PDA

View Full Version : How and when to forgive?



millyone
30 Dec 13, 16:59
My father was a cruel, violent, drunk. No kindness, no love, just negativity and ignorance. One by one we children left as soon as we grew up, then my mother found finally also found strength to divorce him. None of us has ever so far been able to forgive his appalling behaviour. We always believed he was mentally ill as well as selfish. My mother is very religious and spiritual and she always warned that his soul was destined for torment.

20 years passed and we heard he still lives in the old family home. Recently one of my brothers decided to go and see him. He found a truly dreadful situation which has had a profound effect upon him. He tells us that our 80 year old father is now a bloated, red-eyed tormented creature. The house is in an awful state, rubbish everywhere and smells galore. Our father did not recognise him at first, then he just kept repeating the same sentences. He has all the symptoms of dementia but apparently allows nobody in to help him - no cleaners or carers. He is paranoid as ever that they will steal from him.

I feel very troubled by all this. He has done much that is hard to forgive but now he is old, frail and in great need. I think we should at least anonymously let social services know what is going on so that he can be moved to a nursing or residential care home. I am deeply uncomfortable that this is our father and he lives like that. He cannot possibly be taking his medicines or bathing or eating properly. He is still a human being after all.

Must I forgive what he did and if so, how? I live a good blessed life, I live in the light and happiness that I have built and am glad for. I will not go and see him because i will be truly upset by it - but yet I feel guilty for living well while he suffers. It is as if the very vices and negativities in which he lived have gradually manifested and are now eating him alive. My brother says it is as if he is living in hell as a tormented soul, devoured by his own loneliness and despair.

Any advice would be welcome as to what we can do for him and for ourselves, how do we proceed in order to do the right thing and have peace of mind?

Aloka
30 Dec 13, 18:06
Hi millyone,

I'm so very sorry to hear about your father's behaviour when you were young.

Even though its difficult for you because of the memories, I don't think you and his other children should turn your backs and desert him now that he is a sick old man and in such need. I think you should at least inform the appropriate services about him and make sure he gets some help.

The Buddha said to Phagguna:



Phagguna, if anyone were to reproach you right to your face, even then you should abandon those urges and thoughts which are worldly. There, Phagguna, you should train yourself thus: 'Neither shall my mind be affected by this, nor shall I give vent to evil words; but I shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and I shall not give in to hatred.' This is how, Phagguna, you should train yourself.

"Phagguna, if anyone were to give you a blow with the hand, or hit you with a clod of earth, or with a stick, or with a sword, even then you should abandon those urges and thoughts which are worldly. There, Phagguna, you should train yourself thus: 'Neither shall my mind be affected by this, nor shall I give vent to evil words; but I shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and I shall not give in to hatred.' This is how, Phagguna, you should train yourself.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/buddharakkhita/bl109.html


With kind wishes,

Aloka:hands:

kowtaaia
30 Dec 13, 18:30
millyone,

An old monk and a young monk were traveling along the rivers edge, after a fierce rainstorm. They came upon an old woman trying to cross, where a bridge had been washed away. Without hesitation, the old monk picked up the woman and carried her to the other side. After putting her down and returning, the monks continued on their way.

About half an hour later, the young monk could no longer contain himself. "I don't understand! I don't understand" he said. "We are celibate monks; sworn to never even think of, let alone touch the opposite sex. Yet you picked up that woman and carried her... I don't understand!"

The old monk replied: "Are you still carrying that woman around? I put her down half an hour ago."

If you want to let go of something big, you must constantly be letting go of little things. Negate thought as remembrance as it arises. The 'good' and the 'bad'. You cannot keep one and let go of the other.

The Buddha's last words were: "I exhort you, monks: All fabrications are subject to decay. Bring about completion by being heedful."

The observation of the arising of thought, is the negation and then love will act.

Element
30 Dec 13, 19:49
137. He who inflicts violence on those who are unarmed, and offends those who are inoffensive, will soon come upon one of these ten states:

138-140 Sharp pain, or disaster, bodily injury, serious illness, or derangement of mind, trouble from the government, or grave charges, loss of relatives, or loss of wealth, or houses destroyed by ravaging fire; upon dissolution of the body that ignorant man is born in hell.

Buddha
Hi Millyone

It seems, the same as Buddha, your mother understood, namely, his soul was destined for torment (hell). You were also correct, namely, he was mentally ill, i.e., had some kind of spiritual disease. In fact, when your father was engaged in appalling behaviour, he was already suffering from & abiding in great torment. Obviously, something happened in his life, possibly experience of war, abuse by others, drug taking or even simply some neurological disorder, which resulted in him having such inner torment that he would behave in such a manner.

Such behaviour is common. A few evenings ago, I was listening to my cousin recount similar, possibly worse, behaviour of her father. The only way she could rationalise it was he was mentally ill and had a deep sickness.


I feel very troubled by all this. He has done much that is hard to forgive but now he is old, frail and in great need. I think we should at least anonymously let social services know what is going on so that he can be moved to a nursing or residential care home. I am deeply uncomfortable that this is our father and he lives like that. He cannot possibly be taking his medicines or bathing or eating properly. He is still a human being after all.
Yes. I agree you should at least anonymously let social services know what is going on so he can be moved to a nursing or residential care home.


