SINGLE IN THE CITY: The dating Buddha

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First Posted: 1/7/2014

In recent decades, Buddhism and its various forms have become en vogue in Western cultures, including the United States. And it could be applied to almost anything — even dating. As a yoga and meditation practitioner, I find the following concepts useful in my own life, and, perhaps, you will, too.

The Dharma, or the teachings of the Buddha, contains several key concepts that, whether you practice Buddhism or not, are general enough that they can be applied to your dating life.

1. Mindfulness. Zen, Tibetan, or Mahayana Buddhism… the concept of mindfulness, a central Buddhist idea, invites practitioners to become aware of, and live in, the present moment, no matter the particular tradition. Whether married, single, or dating, mindfulness remains a useful tool, helping to ground the individual in the here and now, allowing the practitioner to, for instance, listen deeply to their partner, making for improved communication between individuals and, ultimately, for a better relationship.

2. Impermanence. The idea that nothing lasts forever — impermanence — stands as an important Buddhist teaching, especially if a breakup commences. At times, we may have the tendency to become too attached to things — to people, to places and to events. Recognizing the impermanence of things may “soften the blow,” sort to speak, and allow us to come to terms with a loss in the context of a breakup or otherwise.

3. Nonviolence. In this respect, nonviolence does not only apply to angry, physical acts of violence, but also to acts of emotional or psychological violence. The Buddhist concept of nonviolence invites us to use restraint in speech, if we are, for example, engaged in an argument with our significant other or, say, unable to reach a peaceful resolution to a problem. Nonviolence is a key concept — that is, it challenges us to remain peaceful and calm and mindful.

4. The Four Noble Truths. According to Buddhism, life, at its core, contains suffering. Acknowledging this holds as the first step toward obtaining enlightenment. The Four Noble Truths explore this in more detail. And, let’s face it: interpersonal, romantic relationships can cause major suffering. Awareness of that suffering persists as an important way to combat it.

5. The Bodhisattva. In his book “The Art of Happiness,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama expands more on the concept of the Bodhisattva, defining it as “awakening warrior” or “one who, out of love and compassion, has obtained a mental state characterized by the genuine aspiration to attain full enlightenment in order to benefit all beings.” Becoming a “relationship Bodhisattva,” one who seeks an enlightened state for the benefit of their significant other and others, remains important.