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Lions Roar : November 2014
Personal discipline in a relationship requires the willing- ness to let go. at a particular moment, this might mean putting aside emails or work-related projects, or turning off the phone. it might show up as space in a conversation, where you drop your thoughts about what to say next and really listen to what your partner is saying. most of all it means letting go of anger and pride. thus, personal discipline leads to another important aspect of relationship: respect. Without respect, discipline is difficult. if we do not respect the other person, we naturally feel no need to be present. the less respect we have, the worse our behavior becomes. our part- ner becomes our servant. if he or she then tries to act out, this might incite us further. this is often how violence occurs. i define respect as “deep admiration.” it is above and beyond love. Respect for others comes from a confidence in our own self-worth, which is characterized by meekness and gentleness. this means that, at the minimum, we consider the other person to be equal to ourselves, and ideally, even better. Genuine con- cern for others comes down to thinking that you yourself are not so very great. We don’t call someone our “better half ” from false modesty, but from admiration tinged with humility. as we see in the images of the Buddhist deities Samanta- bhadra and Samantabhadri embracing, a strong relationship is rooted in flexibility and consideration for others. Samanta- bhadra is not telling Samantabhadri, his consort, that she’s not holding up her end of the bargain, and that before they go into great bliss, she’d better do the dishes. Rather, their relationship represents completeness: two bodies with one mind—the mind of kindness, compassion, and delight. it is tedious to divide everything exactly down the middle, and having the attitude that we will only do fifty percent of the work will not lead to genuine personal discipline. there will always be times when one person does more, but when countered by respect, this real- ity leads us to the third important aspect of sharing genuine presence: dignity. if we have personal discipline and respect, our relation- ship will naturally have dignity. Such dignity is grounded in two basic principles. the first is appropriate embarrassment, which is based mainly on what other people think. appropriate embarrassment is that immediate and obvious self-conscious- ness we feel when we fart in a public place. if we are not embar- rassed at that moment, our whole value system has gone awry, or our egos are so big that we feel we can do no wrong. 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