For many, the first option might seem to be the most satisfying. After all, it provides immediate justice. It allows us a chance to see the other party suffer and that can bring us some level of pleasure. Seeing people suffer for the wrongs they have done makes us feel that justice was dealt. What would the world be without justice?
Revenge, or "an eye for an eye" approach is becoming the predominating mood in society. We want things quickly, including our justice. We're running out of patience for just about everything. When the signal turns green, we need the person in front of us to move immediately. We need our computers to boot up faster. During rush hour, I try to be the first one out of the subway car so I don't have to wait behind all the people going up the stairs. In reality, I probably save myself only about 60 seconds. It's a little scary to imagine the lack of patience our future generations will have.
It's important for us to analyze the kind of impact a culture of revenge can have on our society. There is the risk of us becoming completely intolerant of each other. We are already becoming so intolerant that it's scary to think about what it will lead to. We hear about it all the time in cases of road rage where people will tailgate, cut each other off and even run another person off the road because of a slight offense.
Revenge doesn't always involve hurting others on a physical level. It can also lead us into actions where we want to bring harm to another's reputation, career or family members. It can drive us into a sick mentality of wanting to cause pain to others. Ultimately, we run the risk of becoming the same kind of person that hurt us, or possibly even worse. We end up becoming that which we focus on most. Filling our mind with anger, hate and vengeance deteriorates our consciousness and brings us into a dark space. It's important to understand that such emotions and feelings are very stressful and can deteriorate our physical health.
Hinduism teaches us about the law of karma, where every actions bears a reaction. This means that if we cause pain of any sort to others, we become responsible for a future reaction. This reaction may come in this life or in a future life. However, it will come. Karma doesn't mean that we can't protect ourselves or our family members from harm, but that we shouldn't go after someone to settle the score. Ultimately, the choice is ours. As long as we're aware that all actions are being accounted for by a higher power and that we don't actually get away with anything. This also applies to all the good we do in life. Those results will also come back to us either in the present life or a future one.
Forgiving is hard. We have such a hard time letting go of the hurt that others have caused us. In some cases, it can take years for the pain and bitterness to go away. In more extreme situations, it may stay with us our entire life. It's not possible to forget the incident or person that caused us pain. Hinduism suggests that the highest platform to exist on is the platform of compassion. Compassion means trying to adjust our vision in the following manner:
- Trying to understand the pain and suffering of the offender that is causing them to behave in hurtful ways.
- Seeing what lessons we can learn from the situation and how we might have contributed to it.
- Understanding that the soul inhabiting all bodies is pure and good but is being forced to act in irrational ways while stuck in the material world.
Forgiveness takes incredible amounts of strength and character. In fact, it builds character. We have to decide, if we want to live a life filled with vengeful and angry thoughts or a life in which we are trying to forgive, even if not always successfully.
The Amish demonstrated an unforgettable act of forgiveness in October 2006 when a gunman entered one of their schools and shot 10 girls, killing five. The gunman then shot himself. The community not only attended the killer's burial, but also donated money to his widow of three children.
Forgiveness doesn't mean the pain and anger go away. It doesn't mean that there isn't resentment towards the perpetrator. These are very natural human emotions. One thing that I tell myself whenever I feel hurt by others is that whatever is happening to me is coming back to me as my karmic reaction from something I did to someone, either in this or a previous life. That there is no need for me to seek revenge, as the law of karma will ultimately balance everything out. After enough time passes, I try to find the strength to pray to God, who I call Krishna, to forgive that person. I don't think forgiving serious offenses is ever going to be easy. However, I hope to keep trying because deep down inside, I know it is the higher platform to exist on.
Hopefully, someday, I can come closer to the platform of the self-realized soul, as described in the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita:
A person is considered still further advanced when he regards honest well-wishers, affectionate benefactors, the neutral, mediators, the envious, friends and enemies, the pious and the sinners all with an equal mind.
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5 Reasons Why Forgiveness is the Best Revenge.
So, what is so great about forgiveness? Can we really forgive and forget? Have you experienced the healing power of ‘forgiving yourself’?
