I am hurting; why shouldn’t you too?

(I thought I should make this clarification since the comments I have been getting are all stressing on the forgive and forget aspect, which I have not talked about. This post is not about forgiveness per se but about letting go of hurts and the thoughts of retribution. It also does not pertain to heinous crimes and violence)

We so often do and say things that we might never do if we paused to think about the consequences.  Many a time, we repent our actions in hindsight, at times almost immediately after the words are out or deed is done. We wish we could take them back instantly!

But can we ever undo a wrong? No matter how hard we try to make amends for such actions, the damage can never be undone, at least not completely. It is like trying to stick a broken mirror back to its original wholeness.

We think it is our duty to correct people to conform to what we consider is right. We wait for opportunities, when we can get back at them with complete justification to hammer our beliefs and thoughts into their heads. We self-righteously believe that we have to show them the mistake of their ways and make them repentant and surrender to our righteousness.  Half the time, we base these actions on what we believe to be right or wrong of course, with ourselves in the beneficiary’s role. Looking at the other side rarely occurs to us in our enraged state.

Curiously sometimes the hurt is just notional or a perceived one, where nothing more than our egos have been hurt. And yet we carry it around for years, nursing it, nurturing and feeding it till it becomes a big entity, which threatens not only to consume us but also displace other pleasant and more important thoughts from our minds and life.

We discuss the hurt in detail, thrash out the events leading up to it with friends and well-wishers, our own outrage at the time the event happened and the following suffering —  thereby giving it life all over again. And believe me, such tales assume bigger proportions with every fresh recounting.

We plot, we plan, we scheme and deliver the punch when we think the time is ripe. At times, such an action actually gives us some measure of satisfaction. We are after all only giving back what we got in the first place, aren’t we? The hurt could sometimes be several years and even decades old and the perpetrators might have become subdued or changed for the better in other ways. Sometimes the objects of our hatred and anger are not even present in our midst. Sometimes they might even be dead, and yet we refuse to throw out the baggage we are lugging around.

We don’t waste a single opportunity to make them feel guilty. We go ahead and give ‘tit for tat.’ Do we realise that one hurt can never heal another?

We often say that we want to see the one who is perpetrating harm on us to suffer too so that we may have the satisfaction of seeing them suffer. If we only paused   to think, we would realise how absurd and evil such thoughts are. Can we really feel happy at someone’s suffering? Can their suffering right the wrong they did to us? Yes, if they were to realise that their suffering is the result of their misdoing, then there is some measure of satisfaction. It then gives us the power to ‘forgive’ them. But otherwise, isn’t it totally a malicious thought? More pertinently, will your own happiness come back when we see them suffer?

When we return a hurt for a hurt, it only multiplies the pain. Where one person had been hurt before, now two are hurting.  And both are miserable.  There is no enduring satisfaction in inflicting a hurt or seeing someone suffer.

Too, when we return a hurt for a hurt, we lose the moral advantage. Also, we free our minds from its preoccupation to plot revenge. Maybe there is some merit to martyrdom, after all?

My young friend Harshal aka Grond gave me this book titled ‘Who ordered this truckload of dung?’  by Ajahn Brahm. It is a delightful  handbook of practical Buddhist wisdom which we can use in daily life. I want to share a nugget from the book here:

Someone calls you an idiot. Then you start thinking, ‘How can they call me an idiot? They have no right to call me an idiot! How rude to call me an idiot! I’ll get them back for calling me an idiot!’ And you suddenly realize that you have let them call you an idiot another four times.

Every time you remember what they said, you let them call you an idiot yet again. Therein lies the problem.

If someone calls you an idiot and you immediately let it go, then it doesn’t bother you. There is the solution.

Why let other people to control your inner happiness?

What wonderful advice! But can we follow it?

My friend used to ask me what kind of punishment I would ask for if  God ever  offered to punish those who had hurt me. And I invariably replied that I would not ask Him to punish them because that would not make my hurts go away or give back my past to me. I never meant it as a conceited or a noble reply but said it with complete conviction every time she asked me. I still feel that way.

This is not to say that I have learnt to move on after forgiving, but I certainly don’t want to visit similar things on those who perpetrated the hurt. And I hope one day soon to reach where I can let go of it the moment I get hurt.

How about you?

 

Image Courtesy: listofimages.com

96 comments

  1. I am wondering if taking a step back and refusing to engage with the person that’s hurting you, is a viable option? A little bit of back story on this, since this may not apply to everyone. If you are in a close relationship where you’ve been repeatedly hurt but the party doling out the pain is blithely unaware of what they’re doing to you, is it okay to back off and not engage with them? In doing so, I will be hurting them since they won’t understand my lack of interaction. In that case is it still tit for tat or am I just being sensible and letting my instinct for self protection kick in?

