Confessions of a tiger killer

Nicola Joanne Dunn, modified 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 12:37 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 12:37 PM

Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 15 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

So, I don't really have anywhere else to talk about this that understands it from a Buddhist point of view. In fact, only 2 other people know about it so far, one being my boyfriend, and the other being one of our best friends, who happens to be the person he talks to about stuff from his Religious perspective too (they're Pagan).
This will probably be pretty long, and some may see it as pretty contraversial, but I post in the knowledge that controversy and talking about these kind of things, and actually discussing them rather than hushing them up and keeping things quiet is something that this place is for. And I really do need some kind of talking about it with people who will understand my Religious views.

I posted last week about killing a tiger (metaphorically, from the Jakarta tale where Siddharta in a previous life comes across a starving tiger, and feeds himself to her).
Talking in metaphor will only confuse people further if I try to continue from that point, so I will explain the situation. It's a very difficult, and very complicated situation and one that is often a massive taboo subject in many places, and in many Religions.

I am a severely disabled person. I have many severe physical disabilities, and I have bipolar disorder as well.
Of the physical disabilities, one is an autosomnal dominant recessive gene in the clasical type of the syndrome, but in the type I have, it has been labelled Hereditary Familial, and it's pretty much 100% chance of being passed on.
My type isn't really fatal fortunately, but other types of the syndrome are, and I have odd symptoms from other types of it, and to be honest, it's called a Syndrome rather than a Disease because people with a certain type can have traits of other types.
I seem to have a lot of weird traits that could classify me under a couple of the different types, one of which is fatal, but I only have minor traits of that.
Nicola Joanne Dunn, modified 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 12:44 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 12:44 PM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

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My type itself can be fatal in some cases as it can cause issues with anaesthetics, even locals, and in some cases that can be fatal. It also can cause a heart condition which can be fatal simply because heart conditions are never simple; the condition is normally not fatal, rather simply managed, but obviously if something happens to cause the heart stress, it can cause problems, and complications with a heart condition can always be fatal.

One of my other physical disabilities the medical world isn't entirely sure on as they just don't know enough about it, but there seems to be a massive genetic link as well.

Bipolar disorder is genetic.

So, it is highly likely that any children I would have would have my disabilities.
It's entirely possible that they'd have mild forms and be perfectly ok, but have issues that would need to be watched, but it's also entirely possible that they'd be severely disabled.
I'm in a wheelchair. I dislocate joints every time I move, and by move, I mean I'm dislocating thumbs, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, just typing this.
It hurts a lot.
The other medical condition I have means I feel pain a hell of a lot more than normal people.
So it hurts a HELL of a lot.
But it's nothing compared to the hell that my bipolar puts me through.

I decided a while ago that I couldn't put anyone through that, and my boyfriend and I decided we would not have children that had my egg as part of them.
We've looked at alternative means, but we're not ready to have children yet anyway.

I'm on a long-term non-abortificiant contraceptive called Depo Provera. It's 3 monthly injections that prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. Before that I had a coil, until a friend of mine in my Sangha gave me a booklet on contraception written by our Lama, and explained about abortificiant contraception.
Nicola Joanne Dunn, modified 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 12:49 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 12:49 PM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 15 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
That was about 8 yrs ago, I didn't really understand before then. I know now.
Since then, I will only use non-abortificiant contraception, and the plan is to have a sterilisation anyway as I don't want biological children so that they don't have all the disabilities I have.

Anyway, skip to last week, or rather the thursday before I posted. I'd been having a very bad time (major manic psychotic episode - my bp is normally ok, but when it goes bad, it goes VERY bad). My bf was cheering me up one night and I was feeling a bit better and more confident about things getting better after talking to my gp, and things happened. Now I thought my depo was due at the end of April.
Saturday morning I couldn't sleep at all, so fairly early I started a list of things to do that week, including sort out an appt to get my depo, which involved me going getting the note to see when it was due.
5th April.
Which means we had unprotected sex.
Now, depo is odd. It normally takes about 18 months or so after getting off it before you can actually conceive anyway.
So bear in mind, the chances of my being pregnant are so, so, so tiny.
However there is a chance.

Queue major morale dilemma:
I have always said I would NEVER have an abortion.
However, having learnt more about my medical issues in the last year (finally got a specialist in London who diagnosed the really rare genetic condition and understands it), we'd made the decision to not have biological children.
Add to the this, the fact that I might not be able to ... a baby pressing on my spine (as they do), could actually crush my spinal chord and leave me totally paralyzed below the middle back, which would not only majorly affect me, but would kill the baby.
(This is due to my rare medical condition).