Someone wise once told me: ‘Unforgiveness is like punching yourself in the face and expecting someone else to feel the pain.’ That being said, why is it that we often find it so difficult to forgive the past and move on with our lives? The answer, I believe, is because we get caught up in the erroneous idea that forgiving equals excusing, condoning or giving pardon to other people’s past behaviour that has really hurt us. When we have been really hurt by someone’s actions, we become so angry, and feel so betrayed and vulnerable, that we just want revenge. Sweet and slow revenge!!
When you have been badly hurt, forgiveness is the last thing on your mind (it’s ok to admit this, you are human!) – you want the perpetrator to understand the pain that they have caused, and to suffer as you have suffered: ‘An eye for an eye…’ and all that. You are so wounded that you cannot forgive and that unforgiveness is a strong fuel that powers your desire for revenge. You feel entitled to vengeance and dishing out retribution feels to be the only salve for your inflamed sense of hurt. And yet…you do nothing. You are a good person and you do not want to go to jail so you resist the urge to batter the perpetrator’s door down with an axe! You swallow down your anger, your hurt, and your need to administer suffering as you have suffered. Over time you get sick, maybe you get angrier, maybe you can’t form meaningful and loving relationships because you cannot trust that you won’t get hurt again. The unforgiveness becomes your dark and poisonous companion who builds a re-inforced wall between you and your natural resting-state of peace.
But it’s not too late to break down that wall! What if I told you that you can achieve the revenge you seek in a way that really will make you feel better, and for which you won’t go to jail? What if I could assure you that it is forgiveness itself, that is the best revenge for past hurts?
‘But what happened to me was really bad. He treated me like garbage, I was abused, I hate this person, I really don’t think I can forgive them.’ I hear you say. If that is so, then the weapon of forgiveness will be even more powerful for you, if you learn how to use it. Get ready to take back the sense of peace that is rightfully yours! Here are some examples of situations that hurt, and 5 reasons why forgiveness is the best revenge…
1. Forgiveness is the best revenge because there is nothing more infuriating to someone who would deliberately hurt you, than you moving on with your life and being happy.
What happened? : My boyfriend of two years cheated on me. I forgave him and I thought that because I had forgiven him, I should take him back. He cheated on me again. I was devastated and hurt and broke up with him immediately. I now hate him, I hate myself fo being such an idiot, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive again. Forgiveness didn’t work for me.
Take revenge! : Forgive him again. Don’t get confused and think that forgiveness means that you have to take him back- it’s not so. True forgiveness actually has nothing to do with condoning the behaviour of a cheating ex. It’s all about you. The extent to which you are willing to forgive is simply the extent to which you are willing to keep giving your cheating ex control of your suffering.
Forgiveness = Taking Control.
When you forgive, you acknowledge that you have been hurt, and you make the choice that hurt will not continue to define you in the present. Of course, you are entitled to grieve when you have been hurt; let yourself get mad, get it all out of your system, and when you’re done, visualize the offender in your mind and say. ‘I forgive you. I release you. I release myself from your control.’ (Go here for more on positive affirmations.)
2. Forgiveness is the best revenge because you’ll live a longer and healthier life.
What happened? : My mother abandoned me as a child. She left when I was 3 years old and I never saw her again. I have felt bitterness towards her all my life. I have often thought about hurting her the way she hurt me. I don’t think I could ever forgive her.
Take revenge! : For a moment, lets forget that this is about your mother. Let’s forget that forgiveness is about anyone or anything outside of yourself. I want you to think about yourself only. Forgiveness is a process that you can go through to bring peace, contentment and physical wellness to yourself. Being in a constant state of unforgiveness is really bad for your health. The emotions associated with unforgiveness cause chemical, hormonal and immune changes in your body which, over an extended period of time, can make you physically ill. Don’t let the past ruin your present and future health. Forgiveness is as much an important part of your healthcare routine as brushing your teeth and eating well! Forgiveness benefits your health in a similar manner to kindness. For an in-depth look at the science behind the health benefits of forgiveness and kindness, head over to Dr David Hamilton’s website.