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    1. When the person is in a close relationship, it stands to reason that he or she would try to get it across that the other person is hurting her either directly or indirectly. And when that has no effect, some other method has to be adopted. If it is a violent relationship, it requires a different set of solutions but if the hurt is notional or perceived, then a change in perception helps. Lack of interaction and indifference works in many cases because one resorts to this ruse only after trying other means to make them understand that they are hurting us. And this hurt does not fall under the first two categories. Even if they do not understand it helps us to deal with it. I have done this many times and done it when I was much younger, not after growing old. 🙂 you can call it anything — self protection or tit-for-tat, but the main thing is you are not plotting revenge and spending your energy in negativity which hurts you in the long run.

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  2. Very difficult but apt solution to let go and move on…..I think it depends on who hurt you…..For me if its a colleague then its’laugh it off’, if its a friend then ‘hurts a little but I might forget after some time’ but if its family it might just stay forever. Maybe that’s because how my relationships are prioritized too………

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    1. We all have to aspire for something higher in our inner selves. And this is just one of them. Difficult, but necessary. As for the family members hurting us, I have always followed one rule. Confront the one who hurt me and find out the reason. It is not always pleasant, but helps because whatever it is, is out in the open. and when it is out in the open, it has to be dealt with 🙂

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  3. Hummmph.Can I let go after I kick the person?It will make the letting go easier :D…

    Jokes apart.Good Point.I forgive but I never forget.It helps me place myself better with the other party.

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    1. The post is not about forgiving at all. It is about forgetting so that we are free of the burden of lugging it around. And yes, it might feel good for a while (if you kick the person, I mean) but the letting go won’t be any easier. 🙂

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  4. Don’t know how I missed this post, Zephyr !

    I am a short-tempered person, and I don’t hold grudges against people. Well at least most of the times. When I do remain angry or am hurt, I prefer to withdraw and deal with my anger and my feelings till I can handle the situation in an appropriate manner. I don’t like to hurt people, but at the same time nor am I the sort to turn the other cheek. While I do believe that time heals, it is not in the sense of making the hurt go away but rather in helping you resolve your anger.

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    1. Oh yes, the hurt sometimes lingers a long time and sometimes doesn’t go away at all. And as you have rightly pointed out, it is mostly how we have learnt to deal with the hurt, which is good enough, isn’t it? The best way to do it is what you do — withdraw and try to come to terms with it. Also, sometimes the reaction and the hurt perception is disproportionate, which is what should be tackled.

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  5. Looks like you have attracted a comment from every one of your ardent followers! It is but human nature to want the ‘hurter’ to suffer. Rising above such supposed pettiness i believe is easier said than done. I don’t know if moving on consciously makes one just cynical and indifferent or if it makes the inner bitter part hurt inside go away. I do believe, its only time that helps heal the hurt and come above the hating and hurting back phase.

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    1. Isn’t it great that I have so many ‘ardent followers?’ They make my day 😀 I usually take care to only write about stuff that I have myself experienced either first hand or seen someone close to me go through it. Here too, I had moved on when a dear friend had hurt me. No, I didn’t tell her that she had, and
      I didn’t cut off either. But I had become completely indifferent. and she never has known all these years. We speak, share news and still I have no feelings left. That’s what I meant and I never once wanted her to suffer. It is hard, but should that stop us from trying to be better people?

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  6. “Do we realise that one hurt can never heal another?” That is just a brilliant line and pretty much sums it up beautifully. Every time we harbor and nurture an angry thought or a grudge, we are accentuating our own pain and we end up agonizing ourselves a million times in anticipation of agonizing the other person once. I feel it is a big burden to carry along. By letting that hurt go, we may or may not do the other person a favor, but we are certainly doing a huge favor to ourselves. A very thought provoking and important post.

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    1. I am a votary for rising above the theory of revenge to find peace for hurt souls. It adds to our own anguish and prolongs the hurt as so delightfully explained by the Zen story. I am glad you didn’t find it boring or ‘holier-than’thou’ since these are everyday things that can seriously hamper us from functioning well in society. Why carry unnecessary burdens when we can feel lighter by junking them along the way?

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  7. I am reminded of this story on Buddha that I read long time back: Buddha was giving a sermon and at the end of it, someone walked up to him and started calling him names. Buddha’s smile didn’t even flinch and he let the person complete. At the end of it, Buddha just said “returned with thanks” (or something to that effect). He told the person, “if you give me something material (like a gift -flowers, fruits etc) and I am not interested in it or do not need it, I will not accept it and return it to you, right? In the same way, I am returning all that you just gave me verbally to you as I do not want to accept it. It is upto you to decide what you want to do with it” – so simple yet profound right? It is not upto us to control what others say/do to us but it is within our control how we respond, and ensure we are not hurt and also in the process, also not cause pain/hurt for others…

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    1. you are the second person to have quoted this Buddha story and I had missed out including it in the post 😦 These things sound hard and holier-than-thou but are steps in our spiritual evolution. There is such a wealth of such stories in our own scriptures but are perhaps not being marketed as the Zen stories probably because our writers are more into deep philosophical thoughts, maybe?

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      1. I just saw Bhagyashree’s comment – sorry, if I had repeated the story 😦 But yes, I agree there are plenty of such stories with deep and profound message in our scriptures, which are lost… that is sad, indeed!