Must I forgive what he did and if so, how? I live a good blessed life, I live in the light and happiness that I have built and am glad for. I will not go and see him because i will be truly upset by it - but yet I feel guilty for living well while he suffers. Any advice would be welcome as to what we can do for him and for ourselves, how do we proceed in order to do the right thing and have peace of mind?
I think you can reflect on the great torment of your father; that he has been already been 'punished' or reaped the consequences of his harmful behaviour; so you feel sorry for him. Removing resentment & forgiving does not ever change the wrongfulness of his behaviour. If you deeply realise your father was mentally ill, i.e. of unsound mind, as you said, then this should lift resentment towards him and make you feel pity towards him.

Buddha taught:


There are, O monks, five ways of getting rid of a grudge, by means of which a monk can remove all grudges that have arisen within him. What five?

If a grudge arises towards any person, then one should cultivate loving-kindness towards him … or compassion … or equanimity. In that way one can remove the grudge towards that person.

Or one should pay no attention to him and give no thought to him. In that way one can remove the grudge.

Or one may apply to that person the fact of ownership of kamma: “This worthy person is the owner of his actions, the heir of his actions; his actions are the womb (from which he has sprung), his relations, and his protection. Whatever he does, good or bad, he will be heir to that.”

These are the five ways of getting rid of a grudge, by means of which a monk can remove all grudges that have arisen within him.

AN 5:161

Your father is the heir of his actions & has reaped the consequences of his actions. However, it is good you have compassion for his tormented state. He may have not performed his responsibilities as a father but we have responsibilities as children. Therefore, feeling guilty is natural if you do not help him.

I may be right or completely wrong, but I sense some conflict may come from a desire to exchange love with your father. As your natural lovingness is moved to help him, the old pains arise. If so, just work with that recognition, namely, despite your natural giving of love, he was unable to give love.

My internet opinion. With metta.

Element ;D

jonno
30 Dec 13, 20:49
Hi. TNH when commenting on the behaviour of the pirates who slaughtered ,raped and killed the Vietnamese boat people said " If I were raised in the same village as these pirates , I probably would have become a pirate" . When I meet people whom I IMAGINE. I dislike, I remind myself that something has led them to be as they are and if I had the same experiences , upbringing etc. as they have had, then I might have behaved as they do. I am grateful that I have benefited from the Bhuddas teachings and that I have learned from my past experiences and sometimes "abhorrent behaviours "which have led me to where I am now. Forgiveness walks hand in hand with understanding and compassion...

millyone
02 Jan 14, 17:00
Hi,
thank you everyone. There is great wisdom and comfort in your words.

As a child I always sensed there was something awfully wrong with my father, as did my brothers. He has an evil aura about him. When I grew up I tried many times to give him chances to redeem himself, he never did. I spent many years being depressed about it all. Now, in my 50's, I am at peace. I have an excellent husband and family life of my own and I rarely even think about him. Yet, after hearing what my brother saw of his condition and situation, I cannot help but feel pity and guilt. I feel guilty that I have such a wonderful life. That confuses me as I made this life despite him, despite his opposition to everything good. He stands for confusion and badness.

So we will do something, get him put into a place of safety where he can be cared for. I still don't want anything to do with him though. My brothers and mother hold onto great hatred for him. I am glad I don't hate him, I just pity him but otherwise regard him as irrelevant to my life. Over the years he occasionally telephoned me as mine is the only number he still had. I simply listened to him and felt like I was listening to a mental patient, it became clear to me that he is not right in the head. The conversation was one-sided, he would simply talk about himself and his illnesses and loneliness, then he would repeat over and over again that he had never done anything wrong. I think he must be on the sociopathic scale, as he has no empathy with anyone. Now I think he has dementia and does not remember his wife and children who left him.

One other thing bothers me. One of my brothers is very similar to our father. He sets store completely in material possessions and money, to the extent that he has never even married, for fear of having to share his wealth or lose it in a divorce. His values and outlook on life are so alien and horrifying to me. So we do not speak. I have heard that his whole life revolves around his business career and that his home too is in an appalling mess as he spends so little time there. He is also ill, with degenerative conditions for which he takes numerous medicines - and yet he is only in his 40's! The mental state is quite obviously directly affected by the emptiness of spirit and has translated into physical ills. I worry for his soul, his spirit because he does not realise that all is an illusion, his rich bank balance and expensive cars and portfolio of properties are not going to comfort him or go with him when he dies.

We bring nothing and take nothing when we go. He spends every waking minute building his fortune, but what for? I don't understand him at all and cannot actually bear his company because I do not share his view of life. I value other things, my love of my family, my wonderful dogs - I love animals and their uncomplicated love, I have enough to be comfortable and have no desire to be rich materially. He cannot understand that 'enough' is possible.

This life can be so sad and cruel. Surely it is a 'samsara', a sea of suffering. The only way is to do one's best to develop spiritually, to be silent and reflective, to meditate, read and constantly to seek answers as to what is the truth. This forum brings me so much comfort and knowledge.