To be able to separate the doer from the deed is a very mature, evolved, human quality.
Yesterday, we watched a much celebrated Kannada film Thithi (2015, Raam Reddy). Apart from being feted globally by audiences and film-makers alike, it has won a National Award in India, the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival and was judged the Best Film in Shanghai last month. The story is of four men, spanning four generations, from one family from a village in Karnataka’s Mandya district – all characters in the film are played by non-professional actors. It’s an unpretentious story, told with honesty, with real people.
Thithi left me with a deep, spiritual message. In the film, a central character, Gadappa, an old man, narrates his story to some shepherds. He tells them how his father ended up having an affair with his (Gadappa’s) wife. When Gadappa discovers her secret, catching her virtually red-handed, he doesn’t utter a word. He simply takes her home. The woman, consumed by shame and guilt, ends her Life. Gadappa tells this story in a non-plussed manner, with a straight face, even as an accepting, benign smile tries to peep out of his thick beard. And then, in a totally detached manner, he declares: “I don’t even know if all this was just a dream…I don’t care…at the end of the day, we must all be happy. That’s it!”
Gadappa’s attitude reminded me of a friend of mine who has loaned me money. He gave away a portion of the funds that he had saved for his entrepreneurial journey. He had started a venture and half-way through investing in it, he decided to wind it up and return to seek employment. When I approached him for a loan, he immediately parted with the balance of what was left in his entrepreneur fund. As it has turned out, I have still been unable to repay him and several others that I have borrowed money from (my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal – Westland Books – tells you why). Every time I write to him or speak to him, seeking his forgiveness and understanding for this endless delay in being able to repay him, my friend has always replied: “It’s not as if I don’t need that money back AVIS. I do. But how can I ever hold it against you for what you are going through? It is only because of what you are going through that you are unable to pay me back – I know and understand that. But how can I hold you responsible?”
It is indeed a great human quality to not hold anyone responsible for what’s happening to and with them. It embodies trust, compassion and forgiveness. People’s actions may hurt you – take Gadappa’s story or my friend’s. But you must forgive. You must learn to replace anger and bitterness with trust and compassion. And you just move on. I am not sure this will work for everyone or will work in all contexts. But I have found that wherever people have not succumbed to the temptation to grow hatred and anger, better understanding and bonding has prevailed. This is possible, I have noticed, when you separate the doer from the deed. You may always condemn the deed, but you can also forgive the doer and embrace the doer with love and compassion.
Inspired by my friend’s approach towards me, I have tried practicing this principle myself. And whenever I have done this, I have always felt that I am at peace – with myself, my circumstances and with my world.