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Making amends for past wrongs...

ToshTosh Veteran
edited October 2010 in Buddhism Basics
Can I ask what is the Buddhist take on making amends to people (or organisations) for past wrongs we may have done? For example, making amends to people we've harmed in the past, or to institutions we may have stolen from?

Did the Buddha give any teachings covering this subject?

The dharma talks I've heard go along the lines of accepting you've done wrong, forgiving yourself, and learning from your mistakes; but I've not heard anything about making amends.

Is there a Buddhist view point on this?

Comments

  • edited October 2010
    Yes there is, you should pretty much ackwloedge what you have done is wrong and openly admit it to the people or parties concerned, like acknowledging you accidently shut down a customers server instead of hitting restart :D. You should honestly vow not to do it again and then learn from the experiance in future scenarios. You have to use a bit of commonsense here, I personally don't mind admitting to mistakes as as long as my intentions were pure and not meant to cause harm, I will admit to them and do my best to make sure they don't happen again. The alternative in hiding what you have done will not help you or the person you did the thing too, it also wont help if they never let you forget about what you did even when you have admitted it, and tried to make sure it does not occur again.

    If you did something deliberatly and now you know that it was wrong, then that is the first step. Apologising to someone is then the next step (come clean) and then as said earlier, refrain from doing it again and importantly, do not beat yourself up about it. The learning process is great and we all do stupid things under the influence of ignorance.

    Always think, why did I do what I did, analyze the situation, find the cause and then find out if that way of doing things results in happeiness and success for you or your business. For example, at a place I worked, everyone feared getting told off badly as there was a blame culture so they would not admit to mistakes or partake in challengeing activites for the fear of being diciplined/loosing their jobs. This atmosphere obviously does not help at all to a healthy environment to work in and therfore affects the end product/service just as it does in your own personal life.

    On specifically making ammends, It depends on the circumstance. What can you do? If I accidently damaged a customers product or did not conduct service as expected, then I would give them their money back and apologise whole heartidly. I would not do it because, I need this persons custom and if I don't I will lose money. I would do it because I feel that our service was not good enough and if I were them I would expect genuine recompence. In other situations, you can only apologise. I hit someones door with my car door and upon telling him, he went mad. I had not meant to do it and I was sorry so I offered to pay for repair as I could not exactly rewind time and stop it from happening. I also was much more careful from then on. He was not happy and wouldnt accept payment but also would not let it go, that in my opinion was then he was holding onto a hot coal and not letting go. I had genuingly been sorry and had tried to help him out.

    Chris
  • TreeLuvr87TreeLuvr87 Veteran
    edited October 2010
    This is my personal view and possibly not the Buddhist view.

    If you do try to make ammends and admit what you've done, try not to hold an attachment to being forgiven. You may not be forgiven by the other person. Are you wanting to make amends to gain the other person or institution's forgiveness and approval?
    I'm not sure what your situation is, but frequently I'll remember things I've done wrong to people from years ago and have to forgive myself and let go of attachment to being always perfect. Just be sure you're being compassionate with yourself. And honest.
  • edited October 2010
    Exactly Treeluvr87, What is the motivation for wanting to make ammends; is it merely to be liked by that person? or is it because you genuingly feel that you did wrong and should make ammends. If you make ammends in a genuine way and that person holds onto anger and hatred for what you did, then you have to leave the anger and hatred with them and feel compassion for them as they are unable to move on and in so are suffering themselves.

    Making ammends for the right reasons is entirly Buddhist way of thinking in my opinion...

    Chris
  • ToshTosh Veteran
    edited October 2010
    Hi guys,

    There's been some great advice given so far. I'm a recovered alcoholic doing the 12 Step programme of AA.

    Step 9 of the 12 Steps is as follows:
    Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    My amends are mostly what we call 'living amends' where we lead decent lives around those we live with, and try not to make further mistakes.

    However, I have amends to make to an ex wife, two estranged children, and my Mother; none of which I've seen in six years. They're tough amends and all stem from my drinking days. We alcoholics tend to wreak destruction where ever we go!

    Why do I want to make these amends? Because I want to change the situation; I want the people I've hurt not to hurt as much, if that's possible, and I want to stop hurting from the harm I've caused others.

    These are not easy amends and they frighten the pants off me.

    And for some further information; I have what we in AA call a 'sponsor'; he's basically my spiritual guide through the programme of AA; and he's someone I can confide in and before I do anything drastic that may cause someone else harm, I can get advice or help from. He's an experienced AAer, sober for nearly 21 years, and has helped many many guys recover from alcoholism. We have a great support network in AA; the best.

    But I still like to compare AAs spiritual program with Buddhist view points.
  • edited October 2010
    Well firstly, well done for going to AA and getting this far already. In simple terms and obviously emotions make it much harder than in reality it should be; you need to go see these people and try to connect with them again, maybe you could write to them first to explain what has been happening in your life. That might be easier that just turning up however I don't know your specifics and it's much easier looking from my persepctive. Do they know you have been to AA? do they know of any of your progress? and how did you last end communication? etc.

