Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

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Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby dcs » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:34 am

Greetings Everyone. I am a Buddhist. 26 years old. I've been a long time reader of this forum and I've learned a lot about Buddhism from your in-depth discussions. I've finally decided to introduce myself because I nearly killed someone with my car today and I just wanted to talk to someone about it (but not my family or friends).

I was driving through the supermarket parking lot this afternoon. I was about to leave the parking lot by turning left onto the street which separated the parking lot from the supermarket. I looked to the right to check for any cars. There was a minivan approaching from that direction, but there was still ample time to turn onto the street. I neglected to check for any cars or pedestrians to the left. I turned left onto the street rather quickly (since the minivan was approaching) and upon turning onto the street my speed might have been somewhere around 10 miles per hour. At that moment, I suddenly realized that I came within an inch or less of clipping or sideswiping a man (around 50 to 60 years old).

My immediate reaction was to stop the car. I did so and caused the traffic behind me to come to a halt. I did not get out of the car. The man banged on my front passenger side window, but I did not open it. He then looked at me through that window and shouted "You almost hit me." I held up my hands and said "I'm sorry" twice. I was too afraid to open the window or get out of the car. The man then proceeded to walk around my car and either scratched or kicked my car twice as he was walking around it (I didn't see the manner in which he actually attacked my car). After he did that, I drove away. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, I saw the man standing there and staring with a certain expression on his face. At first I thought he was trying to memorize my license plate number. Upon later reflection, I think the man had that facial expression because he was surprised or confused that I drove away and didn't get out to fight back after he attacked my car. I think he attacked my car in order to provoke me to get out the car.

I wasn't mad at the man for attacking my car because I fully admit that in this situation, I was the a**hole, I was operating my car negligently and he had every right to be angry with me. I was shaken up for several hours after the incident. I have a nagging sense of a guilt that won't go away. The man bore a resemblance to my father (they are both Asian, with an accent, in the 50-60 age range). Therefore, in my mind, I associated that man with my dad and I kept thinking that he probably has a son like me and a wife like my mom. I kept thinking that I could have killed him or seriously injured him and ruined the lives of his wife and kids.

I'm also just depressed. I'm due to start a prestigious internship this fall and I have been looking forward to it for weeks. I've worked so hard for so many years to get to where I am and it all could have been taken away from me in an instant had I turned my car turned a millisecond later. Everything I worked so hard for could have evaporated right before my eyes all because of a moment of mindlessness.

I also keep thinking that I should have apologized more fully than I did. I should have gotten out of the car to apologize more fully and ask him if he was okay. I have no good excuse for why I didn't do that. I think a voice in the back of my mind just told me to get out of there.

I know I shouldn't dwell on this. I didn't hit him. But I can't help it. I just keep thinking and can't stop. I know I did something wrong and I came so close to ruining my life that I can't help thinking about this. I want to try to meditate and take a break from my thoughts, but I just can't.

That's it. That's all I have to say. Thank you if you have read this far. I would appreciate it if someone skilled in meditation or anyone at all could give me some words of advice. Thanks.

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby Ben » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:49 am

Greetings dcs and welcome to Dhamma Wheel.
Well, the fact of the matter is that you didn't kill the pedestrian.
The incident may prove to be a positive as a salient reminder to be more mindful, especially while driving.
If you have a regular meditation practice then I encourage you to engage with it now - and not later.
All the best,

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby David2 » Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:51 am

Welcome dcs!
I personally have decided for myself, as long as I live in big cities I will never buy and never own a car.

New York is a big city with many public transportations possibilities.
Are you sure you need a car?

Of course it is your choice, but many things get easier when you don't own a car.
You save money, can't have accidents, and you pollute the environment much less.
If you want to go out of the city and there should be no public transportation possiblity, you still can use a car sharing service.

I know, I didn't answer the question how you could deal with your feelings.
My short answer would be: Relax, don't feel guilty (nobody got hurt) and try to be more mindful next time.

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby Reductor » Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:23 am

Hey dcs.

Sorry about your near hit. But I am glad that you're the type of person who sees their own faults as faults, without trying to justify themselves; a rare quality in fact. So, if nothing else, feel glad that you have this good quality, as it can lead to great self improvment.

It also looks like you have other good qualities, which have afforded you things worth keeping. So don't fret that you aren't perfect.

But do look both ways in the future. :D

Actually your story reminds of the time I almost hit a pedestrian who was right in front of me. She was elderly and would have been killed. My own absentmindedness was so evident that I wanted to quit driving completely. But, being in a small city that has a crappy transport system, driving is necessary.

It has been ten years or so and that near hit has driven me to being a very careful and considered driver.

The last thing to say has been said already: meditate everyday.

It will pay dividends.

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby dcs » Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:09 pm

Thank you all for the advice. I do not meditate regularly, but I think now would be a good time to start...I realize that I have the opportunity to meditate in this lifetime and I should not let it go to waste.

I was hoping someone could give me advice on two more issues:

(1) I've never really lived a Buddhist lifestyle or given much thought to Buddhist principles (I inherited Theravada Buddhism as a family tradition and therefore, I consider myself Buddhist). However, in recent years I have been studying the teachings of several Western monks and I have really come to realize the value of meditation, whereas in the past, I thought it was a waste of time. I want to start meditating regularly, but up to this point in life, I've lived such a materialistic/sensual-oriented lifestyle, that my mind is strongly resistant to it. Every time I try to meditate, I become stressed out and tense. My breathing usually becomes very labored. It's like a part of me really doesn't want to do it. My question is, how does one force oneself to meditate when it can be such a painful thing to do?

(2) As some of you might be able to tell from my original post, I am introspective to a fault and think obsessively. I tend to brood and dwell on negative thoughts and experiences from my past over and over again. Is there a certain method of meditation that is effective for people who think obsessively or who are obsessive-compulsive?