Also, my rare medical condition has 'complications' with child birth.
Some major ones.
Nicola Joanne Dunn, modified 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 12:55 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 12:55 PM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 15 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
And then there's the fact I'd have to be off my bipolar medication for the whole of the pregnancy and breast feeding.
When I get bad, I get violent mania. I get homicidal.
I could actually kill someone and not know it.
I lose time, I get psychotic episodes, I see and hear things, I 'wake up' having done things.
I 'woke up' once hacking my wrists with a pair of clippers.
I'd been doing it for god knows how long and hadn't noticed.
That's a very, very dangerous situation.

So I had to make the decision to take the morning after pill, and effectively kill any child that might be there, or not, and if I was pregnant, possibly die, or lose the baby, or who knows what anyway.

It took all day to make the decision.
I decided that it was totally against all of my beliefs to take it.
I see that as abortion.
I am pro choice. But not for myself.
As I said in my other post, I set impossible standards for myself.
I just couldn't stop thinking of the Jakarta tale about the Tigress.
Buddha gave his body to a starving tiger.
Surely I should be able to do the same?
I always hoped I'd be able to give my body up, and even if I was paralyzed, if a baby was born, it would be a new life still. What right do I have to take that away?
Besides, I'm in a wheelchair anyway outside, and I have a wheelchair adapted house for my progression in the illnesses.

But in the end we came to the mutual decision that it was better to take the pill. The pregnancy could kill me, could kill other people. There's absolutely no guarantee the child would live, and if it did it would have my disabilities, which would cause it so many problems.
And the disaster of a year or so without my mental health medication... I might never recover.

So I took the morning after pill and killed what might have been a child.
Nicola Joanne Dunn, modified 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 1:01 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 1:01 PM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 15 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
And I've regretted it ever since.
For 49 days I'll light incence and say prayers for the 'soul'. But it doesn't feel like enough.

I know there's the whole thing about looking after oneself, and making sure you're ok, but I chose to kill a new life to make sure I was ok.
That doesn't feel ok to me.
And I know there's the whole thing of, stick to the rules unless they comprimise your health - I like to fast afternoon on special days, but only if I'm well enough, and my Dad doesn't because he's very ill and he was told to look after himself, he can 'fast' in his mind, it's all about the intention.

But what intention is there in killing someone?
I feel like I killed my child.
I might not even have been pregnant.
In fact, the chances are so minute it's stupid.
But the intention was to kill any possible child.
And that's the problem.

Do the health considerations excuse it?
Most likely yes.
And I know people will say they do, and that's not what I need really - I know they do logically...
I guess part of it was accepting I can't have children, and then suddenly there was a possibility, and it's been ripped away from me again. That's a very, very big thing to a woman.

Yeah my health is important, but I have never put myself above other people. Not because I find myself worthless - trust me, I know about finding myself worthless, I have bipolar, I have extremely bad depression at times. This isn't that. I just put other people before me. I have taken the Bodhisattva vow, and I should be here to help all life. That includes feeding the tigress if she needs it.
And I didn't.
I feel like such a cowardly hypocrit.
And it hurts so much as well.
Nicola Joanne Dunn, modified 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 1:02 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 1:02 PM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 15 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I know I'm not Buddha (yet) and I shouldn't hold myself to his standards, but that's the whole point isn't it? Getting to the point where I can feed the tigress and not worry about it.

So why the hell didn't I do it?
I just feel so guilty.

Djon Ma

Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 1:56 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 1:56 PM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: garyrh

Hi Nicola,

Even though your bf is pagan he has a point of view to be examined. Just as you have a point of view to explain.

You did it because you did what we all do, and that is evaluate consequences and call a judgement. In a descision where there is no perfect outcome guilt might have arisen either way.
Examine the guilt where is its source? Now in your experience what are you experiencing as the consequence of guilt and what are you experiecing as the consequence of your actions? These are two very different things. Any and every circumstance can go two ways here the guilt could crush you or it could be an opportunity for growth, which it is, is only a choice nothing more.

I wish you the very best.

[ edit ] Please do not imagine one can take principle even a very good principle ( giving oneself to another ) and apply it every circumstance, wisdom is in the application of principles, it is much easier to adhere to a rule. Your post shows the great consideration you gave, perhaps more than most, do not forget the very good reasons you called this judgement.
Florian, modified 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 5:37 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/26/09 5:37 PM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Nicola,

Difficult choice. These things are never black or white. It's good you acted out of compassion - now go and be compassionate towards yourself as well.

