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!

The only way to heal is to share, be open and not worry about being vulnerable!

You are not alone. Everyone has problems. So, stop obsessing over your problems and start living.
Our daughter has enrolled for a Creative Dance Movement Therapy Program. She intends to make a career out of practicing dance movement therapy. We asked her how her Program was coming along. Over some soup and pasta, she explained to us how the Program’s instructor insisted that they employ the therapy techniques on themselves first. She said: “It was a therapeutic, healing experience. As each of my class fellows shared their Life stories, I realized that we are not the only ones facing problems. Everyone is. And the only way to heal yourself is to be open, to share what you feel and to not worry about being vulnerable.”
I am delighted our daughter at 20-something has understood the futility of keeping things bottled up. I learnt this only when I was 35. Sadly, many people still don’t get it.
All our suffering comes from wanting our lives to be different from what it is now. And because it is not always possible to change what is, we spend our lives pretending that everything’s normal. For instance, people carry on with broken marriages because they worry about social approval, people live beyond their means because they want to maintain a public profile, people don’t speak their mind because they want to be nice to their oppressors and people are refusing to forgive themselves for what they have said and done only because they are still clinging on to anger and guilt. Here’s the nub: As long as we live, we will face problems. Some of the problems will cripple us physically, some will drain us emotionally. In either context, we must be willing to let go of past experiences, hurts, insults and opinions, and, in many cases, even people – we must simply move on. Anything and anyone that makes us unhappy must be avoided – like plague, even if it is our own thoughts, or even if it is someone with whom we have a biological connect! The past serves only one purpose: it teaches us lessons from what we have been through. Beyond the lesson, we have must have no attachment to a past event, person or experience.

If you are clinging on to someone or something and are suffering, then open up and share. When you share, you may be vulnerable. But you will also heal. You fear being vulnerable only because you think people will take advantage of you. If they do, that’s a learning too – that you can’t count on such people. Believe me, I have been wearing my Life on my sleeve for over 15 years now. And so far, none has exploited my vulnerability. Because, contrary to what we all think, this is a wonderful world, with beautiful, compassionate people! 

There’s no point in carrying issues, injuries, insults in Life

No insult or injury is worth carrying in Life, let alone to the grave.     

While all of humanity understands this simple truth and knows how vain it is to cling on to such sentiments, everyone struggles with letting go of insults, barbs and forgettable memories. The struggle is because of the ego within us speaking up, louder than our hearts: the “How dare he?” scream drowns the “It’s OK!” whisper.

Joe Frazier (1944 ~ 2011), the boxing heavyweight, was one who took his sporting rivalry with the great Muhammad Ali too personally, and carried it literally to his grave. For years, Frazier had voiced his bitterness over the way Ali had insulted him, over how Ali had called him “ugly,” “a gorilla,” and an “Uncle Tom.” His anger was never in fuller view than when Ali, stricken with Parkinson’s disease, lit the Olympic flame at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, and Frazier said he would have liked to have “pushed him in.” To be sure, Ali had said this of Frazier: “Joe Frazier is so ugly that when he cries, the tears turn around and go down the back of his head.” ESPN commentator and writer Mike Sielski opines, “The two are forever linked, thanks to their three timeless bouts — Frazier won only the first, and the third was a near-death experience for both of them — the contrasting styles with which they fought, and the vitriol they hurled at each other for so long.” Yet their rivalry was both meaningless and childish for all their greatness __ because in reality  they complimented each other. “Technically the loser of two of the three fights, [Frazier] seems not to understand that they ennobled him as much as they did Ali,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Halberstam, “that the only way we know of Ali’s greatness is because of Frazier’s equivalent greatness, that in the end there was no real difference between the two of them as fighters, and when sports fans and historians think back, they will think of the fights as classics, with no identifiable winner or loser. These are men who, like it or not, have become prisoners of each other and those three nights.” They did come close more than a few times to make up and get over their sentiments. Frazier and his nemesis have alternated between public apologies and public insults. One exchange came in 2001, says ESPN, after Ali told The New York Times he was sorry for what he said about Frazier before their first fight. At first, Frazier accepted the apology, but then … “He didn’t apologize to me — he apologized to the paper,” Frazier said in an issue of TV Guide. “I’m still waiting [for him] to say it to me.” Ali’s response: “If you see Frazier, you tell him he’s still a gorilla.” Joe Frazier died in November 2011, beaten, a financially and emotionally broken man, by liver cancer. Ali graciously attended his funeral, realizing, perhaps, when he said, “The world has lost a great champion. I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration,” that he had said too little, too late.