3. Forgiveness is the best revenge because when you forgive, you take back your own power.
What happened? : My ex-boss was such a bully. Every day he made embarrassing remarks to me and singled me out from the rest of my colleagues when he felt like taking out his rage on someone. I put up with this for 5 years before being made to feel so miserable that I had to leave a job that I essentially loved. I’ll never forgive him for that.
Take revenge! : When you choose to forgive, this is the best kind of revenge because you re-empower yourself. This empowerment comes from recognizing that you have a choice: You can choose to continue to feel hurt, resentful and angry, or, you can choose to take responsibility for your reaction and work on being a person who forgives, even if it is difficult. Recognizing that you have a choice is truly empowering. Bullying is a terrible thing and it is understandable that you would find it difficult to forgive- but ‘finding it difficult’ to forgive is a whole lot better than having no choice at all. You can always make the choice to forgive and release all the tension and anxiety within you, that is embodied by unforgiveness. When you choose to forgive a bully, you release yourself from the feeling of victimization and you can begin to heal. What could be more empowering than that? Give yourself love and positive acknowledgement when you are able to forgive, it is a big ask.
4. Forgiveness is the best revenge because learning how to forgive protects you from future hurts.
What happened? : I got scammed! Someone hacked into my bank account and withdrew all my money 4 days before Christmas. I have 2 kids and if it hadn’t been for the generosity of friends and family, Christmas would have been ruined. These soulless thieves left me broke. The people who did this have never been caught and I’m having difficulty forgiving because there has been no justice.
Take revenge! : Forgiveness is the best revenge here because when you forgive, you make space in your heart for two very important questions. First, did you learn anything from this experience? Second, (and this is a hard one!) Is there anything positive that you can take from this experience? If you can forgive, you will be able to see what can be learned. Forgiving, here, has nothing to do with forgiving bad actions, you are using forgiveness for you. Can you imagine forgiving stealing to the extent that you are able to see something very precious in the experience? Visualize having a conversation with the thieves. In your mind say: ‘I forgive you. I know you act out of fear. I wish you love and I hope that you can overcome the things that make you afraid.’ If you are able to do this, you will discover within yourself, that you can protect yourself from future hurts simply by deciding to be a person who forgives. You can choose to be a person who forgives no matter what, and in doing so, you protect yourself from future hurts which are deepened and extended by unforgiveness. Practice forgiving now and you will be able to cope, forgive, and move on in future. Forgiveness can only make you stronger and less fearful when applied in this way…try it!
5. Forgiveness is the best revenge because it really is the cure for feeling sad, angry, frustrated and hurt.
What happened? : My father passed away several years ago. We weren’t on good terms because he was largely absent from our lives when my brother and I were kids. The times when he was around, he was violent and angry. He never apologized or admitted his mistakes and now that he’s gone, I still can’t forgive him. I don’t believe he was sorry and now I’ll never know.
Take revenge! : Some people who hurt you cannot apologize because they have passed away. Some people who have hurt you will not apologize for various reasons. If forgiveness was dependent on the apologies of others, human beings would have blown the world up already. Think of forgiveness like the antidote to a poison. It doesn’t matter how much someone in the past has tried to poison you with anger, hurt, fear, bad behaviour, selfishness, insensitivity etc., you can choose to administer the antidote at any moment. Let that moment be now.
Until Next Week: Practice forgiveness whenever you can. Start with the person in the mirror. You deserve forgiveness, you are a good person, you don’t need to be so hard on yourself. Look in the mirror, put your hand over your heart and say, ‘I forgive you’.
Saw something particularly horrible in the news? Close your eyes and say ‘I forgive you’. Get familiar with what it means to forgive, what it feels like, and why it’s important.
Have you had any inspirational experiences with forgiveness? Is there something that you have struggled to forgive? Comment below- I’d love to read what you have to share.
Next Week: G is for ‘Ghosts’. I will be conducting a video interview with a very special guest. We will be discussing many aspects of ghostly phenomena…not to be missed!
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