    You obviously don't have to tell me those things but you need to go about it, I have heard countless stories of people who think that reunions will always turn ugly, but it's often not the case at all, and the mere attempt at doing so speaks volumes if done for the right reasons :)
  • TreeLuvr87TreeLuvr87 Veteran
    edited October 2010
    Yeah good going, Tosh! AA is a great program and I know a few folks who have used the Buddha Nature as their higher power with all the texts and stuff. It's so hard but you are doing an amazing thing for the nature of yourself and all around you :-)
  • ToshTosh Veteran
    edited October 2010
    Thanks, Atlan. I have some good advice available to me on the mechanics of making amends, such as how to make a first approach (eg, letter, telephone, e-mail, face book), but we're encouraged to do the actual amend face to face where possible. We're also there to find out the exact nature of how we harmed, because how we think we've harmed, and how we've actually harmed can be two different things.

    We're there primarily to try and amend (change) the harm we've caused to others. It's not really meant to be about making me feel better; though that's an obvious by-product. They say that even being willing, and trying to make an amend can give some relief; even if that amend is not accepted. We call it 'keeping our side of the street clean'.

    And as someone has stated earlier, expectations should be kept reasonable. I know a guy who has been sober many many years; he's now a good guy; yet his daughter will not allow him access to see his grandson, whom he's never seen. His daughter will not accept any amends from him; which is a shame; since she is obviously still hurting.

    That could be the case for me; I realise that. I was never violent, nor did I sexually abuse anyone; but my selfishness caused much harm.

    It's just that I was interested on the Buddhist take on amends; Buddhist do have good insights, and that's probably an understatement.
  • ToshTosh Veteran
    edited October 2010
    TreeLuvr87 wrote: »
    Yeah good going, Tosh! AA is a great program and I know a few folks who have used the Buddha Nature as their higher power with all the texts and stuff. It's so hard but you are doing an amazing thing for the nature of yourself and all around you :-)

    Steady with the praise guys, I don't like it and I've been sober for quite a while now; and it's only this area of my program, my amends, that I've been procrastinating over.

    But I like that Buddha-nature as a higher power! It's what I've been using, but I didn't have a formal name for it. So thanks.

    In our (AAs) literature there's a line that says, 'Selfishness and self-centredness is the cause of all our problems', and last night in the sangha, the Buddhist monk gave a talk about how 'self cherishing is the root of all our troubles'.

    There's a lot of similarities between AA and Buddhism, and that's why I guess I'm drawn to it.

    I love straightforward practical advice that works too; stuff like imagining everyone is your Mother from a previous life - or is a Buddha in disguise - before you speak or interact with them. That really really works for me; it's sort of ego-deflating so you don't get on acting like a fool... er unskillful.

    Anyway, thanks for the feedback; I'll read any future replies with interest.
  • edited October 2010
    Hi Tosh,

    I'm also a recovered alcoholic who is currently making amends and living steps 10, 11 and 12 on a daily basis. My experience so far has been mostly good. I've found that the guilt I feel is usually in excess of the hurt others feel. This has gone a long way toward giving up my attachment to guilt. Not to say I haven't done real harm, but I know I'm doing my best to make things right.

    Anyway, just wanted you to know you're not alone here.
  • ToshTosh Veteran
    edited October 2010
    Hi Jeremy,

    Thanks; I never saw guilt as an attachment, but maybe I can let that go easier once I finish my amends? I've been in AA for 17 months now, about 15 months sober (I know I know) and I actually became interested in Buddhism through finding out how to meditate for Step 11.

    Maybe it's the alkie in me - alcoholism is often described as the 'disease of more' - so having two spiritual programmes in both AA and Buddhism is great. I attend a sangha fairly regularly now (AA commitments come first for me at present and I've a family too) and I hope to start a formal Buddhist foundation correspondence course in January.

    I guess, like you maybe, I'm one of those 'spiritual seekers' who just found the wrong 'spirits' (mine was whisky) in the first place.
  • edited October 2010
    hi Tosh,

    You should start by forgiving yourself and having love for yourself. Don't take it too hard. It is true you should have regret for what you have done to harm others but now is time to have love and compassion all around for those you have harmed and for yourself.

    You can recite the mantra of love and compassion OM MANI PADMAY HUNG and dedicate it especially to those you have harmed and also to all sentient beings... recognising that everyone is inter-connected and interdependent in the ultimate sense in a oneness, your prayers will definitely help.

    If you have love in your heart and wish them well, they will definitely receive it. Slowly forgiveness may arise. There is no need to expect them to forgive or any big change. Healing the situation requires you to work first from your own mind. Fill it with love, bring kindness and compassion into your own life and those around you right now... if you start from now and here and then who knows how the effects will ripple out.

