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Getting over a bad past? - Dhamma Wheel

Getting over a bad past?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
Sonzai
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Getting over a bad past?

Postby Sonzai » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:08 pm

Hello, this is my first post here I've been thinking about this for days and finally decided to make a post about it. I'm 18, Ive looked into Buddhism off and on for 2 years and only recently begun to seriously look into it.

What do you do if you have been a bad person? I'm not quite sure from what Ive read on Theravada Buddhism if there is anything to do?

Ive done a lot of bad stuff since I was a kid. Some very serious things that I regret a lot. Lately Ive just been trying to suppress the memories mostly, because every time I remember them I feel sick with myself and full of guilt. Sometimes its unbearable when I remember it all. I told a friend I was looking into Buddhism and he simply laughed and responded "You're too bad to be a Buddhist" I feel like hes right sometimes, Buddhism is about reaching enlightenment but I think to myself how could I ever reach that after all the pain ive caused.

So, what do I do to make up for what ive done in the past? How do I move on from it all and be a good person?

PeterB
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby PeterB » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:25 pm

There is a practice called Metta Bhavana ( you could google it ) where you send thoughts of loving kindness to all the people you like and all the people you dont like...all the people you have harmed and all you see as harming you. You start with sending thoughts of loving kindness to yourself. Not in a glib way. Not glossing over what you have done or failed to do.
Just as you are. The past is gone. Tomorrow is another day.

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Tex
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Tex » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:06 pm

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

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Annapurna
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Annapurna » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:22 pm

http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

jackson
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby jackson » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:03 pm

In my experience memories of harmful actions I committed haven't left me, in fact not a day goes by where I don't remember them, but my attitude towards them has become one of acceptance. I think the important thing is to learn from your mistakes, really look at the pain it's caused and open up to what it has to teach you, then make a vow to not repeat whatever you have done. There's an analogy that the Buddha gave in the Dhammapada that talks about how just as a water jar is filled drop by drop so too can one purify their mind. I imagine very few people become saints overnight, it's more a gradual process that happens over time, but if you want to become a better person then I'd encourage keeping the five precepts (refraining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false and harmful speech, and using intoxicants). I'm not saying become a Buddhist (that's up to you) but I've found keeping the precepts to be a great protection against causing harm to myself or to others. Anyway, I wouldn't expect the memories to go away but they become easier to live with over time and making a strong effort to be a better person and free the mind from suffering has been the greatest gift I've given myself.
Best wishes, :smile:
Jackson
"The heart of the path is quite easy. There’s no need to explain anything at length. Let go of love and hate and let things be. That’s all that I do in my own practice." - Ajahn Chah

Jhana4
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:21 pm

In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Ben
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Ben » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:24 pm

Greetings Sonzai and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
At such a young age you have a desire to change your life for the better. And for that I think you should be congratulated! So many people live their lives engaged in harmful activities without coming to the same point you have.
I second Peter's advice re: Metta Bhavana (loving kindness meditation). Get that going for a little while and then investigate attending a residential meditation retreat of some variety. Somewhere where you can take refuge in the Triple Gem, adopt the five precepts and start developing self-mastery by developing concentration, and developing wisdom (vipassana) into the nature of reality. A meditation retreat will also give you some depth of meditative experience, support and the theoretical background on an extraordinarily useful tool for self-transformation.
kind regards

Ben
“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) • •

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Jhana4
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:09 pm

Sonzai, this book has nothing to do with Buddhism, but it can help you to feel better about yourself. If you feel better about yourself you will do more good things and fewer bad things.

HTH

http://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Rating ... 552&sr=1-1
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

perkele
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby perkele » Fri Mar 04, 2011 11:06 pm

Hi Sonzai!

