Opinion about ethicality from a buddhist point of view

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Opinion about ethicality from a buddhist point of view

Post by budhist1519 »


I would like to ask you a question about the ethicality of my behaviour regarding various events which I would like to describe below. A long time ago, I helped my brother to go to to study to another country. I fully trusted him and did everything I can do for him. It appeared that, before and after departing abroad, he was consuming drugs intensively with other drug addicts (mainly marijuana). Of course, everything was hidden and neither me nor my parents realized about this until he got psychosis (shizophrenia). During the first episode, he attempted to kill a psychiatrist. He started beating her in her office in the presence of my parents and said: "she was lucky that I did not not have a pen. Otherwise, I would have killed her with it."

After the incident, he was hospitalized for six months. After he was released, he had a strange behaviour (e.g., kissing my mother on the lips, etc). In about 1-2 years, he was stabilized and even succeeded to finish his studies and found a work for a few months. At some point, he decided that his medicaments are the big obstacle in his life and decided to stop them because he was perfectly healthy. A month after he stopped his medicaments, I proposed to my girlfriend to marry. The wedding was planned in about 7 months. Suddenly my brother became a friend with the local drug dealer (we later understood that he is a drug dealer) and 1 day before Christmas, my brother told my mother that he is going to see a friend for a bit. A few hours later the police called my parents and informed them that they found my brother in an unconcousness state on the ice during the winter. He stayed on the ice for a few hours. The police brought him to the hospital and saved him, but my parents were very surprised when they were informed that the drug test for Marijuana was positive. They did not believe that after the first episod, my brother decided to proceed with Marijuana again. It appeared that he met a drug dealer and purchased a big joint and, after smoking, he lost consciousness.

The second episode was a horror. My brother was constantly saying that he will kill himself. For example, he said to my father that he will jump from the balcony. After my father replied that he may injure himself, my brother noted that he will intentionally jump with the head ahead in order to die. He also said that he would like to have euthanesia, that he will see his family from the sky, he has given all his passwords to us because he would not need them, and that I need to take care of parents after he departure. This emotional abuse lasted more than 4 months. My parents attempted to hospitalize him, but the doctors said that he has do something to be hospitalized. He also had seessions with a psychologist.

My wedding approached and my parents, including my brother, attempted to come to the wedding, but my brother started behaving irrationally (e.g., attempting to jump from the window of the car) and they decided that only one of them can go to the wedding. The other one tried a few times to go with my brother there, but it was not possible. After trying to go to the wedding, but unsuccesfully, my father returned back with my brother at home and went to sleep. My brother was calm before my father went to sleep. Aftermy father fell asleep, my brother attempted to burn a cigarette, but there was not fire and he started the cooking plate in order to burn the cigarette. However, at some point, for an unknown reason, he decided to jump from the balcony and died immediately. A few hours later, my father discovered his body. On the next day, the wedding car was prepared to departure for the wedding and, instead, me and my wife had to go to a funeral. I had to select the coffin on my wedding day (of course, the wedding was cancelled) and pay the funeral. Afterwards, we invited my parents to live with us for 1 month.

I am still thinking sometimes about the ethicality of my behaviour not to cancel the wedding after his second episode and have a guilt about that. However, I did not want to give up to the emotional abuse (self-harm threats) and become a hostage to irrational behaviour for the rest of my life. Furthermore, the psychiatrist were constantly saying that he will be "good" soon, inspite of the fact that this has not happened. His other friend (a drug addict) has recently killed his grandfather with a knife (more than 20 hits with the knife).

I would appreciate to hear your thoughts on the ethicality from a buddhist point of view on this entire story.

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Re: Opinion about ethicality from a buddhist point of view

Post by Bristollad »

Nothing you shared in your retelling of the sad events that lead up to the death of your brother described unethical behaviour by you IMO. Your brother was ill, and that illness eventually led to his death, it is terribly sad but you were not to blame for his illness or the death it led to. May you and your family, friends and everyone touched by your brother’s life and death be free from suffering, and remember the happy times alongside the more recent unhappy times shared with your brother.
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Re: Opinion about ethicality from a buddhist point of view

Post by shaunc »

I'm sorry that this has happened to you, your family and your brother. Like Bristollad said nothing you or your family has done conributed to his illness or his death and I don't believe anything that you or your family could have said or done to save him from himself.
Good luck and best wishes.
Nami Amida Butsu.
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Re: Opinion about ethicality from a buddhist point of view

Post by narhwal90 »

I suggest going to a few Al-Anon meetings- they are for friends/family of addicts (generally alcohol but drugs as well). They go into a lot of detail about how addiction affects people around the addict, how addiction can come to dominate a situation, and the healthy and unhealthy ways that people around the addict respond. Even if you don't choose to stay in the meetings they may give you some perspective on the situation. One of the 1st principles is the 3 C's ; you didn't Cause it, you can't Control it, you can't Cure it. The program's instruction includes development of clear boundaries for the behavior you accept and establishing clear & achievable actions you take when they are violated- this being about not sacrificing your own health and welfare in an attempt to (one more time) help/succor/rescue a loved one.
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Re: Opinion about ethicality from a buddhist point of view

Post by Bundokji »

I know how you feel. I have a sister who suffers from the same mental illness, and it is quite common for the relatives of the mentally ill to experience guilt for various reasons.

The guilt is driven by measuring actions against certain negative consequences. In your case, your mind linked your decision of not cancelling the wedding with the suicide of your brother. You maybe feel selfish or insensitive for what you did.
However, suppose that your brother's threats were did not translate into action, would you have felt guilty? I guess you would have felt that your decision was justified because your brother's threat did not materialize.

This way of determining ethical responsibility is flawed, especially when dealing with the mentally ill. One of the sure signs of sanity is predictability, and the mentally ill, by definition, are difficult to predict.

Your decision to invite your parents to live with you for a month is praiseworthy :namaste:
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant
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