Q236. I was unfaithful to my wife, and she wanted to get divorced from me. I apologised to her for my misdeed with all my heart and she promised to forgive me. We, as Buddhists, thinking that everything is empty, agreed to forget the matter. However, she still keeps bringing up the matter, which leads to arguments and we still talk about divorce.

A. To think that everything is empty seems to be a good way to solve your problem. Try to keep thinking that way even though you’ve not realised the truth and your life will gradually become more stable with your Zen practice growing mature. The most important thing that you should realise now is that if everything is empty, your wife’s attitude is also empty just like your misdeed is empty. Then, your situation is not a problem anymore.

You might think that she also should see your past deeds as empty and not be so angry with you, but she should take responsibility for her own behaviour. If she also viewed things as you want her to, it would be the most ideal solution. However, if you really believe that everything is empty, why does her attitude, rude or polite, matter. If you can’t accept her attitude as empty while saying that everything is empty, you are being self-contradictory after all.

Why don’t you think of her attitude as her struggle to forgive you. Her head may have forgiven you but her heart still might not since the latter takes longer to forgive you. She, I think, is determined to forgive you since she still loves you and wants to keep your family together, but she still feels suffering from the incident because her wound has not yet healed perfectly. It is your duty as her husband to comfort and help her to surmount her suffering and become what she used to be.

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Seeing others’ suffering as yours is compassion.

Seeing your suffering as empty is wisdom.

 

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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