Sometimes, you may have to be firm and tell some people off. In doing so, you are not being unkind or rude. You are simply responding to a situation that has been created by someone and which you intensely dislike.
This happens to all of us. Especially in close relationships. That people start taking you for granted. They intrude on your privacy. They want to have an opinion about everything you do. And they, if you are not wary, end up treating you like a doormat. You suffer them because you don’t want to be either petty – like them – or it’s not in your “intrinsic nature” to be “unkind” to people. Now, let’s get this right. There’s nothing “unkind” in asserting yourself so as to protect your inner peace and dignity. Whoever it may be – parent, sibling, child, neighbour, colleague or friend – no one, no one has the right to treat you in a manner in which you don’t like or don’t want to be treated. Period.
There’s an ancient story of the Buddha and a snake. A snake wanted to play with the children of the village. But every time he went near them, the children would pelt him with stones and hit him with sticks. They were scared he may bite them. The snake reached out to the Buddha when he was visiting the village: “O Merciful! Can you draw out my poison so that even accidentally I won’t harm the children. That way, over time, they will understand me and include me in their games.” The Buddha obliged. But the children, still in fear of the snake, continued to abuse and attack him. On the Buddha’s next visit to the village, the snake once again prostrated in front of him and asked him what to do. “Look at my body; I have so many bruises and it is very painful.” The Buddha replied, while patting the snake on his back: “My dear, I removed your poison so that you don’t, even accidentally, bite those children. But I never advised you not to hiss!”
So, hiss when you must. Just to put people in their place and to protect your inner peace.
Some of the situations Life places you in will also require you to fight for justice. Often with people who are supposedly close to you. Don’t get clouded by sentiments about close blood relations in such cases. I am not encouraging you to fight because it is the right thing to do. But what do you do when the situation created by people around you demands a firm – sometimes even legal – response? Don’t let your ego – in the garb of compassionate sentiments – come in between you and what you must do. Just do whatever you believe must be done in the interest of all parties concerned, without hatred, without anger, without any rancour.
A friend of mine called to say how his older brother, with whom he shares the ownership of the family business, was making it almost impossible for both of them to co-exist and survive. “Neither is he accepting a separation of the business and the assets, nor is he allowing me to lead it and run it well, nor is he running it efficiently. We are bleeding losses month-on-month. He’s challenging me to fight him. If I fight him I can at least save half the family’s fortunes – for my immediate family and for my mother and sister. But how can I fight my own brother? I am not interested in any fight,” lamented my friend. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna: “Don’t escape from the war… because I can see this escape is just an ego trip. The way you are talking simply shows that you are calculating, you are thinking that by escaping from the war you will become a great saint. Rather than surrendering to the whole, you are taking yourself too seriously– as if there will be no war if you are not there.” Krishna says to Arjuna, “Just be in a state of let-go. Say to existence, ‘Use me in whatever way you want to use me. I am available, unconditionally available.’ Then whatsoever happens through you will have a great authenticity about it. It will have intensity, it will have depth. It will have the impact of the eternal on it.”
Such is Life. When you have to do something to ensure that your inner peace is not disturbed, you have to do it. And only you can do it. Do it also knowing, as Krishna says, that you are a mere instrument, a conduit for something that Life wants done through you! So, don’t fall short, don’t fight shy. If you don’t do what you must do in such situations, you will come in Life’s way and you will cause your own suffering. When you allow Life to flow through you, and you choose not to suffer, is when you are happy and in bliss.