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Can any buddhists help with my question?

(13 Posts)
optionalExtras Wed 27-Mar-13 11:50:31

My H was brought up a catholic, but he rejected all that long ago and has been interested in buddhism for quite some time. he has read a lot about it, meditates a lot and attends a weekly spiritual meeting.

So far so good. BUT he and I have recently separated as a result of his long, sleazy affair with a married-with-children colleague (now over). And now he seems to have retreated into a shell of silent self-pity.

I'm not a buddhist myself but I do know that such extreme betrayal and selfishness, compounded by failure to address the consequences of his actions is hardly compatible with a philosophy of compassion and goodness...

So what approach does buddhism take to addressing one's own mistakes? Are there any teachings on this sort of thing? I can't find much about it on the internet.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 27-Mar-13 14:52:33

Not a buddhist but have an interest. It varies according to the school of Buddhism (there are a few), but I understand that basically there are two aspects to performing bad deeds. Firstly, bad deeds will accrue bad karma in this life and future lives in the same way that good karma accrues good karma or is at least neutral. Secondly, the perpertrator of bad deeds should seek to understand and come to a realisation that they have done wrong and understand the harm they have caused, learn from it, and seek to make amends by doing good deeds, particularly to the benefit of the injured party to redress the balance. There is no quick fix or praying for absolution.

I guess in any faith there are going to be those who talk the talk but don't walk the walk.

optionalExtras Wed 27-Mar-13 17:07:06

Thank you MLL. His branch is Tibetan, iirc.

If he didn't profess to be a buddhist, I'd write him off as irredeemably self-centred. But this trait is so spectacularly at odds with buddhism that I can't get my head around it.

"There is no quick fix or praying for absolution"
- I think he's looking for solutions in meditation. He does enough of it. I sincerely hope it's just is a precursor to something more concrete, especially as far as the DC are concerned.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 27-Mar-13 17:16:53

I'm afraid i typed my response in a bit of a hurry. I just wanted to add that in Buddhism there are no 'thou shalt not's' as such. The emphasis is on understanding the teachings and putting them into practice to achieve self enlightenment, rather than following a prescriptive list of do's and don'ts. That may be why you are finding it hard to get much specific info. The teachings do however include The Eightfold Path, which includes e.g. right action. The onus is on the practitioner to determine what is the right course of action. The Buddha set out a path to lead from suffering to enlightenment - as you say, the cheating, lying and deception that goes along with an affair is hardly in line with Buddhist teaching.

Are you hoping that understanding a bit more will help you? I can link to some source material if you are interested.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 27-Mar-13 17:20:49

Just x-posted with you. Meditation may help him understand what his actions have wrought but it won't right the wrong - if it can be righted at all. If he is truly approaching this as a Buddhist he will need to focus on action to make amends.

optionalExtras Wed 27-Mar-13 17:53:34

That makes sense then - I have found a lot on forgiveness and other acts of compassion, but little on righting wrongs.

I do see that he is struggling with reconciling what he wants to be with what he actually is. I wonder if he's doomed to fail because he's aiming too high (perfection/enlightenment?) without taking all the little steps in between. He often says he doesn't know where to start to put things right. I may be misinterpreting this as 'too much like hard work for no guaranteed result'...

I would be interested in reading more about this if you have some links.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 27-Mar-13 19:12:20

Well, not doing harm and not causing suffering is pretty fundamental to Buddhist philosophy, so no wonder he is struggling as he has caused pain to you, your dc, no doubt the other person involved, their family, and on it goes. He needs to understand that infidelity is borne out of delusion and attachment - the causes of suffering that Buddhism seeks to overcome. He must surely understand mindfulness, which is all about being fully in the moment and not focussing on future goals - he is not going to get anywhere near enlightenment if he doesn't get this bit.

I don't really understand still if you are asking about this to help him or to help you? Do you want him to put things right with you or just with your dc, or are you just trying to understand where he his at? I'm not sure how much his spiritual practice is going to help you and your dc. He sounds utterly self-absorbed. Anyway, a few links which may help give you some insight (into Buddhism, not his twattish behaviour!):

For an overview try:

For the texts try:

optionalExtras Wed 27-Mar-13 20:38:46

Why am I asking this... mainly to understand better what he might be required to do by his faith if he is to actually apply it to the suffering created by his twattery.

Also I do know that compassion is a key element in buddhism and it is something he is completely lacking. I suppose I hope his spiritual practice will help him find it and use it, which should benefit the DC, if they let him back in.

As for me, I very much doubt there's a way back. But I would like to see a glimmer of empathy for what he's put me through, which again could be found through his faith?

Thank you for those links, I'll have a good read.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 27-Mar-13 21:18:51

Ah well...the core of Buddhism is the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path - this sets out the course of action he should follow - and of course that he should have followed before. These teachings are beautifully simple but do require you to take personal responsibility - i'm sure he knows what he should be doing but is just choosing not to. Without compassion and empathy though he is not practicing Buddhism however much he sits and meditates.

I hope the links help.

Pan Wed 27-Mar-13 21:32:07

OP, fwiw I don't think the answer to his conundrum lies in any particular 'faith'. None of them project the sort of behaviour he exhibits and is more to do with his psychological make up.
Re the Tibetan strain, a really good friend of mine (next door) is a v practicing Buddhist ( a 'shaman' status?) and a while ago he said to me that "scratch any western 'Tibet buddhist ' and you will find a Roman Catholic." I can't verify that obv,. but it struck a chord to me (as a RC). IT indicates that maybe he hasn't traveled far on his road to 'enlightenment'.

I just wouldn't predicate hopes on the basis of his practice of his religion.

optionalExtras Thu 28-Mar-13 17:28:16

Interesting comment from your friend, Pan.

Pan Thu 28-Mar-13 18:36:44

it is isn't it? He did give a mini seminar to me at the time on it, which was convincing and utterly cogent. But we did it over a bottle of red Rioja or three and so my recall of the detail isn'

cockneydad Sat 06-Apr-13 21:01:01

Buddhist here - very sorry this has happened to you OP. As with any spiritual path/system, people can (and will) stuff up. I come from a Theravadan Buddhist background, more so than Tibetan (not that this should matter!).

From his perspective, he probably should try (as subjectively as possible) to examine his thought/emotional processes as this happened (as rationally as possible) and see if there is any way to see how these processes/conditions arose, so that he can identify them and catch himself to prevent similar things happening in the future (this can apply to anything).

Also, he might consider what take actions he can take to alleviate the damage done (if possible).

There will also need to be a hefty amount of forgiving himself and asking forgiveness of others (otherwise everyone involved gets dragged into a downward spiral of negativity - which is what it sounds like he is doing).

Mindfulness is key, it really it the foundation of all Buddhist practice but it takes a lot of work off the cushion as well as on it. There are four aspects of it, getting more and more complex: (1) body; (2) 'feeling' (attraction, repulsion, neutral towards objects/situations/people); (3) mental processes (thought processes); (4) phenomena (this is more complex can't do it justice here...).

Right effort is also important, the gist is: 1. to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states, 2. to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen, 3. to arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen, and 4. to maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen.

Hope that helps, if not, I can have another go at throwing words together.

I hope things work out for you OP.

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