        And you nailed it Zephyr, while it sounds hard and holier-than-thou, if you pause for a minute and take a step back, it truly is not that hard and as you evolve as a person and become spiritual, these things take so much more sense. I am not sure about others, but personally, it has helped me a lot in toning my temper down etc…

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        1. The young people today make me take heart at the state of the world. We started everything late, whether it was making assets or evolving spiritually and the kids do it so fast these days 🙂

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  8. Its hard to digest the fact that they hurt you and you let them get away with it and is probably more of an ego issue for people. I’ve seen some people actually enjoy doing this, since it helps them gain some much needed popularity and attention.
    And yes, if revisited again and again the hurt simply multiplies and we’re left with only negativity. Isn’t it easier to let the ‘idiot-caller’ to remember what he did and feel sorry for it sometime??
    Good post Aunty 🙂

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    1. When we want someone to feel sorry for what they did, we are not looking to heal our wound but only assuage our egos. Our egos are satisfied to have brought them to their ‘knees’ or at least their ‘senses.’ And of course those who apologise also do it for their own ego boost and attention. So ultimately it is the ego that is being fed, right?

      And spiritual evolvement begins with ourselves not other our trying to change others. I have been in this quest and wanted to share it with my readers. 🙂

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  9. Very thought provoking Zephyr. I had been doing this for many years, plotting and waiting for opportunities to hurt the people who have hurt me. Fortunately I have been lucky enough to never have got the opportunity to deliver the hurt. I haven’t been able to let go of the hurt completely but over the period of time I have seen that the people who hurt you suffer in their own ways and you are nowhere responsible for it. Call it poetic justice. I know I sound harsh and insensitive but in fact seeing them hurt for reasons not related to me made me empathise with their pain and feelings. How odd is that? Also I believe that what goes around comes around. So if you hurt someone deliberately be prepared for it to come back to you in some way maybe not from the same person. But it will come back to you.

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    1. What you have just written is the karma theory. When we can’t find justification for the seemingly good life ‘bad’ people are leading, we are also unaware that they are suffering in ways we can see or not aware of. It is your compassionate heart that can sympathise with those who hurt you when you see them suffering. It is not odd at all. But such suffering need not change them for the better or make them realise what they did to you. And only when we let go of that expectation that we an truly find peace. I am able to see this comment in the context it was meant. 🙂

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  10. How true! Anger and revenge are like slow poisonous substances, they eat you up when you are busy revelling in the fact that its hurting the other person. Its always better to leave these things behind and not scratch the same wounds that were once inflicted on us, because it does no good only gives the evil in us a bit more strength with each passing day.

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    1. Have I told you that you are an absolute delight and don’t sound like a young girl at all when you speak so wisely? 🙂 I had been missing you here, good you came 🙂

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  11. Siddharth is right – often we don’t even realise we’ve hurt someone and that the hurt is making them angry. and perhaps vengeful. I think the trick is to (try and) realise it is our hurt and our anger and how best to deal with that. Lofty ideals apart, after this article I’ll feel obliged to ruminate on how I (poor mortal) react to a real, live, “hurt” situation. (Probably yell.)

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    1. How often we leave alone trying out things because we feel that it is a ‘lofty’ ideal or sounds preachy? But a little amount of introspection does help us deal with a lot of things in life. And KayEm, the barb found its mark 😀 We are all poor mortals trying to reach the next step in spiritual betterment. And I am still groping to reach the first one 🙂

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      1. Nooooo Zephyr. The lofty ideal I was referring to is what I said about trying to realise it is OUR hurt and OUR anger. I confessed I often lost control if I was hurt. But after reading your article I would now be forced to face that weakness – pause to think (or introspect) before hollering or feel guilty after.

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        1. LOL classic case of getting hurt there! Jumping to conclusions and stubbing the toe 🙂

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          1. A “like” button would’ve been handy now so you’ll have to bear with this superfluous comment and a 🙂 for good measure!

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  12. Forgiving comes very easily to me. But although I try hard, I am not able to forget. Ironically, although i have not forgotten, but since I have forgiven I go back to the person again to be hurt again and again.
    I sincerely wish that I do not forgive. Probably, then I will not give others a chance to hurt me repeatedly.
    As far as taking revenge is concerned, I always pray that God should make the person realise that i have been hurt. It works very very rarely.

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    1. Oh you poor thing! I can’t forgive but I can become indifferent as I have said in the reply to Bhavia. That helps too. In fact, it helps a lot. You should try that sometime.

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  13. thoughtful article
    eye for an eye will make the world go blind but in few cases eye for an eye is must.

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    1. Not if it is in a relationship. As I said, this doesn’t apply to heinous crimes and abuse bur normal relationship issues.

