How do I forgive myself?

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How do I forgive myself?

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:05 pm

If you look at the intro page I explained how I found Buddhism after a horrific 2 years drinking myself to death and putting every substance in my body I could to block out life, all i could see was misery. I couldn't see hope for humanity.

I am working on this. I try to be as mindful as I can of the good in people, where as before I concentrated on the negatives.

Meditation has been amazing at helping me to explore my psyche. Due to my past, when I meditate on the problems I had and the reasons I ended up in the situation they make more sense but they bring up so much pain it is sometimes too hard to handle.

Everybody else has forgiven me but I cannot forgive myself for the things I have done. The addict wasn't the real me, I hurt so many people I loved, people who 4 years a go would have told you i was an incredibly kind and thoughtful person. It's like a ten ton weight on my chest.

Due to my nature I have a compulsion to help others. But how do I even go about starting to do that if I am so emotionally unstable?

Are there any teachings or books that can help me to explore these feelings and resolve some of the suffering it is causing me? Or is it a matter of time and keeping faithful to the Buddha's teachings that I am learning?
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby Paul » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:21 pm

I have found that the only way the past can hurt you is by habitually dragging it into the present and using it to beat yourself around the head. If you promise not to do it again, apologise where possible and then completely let it go, then it's a fresh start.

Maybe tonglen would help.
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:24 pm

"Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good." -Dhammapada chapter nine

"I can assure you that you are loved unconditionally. I can absolutely promise you this. There is no mistake. Somewhere in this universe, you are loved unconditionally. [...] this unconditional love that is continually being offered to you by all the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions" -William Cassidy

I think you should mediate on impermanence. Second by second everything changes. Including you. Nothing remains static. You die and are reborn every second. That man that hurt others is dead. As dead as the man who opened this thread. You have a second chance every second. Bit by bit you'll become the man you want to be.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:35 pm

Thanks you both for your advice.

Still, I have to constantly remind myself that first of all - that addict was not the real me and also the past is the past. Secondly, the present moment is the only moment I have any influence over. The weight feels a little lighter now... thankyou.

I was raised a catholic and never got anything from it. I can't think of any Buddhist teaching that has not helped in a profound way.
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby Dave The Seeker » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:57 pm

Are you involved with any group such as AA or NA?

I know what you're going through, I am in recovery from decades of drinking and drug use.
It is very hard for sure, but as has been said, "that person is dead now".
The list of people I've hurt would reach for miles I'm sure.
Acceptance of it being the past is very important. It'll help you "move on".

I start everyday with a short yoga session to get me going, then my meditation for about 30 min then off to do my chores and an AA meeting. Being around people that want to help you and understand your situation, makes things much more simple.

This forum and the members also help me in great ways as well, teaching me about Buddhism and helping me understand many many aspects of it.

I hope you find the peace you're seeking.

Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby sangyey » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:01 am

How do I forgive myself? Of course, you would start with compassion and love for yourself. With compassion for yourself you would see the suffering that your actions have caused you and from there acknowledge and then discard with those actions which produced so much harm for yourself and others. With love for yourself you naturally want to be happy and then that will cause you to adopt those positive actions that will lead to your future welfare and happiness.
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby Anders » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:13 am

I think there is a profound message in the Buddhist idea of Karma that may provide some useful perspective.

From a Buddhist point of view, you are not alone. All of us come with baggage from this life and previous lives too terrible to contemplate. We've all been murderers, rapists, saints and do-gooders, lived through hells and heavens. If we were to judge sentient beings on their track record, it would not make for a pleasant judgement.

But the Buddha's message on karma is that we are not defined by the karma that brought us to this present moment, but by the karma we create in this present moment. They are closely connected of course, but the outcomes can be very different. For one person, suffering is a cause for them to go forget about their suffering, for another, it is to seek a higher happiness, for a third, a inspiration to compassion for others.

This can be a demanding perspective of course. It demands mindfulness of impermanence, we are never more than what we put ourselves to at this point in time, but it is also a perspective of immense possibility.

Part of what keeps this kind of guilt going is actually a kind of vanity. If you were to meet someone who was just like you and had walked a similar path, how would you feel about this person, what advice would you give him? Yet, we think ourselves so special that we don't extent the same compassion to ourselves. Eventually though, if we actually care about others and want to care about others, we have to acknowledge that we can only exclude ourselves from that group for so long and we must extend the forgiveness to ourselves we would extent to others. Though seeing this can take some work. I don't have similar addiction in my past (that I can remember), but for me, being able to let go of past regret and guilt only came through a kind of radical surrender of who or what I thought I ought to be. Without that conceit, it was very easy to forgive.

Finally, I want to say I am really inspired and moved by your post. Being able to confront one's suffering and wish to address it skilfully to the point that it can be almost too hard to handle really shows a great determination. If you wish to help others, you can take comfort in the fact that hardships you may suffer now will make you so much more capable in dealing with this when you see these hardships reflected in the journeys of others.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:32 am

I am a member of AA, I have a kind of love hate relationship. I want to leave that life behind but AA seems to want to remind me of it and bring back a painful period of my life that is gone and what I consider dead, that is only causing me suffering because of the memories of what I have done. My current actions, well most of them (we aren't perfect) all have good intentions. When I do hurt others, I am now mindful of what I have done and I go back and right the wrongs I have committed to the best of my ability.

I suppose what you guys have shown me is that I'm on the right path. I just need patience - one thing an addict finds hard to cultivate. After all drugs are an easy way out.

I do not regret anything I have done because I would not be the person I am today. I would be the same materialistic selfish person. I would never have become so fond of Buddhist teachings and in the future I am sure I will see this as a blessing.

