Buddhist Reflections: Questions of Ethics, Morality, Right and Wrong

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Recently I was faced with a situation that has created a serious moral dilemma. Over the past few months I’ve had a major crush on this artist that frequents the weekly open mics I perform at. I remember I caught him staring at me the first night I went. The second time I went he made it a point to introduce himself to me. I could tell that he was interested in me, the mutual attraction was very apparent. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt such strong chemistry with another person straight off the bat. From that day on we spent the following two months talking here and there. We flirted and dropped subtle hints. There were a couple of opportunities to kick it that were missed. It was like a game of cat and mouse. Then things cooled off and I assumed he wasn’t really interested after all.

Until last week when I found myself randomly spending time alone with him. It turned into one of those moments that shifted so suddenly that I was left wondering what the hell just happened. See, I found out that he did in fact want me, very much so. Only problem was that he is currently attached. It suddenly made sense why he turned cool on me, he was already involved with someone else. Yet there was no denying that he was feeling me. A lot. Probably too much. His exact words to me were “You and I would be dangerous”. I had to agree with him on that.

Yet it still didn’t stop him from asking me to spend the night with him. I won’t deny that I wanted to. But I ended up leaving out of respect for myself and him. It wasn’t easy. And when he hit me up a few days later I found myself regretting my decision to walk away. It’s very obvious that the situation between us isn’t over. In fact, acknowledging the connection has opened Pandora’s box and now I’m left with the moral question.

In Buddhism there is no “right” or “wrong”, no “good” or “bad”. Things just “are”. The ultimate goal of every Buddhist is to walk into any situation mindful and with the intention of doing the least amount of harm as possible. This vague philosophy doesn’t leave much of a map for practitioners to follow. Which, I believe, is the point. We’re forced to develop our own code of ethics, tailored to our own lifestyle. Not providing a definite explanation of right or wrong also keeps us from judging others.

In the beginning I struggled with this spiritual practice that didn’t seem to have any rules. But as I learned more about Buddhism, and myself, I saw the simple wisdom of it. It wasn’t so much about what you did but more so about the end results. There were certain patters of behavior I engaged in that brought a lot of positive things to myself and those around me. And there were certain patterns of behavior that resulted in a lot of pain and grief. Common sense says that I shouldn’t continue engaging in the activities that brought the negativity. It wasn’t so much that they were bad or wrong (someone else could engage in the same exact behaviors and get the opposite results) , they just weren’t skillful for me.

So back to this current dilemma, how do I handle it? Do I let it go and continue to keep my distance or do I engage? Honestly, I have no idea how I’m going to allow this to play out. My question is not so much whether it’s morally wrong to get involved with an attached man. My question is how much harm is it going to cause myself and him if I get involved with an attached man. A more thorough way of assessing a situation in my opinion, though by no means an easier way. Granted I’m no closer to figuring it out but I trust it will come to me.

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5 thoughts on “Buddhist Reflections: Questions of Ethics, Morality, Right and Wrong

  1. Don’t forget that you and he are not the only ones who may be affected here. This may complicate your dilemma, but ignoring it may not help you learn whatever you need to learn here, either.

  2. I’ve been in this position – many times in fact. There aren’t any really easy answers, but I do know that in my own experience, it’s been much less painful when I have chosen to not get involved.

    In fact, over the past year, I have deliberately stepped back from two friendships that were clearly headed in that direction in order to not cross that line. At the same time, I left the door open if either of them decided to end their current relationships. But in my opinion, that only can work if space is given, so that they have time to reflect, and aren’t just breaking up with someone because you’re sitting there ready and waiting right around the corner.

    Now, maybe I lost the opportunity with both of them. I don’t know. But I figure if it’s supposed to happen, we’ll find a way back into each others’ life again somehow.

  3. OK, So there is no right or wrong just do the least amount of harm as possible. Well I guess the questions you have to ask yourself are: Do I understand that there is a third party invoved and how will this harm him/her? Will he leave his SO for me? Would I be ok with that? How will it affect me if he doesn’t? Does this have an oppuritunity to grow? Hopefully these question can at least get you on the path to coming up with the ultimate answer that you’re looking for. Is he worth it????

  4. Anonymous

    There are not only you and him but what about the other girl, cheating is cheating no matter what religion you practice and it is very hurtful for you and her nothing good can become of it. Make him choose because if he can’t then he is an old hat at cheating and he will do it to you again.

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