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  14. Once when I was hurt badly after a betrayal,I couldn’t forgive her easily.In fact it took years to heal the wound.
    I think time plays a role in healing the worst memories..
    But yeah,tit for tat does no good..
    Then like you mentioned,why should somebody else spoil our inner happiness..That’s how I moved myself out of the hatred mode 😉
    http://heyithinkthisway.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/is-hating-somebody-a-bad-thing/

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    1. I just posted a comment on your blogpost. Good for you that you managed to come out of it. I find it hard to forgive too, but I try to be indifferent to such people. I have gone through something similar too and I am proud to say that I am still on talking terms with her and she doesn’t know I dont care about her at all 🙂 She simply means nothing to me, so how can she hurt me? I remember the incident clearly but it doesnt make me mad. FTI it happened when I was pretty young.

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  15. I went through a similar situation recently with my friend and the more I obsessed about it, the more depressed I was becoming..I put myself in his shoes and thought about the circumstances..I decided to forget it and just let it go, it was difficult, but after that I am happier, and I think about it a lot less..

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    1. You and other youngsters out there are whom I keep pointing out as the wise ones who have learnt the tricks of living early in life. Hurt takes a while going away, but when we decide not to let it control our thinking, it loses its power slowly as you have discovered.

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  16. This post brought to my mind something I remember reading a long time back.-the only way to handle an insult is to ignore it. If you cannot ignore it, laugh at it. If you cannot laugh at it, counter it. If you cannot counter it, you probably deserve it!!!

    I feel one gets wiser with age in these matters. I know I was very touchy when I was younger–I was easily offended and also sincerely believed in ‘tit for tat’. Over the years, however, one kind of realizes the futility of holding grudges and learns to let go–maybe because you become so preoccupied with the hassles of life that there is hardly any free space in your mind where you can park the grudge? 😉

    As you grow older it also begins to dawn on you that life is too short to be wasted scrutinizing past incidents and it is best to move on as soon as possible.

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    1. Ha ha! That is a good one. But as I keep saying, though age mellows us down, wisdom is not connected to it, else we will have a country filled with wise people, given the geriatric population of India 😀 Maybe like you say the other hassles are so much that we can’t afford to spend our time and energy on these things. But the fact is, as long as we keep mulling over some hurt, it keeps getting bigger and bigger till it threatens to swallow us. And hey, I just subscribed to your blog. 🙂

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      1. Thank you for subscribing, Zephyr 🙂

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  17. That is why it is said that think twice before speaking lest the other person feel offended. This is all the more important when the normal talk turns in to an argument.How one controls the anger depends on how far one wants to take the argument.

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    1. Arguments are another form of reinforcing our point of view over another, and a boost or blow to our egos depending on how it goes, isn’t it? and you are right about how far one wants to take an argument and his control over his anger.

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  18. Kudos to the inspirator and the inspired for recreating such an evil action and reaction which is all pervading.
    when we are young there are two types of reaction-RETALIATE to satisfy ones ego or RETREAT , in the former case though a sense of fulfillment does happen immediately but guilt of hurt settles in sooner or later and the relationship is lost totally. In the second case, withdrawal may leave us sulking but if the offender is a SADIST, the pleasure he or she derives out of it is more hurting than the event itself.
    when we age, the maxim becomes why to stoop down to such abysmal levels, let us take things in our stride, all said and done, does the perpetrator ever stop, it goes from bad to worse till a grand canyon is reached , a point of no return.
    well to cut the story short, whatever be our reaction, the end results are the same- end of relationship!

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    1. Swift reaction and retaliation of childhood is different from the festering wounds of our adult years. And I am sorry to differ with you that childhood skirmishes don’t result in the break of relationship. It is only in adult relationships that this comes in and like Grond mentioned in his comment, sometimes we have to bear the burden despite it weighing us down. But again, this pertains only to close relationships and how we deal with the hurt is dependent on the importance of the same in our lives. Your short story sounds too drastic 😀

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  19. This may be the ideal approach ZM but IMO in letting go often the offending party doesn’t even realise that they hurt you… And even if you let go of the perceived hurt, does it also mean you weren’t hurt in the first place? Albeit revenge is not the sane way to go because it compunds very swiftly but at least the offender needs to be made aware of what they have done.

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    1. I have not said anywhere that one should not make an effort to make the other person aware of having hurt us. It is only when it has no effect, or when the person has changed or even sometimes died, and we still harbour the ill will that I have quoted ancient wisdom of letting go. But our egos will not be satisfied of anything short of an abject apology from the perpetrator which may or may not come. And someone who won;t listen to reason will not change. What do you do in such an event? That’s when it is prudent to let go of the grudge. And as Laughing Gas pointed out, what is right and what is wrong? They are our perceptions after all. Again, this post is about relationships and not about abusers or criminals.

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  20. Someone hurts you; you don’t hurt back; you don’t even feel bad about. You let go off. Lofty idea, certainly; but as you have asked, can we follow?
    Also do we not owe a responsibility to correct the guy hurting us? Lest, he/she will be doing this to others as well.