Maybe this is trial by fire? Sink or swim. All i know is to be happy and not return to that life I have to strive to be the best I can. My mind cannot handle the guilt of lying, cheating and stealing and probably for the best.

Thanks and I'm sure I'll be a pretty active member of this forum. You all seem like lovely people.

I am going to meditate on what you have taught me then go to sleep - i feel tired for the first time in months.
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby Anders » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:53 am

sangyey wrote:How do I forgive myself? Of course, you would start with compassion and love for yourself. With compassion for yourself you would see the suffering that your actions have caused you and from there acknowledge and then discard with those actions which produced so much harm for yourself and others. With love for yourself you naturally want to be happy and then that will cause you to adopt those positive actions that will lead to your future welfare and happiness.


One time I was staying in a monastery, karuna and maitri (compassion/lovingkindness) was my primary mediation method.

One day, it suddenly occurred to me that I was sort of skidding the whole 'dedicating compassion and lovingkindness to myself'. I mean, I did it because it is part of the method, but I kind of saw it as a precursor to the part that really mattered: Dedicating it to everyone else. That day, this struck me as a very odd discrepancy. Why would I place myself less worthy? There was some kind of reason for me not wanting to do this that deserved further exploration.

So I decided to dedicate the rest of my stay at the monastery to only practising karuna and maitri for myself. If there were others more deserving they would just have to get in line for later. The reactions that my mind threw up to this decision were quite remarkable really. There was definitely a part of me that did not want to to this, that saw it as egoistic and I strongly suspected those reactions were just fronts for deeper lying negative perceptions. My karuna/maitri meditation became a kind of vipashyana as I was not just applying this method, but was simultaneously paying attention to all the counter reactions my mind could throw up at this. The co-arising of the feeling 'may I have be happy and free' and 'what a selfish idiot you are' is a curious experience.

Eventually, I found that there was a lot to learn by compartmentalising 'me' along similar lines as the meditation instructions for this method suggests for others. I would start out by dedicating matri and karuna to the likeable parts of myself. The 'Anders' who cares about others, tries to do good for himself, is meditating, and so forth. This is easy and it feels great to give time to acknowledge all the good qualities you actually have (this is something the Buddha recommended too. It can be very skilful) then move on to the more neutral or trivial aspects, The Anders who likes football and thinks Linux is ace, and then to the negative aspects: The Anders who likes to think of himself as way grander and charismatic than he is, the Anders who doesn't get stuff done, the Anders who decides he doesn't want to deal with that shit, being sensitive to the reactions the mind engenders by visualising these sides of me whilst nevertheless dedicating maitri and karuna. Acceptance was an important part of the process. Just as you don't generate karuna and maitri to other dislikeable people with the qualification "you really should improve on yourself", it was important to generate this love for these aspects simply being what they are.

To the point where I'd be reflecting on the Anders that is simply a contemptuous asshole no one would like if they really saw him and yet, I was willing to say "you are a frak asshole and you may well never change, but I want to you be a happy and peaceful contemptuous asshole. And you are as deserving of such happiness as anyone in this world." And mean it. I was even playing around with some make-believe scenarios. What if I killed someone? Or raped someone and liked it? A real monster. It's not that hard to imagine how one becomes such a person if you aren't scared to think of it. How does generating maitri and karuna towards that work?

It was some time around this point that I was no longer able to confine my meditation to just me anymore. Being capable of dedicating love to the most disagreeable and dark parts of myself in spite of, yet acknowledging, all those negative reactions that come with them, somehow burst the dam and I found myself spontaneously overflowing with compassion and love for everyone else, with a kind of.... fearless attitude, I guess you could say, from knowing that they could do or be anything without shaking this intention I had for them. I guess it showed me that if you really love yourself deeply enough, extending this equally to others eventually becomes hard to avoid.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby justsit » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:47 am

:good:

Thanks, great insight.
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby deff » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:54 am

great post anders, thanks :smile:
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby catmoon » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:15 am

On self forgiveness:

Rather than dwell on the sins of the past, dwell upon the virtues of the future.

Your life is a learning experience, and like a classroom after a lesson in fingerpainting, sometimes it gets messy.

You can always do a little tidy up after.

If your intent is not to repeat mistakes of the past, virtue is present.

Follow the light.
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:48 am

Anders Honore wrote:...
I've experienced this too somewhat. Time to go further down the rabbit hole.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby Nemo » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:34 am



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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby DeepFriedFunk » Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:31 am

All really good advice. I'm reminded of a quote I read which I'm sure many of you have read before -

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

- Marianne Williamson

As with everything in life, like Karma, there are two sides. The other is sometimes hard to see as is clear in my first post. But I have already got an addict to a place of help, given a shoulder to cry where no one else would because of the stigma relating to this - I have already made a positive difference to other people's lives through this.

I suppose no matter what my friends think of my interest in Buddhism (if you know the english... you know we like to take the p**s out of each other) but even they have seen a profound change in me.

EDIT: If i get anything wrong in terms of knowledge please correct me. Im looking up at a mountain of knowledge and taking my first steps. As long as i keep putting one foot infront of the other im sure ill have the insight many of you do now.
Peace. Josh.
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby Dave The Seeker » Sat Jan 07, 2012 12:11 pm

Here my friend, this may help you out a bit.

http://www.wildmind.org/blogs/on-practi ... orgiveness


Kindest wishes, Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~
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Re: How do I forgive myself?

Postby LastLegend » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:39 am

Since everything is the work of karma, it is advised that you should practice giving (whether its money or any form of services for other sentient beings) and all the virtuous acts of body, speech, and mind. And if possible, you should practice releasing live animals also. Over time, peace and well being will come and negative karma will lessen. And continue to practice meditation.

Be patient and determined. Don't give up.
NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Linjii
―Listen! Those of you who devote yourselves to the Dharma
must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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