Thanks again. I wish good will and happiness for all of you.

P.S. David2, I think ditching the car altogether is a great idea. Automobiles are huge liabilities and gasoline is ridiculously expensive. Alas, I live in Upstate New York, not the City of New York. The public transportation around here is just really crappy.

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby Reductor » Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:12 am

Hi dcs.

There is a concept known as 'the special quality of non remorse', which is a fancy way to say the moral person has no cause for abject mental turmoil.

It is mental trumoil that you call obsessive introspection, and it is trumoil that makes meditation so unpleasent. And this turmoil can be removed by closely adhering to the five precepts, which is a basic level of 'sila' (a pali term).

So continue to your practice by following the five precepts. In the morning reflect like this: "today I will strive to abstain from killing, to abstain from taking what is not mine, to abstain from lying, to abstain from sexual misconduct and to abstain from intoxicants".

Form the intention like this every morning. When you breech one of the precepts form the intention to uphold that precept in the future. Ask each time 'what did I wish to gain or fear losing when I broke the precept' . You don't really need the specific answer, but you should ask the question. This helps establish mindfulness of your mind, which will be helpful to you in all that you do.

Do that consistently and soon your obsessivness will lessen and meditation will cease to be so unpleasent.

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby dcs » Wed Jul 13, 2011 4:21 am

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:30 am

Hi dcs,

I fully sympathise with your incident- I faced a similar incident many years ago when I was new to driving in UK. I actually hit a car because I was young impetuous and careless- I tried to squeeze out into a T junction hoping the other guy would slow down because I was pulling out. I think I didn't really want to think about the consequences before I pulled out and had some vague hope that others would 'catch my crap' for me- ie brake when they didn't have to. It left me with a lot of guilt, sadness and heartache- and they tried to fraudulently claim for whiplash- so it dragged on for a while.. :thinking:

I learnt a lot of lessons: - don't think others will accommodate for my misbehaviour
- be more mindful and careful/caring when driving
- drive like 'an old man' (to put it crudely- but it does the job)- old men pay less insurance!
- look at the clinging/craving that caused my sadness. It was to do with wanting to please my parents- digging really deep, catching hold of that craving and trying my best to remove that craving really helped.
There are techniques in the Vitakkasantana sutta (MN) which help with this. Check it out on I wondered if you noticed that the method of finding the craving/removing the craving is actually about practicing the Four Noble Truths? It is - we can look at the suffering we have and reduce it greatly using this method, even if we are not into regular meditation (which incidentally helps this method). I hope you will find the craving/attachment/wanting that leads to your mental suffering - finding what it is will be an excellent first step in your dhamma practice.

With metta

With Metta

& Upekkha

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby JackV » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:37 pm

Brother, the fact that you took the time to write this message and are concerned should be a viewed in a positive manner.
You care and are concerned with your actions upon the world; sadly many are not.
Nothing bad actually occured. Be more careful. A powerful reminder.
Here where a thousand
captains swore grand conquest
Tall grasses their monument.

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby ajay » Sat Jul 30, 2011 12:51 pm

Hi there.i dont know how long your post has been there but i happened to read it hope you you wouldnt mind my writting about it.well accidents are accidents.and you dont make them happen.that is why we call them had no intentuon of kbocking him long as there was no intention there is no bad was a dood move not have got down the car or if not it would have caused unwarrented trouble which could have landed both of you in a police brush it off your mind.
Regarding your meditation issue ,i also have been madetating for tha last so ma.y years but as you said at a certain point my mind subconciously pulls me back without letting me go deep.i have een wondering why this happens.well buddhist meditation is a serious buisness though everybody talks creely about it.well the success of meditation largly depend on how much of mundane life you are willin to give long as you have clinging to worldly affairs it is difficult to keep your mind in balance.we cant enjoy both the worlds at the same time.but may be at this moment of your life there are responsibilities that you have to which case please continue your practice as much as you can without too much attachment to worldly day that will help you to achieve total liberation.
Theruwan saranai.

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Re: Greetings, I Did Something Wrong and Can't Stop Thinking

Postby nameless » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:33 pm

Hi dcs,

In one of the talks by Ajahn Sumedho that I've listened to recently, he said something about contemplating "what is", not what you like/dislike, or what you think should/shouldn't be. So I guess "what is" is that you NEARLY hit someone, but didn't. You can't change that fact. You can however change the way you drive in future so that you don't repeat the mistake. "What is" is also the fact that with the number of cars and people around worldwide, there's bound to be some near or actual hits, try as we may to avoid it. I don't like that fact, and I feel it shouldn't be so, but that is what is, and I have to make my peace with it.

I think part of your distress though, is also due to the shock from the possibility that "Everything I worked so hard for could have evaporated right before my eyes all because of a moment of mindlessness". That demonstrates the nature of suffering, in the sense that often we think that striving for what we desire and finally getting it will make us happy. But the reality is once you have that thing you want, you'll be afraid of losing it, which possibly causes more suffering than if you didn't desire it in the first place.

In addition, you're probably so afraid of that loss because you've made a lot of sacrifices in the past, with the promise of having a 'better' future. But the nature of desire is it is never fulfilled, after you've finished your internship you'll be wanting something else, and after that yet something else. While you're busy sacrificing countless 'present moments' for a better 'future', the reality is that future might never come. You did come that close to losing it.

As for your first question on meditation, I don't think you need to force yourself. You can always start with 5-10 minutes and extend it when you feel you can. Ayya Khema often says "one moment of concentration is one moment of purification". I found it useful to do guided meditations too at the start, because there's a voice to keep bringing me back to the meditation, and there is some activity in listening to the person speak so that it's not too boring.

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