Timing, Honesty, and Delusion
“The Abhaya Sutra categorizes what a buddha does not say:
Words known to be unfactual, un-true, unbeneficial, unendearing, and disagreeable to others.
Words known to be factual and true, yet unbeneficial, unendearing, and disagreeable to others.
Words known to be factual, true, and beneficial, yet unendearing and disagreeable to others, because it is not yet the proper time to say them.
Words known to be unfactual, untrue, and unbeneficial, yet en-dearing and agreeable to others.
Words known to be factual and true but unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others.” KAREN MAEZEN MILLER http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4154&Itemid=0
I’ve been struggling with self-honesty lately, and not even knowing it.
As Barry’s health has continued to decline, I have been doing everything in my power to make him comfortable, an increasingly impossible task. I kept thinking he would die soon and I would move at that point. And he kept living. And going downhill very gradually.
I denied how stuck I felt. I succeeded at that for a few years, until a few days ago. The thought of remaining in Michigan, pretending things were the same, was destroying me emotionally.
I haven’t been lying to others. That’s not the issue.
I think the issue is one of timing, the “proper time” issue. This is where the potential for delusion manifests. If I knew with absolute certainty that Barry would pass in the next six months, I would have totally been able to keep my big trap shut. Why potentially traumatize him with the threat of a move for no reason? I can wait.
But not forever.
Now I am contemplating moving with Barry. That makes Charlottesville the destination because the University of Virginia has a Huntington’s Disease Society of America Center of Excellence, something absent in the entire state of Michigan. Even the University of Michigan, with its awesome hospital, doesn’t have one. Also, the place we live needs to be all on one floor (no stairs) because Barry has taken a couple headers down the stairs in the past few years. At some point, he will need a wheelchair and we will need accommodations. The reality is that there are more resources out there for him than there are here. He may not be comfortable with moving, but tumbling down the stairs is no better.
I guess I’m just not accustomed to such ethical complexity. As a Christian, the rule was that lying is wrong. As a Buddhist, more discretion and sophistication is required. Sometimes the timing is wrong. And sometimes the timing issue is an excuse for hypocrisy and cowardice. Delusion, perhaps, is unavoidable. Sometimes, reality itself is “disagreeable and unendearing.”
I feel so much better, but maybe more overwhelmed, now that I am more honest with myself. I am looking at doing all the prep work (e.g., getting the house ready for sale, selling the house, finding appropriate housing out East, etc.) myself. Pretending that things weren’t changing was definitely the simpler (if not at all easier or better) option.