Pissed on and passed over? – Never confuse being compassionate and being firm

Forgiving someone for a transgression and yet being firm on the issue need not be mutually exclusive.

A young manager I know is in a quandary. His boss has been harassing him at work – to the extent that the young man went into depression. His colleagues advised him to report the boss’ behavior and to seek a new role within the organization. The manager got himself assigned to a new project within the company over some months but he has chosen not to complain about his ex-boss. Over coffee the other day he asked me if was right or wrong in a. forgiving his boss and moving on and b. not reporting his boss’ behavior to his company’s HR leadership on grounds of breaching an organizational value – ‘respect for the individual’. “I am not sure I can be forgiving and also report him,” he confessed.

As I have learnt from Life, you can – and often must – do both. There’s a warm and compassionate side to each of us. We are, by nature, willing to forgive people for their transgressions. But often times our softer side is viewed and interpreted as our weakness by people who trample upon our emotions or deny us our freedom or even basic, fundamental, human courtesies. In such situations, it is absolutely fine to stand up for yourself, look the someone who is bullying or harassing you in the eye, and say that you will not take this treatment anymore. Besides, in this particular manager’s story, it is important that his boss’ behavior is reported. Because it conflicts with an organizational value and if left unchecked it may cause serious emotional injury to other employees and also impair the organization’s culture.

Important, when you are forgiving someone, you are gifting yourself freedom from the trauma that following any pain that has been inflicted on you. Forgiveness frees you of suffering. But fighting for the injustice meted out to you in the first place, that’s issue-based. So if you choose to stay firm, and unrelenting, on not allowing such an issue to arise again, either to you, or to anyone in the future, there is no conflict whatsoever.

avis-viswanathan-dont-confuse-compassion-and-being-firm

I have learned this from Swami Sathya Sai Baba: “In any relationship between two people, one may well be a cow and the other, a bull. There’s nothing wrong in being either. Each has a role to fulfil and each has something to offer the other. But at any time that the bull starts taking advantage of the cow’s benevolence, mistaking it for meekness, the cow will be well within its rights to assume the ‘avatar’ of the bull. In taking a stance, in your own interest, there is no right or wrong. Just be true to yourself – do what you believe must be done in any context. The cow need not perpetrate any acrimony, aggression or animosity. But the cow shouldn’t suffer any of these either.”

In essence, while to make a mistake is human, and to forgive such a mistake too is human, to suffer in silence and sorrow is both unjust and inhuman. It is the biggest hurdle to inner peace and joy. So, don’t confuse being compassionate and being firm. They need not be exclusive. Simply, no matter who it is, don’t let anyone take you for granted, trample upon your self-esteem, piss on you and pass you over. Remember: if you don’t stand up for yourself – chances are, perhaps, nobody else will!

 

You carry a hurt only as long as you think about it

By letting go of your hurt, transform it into forgiveness!
Bollywood actor Tabu’s new movie Fitoor (Abhishek Kapoor) is releasing this week. She apparently plays a bitter, vengeful character. The New Indian Express’ Anita Britto asked Tabu, as part of a pre-release interview, if, in real Life, she was as vindictive as her onscreen character. “When hurt and deeply betrayed, only revenge can give you happiness. The great concept of forgiveness is not easy. It is great if you can forgive, but you are in a place to forgive only when you don’t feel hurt,” replied Tabu.
While I don’t agree that revenge can give anyone happiness, I do believe that forgiveness happens when there is no hurt.

It is important to understand why you feel hurt when someone lets you down or causes you pain, injury and grief. Of course any form of pain – physical or emotional – will hurt. But a hurt festers in you because you allow it to. The truth is that you hurt only when you allow someone’s action to stay with you, in your thoughts. When you let go of your anger, of your suffering, while the source (or impact) of pain – as a person or event – may remain, you will not hurt anymore.

You can reach this level of evolution if you understand the futility of hurting and being vengeful. What is the point with either? Someone has wronged you. And they have done it only because they saw it as right. Your getting even with them will only make you suffer more. It is not going to make them any better or realize that they have wronged you. Instead, they are going to retaliate. And then the process of vengeance is will go on and on, never ending.
Osho used to tell a story that so beautifully illustrated the need to replace hatred and vengeance with love and forgiveness.
One of the greatest Sufi mystics was Rabiya al-Adabiya, a woman who was known for her very eccentric behavior. But in all her eccentric behavior there was a great insight.
Once, another Sufi mystic, Hasan, was staying with Rabiya. Because he was going to stay with Rabiya, he had not brought his own copy of the holy Koran. He thought he could borrow Rabiya’s holy Koran.
In the morning he asked Rabiya for the holy Koranand she gave him her copy. He could not believe his eyes when he opened the Koran. He saw something which no Muslim could accept: in many places Rabiya had corrected it. It is the greatest sin as far as Islam is concerned; the Koranis the word of God according to them. How can you change it? How can you even think that you can make God’s teaching better? Not only had she changed it, she had even cut out a few words, a few lines – she had removed them.
Hasan said to her, “Rabiya, somebody has destroyed your Koran!”
Rabiya said, “Don’t be stupid, nobody can touch my Koran. What you are looking at is my doing.”
Hasan asked, “But how could you do such a thing?”
She replied, “I had to do it, there was no way out. For example, look here: the Koran says, ‘When you see the devil, hate him.’ Since I have become awakened I cannot find any hate within me. Even if the devil stands in front of me I can only shower him with my love, because I don’t have anything else left. It does not matter whether God stands in front of me, or the devil; both will receive the same love. All that I have is love; hate has disappeared. The moment hate disappeared from me I had to make changes in my copy of the holy Koran. If you have not changed your Koran, that simply means you have not arrived in the space where only love remains.”
I have not read the Koran. I am not even sure if this story is true. But I believe that its essence is unputdownable. The story reminds us to replace hurt and hatred with love. For ourselves and for those that let us down. You carry a hurt as long as you think about the person that caused it as someone who has wronged you. Instead think of that someone as one who is lost in Life. Who knows not what he or she is doing. And then watch your anger, your hurt, transform into something beautiful and liberating – forgiveness!

