Back to Where It All Started

I haven’t posted in a while, as I’ve been very busy; besides that, there hasn’t been a whole lot to report.

This past weekend, I went to the shrine where my wife’s affair started. I hadn’t been there in nearly two years. There was a big, semi-annual ceremony going on there, and the last time I had attended it was two years ago with my wife. Something told me that I should go; if I needed a reason, there were a few amulets and such that needed to be returned to the shrine, and then perhaps one new one that I felt I should pick up. In that spiritual tradition, amulets and other items one might use for personal use or for home altars are annual in nature, and need to be replaced every year. I had a few around the house that were 2+ years old, so I figured I should be responsible and change them out. This shrine is the only place in North America where one can do that.

Even the night before the ceremony, I was still unsure if I’d go. I wanted to be clear on my ethics and intentions; if there were any possibility that I would be going to mess with my wife’s affair—which still seems to be clinging on for dear life—then I’d just stay home. I was pretty sure that my intention was pure, but thought I’d better sleep on it.

I awoke the following morning feeling a bit ambivalent. My intentions were pure enough, I guess, but I just wasn’t sure if it would have been a good idea to go. So, I pulled down my I-Ching book and did a quick reading. The answer was unambiguous: I should go.

It was a fine Sunday morning, and I had some other obligations before the ceremony started mid-morning. Having taken care of those, I set off on the 40-mile drive to the shrine. I suppose I felt a bit nervous, because I did not know what would meet me there; I strongly suspected that my wife would not be there, but I just did not know what to expect.

I arrived and found that the adulterer’s truck was nowhere to be seen. In previous years, he would always be there; he volunteered at virtually every event, as he was more or less the highest-ranking member of the shrine, aside from the priest. It was my sense that, due to the affair, the adulterer and my wife had both gotten themselves banned from the shrine, or at least made very unwelcome. This is, of course, rather odd, as the adulterer lives about 2 miles from the shrine; given the remote location of the town, there really is no other reason for the adulterer to live there. They never did arrive.

But I did. As I stood in line to enter the shrine, the priest saw me and beamed a huge smile. He came outside to meet me, shook my hand, and greeted me with a warm and genuine sincerity. He asked me how I was doing, and I said, “excellent.” Upon entering the shrine, I encountered the priest’s wife. Now, she had been very vocal in her opposition to my wife’s affair, and went so far as to post a disparaging remark about it quite openly on Facebook shortly after that sordid mess had begun. She came up to greet me, and also seemed quite happy to see me. I’m sure it did not escape her notice that I was wearing my wedding ring. She asked me how our dog was doing, and then said she really wanted to see the dog. This also seemed like a very genuine connection. I returned the amulets to her, and went and bought a couple of new ones for this year.

The ceremony went as planned, and afterward I stopped by to thank the priest on my way out. Again, he was very genuine and enthusiastically thanked me for being there. I then returned home.

It’s hard to know what any of this meant. I think that, for me, there was perhaps some sort of sense of that karma coming full circle with my return there. It is of course said that all actions are interdependent, and thus I can probably expect some sort of karmic ripples to be sent out as a result of my visit. Those ripples will almost certainly meet my wife and the adulterer; when that could happen or the effect that might have is entirely uncertain. But, that’s really not my concern; it’s not why I went there in the first place.

I have come to a place of a certain degree of comfort in my situation, actually. This is likely the result of the regular contemplations I’m doing in my daily spiritual practice; these contemplations have recently shown me the deeper meaning of what is going on. I suppost it could be summarized in this way: happiness comes from positive actions, yet all too many people engage in negative actions in their pursuits of happiness. Buddhist doctrine holds that there are ten non-virtuous actions from which one should abstain; pondering these actions can be truly shocking, and can lead to greater compassion for those who engage in them, wittingly or otherwise. Although most of us unwittingly engage in about half of these actions fairly regularly, my wife’s list of non-virtuous actions resulting from her affair probably encompasses eight or nine of them. Pondering this likelihood has shown me the wisdom of stepping back a bit and allowing the natural course of things (i.e. karma) to just go ahead and play out. In fact, my earlier attitude, as seen in many of the posts here from, say, last year, more or less demonstrate how “tight” my energy was around the whole thing. I do think that maintaining that kind of “tightness” distorts things somehow, making it harder for the situation to resolve. I’ve pretty much gotten out of the way now, energetically speaking, so that situation can just collapse under the weight of its own karmic debt; that could happen at any time now.

As for me, life is good, and I’ve got a paid holiday from work. Time to wash the dog, I guess. Happy 4th to all of you.

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