In the past, have you ever taken an action that caused pain to other beings, human or otherwise? Or been on the receiving end of a behavior that was perceived as wrong or unfair? Have these thoughts tormented you like a ghost haunting a deserted mansion once filled with music, laughter and champagne?
Torture. Torment. Closely related states that love to hate.
Life's cruel joke is that we think it is the "other" who inflicts the quicksand of distress upon us, when it is none other than an ego-based version of ourselves.
An incredible lesson: the Dalai Lama met with a highly esteemed Tibetan lama who had been imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese for over two decades, for no reason other than the fact that he was a Buddhist monk. His Holiness asked the monk what was entailed in the most challenging aspect of his detention, thinking that the answer would contain details of the horrendous mutilations he had endured. Instead, the monk replied, "My greatest fear was that I would lose my compassion."
Another lama, Lobsang P. Lhalungpa, endured similar horrors in a Chinese prison. He related the following: "People ask me how I can have compassion for the enemy when they will never have compassion for me. But it is not for the enemy that I have compassion. It is for myself."
Therein lies the key that unlocks those unforgiven thought-prisoners that rattle the bars encasing our heart. It is one's very own self that suffers the agonies of jealousy, pride, fear, hate, anger, and other negative emotions - although it doesn't feel groovey to be the receiving end of one of those electomagnetic tasers either.
So while it is commendable to stop destruction in its wake, the underlying self-talk is paramount to whether we drown in the battle or forge through it to rise again.
Our choice entirely. Unforgiven...or self-liberated.
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