I may have felt similar when I was your age. But didn't have the maturity to change for the better. Also, although I found to the Pali Canon somehow, I didn't trust today's Buddhism and thought after 2600 years, whatever institutionalized or organized practice there is today and calls itself "Buddhist" must be flawed and can't be taken serious.
So I spent seven years hating and pitying myself and speculating about enlightenment without any practical approach to the life that I had messed up. That's a thing you should not do. :jawdrop:
What others said here about Metta Bhavana is certainly very useful. I myself did a Metta Bhavana retreat about a year ago. If anything helped me then that. Following the instructions and doing formal meditation without a teacher, at least for me, is very hard to do. So visiting such a retreat might be very very helpful. At least you are told what to practice all the time, so you can do it with a humble attitude.
The greatest difficulty I had was my arrogance. It all looks and feels so artificial and I had a hard time subduing my contempt. But it was part of the practice. And I went there because I was desperate. And it was an eye-opener.
And otherwise, what is probably more important, as others told you:

1. Do good things. Even if at the moment you do not see much good you can do. Maybe you can't. But the time will come. Possibilities will come if you keep yourself ready and don't give up.
2. A friend joking that you are too bad to be a Buddhist, things like that, trying to "be a good person", you just need some humble self-esteem to go through that. Cynicism is a bane in such a situation. But if you don't get friendly support you must go without it. People don't share your pain, your guilt, your conscience. So it's easier to joke around. But you just stay clear, make the best of it, endure it.

Blahblah. Not knowing anything better than you probably... but just trying to encourage you to do the best. Even if everything is dark.

Metta
Moritz

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poto
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby poto » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:08 am

Hey, this is something I know a little about!

I've done more than my share of bad things, the bulk of it when I was younger. I think I'm at a point in my life where I've let go of all of that and moved on. Of course, there are other people who haven't let go of my past and sometimes they will remind me of such. I'm trying to not let that bother me, as it's just another thing to let go of.

Starting out, I would say just take it day by day. Don't be too eager to take the 5 precepts all at once. And try to remember that they aren't commandments, just training rules, so don't sweat it if you can't keep them all the time. If you do take them, then just do it one day at a time. At first I would say at least try to keep the first precept and try to avoid killing on most days. If you can manage that, then consider adding some more precepts when you are ready.

Also, a regular meditation practice would be highly recommended.

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robertk
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby robertk » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:20 am

Guilt is just dhammas, happiness is just dhammas, sadness is mere dhammas, feelings are dhammas.

They are all there to be known and insighted when they arise. To think any of them are preferable objects is not understanding their inherent anatta nature: to wit they arise because they are conditioned to arise, it cannot be other than it is.

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pilgrim
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby pilgrim » Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:50 am

There's something real you can do.
You can dilute the bad you have done by doing good, lots of it.

"Now suppose a man throws a lump of salt into a small cup of water. What do you think, monks: would that small quantity of water in the cup become salty and undrinkable through that lump of salt?" — "It would, Lord." — "And why so?" — "The water in the cup is so little that a lump of salt can make it salty and undrinkable." — "But suppose, monks, that lump of salt is thrown into the river Ganges. Would it make the river Ganges salty and undrinkable?" — "Certainly not, Lord." — "And why not?" — "Great, Lord, is the mass of water in the Ganges. It will not become salty and undrinkable by a lump of salt."

— AN 3.110

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ground
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby ground » Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:06 am


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Annapurna
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:05 am

And don't get into a habit of beating yourself up.

The past is gone, a bright future can be forged, and for this you need to live in the "here and now", not in the past, beating yourself up.
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

Sonzai
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Sonzai » Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:41 pm


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Annapurna
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:28 pm

Thank you, Sonzai, for replying to everybody. This is rare and I appreciate it for that reason even more.

:anjali:

BEST wishes.
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

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beeblebrox
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby beeblebrox » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:07 pm


dhammapal
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby dhammapal » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:24 pm

I suffer from flashbacks and guilt. My latest idea when the flashbacks come is to say "I can't handle that!", recognizing that the flashbacks are external and I can't be expected to handle more than taking care of my present behavior.

Check out my with >100 researched posts mostly on self-forgiveness.

With metta / dhammapal.






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Stiphan
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby Stiphan » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:25 pm


fragrant herbs
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Re: Getting over a bad past?

Postby fragrant herbs » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:59 pm



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