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    1. It is important to ask here, what kind of hurt we are talking about. I had made it clear at the outset in the post that it was not about forgiving or about criminals and sadists, but about normal situations in life. we can deal with these with more maturity if we tried. After all, we are only hurting ourselves more by brooding and plotting revenge. Most often the slights can well be in our imagination and the person who has hurled the words would have even forgotten about it. And yet don’t let go. Did you read Grond’s comment where he tells the story of the two monks? At the end of the day we have to make an effort to better ourselves, shouldn’t we?

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  21. What you say is right and the practical views in context to Buddhism are very true but can we so it or rather can I do it NO.
    I guess its human nature to keep all inside and at precise moment take ur revenge etc or whatever it is.

    I am like that and I dont forget. Taking or hitting back I dont do often although that does not mean I have forgiven.

    I know by thinking of it we are letting them call us a idiot again and again but to me it also gives the push to make sure not do anything to be called a idiot again.

    Sometimes it can work in your favour too if you sont forget.
    But then I am weird I have been tokd a lot many times:-)

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    1. No matter what we do or how we act, someone will be there to call us an idiot or something equally worse. I can understand how you feel and it is not weird at all. There are so many here on the comment form who feel like you do. Keeping it all inside is something I used to do long back and found that it consumed me and stopped me from looking at positive things in the same person who had hurt me. So I began consciously working to let go. Not forgetting is good for good things, Bikram. Maybe I am too old and find positivity more encouraging and invigorating than negativity 🙂

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  22. A very thoughtful post, Zephyr! So right you are- ‘one hurt cannot heal another.’

    Of course, it’s one thing to know that we should not retaliate and hurt someone who has hurt us. It’s quite another thing to put this into practie! For myself- I do try, but am not always successful. 😀

    I would also add that though I do not advocate retaliating to make the person who has hurt us suffer themselves, I certainly do think we should take some action so they will not hurt us again. One commenter here suggested distancing ourselves from that person. Good idea, I think.

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    1. Not just one, but many others have also suggested distancing. I say indifference is the key for me. Are we talking about serious crimes and hurts here? I was just talking of the normal day to day hurts which we don’t let go and keep brooding over. If it is the former, the solutons have to be different and drastic as I wrote in the first para of the post. And Manju, we are all learning the primer of spirituality, aren’t we? 🙂

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  23. I am a person who gets hurt very easily and a person who keeps on thinking about it. I never wanted to take revenge but then I just shied away from that person which meant I became a loner.
    But I have changed now (and you know how), I don’t bother about insults and abuses. And I have seen that what I don’t bother does not hurt too.
    Another Buddha story: Buddha was sitting in meditation, a man came and started abusing him, insults, screams and what not. The Buddha stayed calm. Finally the man asked whether HE was not hurt?
    The Buddha replied that when we give something to someone, that person has to accept it. So when he gave HIM abuses he did not accept it; so how would HE get hurt?

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  24. AlkaGurha · · Reply

    Lovely thoughts..We have all been hurt by others..sometimes intentionally and sometimes inadvertently.
    I wish them well and stop thinking about them. Forgiveness brings a lot of peace for me. However I avoid meeting such people. I cant be fake and all smiles.
    On my part I try not to hurt anyone’s feelings intentionally.The book sounds interesting.

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    1. Try to get it. it is on flipkart. it is like a ready reckoner for daily ills. Wow, you can forgive? that’s wonderful. All i can do is become indifferent. But any which way, I wouldn’t want the person to undergo the same suffering.

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  25. Wow! I think you are a blessed soul!!! I hope to reach such a state of zen-ness in the next *100* years??

    Its so so difficult to actually think rationally when you are hurt and bugged na 😦

    But, I think when we make a deliberate effort, it is possible..thanks for putting this up, I think next time I got crazy and angry, I will remember this post and breathe first 🙂

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    1. But I never said I have reached any stage of zen-ness. only that i don’t wish the same for those who hurt me. Because I KNOW it is useless and will never give me any satisfaction or joy. But I am glad you feel that it is possible. 😀

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  26. This is one thing I want to learn and I am not able to..I cant forgive and forget…and in the process keep simmering all the time..I know its me only who is suffering,..but what to do..

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    1. If something can come out of it, it is fine but when it is only generating negative vibes, what better than move away? If not physically, at least emotionally or mentally? By talking and discussing we are only blowing it up further.

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  27. I feel just like you but in reality practicing it is a difficult process. Letting go of the hurt might take a considerable amount of time. It is not impossible but one needs to have a lot of maturity to reach that stage. I believe as we grow older most of us begin to realize that carrying around negative feelings is not good for us.

    I have myself tried to let go of the anger and disappointment..it is difficult but can happen.

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    1. Practising is always hard, I know. Age has nothing to do with these realisations Vinita. It is just a mindset. And what is the harm in aspiring to be better? I feel it is anyday better than picking up a sword or a gun as someone undergoing a ‘change.’ Like you say, it is difficult, but it can happen.

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  28. ‘Such tales assume bigger proportions with every fresh recounting.’ This is so true!!

    Forgive and forget is true, but it is too ideal to be followed in the real world. Sometimes, the person who hurts is so thick skinned that he doesn’t even realise how much he has hurt you.. because people dont realise, how much pain they have inflicted upon you, until they themsleves go through the same..