Being POPO-ed is a dimension of Life that you have to live with

POPO: Pissed On and Passed Over!
This often happens to all of us in Life. And leaves us frustrated, fuming, feeling negative and vengeful. So, when this happens to you, or if it is happening to you just now, take it easy. You are not the only one. We are all POPO-ed__one way or the other. When this happens in a relationship, you feel like a used paper tissue. And the grief of having been taken for a ride, taken for granted, takes a long, long time to heal. At work, it leaves you disenchanted and grumpy. You sulk. You stop putting in your best and reason with yourself asking ‘what’s the use?’
But here’s a different take. When POPO-ed don’t do the normal. Don’t grieve. Don’t sulk. Don’t give up on the individual. Instead keep giving your 100 %. Grieving, sulking, bad-mouthing and cold-shouldering are acts of cowardice. Fight the injustice but with love, with mindfulness, by serving. In fact, whatever happens in Life, happens because it was meant to be so. If someone got promoted, that person perhaps deserved it. But in your eyes, you deserved it more. Instead of saying ‘hey, this is unfair’ respond with ‘how could I have served better so that I could have got it.’ This whole idea of deserving must be preceded by serving. Serve to deserve. And even then if you don’t get what you think was truly yours, live in the acceptance of that verdict. This is what will help you retain your sanity, stay anchored and keep moving on.
When we get caught in the cesspool of negative energy, resentment, anger and vengefulness, we are hurting ourselves. We must be selfish here. If someone pissed on you, trampled on you, let you down, they did it because they wanted to hurt you. And you will be, by being angry with them, by carrying vengeance and hatred in your heart, allowing them to succeed. If someone overlooked you and gave another what must have truly come to you__a job, a raise, a promotion, a gift, a compliment, a reward, whatever__understand that this person may either want to hurt you or must have a different point of view. By burning within, you are helping this person get what she wants. By reacting without understanding her point of view, you are being judgmental. So, the most selfish, the most blissful response to being POPO-ed is to be selfless and give the situation love, all your attention and magnanimity, to keep doing what you would have done if the situation did not exist. This is your way to inner peace.
Now, many times, people tell me, “But I am not Saint or a Mahatma? I am not evolved. I am just human.” Please know that Gandhi was also an unevolved, hurting human and he died only because he was human. To be evolved you don’t need to be a Saint. And being a Saint does not mean you are meek. A Saint, a true Saint, is a warrior of a different kind. Someone who has conquered the demons within. Someone who knows that it is but natural for Life and people to be unfair, that being POPO-ed is but a dimension of Life, a phase that we have to live with. Not with suffering. But with peace.
This doesn’t mean that the peaceful should not fight the injustice. But fight it differently. First don’t hurt. Next, return love for hatred and respect for contempt. Third, if there has truly been a case of injustice, choose a form of protest which rises above the ordinary and refuse to yield to the injustice by giving the situation 100 % of everything. These are not contradictory approaches. They are complementary. When you are peaceful, you will be able to fight meaningfully and successfully. So when POPO-ed, be mindful and loving, don’t be sulking!

