“Developing compassion for those who have harmed us is the only way to heal inside oneself because otherwise if we just keep our sense of revenge and anger and hatred of the person, seeing them as the enemy, we are the ones who suffer. It doesn’t hurt them but it destroys us and the only way to deal with that is to transform it into genuine compassion and understanding, then we’re healed. In fact not just healed but we have made a huge spiritual leap – that’s when one becomes fearless.” – Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
The very nature of forgiveness is one of compassion. As we have mentioned previously, when we forgive others, we give ourselves permission to let go of our own suffering. In doing so, we are compassionate to ourselves. Holding onto pain and resentment does not help us in any way. Instead, it robs us of our happiness.
The quote by Tenzin Palmo takes this a step further, asking us to not simply forgive those who have harmed us, but to also develop compassion for them. In order to do this, we need to be able to get past our own emotions and see the other person more clearly. In general, people can only give what they have. When they have love, peace, and are comfortable with themselves, that is what they have to offer others. When they are suffering, feeling fearful, angry, or uncomfortable, that is what they have to offer others. No one yells with anger when they are filled with love. If we can remember that how others treat us is not a reflection of our value, but of their state of being, it provides us the opportunity to empathize and develop compassion.
We all know that when we do harmful things, no matter how we try to rationalize it, deep down it just doesn’t feel good. We also know our own harmful actions arose from our own suffering. As this is true with us, it is true with others. Remembering this allows us to not only recognize the detrimental actions of others but also their suffering. This does not mean we should become doormats or allow others to mistreat us. It means we allow our compassion to motivate healthy interactions with others, remembering that, as we reduce suffering in the world, we also reduce harmful activities in the world. If we wish ill upon others, it not only prevents us from healing, it increases the potential for more harm.
Today I invite you to reflect upon some people or situations you may be resentful of. Try to step back and identify the suffering that gave rise to it. Can you find it in your heart to forgive? Can you find it in your heart to be compassionate? Can you give yourself permission to heal? As you go about your day, try to be aware and remember how our outer actions are reflective of our inner states. See if you can recognize this in yourself and others. – John Bruna
The above is an excerpt from one of the daily inspirations sent to the members of the Mindful Life Community.
Copyright © 2018 John Bruna. All rights reserved.