such. Don’t try to change your husband. Stop blaming him. Just understand him. ‘He has those characteristics. He is he.’

That does not mean you have to cater to him all the time. Even if he is angry, go on and ask what you want to ask. If he yells ‘why do you ask again?!’ Just then say, ‘because I still don’t know.’ If he yells at you to stop, just reply to him that ‘I still want to ask.’ (Laughter)

But when I look at you, you seem like a person who becomes determined and thinks, ‘I will never, ever ask you again,’ when your husband says, ‘stop asking.’ You see, you two are the same. If your husband gets angry, don’t follow the course; just understand him ‘oh, yes, he is that kind of person’ and you, just keep asking what you want to ask. Don’t forget to smile. People being different is less of a problem than trying to fix the other. You will never change him to the day he dies. ’ If you want to change someone’s personality, that person has to die. Why are you trying to kill your husband? (Laughter)

“Never mind his anger, you keep doing what you want. If he cannot stand the stress, it is his problem. Be bold. Gosh, two trivial mined people are having hard time living with each other. (Laughter)

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If your husband is trivial minded, you have to be bold – just as a screw and a nut fit each other. When one is one way, the other has to be the other way. The problem is that similar people have met and are arguing to no end. You see, the moment you said your husband sulks, I knew you, too, sulk. How do you see yourself?”

Questioner: “I sulk at small things.” (Laughter)

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“If your husband met me, I’m sure he’d be asking, ‘My wife gets upset so easily. Why is she like that? Why can’t she be like an all-embracing mother?’ What, then, would I tell him? That you complain about him of such means that he, too, has the same complaint. If a wife complains saying “my husband is too stubborn”, that means the wife is stubborn as well. Therefore, if you want your husband to become bold, you yourself have to be bold. Be more embracing toward your husband’s fretting.”

Questioner: “Thank you. I will try.”

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“If you go back home, it won’t be as easy as it seems. You have to practice and practice. Got it?”

Questioner: “Yes.”

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