There’s a lot of Frazier and Ali in each of us. We are prisoners of our experiences and emotions. We cling on to positions we have taken, opinions we have formed and events we have been through. We hurt within but are too proud to accept that we are hurting. Review your Life. What are you hurting from, hurting with? Let go. Go say sorry to someone that you had hurt in the past, today. Write a note to someone saying you forgave them. If you don’t want to do either, just say it to yourself. And the next time you meet that person, look her or him in the eye, smile and give that person a hug. Life’s not a boxing ring. Remember: all the greatness of our professional successes will be pale and insignificant in the face of advancing age, failing health and the certain death that awaits us all. 

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.

Everything happens for a reason and, in the end, does get sorted out

There’s a reason why everything happens in Life. And there’s no way you will know that reason until much later – when everything eventually gets sorted out.
A young couple we know are going through a difficult time understanding each other. Just some years back when they married we all believed they were the most ideal pair – although they came from different communities. Another friend’s house is being repossessed and auctioned by a bank because of his inability to pay up his mortgage dues. He’s a very well-known personality and is distressed with the beating his reputation is taking publicly. Over 200 families are on the edge as there’s still no news of the Malaysian Airlines MH 370 flight that “vanished into thin air” over the past weekend. You may be faced with a difficult situation at work or with your health as you read this. And you too must be wondering why do bizarre things happen? That too to people like you and me – who are hardworking, sincere, ethical and are, by default, “good folks”!
Well, let me tell you a story. A turtle and a wave were good friends. The turtle loved to walk on the wet beach during low tides and create patterns on the sand with its webbed feet and claws. One day, the turtle had made an elaborate design on the beach and was admiring its own work, when the wave came crashing on the shore and washed away the whole design. The turtle was cross with the wave and demanded an explanation for this rude behavior.
“I want to know why you washed away my labor of love,” asked the turtle.
“Honey, I had no desire to spoil your fun. But if you notice, there’s a poacher coming by at the far end of the beach. If he had seen your footprints he would have tracked you down. So, I wiped the beach clean. Now, go hide yourself before the poacher spots you!” replied the wave.
Unfortunately for us, Life is not as forthcoming as the wave was when it comes to justifying each event or happening. At most times, we are left wondering what’s going on or why is something happening in the first place?
Aristotle (384~322 BC), the Greek philosopher, explains this thus: “There’s always a reason for everything that happens. Your experiences are designed to shape you, define you and, hopefully, grow you into the mightiest you possible.” However ridiculous such a perspective may be when you are going through a rough phase, when you feel worn out, trampled upon, pissed on and passed over, there’s no denying the truth that Aristotle put forth centuries ago.
Life has no agenda to hurt you or cause you any pain. Life doesn’t do something grave to you because you have sinned. And Life doesn’t reward you because you have been a good Samaritan or a saint! Life’s nature is to keep on happening – delivering event after event after event at your doorstep. You classify them as good or bad depending on your preferences and expectations. So, it appears to you that Life oscillates between highs and lows, good and bad. But Life just goes on – almost mechanically. If you learn from each Life experience you get better and better with living. You understand then that a break-up is not the end of the road. Or that a pink-slip does not mean you are worthless. Or that a hopeless prognosis does not mean it’s all over. Or that darkness now does not mean there will never be light. Incredibly, Life has a way of sorting out every situation that it creates! It is only when you don’t learn from your experiences and you keep hating whatever’s happening to you, that you become irritable, you hurt and you suffer.
So, if you are going through a Life situation that foxes you, let me tell you what I told my friend whose house is being repossessed by the bank this morning: “Let go. Do your bit – do whatever you must do. And leave the rest to Life. You will be amazed at how, over time, Life sorts everything out.”

