Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Power Dynamics within the Family

Because most people in Thailand are Buddhist, they believe in karma. This increases the likelihood (but does not guarantee) that everyone in the family will be treated with respect, because nobody wants the bad karma to come back at them.

Phra Kavipiya (Kawi for short), talked to me during the meditation retreat, giving me advice about how to better live my life. Maybe in a later post I can describe more about our conversation, but for now I will only write what pertains to my topic. Anyway, at the end of the retreat, Phra Kawi gave me a book as a gift, which (in addition to some other amazing information) also gave me some great insight into Buddhist family dynamics, which I will now describe.

In the book A Life of Blessings: They Guide to Prosperity, Peace and Happiness by TY Lee, the author outlines how children should treat their parents: by supporting them, being worthy of their inheritance, and by doing charitable acts in their memory. Lee also outlines how parents should treat their children: teaching them right from wrong, helping them be trained in a profession, giving them advice especially in finding a life partner, and giving them their inheritance at an appropriate time.

The book does not state anything about who is in power; the power in the family must be fairly distributed. There is no “head of the household;” instead, the household works together as a whole. 

I highly recommend this book, which I think you can also read by clicking this link: HERE.

I know Sara's observations are slightly different on the topic of power within the household in terms of men and women, so I will put a link so you can read her blog too HERE.

With regards to husbands and wives, according to my research and my questions for the monks, both the husband and the wife are meant to have equal power in the household. Their relationship should be based on mutual respect and a desire for the other person's happiness. When the monk told us about how desire leads to suffering, I was curious how this would apply to romantic relationships. When I asked him later, he responded that there can be good desire. A desire to see the other person happy and to make the other person as happy as possible is a good desire and will not lead to suffering. These beliefs are what Buddhist families are based upon.

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