Forgiveness is an evolutionary process

While forgiveness is the ‘right’ thing to do, everyone struggles with it. You can avoid the struggle by considering the value forgiving someone brings you – it frees you from all the suffering.
I read a recent interview that author Chetan Bhagat gave ‘Bombay Times’. He talks about the turbulent relationship he has had with his father to Priya Gupta: “I felt he was not fair to my mother. Maybe, it was a result of his own inner frustrations, but he would not give her freedom and I had to write ‘2 States’ a) to understand where my father was coming from and b) to forgive him. It was difficult for me to forgive him, but ‘2 States’ helped me forgive my father. He lives in Delhi and I rarely meet him. I last met him at a family function two years back. Even if (I have) not forgiven (him) completely, there is no anger in me today and at least I have reached a stage of indifference. I am still working on it.” I can relate to what Bhagat is experiencing. I have been through exactly the same feelings in a few of my close relationships – forgiving is indeed difficult. But when you do forgive someone, it sets you – and them –  free!
What we need to understand about forgiveness is that it is not necessarily something that can always happen in a nanosecond. In most cases, it happens over time and through “waves of awareness”. The need for forgiveness arises primarily when you have been wronged or you feel you have been wronged. Since the issue begins with who’s right and who’s wrong it really is about gamesmanship between two, often unrelenting, egos. Then there’s enormous hurt to deal with – you keep wondering why you have been treated this way by the other person. Your asking why only makes the situation worse. Whatever has happened has happened; someone’s hurt you. Asking why, and seeking remedy or an apology or even an explanation – none of which is normally forthcoming – causes all your suffering. To really forgive someone you must cross all these barriers. You can do that only when you are “aware” that Life is too short to carry the burden of anger, hurt and grief. You, of course, know this truth about Life, but when you are hurt, you are simply not conscious about it. This awareness takes time evolving. But you can make a beginning by understanding that forgiving someone does not mean condoning their actions, behaviors or mistakes. It really means that you recognize and accept that they are human too and are therefore prone to making mistakes. Next, when you forgive, forgive unconditionally. Don’t sit in judgment of whether someone deserves to be forgiven or not. What is important is that you need to forgive for youto stop suffering, for yourhurt to heal. Third, when, despite your forgiving, you find that someone is not sorry, don’t agonize. That’s their problem. Remember that when you have an expectation over someone else’s behavior, you will be the one to suffer when your expectation is not met. So, why invite agony? Finally, forgiveness does not mean you will be comfortable in the person’s presence or when you think about that person. This is particularly relevant to remember in close relationships where you cannot avoid interactions completely. What forgiveness does is it takes away the sting, it draws out your anger and, as Bhagat explains, it helps you to stay unmoved and indifferent.  
I have learnt from Life that every instance that involves someone hurting me has only led me to grow wiser and stronger. Until I learnt to forgive I would be bitter from such experiences. I now realize that while some episodes cannot be forgotten, forgiving is best in everyone’s interest. It have found that it makes me feel lighter and stay positive.
Today, as any other, is a good day to forgive anyone who’s hurt you or even yourself for what you may have done. Think of forgiveness as an evolutionary process. And go through it. Taste the freedom it brings you. It’s bliss.
                                                                              

Don’t Know? Then please don’t judge!

When you stop judging people and accept them for who they are – you will not only be peaceful, you will learn from them!
Kejriwal with Lali
Picture Source: Internet
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal was slapped two days ago by an autorickshaw driver named Lali in New Delhi. This was the second attack on him in four days and the third in under a fortnight. Kejriwal was left with a swollen left eye after Lali slapped him. Yesterday, Kejriwal visited Lali and sought to understand why he was attacked. He said later that he had forgiven Lali for what he did. This action of Kejriwal’s is being viewed by many as a publicity stunt. Some call it a great “photo-grabop” – which is, insinuating that Kejriwal grabbed the opportunity to get free, positive mileage from the attack. I am not a supporter of Kejriwal. So, I don’t write this to say he’s right in what he did or that he’s truly Gandhian in his outlook. I am, however, keen to understand how do we, the #hashtag opinion-makers, know he’s not truly Gandhian? How do we know, merely by watching TV, following social media updates and reading political commentaries, that Kejriwal really did not forgive Lali?
As much as there’s muck around us, there’s muck in our minds too. We often rush to judge people that we hardly know anything about. Why do we see every politician as someone who’s wily, self-obsessed and corrupt? If someone does any good to anyone, why must he or she be having a hidden agenda? If someone does not bereave someone’s death by beating her chest, why must she be “cold-blooded”? If two people are very close friends, why must they be having an affair? We go on and on pronouncing judgment on everyone around us. And we do this without even seeking to know, let alone understand, the facts of any matter or the truth. Now, curiously, those who judge others are the ones who miss the opportunity to see the beauty in humanity around them or learn from fellow human beings.
Rushing to judge people is a disease that makes you look at everyone around you with suspicion. Your entire system is consumed by the negative energy and doubt and suspicion generate. With so much negativity in you, where’s the opportunity for you to feel love and compassion? When you are filled with negativity, you are hurting yourself in more ways than you can even imagine. And definitely you are not learning from the people you judge. Kejriwal, for instance, sat for an hour at Raj Ghat after the attack. He then went and met Lali – and forgave him. What I learnt from Kejriwal is what I know about the power of meditation – it helps you overcome anger, insult and hurt. I also learnt, in a very reinforcing way, the value of forgiveness. Forgiving someone, especially a detractor, sets you free. Otherwise the hurt can keep simmering and continue to breed more negativity in you. But if we just want to brand Kejriwal as a politician and judge him as someone who is a master at drawing political mileage from every situation, we will miss the spiritual lessons his episode has to offer.
The simple rule of thumb to practise is – if you don’t know something about someone, or don’t know that someone well enough, hold your opinions, views and judgment about that someone. Avoid getting carried away by popular sentiment. Because while the sentiment may be popular, there’s no guarantee that it reflects the truth. When you don’t rush to judge someone, chances are you will see the goodness in them and perhaps learn from them too!