Take care,
Craig N, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 2:58 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 2:58 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 134 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi Nicola

I can't begin to imagine how this must feel for you. I know from my own discussions with my wife about the topic of having or not having children, that it is something which is deeply felt for her and is probably innate to being female. Can I please suggest that if you feel this is affecting your day to day life in a serious way, consider talking to a professional about it, as religious and meditative considerations should not take the place of a mental health professional.

That being said, I have stubbonly always dealt with depression, anxiety, loss etc on my own, and while those may have been mild in the scheme of things, I will share what I have found works for me in the hopes that somewhere in here you might find something which may in some small way be of value. Also I apologise if any of this sounds condescending to you. I don't know where your practice has led you, so I will explain what I think needs explaining, because it wasn't immediately obvious to me.
Craig N, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 2:59 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 2:59 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

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After experiencing difficult personal events in my own life, I have spent long periods of time feeling the past hurt, regretting my decisions, dwelling on those past events. What I have found works for me is to try to identify my thoughts - as thoughts. Sometimes these thoughts are subconscious, and need to be dug up, brought to the light of consciousness. As an example, I have long had a rocky relationship with my parents, and I would often stress about some aspect of my relationship with my mother as I went about my day, even while walking along a river in peaceful surrounds, I would be torturing myself, carrying my mother with me, and feeling guilty and mad at her at the same time. It took me a long time to realise that the feeling of my mother that I was carrying with me was categorically NOT my mother, not linked to my mother in any way. I had previously reacted internally to her as though it was my mother, running an inner dialogue (argument) between the two of us. It wasn't my mother though. All it really was, was a thought of my mother, held aloft in my mind. I started referring to such things as concepts, because it came to feel like a concept of my mother rather than my mother herself. What I eventually discovered was that it actually took mental effort to hold that concept of my mother aloft in my mind. So I pictured the concept as being held aloft by my mind, and then pictured/felt myself letting go of the concept, and felt it basically drop through the floor of my mind. This may have been helped by having learnt about Lester Levinson's Sedona Method which is about exactly that - letting go of problematic thoughts. After that, I would be free of the thought which was being clung to. Since then I have grown better at non-attachment, but that was where it began.
Craig N, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 2:59 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 2:59 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

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As an extension of that topic, letting go of a thought, there is the topic of beliefs. What I have found, for me, is that even the most strongly held convictions are nothing more than thoughts. Based on a series of other thoughts, mostly imbibed, whether from the television, my colleagues, friends, loved ones, family, teachers while at school. We're constantly taking in ideas which we either reject or accept and usually then form into beliefs. But over the years I have held some really strong beliefs, and later backflipped on them. I have seen that holding a belief strongly is completely unrelated to that belief being true, or based on fact. My beliefs shift like sand, as I get older, learning and growing. In buddhist terms, being conditioned. So I have been letting go of my beliefs. With the letting go of beliefs, I have found a real sense of freedom which I did not previously enjoy. I have found that its not important to have ANY beliefs. I just try to keep an open mind - and heart.
Craig N, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 3:00 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 3:00 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 134 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Relating to beliefs, is the sense of importance. I found that I used to denote various things as important. It was like a little asterisk next to certain things. This is important*. And I would invest my emotions into those things. At a certain point, I realised that what I was considering important was arbitrary. What I held to be important, had nothing to do with what the next person held to be important. It was cultural, conditioned. So if I think something is important and someone else does not think it is important, then that thing itself does not have the quality of importance. It is only held as important to me. And what I held as important, changed over time. I asked myself, how could something be as important as I obviously feel it to be, if I can have no guarantee that I will still think it is important tomorrow, after some new fact comes into my world and changes everything?

Another thing which used to cause me great suffering was the past. Events in the past which I regretted, or which felt unfair, where I was hurt, or someone I loved was hurt. It's difficult to let go of the past. Reading a transcript of a talk by Jiddu Krishnamurti, pointed out to me that the past is just memory. The past is gone. Only now do we have any ability to shape the future, to be creative, to be ourselves. We cannot change the past in any way. Other than a study of history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, there is nothing to be learnt from the past. There is nothing to be gained by dwelling in the past. It's dwelling in those memories, which feel like the past, that causes so much hurt. I no longer experience the past. Whether that's by choice, training, realisation, repression... doesn't much matter to me. I know it feels good to live deeply in the present. Eckhart Tolle's books The Power of Now, and A New Earth were both great in pointing this out to me also.
Craig N, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 3:00 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 3:00 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

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Finally I'd like to talk about life and death. When I turned 30 I told my wife I was becoming a vegan. The treatment of the animals which went into my food became too upsetting. I lasted 3 months before reverting to vegetarianism, as I was worried about my health. I lasted another 3 months before giving in to a craving for the smell of lamb. Even now, 3 years later, I feel deeply confused and mixed up about the issue of cruelty in the food chain. I catch ants on my desk at work in little containers and take them outside. I don't like to kill spiders or flies or cockroaches. There is a koan about does a dog have buddha nature? I don't really get that koan but I know that I started seeing the living presence in the cockroaches scurrying into cupboards in my kitchen. I know that sounds gross, I feel the life force of other living creatures, whether it be a cockroach or a cute puppy or a child.