    I used to have a difficult time forgiving, but now I have matured, I forgive but don’t forget and I just distance myself away from that person. I am fine with the fact that, I have very less close friends and family, but what I have is worth it!

    The quote was pure wisdom. Have to get my hands on that book! Great post as always!

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    1. That’s precisely the point Jenny. People might never realise what damage they have done to another. But don’t be too sure about them ‘geeting their lesson’ and changing for the better. That my dear usually only happens in movies and books.In real life, no matter what they themselves undergo, they will not consider it their own karma coming back to haunt them. Why else do we have people who go to jail and them come out and do the same deed again? And so are the ones we meet in our daily life. I would say indifference is the best weapon against such hurts. That was one of the quotes that was of lesser impact. There are more with more humour, wisdom and practical advice. do get it. It is on Flipkart.

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  29. Saru (@SaruSinghal) · · Reply

    At a very young age, I understood that life is short and I can’t fill whatever I have with negative feelings. if someone hurts me, I just separate myself from him/her. I learn something from the entire episode and move on to make myself a better person. Life is very short and I can’t afford to waste it like that.

    But, this attitude has a negative effect on me. I am more mature for my age, which is not good and I detach myself from people who hurt me very easily. Sometimes, I feel I am robot…:(

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    1. As I pointed out in another reply, wisdom has nothing to do with age or status in society. And if you are able to detach yourself from such people, you have climbed more than a few steps towards spiritual evolution. And far from being a robot, you will be a very positive person to be around with. Please don’t think of it as negative. In true detachment lies real attachment which is free from other consideration that might mar its beauty. Huggggs.

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  30. You inspire me to be better person, Zephyr. To rise above the pettiness of retribution. How easily we forget the pleasant and cling to the unpleasant, till it starts gnawing our insides.

    But what if someone has inflicted physical hurt one someone I love dearly? Can I forgive that easily?

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    1. Of course you can’t forgive such wrong-doers and they need to be dealt with separately. As I replied to Laughing Gas, the post talks of discarding useless rumination over some slight or hurt and then let it fester in our minds to our own detriment. And it is not me who inspires my dear Purba, but age old wisdom of our spiritual masters. And I share some thoughts when I can understand them a little 😀

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  31. A great topic. Most of us are self centered. Our survival mechanisms constantly look to identify “threats” and counter them – physically or mentally. Life seems to be about the struggle to survive versus the desire to evolve spiritually. We win some of the battles. We lose some. Who is to say what’s right and what’s wrong? And what’s big and what’s small? How many of us would honestly forgive a murderer or a terrorist? I don’t claim to have answers. In my little experience, I’ve found that asking the right questions is more important than knowing the answers.. And this article does this precisely.. Thanks

    Zephyr, this is an awesome article. I can see this in the ‘best of 2012’ collection when you make one at the end of the year.

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    1. Hey LG, coming from you, this is high praise indeed. I don’t think I have mentioned forgiveness as the only way of moving on in the post at all, since that is a divine reaction to some wrong doing, one which most of us can’t claim to be able to do. I have put it within quotes where we deign to ‘forgive’ the perpetrator if and when they become contrite thus making us feel noble. Forgiveness if it is there in our hearts can be really wonderful.

      What I wanted to stress was the agonising over a slight which could mostly be just a hurt to our egos and then ruminating over it for years waiting for them to get hurt the same way….That is pointless, isn’t it? And a murderer needs to be dealt with differently of course just as an abuser would have to be. There is absolutely no comparison.

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  32. Forgive and forget is my ideology….but a hurt is a hurt until it hurts 😐

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    1. It perhaps the easiest thing to say forgive and move on, but this post was more about not retaliating in kind so as to make the other person suffer too. I am not qualified to preach the former since a hurt hurts, but certainly can talk about the latter since I have consciously done it. 🙂

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  33. Hello Aunty,

    Your post came in the right day, when i felt about karma in a long time. Coming from christian institution i always believed in One good deed a day.

    So from a small deed of holding the lift for a guy who was abt to miss the cab. He then stopped for another guy. This seems normal but in today’s fast paced life – no one waits for anyone else. Esp if you are working more than 12 hours you just dont have any further patience for anything else. You just want to get home. So when this guy stopped for another guy it is a great thing.

    These might seem small things but these things go a long way.

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    1. The good deed of the day need not even be anything physical but just a thought that sets someone free — from your list of grudges or peeves or hurt. And yes, small deeds go a long way 🙂

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  34. Another one – perhaps similar to the example from the book, and certainly has a similar source (from within the books I have read)

    Monks & nuns, by their strict rules, are not allowed to have physical contact with the opposite gender. Once, two traveling monks came by a river in spate, flood waters making the flow higher than normal. A lady waited at the bank, trying to get to the other side.
    She requested the two monks to help her across – they too were headed that way. The first refused. The second accepted, placed her on his shoulders, and the three crossed the river. The lady went her way on the other bank, the monks theirs.
    A few hours of silence later, the first monk was unable to stand it: he started berating and scolding the second: how could he do it, it was against the rules, it was not allowed, and so on.
    The second simply said: “Friend, I dropped the lady at the riverbank itself. Why are you carrying her still?”