    Also, you can help others who are trapped in the same situation... through your experience and knowledge you can help others to break through alcoholism and other addictions.

    wish you all the best!
  • edited October 2010
    Wow...kinda eerie. I've also got just over 15 months sober and came to Buddhism through my Step work. Currently I'm trying to find a good ballance between work, family, A.A. and practice. I haven't joined a sangha yet, but I am commited to a regular home practice and study (part of my daily 11th Step). I am also very commited to my home group.

    Definitely a life long "spiritual seeker". Mostly beer, in my case, but there was whisky and gin too.
  • ToshTosh Veteran
    edited October 2010
    You should start by forgiving yourself and having love for yourself.

    Hi bodhiactivity, that sounds like good advice, but it's easier said than done. I think the only way that it can be done, for me, is by taking action and making amends.

    I've tried being gentle and forgiving myself; I know I'm not a monster; but it doesn't work.

    If you have any tips, I'd be all ears.
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Tosh ! Welcome back mate. I hope you’re well? Glad that you’ve been able to re-connect with your daughter. I hope it goes well. 🙏🏻❤️

    Tosh
  • ToshTosh Veteran

    All's well, Bunks; I like to stick my head into the forum every five years or so.

    I didn't know you supported NUFC.

    I'm from Newcastle; it's like a religion up there.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 19

    Heeeey Tosh! Good to see you =)

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Tosh said:
    All's well, Bunks; I like to stick my head into the forum every five years or so.

    I didn't know you supported NUFC.

    I'm from Newcastle; it's like a religion up there.

    Oh yes! Ever since the heady days of the 90's. When I started watching English Football back then Peter Beardsley was my favourite player so I've followed the Toon ever since.

    One of my best mates is from Whitley Bay.

    Tosh
  • FleaMarketFleaMarket Newbie, not Veteran

    Incredible, @Tosh . Welcome back and congrats on the reconnect!

    Tosh
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    Nice to see you @Tosh … it’s good to see these old threads from the forum’s past, there’s a lot of good stuff in there.

    ToshDavid
  • ToshTosh Veteran

    @Bunks said:

    Oh yes! Ever since the heady days of the 90's. When I started watching English Football back then Peter Beardsley was my favourite player so I've followed the Toon ever since.

    One of my best mates is from Whitley Bay.

    I know Whitley Bay well, it was a popular drinking spot when I was young.

    My sister-in-law's happiness at weekends are kind of controlled by how well Newcastle is doing. If they win, my brother is happy, if they lose, my brother is unbearable.

    Maybe I'll suggest this forum to her?

    Bunks
  • ToshTosh Veteran

    @FleaMarket said:
    Incredible, @Tosh . Welcome back and congrats on the reconnect!

    Thank you. She's a financial advisor. I suspect her mum pushed her into it.

    After being ripped off by one, I've always disliked financial advisors.

    It's weird looking into the face of another adult and seeing yourself, but far prettier, looking back.

    BunksSteve_B
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Tosh said:

    @Bunks said:

    Oh yes! Ever since the heady days of the 90's. When I started watching English Football back then Peter Beardsley was my favourite player so I've followed the Toon ever since.

    One of my best mates is from Whitley Bay.

    I know Whitley Bay well, it was a popular drinking spot when I was young.

    My sister-in-law's happiness at weekends are kind of controlled by how well Newcastle is doing. If they win, my brother is happy, if they lose, my brother is unbearable.

    Maybe I'll suggest this forum to her?

    Hopefully now with all our oil money your brother will be more often happy than sad

    Tosh
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 20

    I've tried being gentle and forgiving myself; I know I'm not a monster; but it doesn't work.
    If you have any tips, I'd be all ears.

    So after 12 years, what worked?

  • ToshTosh Veteran

    @lobster said:

    I've tried being gentle and forgiving myself; I know I'm not a monster; but it doesn't work.
    If you have any tips, I'd be all ears.

    So after 12 years, what worked?

    Just muddling through life staying sober, trying not to harm others, trying to be compassionate, and time I guess.

    lobsterBunksShoshin1
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Welcome back, buddy. You've been missed.
    Hubby lost 5 stone thanks to you. I now follow an exclusive carnivore diet. Never felt better.
    Glad to have you back.
    You're as pretty as your daughter.

    BunksTosh
  • ToshTosh Veteran

    Well done to hubby; 5 stone is brilliant. I still eat low carb, but at a higher rate of carbs than I used to.

    I'm laughing at me being as 'pretty as my daughter'. Nope.

    Bunks
  • ToshTosh Veteran

    Oh, I've found a great source of eggs; a lady that lives between my house and the gym I use rescues chickens and ducks; she sells the eggs they produce to pay for their upkeep.

    I walk to the gym, drop off the empty egg boxes on the way there, and on the way home, I buy fresh eggs (she uses a honesty box system).

    So I reckon this is a brilliant - ethical - way to reduce the harm I do to animals, particularly chickens, which are the most abused animal (along with women (according to Jimmy Carter)).

    Bunks
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    women iz animals?

    … mmm … free range …

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