One City

One City


What would Sid do about my party-hardy neighbor?

posted by Lodro Rinzler

What would Sid do?

Before Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment at age 35 he was a
confused twenty and thirty-something looking to learn how to live a
spiritual life. He had an overbearing dad, expectations for what he was
supposed to do
with his life, drinks were flowing, lutes were playing, and the
women were all about him. Some called him L.L. Cool S. I imagine
close friends just referred to him as Sid.

Many people look to Siddhartha as an example of someone who attained nirvana, a buddha. But here we look at a younger Sid
as a confused guy struggling with his daily life. What would he do as a
young person trying to find love, cheap drinks, and fun in a city like
New York? How would he combine Buddhism and dating? We all make mistakes on our spiritual journey; here is where
they’re discussed.

Each week I’ll take on a new question and
give some advice based on what I think Sid, a confused guy working on
his spiritual life in a world of major distraction, would do. Because
let’s face it, you and I are Sid.

Have a question for this weekly column? E-mail it here and Lodro will probably get to it!

—————————————————————————————————————————————
I’ve been living in my current apt for two years and this guy just moved in next door a little while ago. He keeps throwing these really large, loud parties every week and now I can’t meditate, sleep, or do much of anything when he’s around. I know Buddhism preaches non-violence but this dude deserves a punch to the head. What would Sid do? – Veronica



While
Buddhism does encourage non-violent action there are times when all of
us are put in positions where we just want to scream and do something
rash. That’s why the Buddha taught so extensively on patience. As
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has said, patience “…has a very practical purpose: it overcomes anger…Being
angry and wanting to be peaceful all of sudden doesn’t usually work. If
we’re about to blow up, the best thing to do is just sit there, settle,
breathe. The best technique may well be patience.” So before flying off the handle take a beat, touch base with yourself, and don’t give in to quick reactions.

With
that much being said, sometimes patience isn’t the only antidote to the
aggression you might be feeling. While the Buddha taught about not
giving into violent urges he never said “Let people walk all over you.”
On the contrary he taught us how to engage our world, even the things
that make us really angry, with an open heart and mind.

In
fact, I’d say it’s more compassionate not to grin and bear the
situation you face every week and instead confront your neighbor. I
think Sid would knock on the door, invite your neighbor over for tea,
and broach the subject in a friendly but direct way.

I’m willing to bet that your neighbor doesn’t even know the effect he’s
having on you. In the best case scenario he’ll say that he can host his
parties elsewhere or keep the noise to a minimum. In the worst case
scenario he’s mildly rude. In either scenario you were compassionate
enough to share the way you feel and that shows great bravery.

The meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche taught six points of
speech that would be helpful to keep in mind when confronting a noisy
neighbor, a lover, or even your boss. They are:

1. Speak slowly
2. Enunciate clearly
3. Listen to yourself
4. Listen to others
5. Regard silence as a part of speech
6. Speak concisely

I think if you create a spacious container to have this conversation in
(i.e. not in the mail room when one of you is rushing out the door) and
apply these six points of speech it will be hard to have a bad
conversation.

In fact, who’s to say what will happen? Your neighbor might become a
friend and want you to come by. As they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Who
knows, maybe you’ll find a modern-day Sid there partying down too.



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Comments read comments(4)
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Kauko

posted September 18, 2009 at 8:00 pm


I’ve had similar experiences with noisy neighbors. When I used to live in some rental townhouses close to the nearby University, several of the townhomes were rented by members of the same fraternity, and so it could often be party central (even on midweek, school night until 3am). Being someone who is very jealous of my peace and quiet, it would drive me crazy.
“I’m willing to bet that your neighbor doesn’t even know the effect he’s having on you.”
I find it inexplicable that any one would be unaware that their pulsing, loud music and guests’ noise would be disruptive to their neighbors. I’m more inclined to think that they just don’t care.
I think first confronting your neighbor is the right thing to do, but if the neighbor is unwilling to listen, then I would recommend contacting the people who run the apartment complex, or for people not living in apartments they could contact their HOA or even th police if their city has noise ordinances during certain hours.



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jon Rubinstein

posted September 19, 2009 at 4:51 pm


The thing to consider before taking any action is that this neighbor is suffering and worthy of compassion. Coming from “it’s annoying me” doesn’t help anyone. It’ so easy to forget… Here’s Thich Nhat Hanh: “You can make a mistake only when you forget that the other person suffers. You tend to believe that you are the only one who suffers, and that the other person is enjoying your suffering. You will say and do mean and cruel things when you believe that you are the only one who suffers and that the other person does not suffer at all.” Maybe there’s another strategy, beyond punching him or confronting him. Shower him with gifts? I’m not quite there myself but there’s obviously a compassionate response to consider.



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Anan E. Maus

posted September 21, 2009 at 5:20 am


I agree with what is expressed. If you want to resolve a situation, don’t assume that the other person is your enemy, that can only make things worse.
So, sure, I think trying to solve it in a friendly way is always a good approach.
If trying to resolve it in a friendly way does not work, the law entitles you to “quiet enjoyment of the property.” It is a legal right. So, if noise is greatly excessive, you can advocate, legally, for it to stop. You can appeal to your landlord. If that does not work, you can appeal to the cops or press the issue in court.
Internally, to your own apartment, you can mitigate sound in various ways. You can put up some sound proofing. Enough of that and you will not hear a thing. You can also buy a white noise machine. I think they run under $50. And if one isn’t enough, buying several is usually enough to drown out a lot of sound.



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Bill Webb

posted September 23, 2009 at 9:06 pm


While it is true that white noise will block out many annoyances and distractions, it is also true that any noise, if too loud or omnipresent creates stress, raises blood pressure and is simply not good for you. That applies to white sound too. So using several machines is defeating the purpose of meditation and an attempt to calm one’s inner monkey.
This is a difficult bit of dukkha, but all of the advice above is good (even the white noise, if not taken to extremes). Finally, however, if discussions and mutual adjustments don’t work, wait until a party is in full swing, then call the cops to your apartment so they can hear it from your side of the wall. They will then be able to apply your local ordinances, having determined that it is indeed a problem in your living space. This also creates a record of the call, in case it has to be taken further.
Be aware, also, of the unpleasant truth that recalcitrant people who don’t mind disturbing their neighbors probably don’t mind other bits of pwychological — even physical — mayhem. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. Be mindful, and careful.



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