    It has been worth a lifetime of experiences when I first had a realisation that I was carrying a needless load all the time – it was in my previous job. The realisation was like the Indian budget, applicable in retrospect too, so all the baggage I was carrying since college, and earlier, got dropped. Not all, but enough to make me feel lighter immediately. Next job, I was more aware of which loads I chose to carry and which to leave.

    One thing remains – there are some loads which one chooses to carry, knowingly. They are too precious to let go of. I wonder why – since I myself carry some such loads and am unable to shake them off, not because I don’t know, but because I know that they are just weights pulling me down.

    Regards,
    Grond

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    1. Ha ha, that was a wonderful story. Learning lessons of life young helps in dealing with them intelligently. I understand what load you mean here. That is part of the karma and the sooner we realise it, the less it will hurt us. By doing it, we are discharging the effects of past karma and on the way to liberation. Thanks for the book again. It is really wonderful.

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  35. G.N. Balakrishnan · · Reply

    Being humans, we tend to get offended when someone hurts our feelings by saying something uncomplimentary. Should that be the reason for us to loose our mental balance momentarily and hit them back with the same coin? We will be the loser in the bargain, as our mental equilibrium is disturbed till either we retaliate with equal force which only aggravates the situation, or forget it for the time being, only to be revived later. Foibles of human nature are manifold and the most disintegrating force is that of ego-centric thoughts, as you so rightly stated. We forget that human sensibilities is the weakest and even the spark of a casual remark, may lead to a conflagration, with resultant bitterness and irreparable damage to the strongest relationship between individuals. There is a famous Sanskrit quotation ” LOKO BINNA RUCHIHI” which only conveys the meaning that no two individuals are alike in any matter. It is only the ego or identifying oneself with such avoidable thoughts that is the villain. If we rid ourselves of this, the world will be a better place to live in, with peace and calm pervading the atmosphere.

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    1. You have defined it so well sir. Even something uncomplimentary can hurt us, or rather our egos and that ego is the only things that is the cause of half the ills of this world. The moment we realise that we are but a speck in the cosmic scheme of things, we get our bearings.

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  36. Very thought provoking and good post to read. What you sat is true but it takes us time to learn to forgive and stop hurting. May be we do not hurt back the person who gave us pain but the love that existed between two people diminishes. We also at times theorize that once they get a bite of their own dish they will not force on it others.. I am not vengeance type anymore but as a kid I always gave tit for tat and felt good about it ;). May be age has mellowed me down or may be I am too tired for the drama now.
    Very good post from you as usual

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    1. Agreed that when a loved one hurts us, the love diminishes and the hurt remains raw. But like Aabha has pointed out, when the person is too dear, one learns to make up with them. But tell me, even as a child, would you have enjoyed it if you saw that the other person is suffering? Unless of course the person was a stranger and you didn’t care 🙂 Age certainly mellows us down and put things in perspective. I wouldn’t want to think that such a warm person as you don’t like to retaliate just to avoid the drama 😀

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  37. This is just the kind of post I like to read. And these are my favorite things to talk about when I spend time with kids. And it is a nice, long, interesting argument. I love the questions that come up. Wishing the one that hurt us to be hurt, too is obnoxious. As a child I’d get mad at some of the things people got away with. And my grandma always said – if we wish the same thing, or behaved the same way, would be the difference between us? I saw her point, and of course, eventually understood the logic. My mom went a step further – and said – “pray for all good things to happen to the people who hurt you 🙂 because, then they won’t have time for negativity or to think ill of you”. Very halo-around-the-head type – but it makes sense, no? How nice to wish happiness for those people so that their mind is diverted from nasty stuff!

    Loved the post, Zephyr.

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    1. I loved both your grandmother’s and mother’s advice to you. How wise they were! And how I wish I could have at least some of that wisdom in my own life! Your mother’s advice is not at all the halo-around-the-head type at all, but very sensible though not too practical when you are young. But as we grow older learning these things is what makes us elevate ourselves spiritually. The teacher of course can be anyone — a book, a young person or even your maid 🙂 And the theory of karma puts everything in perspective.

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  38. Two wrongs can never make one right! Is it worth carrying the baggage of past around when god has given us countless things to see and enjoy in one life! Rarely does one realize this! Tit for tat and eye for an eye can only make this world blind so Q.E. D Agree with Zephyr and her words of wisdom:)

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    1. It is not Zephyr’s words of wisdom, but Ajahn Brahm’s which prompted this post. The book is a great handbook of tips to deal with problems in life.

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  39. Phew! after reading the post, the example hit the mark!. It is embedded in the mind. Next time , someone calls ‘idiot” or “hurt” this will surface.