When there’s no one to be touched!

No hurt or insult will touch you if you don’t allow it to.
Whenever you feel hurt at what someone tells you, remember it is your ego which is acting up. You question, often subconsciously, why someone has behaved in a manner that you don’t endorse. That you don’t subscribe to. Your ego tells you to fight that behavior. And then the drama begins. You tell the person something harsh. That person retaliates. Then you must say something in return. And on, and on, this game of ping-pong goes on. Or you are unable to retort and so you suffer within. You carry the injury, the wound from the hurt, all the while. Your ego keeps reminding you of how unfairly you have been treated. It sets you off on a journey of anger, self-pity and grief. And you let the wound fester there – causing you more pain, making you suffer more – and more!
But think of what can happen if you choose to ignore the insult. If you refuse to let it affect you. What if someone calls you an idiot and you just ignore that expression totally. Then there will be no hurt. And therefore no suffering. To reach this state all you need to remember that each one is entitled to their opinion. If someone expresses his or her opinion, take it on board if it is worth it. If it will cause agony – drop it. Or rather don’t even catch it. Let the comment, barb, jibe, insult – whatever, let it pass.
Periodically check out how well you are faring on this evolutionary journey. Choose a 24-hour period and promise yourself that you will not react or retort to whatever may be said about you – no matter what the context is or what the provocation is. Notice that you will feel infinitely better without taking on board all the comments – about you – that come your way. This definitely works wonders when it comes to dealing with hurts and insults. But it also is a great way to stay grounded – especially when a lot of praise is heaped on. If you let both, insult and praise, to pass, you will never be allowing your ego to be in the driver’s seat! When the ego is not driving you, you cannot be touched. Because then, as per Tao, there’s no one to be touched!

Halt the cycle of hatred

When someone hates you and so hurts you remember that person needs your understanding and help, not hatred in return.

It is normal, when someone offends you or hurts you, to try and get even with that person. After all a hurt is always difficult to deal with, forget getting over! But there’s another way to look at the situation and the person. Hating and hurting require a lot of negative energy. So, if someone is causing all that hurt that you are experiencing know that the person is full of negative energy. Thich Naht Hahn, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, says this very beautifully: “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”

I have learned from experience that hating or hurting in return never helps. It only keeps the cycle of negativity alive. To expunge the negativity someone has to break that cycle. And that person can well be you! Whenever I feel hurt or offended, I send a silent prayer to the person who has caused it. I also try and reach out to the person and see if we can talk things over. But sometimes the differences are so deep and immediately irreconcilable that a conversation may not be possible or help. In such situations, you can let go of the hatred brewing inside you by sending the person positive energy and prayer. Whenever I have done this, I have found my anger and my hurt dissipating. I feel peaceful. Simply, it is not relevant who started it or who is to blame. What is important is to recognize that clinging on to suffering is futile. It helps no one. While it may be ideal for both parties to cleanse themselves, if this not possible for whatever reason, at least one person – you – breaking free from the negativity is indeed a good step forward!
The essence of intelligent living is to be able to rise above hurt, hatred and suffering. And to live free, to live fully – a meaningful and blissful Life!

