Terrible wrong speech of mine

Dear Venerable Monks and Nuns,

I recently sent a horrible, accusatory email to a favorite monastery of mine in the midst of an emotional breakdown.

I feel absolutely horrible about it. I feel that I’m consigned to a horrible rebirth after what I thought was a successful 10 years of practice.

Are there examples from the suttas of lay followers finding redemption after a terrible act of wrong speech, or similar catastrophic act? If so, is there anything I can do? I feel that I’ve done something irreparable, have harmed Venerable monks and nuns, and the community whom I’ve followed online for 10 years, and can barely sleep at night. I know I was generally worried about some things, and in the midst of a mental breakdown, but am at a loss as to why I did this. I’ve spent a few days in the hospital and am on medication which is helping to restore clarity, but I am so devastated.

Most importantly, I would be over the moon if someone could please help me to rectify my actions, both for myself and the community. I’ve apologized and received a very nice response, but feel absolutely terrible about the whole thing.

Thank you very much for all that you do.
Will

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Dear friend,

Everybody makes mistakes, you are a human. The five grave wrong deeds are:

  1. Killing one’s mother
  2. Killing one’s father
  3. Killing an Arahant
  4. Wounding a Tathagata
  5. Creating schism in the Sangha

Your message didn’t go as far as that, right ? Now, if you have slander a Noble one, or not a Noble one, I advise you to go towards him or them, bow to them deeply and ask for forgiveness.

As the Buddha teaches, when you see that you made a mistake, you should confess/admit it and vow not to do it again.

“But because you see your transgression as such and make amends in accordance with the Dhamma, we accept your confession. For it is a cause of growth in the Dhamma & Discipline of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and exercises restraint in the future.” DN 2

Anxiety is not the solution at all. It’s not fear or anxiety which will compensate or help you.

Drink a lot of camomille. No caffeine at all and no alcohol/drug of course. And sleep a lot if anxiety overwhelms you.

Meditate well

Be well my friend

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For a bad bodily action, King Ajattasattu killed his father and he repented to the Buddha who accepted his confession. See DN 2.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html

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By not using drug, I don’t refer to medications that the hospital wants you to take.

Please my friend listen all the section on “Digging out of despair” below.

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Here just a few sutta related to asking for forgiveness. AN9.11 is about an accusation by a monk.

  • example of AN9.11
  • for criticizing the Buddha AN3.91
  • for not following rule MN65
  • for not recognizing the Buddha MN140
  • growth in Buddha’s training MN65, AN9.11

FWIW, monasteries are quite used to getting letters like that and they are even more accustomed to interacting with people in mental health crises. Like, very, very common. I’m sure that they are just happy that you are doing better.

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Forgive yourself.

I recently failed in a way even worse that you did. I avoided a conversation with an elderly neighbour because I was eager to go home for sutta study. Turns out he was really sad and desperate and later that day he jumped off of his balcony.

Welcome to Samsara.

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My favorite sutta in this context: SN 42.8, the horn blower.

It’s about the difference how Jains and Buddhists deal with mistakes, so to speak. My favorite passage (after the student has established a solid foundation of ethical conduct):

sn42.8:12.1-3 That noble disciple is rid of desire, rid of ill will, unconfused, aware, and mindful. They meditate spreading a heart full of love to one direction, and to the second, and to the third, and to the fourth. In the same way above, below, across, everywhere, all around, they spread a heart full of love to the whole world—abundant, expansive, limitless, free of enmity and ill will.

Suppose there was a powerful horn blower. They’d easily make themselves heard in the four quarters.

In the same way, when the heart’s release by love has been developed and cultivated like this, any limited deeds they’ve done don’t remain or persist there.

:heart:

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I would agree, but add that what I have found very useful is slightly different to the term “forgive”, although support that advice. I find that “forgiving” myself seems artificial as I know I have no power to forgive within the Buddhist explanation of how things work. What I do is try to reflect on what I have done and WHY I have done it. I am unenlightened, I am still driven by greed, hatred and delusion, I am working on that but I am not there yet. That is OK. I am going to continue to think, speak and act in unwholesome ways until I join the ranks of the Noble Ones. So, it is not so much “forgive” as “acknowledge” that my lived experience, my past karma, my mental state has led me to x. That doesnt mean I am x, just that I have been led to this point, and the ultimate solution is the opposite of

…ie say Sayonara to Samsara :slight_smile:

And till then make sure you are one of the beings you direct your Metta meditation
(that works very well for me)

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Thank you so much for your reply, Sikkhakamo.

I didn’t do any of the five things you listed, but am worried about having caused a schism. It was a really horrible email, I can’t stand to even look at it it was so ludicrous and horrible.

I will remember to try the chamomile tea, and to limit caffeine. Thank you very much for responding to me, and for including the sutta, it really helps

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Thank you so much Venerable Sabbamitta, I will remember to practice this today.

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Thank you for this link Sikkhakamo, I will stay on the medications, probably forever, and I will be sure to listen to the section on digging out of despair

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Oh man. I didn’t do that, so maybe there’s still hope for me. Sometimes this is exactly what helps, to have a sutta about a person in a similar situation

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Thank you for your reply Malunkyaputta, I’m really sorry to hear about this, I think you wanting to get to sutta class is a very noble thing. My actions weren’t noble at all. And thank you for the reminder about this being samsara, it’s easy to forget.

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It’s very unlikely that you’ve done that. First, you are not a monk, right ? Secondly, for it to be schism, there need to be a sanghakamma (like Uposatha recitation) between two groups of at least 4 bhikkhus within the same territory.

Thank you so much Snowbird…for the sutta links and for helping me feel less alone with having done something like this.

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Here is a video/teaching from a Mahayana tradition that describes the four opponent powers. This is the Mahayana practice suggested for dealing with situations like yours when we have regret over some wrong speech or action. Although it comes from the Mahayana, I hope it may be helpful to relieve some of the stress you are feeling. :pray:

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No, I’m not a monk. The only feedback I received from the monastery was a kind reply letting me know they were sorry I was suffering and some resources to help me.

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Thank you very much Yeshe, I still feel really horrible about what happened, and will be sure to listen to this from the Mahayana tradition.

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Thank you Hasantha. I will keep practicing the metta, and try hard to include myself too. Thank you

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