    Yes, , we can’t ask God to punish anyone. agreed 🙂

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    1. Such wisdom tips are best pulled out when we come across situations that demand them. For that, as you say it has to be ’embedded’ in the mind. 🙂

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  40. It is certainly the best thing to do, but I don’t think it is practical, as we are human. We would have to be saints not to get affected by insults, abuses or really derogatory remarks or actions. Sometimes, one has to show the perpetrator that doing something wrong is not good and will not be taken lying down. Though, an eye for an eye will definitely turn everyone blind, but not doing anything will certainly handicap you. I guess, this is very subjective and really changes from situation to situation. I remember once telling a friend that all the bitterness that she harbors about her mil due to her ill-treatment (verbal) in her earlier years of marriage is only doing her more harm. She has to find it in her heart to forgive her to heal herself. But, she said how can she do it; there is no closure? We all desire closure, to see at least some repentance in the other for the harsh word or deed.

    Where I do agree that moving on is better is getting into pointless arguments on forums and sometimes blogs. All this exposure to social media and blogs is actually harmful in many ways. We are openly flaunting our less desirable traits, arguing, being bitter, sometimes in the name of “espousing” a cause over such trivial issues and comments. There, it is better to ignore an obnoxious opinion, status update or comment and move on.

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    1. Rachna, this post like many others I have written is about the normal where things can be made better by just a change in our attitudes. When it is an abusive situation, it obviously requires other measures which might not be pleasant at all. But as I have pointed out in the post, holding a grudge is even less productive when there is no repentance. When there is no way someone is going to say sorry, what can you do but let go? Indifference can hurt someone more than actual retaliation and it is liberating for us too. It is hard, but not impossible to do. As for thrashing problems on public forums, my sentiments are the same as yours. 🙂

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  41. Thangam…this is a really good piece. I especially loved the quote from the book about the idiot. I have learnt that there are various kinds of hurts…those that arise from blows to the ego, those that deeply wound you, especially from the people you love, those that arise out of real or imagined misunderstandings. But in all these episodes, grief and pain are the major reactions. I find myself retreating into myself as a defence mechanism but find it really difficult to retaliate in the same manner. I guess with age, one becomes philosophical and just lets go of the hurt by forgiving, or by rationalising the perpetrator’s actions as ” that’s just way he/she is. ” In any case, giving back as good as it gets, only results in one feeling even more bad. Sometimes, this non-retaliation makes the offender realise his mistake, and he/she does come back to you. It may not happen, but when you have removed the emotional power the offender has on you, you are free and liberated. Its a good thing not to forget the incident completely otherwise you might find yourself on the receiving end of lessons not learnt well. My Guru says, you don’t have to even see or meet or reconnect with the person who has hurt you, and whom you have forgiven …. As long as you have released yourself from his power to control your feelings. And one way to do it….is to reaffirm strongly….I FORGIVE YOU…and let it go.

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    1. Glad you liked it Prema. The book really got me writing this one. Agree that we mellow down with age and learn that it is pointless to hold grudges and plot revenge. But wisdom need not be age related. I see so many young people who can teach me a thing or two about tackling life and its problems with a level head. And the reason I never like retaliating in kind is like you say it makes me feel bad and lose the moral advantage in the bargain of being the one to forgive 🙂 And forgiving is indeed liberating and empowering.

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  42. “My friend used ask me that if God ever offered to punish those who had hurt me, what kind of punishment I would ask for. And I invariably replied that I would not ask Him to punish them because that would not make my hurts go away or give back my past to me”

    All the new age Buddhists are going to be chanting ‘Zephyram sharanam gachchaami’ from now on.

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    1. FYI, my response had come looooong before I read this book. So maybe you have a point, eh? 😀 😀

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      1. Yes, o, enlightened one. I do have a point. :o)

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  43. Amazing piece. Loved the part about Buddhist wisdom. I feel wiser now.

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    1. Do get that book. it is worth its weight in gold.

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      1. 🙂 my eyes will be searching for it in every book shop

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  44. *first* 🙂

    Hi Zephyr. A though provoking post once again. It is true if we hang to the bitter memories they can make life unpleasant for us. distract us from more important things. But i don’t think it is easy to switch off i quickly if someone has been unfair to you. forgetting and forgiveness take a bit of time.

    As you grow older you do realize that if people are unreasonable, they seem to have a some issue or the other of their own .. We all tend to make mistakes in our relationships, and i for one believe in making up if i that person means a lot to me.

    As for tit for tat…. lets leave it to time 🙂

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    1. Oh, I think Ruchira beat you to it Aabha 🙂 Anyway what matters is your commenting! Making up with someone who hurts us is exactly what is required to bury the issue. I know it is not easy to do something like this, but what is the harm in trying, especially if it is going to make you a better person? You must read that book. It is a goldmine of wisdom. I wanted to write about karma but that would have made it heavy wouldn’t it have? 🙂

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  45. an eye for an eye will just make the world blind ! I agree with you letting go is the best solution and perfect way to achieve inner happiness. In all probability the other person just speaks the harsh words and forgets about it. By mulling on it and fuming and fretting we are simply harming ourselves !

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