At the same time, when I find pantry moths, I will kill them. If a spider ventures into my personal space, a fear in me necessitates it being killed (I HATE spiders!) I have read that grain crops involve much killing of insects in the field with our modern harvesting equipment. Going smaller, I have read that washing our hands kills bacteria en masse. Life and death in this world seems to be a see saw of up and down, everywhere we turn. I sometimes look down while I walk and carefully avoid stepping on ants. At other times I am absorbed in thought and do not pay the ants any heed.
Craig N, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 3:00 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 3:00 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 134 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
One principle that I have tried to live up to is the importance of forgiveness. As monkeymind suggested about compassion, one of our greatest challenges is to apply loving-kindess to ourselves. We have to forgive ourselves. I believe it is our purpose to let go of that deep sense of shame which, I don't know about you, but I carried with me for many many years. A feeling of not being good enough, usually because of past events not living up to a certain standard we hold to be important. Let go of importance. We are good enough right now. We do our best, and that's all anyone can ask of us. Usually it's not anyone else asking more of us, though, its ourselves. The thought that we are not good enough... is just a thought.

Finally, hang in there... I have found in my life that no matter how dark a place we find ourselves in, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Nicola Joanne Dunn, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 6:14 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 6:14 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

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Thank you everyone for the responses.
I think at the moment I need to find that compassion for myself. At the moment the guilt really is crushing me, and I can't seem to find a way past it. I've tried analyzing my thoughts about it, and it just comes down to two things; "I told myself I'd never do that, and I gave in and did it when I was threatened, that's just cowardly and means I can't stand up for my own beliefs." and "I killed a child, not just any child, but my own child who I won't have another chance to have."

I can logically accept that what I did was most likely the right thing to do for all involved in the situation, including the child, but the raw pain of it is affecting my emotions too much still, and that is what is causing me to be hurt.
I need to accept that it was the right thing in my heart as well as my mind.
I can also take some comfort in feeling that it was not the right time for the child to be born; if it was, their karma would mean no pill would do anything.

It doesn't help that there's still a very minute chance that I'm pregnant. We have to wait a couple of weeks to have a negative test, and I think that is holding me back here; part of me wants that child more than anything, no matter what happens to me, because I can't have children, because I feel that I have wronged the child. Once it's out of the way and I know I'm not pregnant for sure, I think I'll probably grieve again, but then be able to move forwards more easily.

I guess a lot of this is immediate emotions that are actually clouding my minds real response.

Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 7:10 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 7:10 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: msj123


It's not black and white, or getting down to just two things. Philosophically, we can argue all day about what does and does not violate a rule. It sounds to me that you acted out of a place of compassion as opposed to a place of hartred, greed, or anger. This is what the Buddha wanted.

When I was young, I was always ready to sacrifice myself. But tied into this was a current of self-loathing. It is easy to sacrifice oneself in the moment. It is much harder to live a life based on generosity.

Of course you have pain about it. There is nothing wrong with this. Pain is a part of life, this is the first Noble Truth. It is okay to be hurt and grieving. If possible, do so with mindfulness.

In my opinion, your pain is not because you did something wrong, but because you have humanity.
Greg G, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 11:28 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 11:28 AM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts

It is my understanding that the morning after pill is not similar to abortion. The morning after pill keeps the egg from being fertilized it doesnt kill an egg that has allredy been fertilized. Here is some more information.

I have struggled in the past with breaking precepts and what i have been told is that intent is a very important part of the precepts and karma. Your intent was not to kill even if you did. Your intent was to avoid suffering for yourself, a potential child, and society. That lessens the karma. But again i dont think you killed anything if you took the morning after pill.
Wet Paint, modified 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 3:03 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 4/27/09 3:03 PM

RE: Confessions of a tiger killer

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: ccasey

Here is a link to a new book that might help, and the pictures may help for now. I don't know any harder way than the route of compassion, much encouragement for finding your way. with metta, ccasey