Get Better from Life, not Bitter

You can either be bitter from Life or better from it.
A key reason why many of us turn bitter, over time, with Life is because we are not able to treat events as events. We hold on to them, analyze them, and regret them, refusing to let go. Let’s say someone says something harsh to you. In reality, it’s just an event. But if you keep mulling over it, wondering why it was said, and what will others – who heard this person say this of you – think of you, then you are surely going to end up feeling miserable. Chewing endlessly on by gone events, holding on to past grudges and painful memories, is a sure way to invite suffering into your Life.
I am reminded of the Zen story of the two monks who were walking in the Himalayas.  
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross the river. The young woman asked them if they could help her cross to the other side.
The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows at their monastery not to touch a woman.
Then, without a word, the younger monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on with his journey.
The older monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. He simply stood there staring as his young colleague briskly walked up the hill. After re-joining his companion, he was still speechless, but seething with rage nevertheless.
An hour passed without a word between them. Two more hours passed. Then three. Finally the older monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out: “As monks, we are not permitted to touch a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The younger monk looked at him, startled at first, and then, comprehending the full import of his senior’s question, replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
Unfortunately, many of us, even if we have grown older, like the senior monk, have not grown up. We still carry baggage from our past with us – principally, hurt, regret, resentment and grief. And so we stumble along through Life. Our painful memories enslave us to the past and ensure we stay bitter. And this way we remain unhappy – unable to enjoy the present moment, the now! This is true of a lot of people, a lot of the times.
Siddharth Varadarajan: No Bitterness
Therefore, it was indeed refreshing this morning, to read Siddharth Varadarajan’s (the former editor of The Hindu) views on his unceremonious exit from the paper, following some Boardroom intrigue at Kasturi & Sons Ltd. (KSL – the company that owns The Hindu) earlier this week. An online portal asked him if he was feeling betrayed. And Varadarajan replied: There is no question of feeling betrayed. I came to this job with my eyes wide open. I had a great run as Editor of The Hindu, which is India’s finest paper, and am grateful to the KSL Board for appointing me to the post.
Clearly, whatever be the event that you end up having to face in Life, you have two options. You can be bitter or better from it. If you choose to be bitter, you will miss the opportunity to live fully and to experience the magic and beauty of Life in each moment. If you choose to be better from the experience, you will find yourself soaked in abundance and inner joy!

Forgiveness is liberating

Forgiveness opens the gateway to inner peace. Always.
Ever so often, people hurt us. With their words or actions or both. We end up hating the presence of such people in our lives and are seething with anger at their mere mention. While such a response may appear logical and justified, in reality, it does affect the quality of our own lives. We end up carrying the baggage of that past experience and grieve every single time we reflect upon it. Anything that we carry as a burden will hurt us. Try this exercise: take a full glass of water and hold it up with your arm extended fully. Keep holding. How long is it since your arm starts aching and your shoulder starts hurting? How long can you go on holding this glass of water this way? At some point, you will be compelled to set it down. The sense of ‘aha’, the relief, you will experience when you put down that glass is the same when you forgive someone for what she or he has done to you. Forgiveness, however, must be unconditional. That’s when your inner peace will also be total.
I had the opportunity recently to deal with someone who has caused enormous pain and hardship to me. I hurted badly each time this person’s machinations got the better of me. Then, after much resisting, suffering and learning, when I realized there was no point in laboring over getting this person to see reason, I chose to simply forgive. I did not judge. I did not see who was right and who was wrong in the bargain. I simply chose to let go of all my hatred and ill-will for this person. For a long, long time, there was no contact between us. But because of the choice I had made, I discovered that I was not hurting anymore. That there was no anger in me towards this person anymore. When we finally were to meet recently, I was apprehensive how I would respond. I was hoping all the pain of the past will not surface again. I need not have been so concerned. Because when we met, while I discovered that this person had not changed one bit, my inner peace was untouched. My forgiving this person had helped me immensely.
A key ingredient of forgiveness, I have learnt, is to be non-judgmental. To say you are forgiving someone because she or he has done something wrong is bringing judgment into play. Such forgiving is suppressing your real emotions – your anger, your hurt, your pain. When you are not alert, these emotions can come back and explode on the surface like a volcano. True forgiveness is when you don’t judge, when you let go of your anger, your hurt and your ego. You simply decide that irrespective of what this person did to you, you are simply moving on. Because you don’t want to analyze. You don’t want to dissect what has happened. You simply want freedom from the past. And to be free of whatever you are holding on to or whatever is holding you in its clutches, you have to first let go. Then the forgiveness is complete. And liberating.