Tit for Tat

IN THE realm of spirituality,

tit for tat,” very much a norm in the world, never works. It is only by a positive response that spiritual progress is possible. If one is reproached, even manhandled, and one reacts with resentment, one would certainly fail either to achieve a purposive result for oneself or to win over the opponent. But if one endures the reproach and responds with good will, then one can win over the offending person as well as effect a significant triumph over oneself, making progress on the onward path to spiritual liberation. An outlook that fosters a positive response to every negative move thus becomes imperative to any serious seeker of truth. It is essential, therefore, that a meditator should assiduously strive to cultivate a positive attitude leading to the conquest of evil by good.’

Acharya Buddharakkhita

How can we overcome this accepted habit that its ok to repay people for how they treat us badly? We all at times deep down want to see someone pay for how they behave. I have been treated badly like all of you and deep down hoped certain people get punished in some way. It’s a payback for immense emotional pain. I get it!

The truth is I should know better like many of you. People behave badly because they are immature spiritual, emotionally, or have low intelligence. So many reasons why they choose evil over good actions. I have made many bad choices myself over the years.  We all know there is a story behind every person we meet. Some trauma, rejection and abuse. We know often people behave according to the tools they were given from parents.

 I am not making excuse for people, or myself using cruel behaviour but there are legitimate reason people are mean or ignorant. This dilemma has been an issue for all of us. What if we humiliate the bully? Does it help the bully in the long term? It may stop him in his track from hurting people publicly. What happens behind closed door and what happens to him/her as they get older. People behave terribly on the internet. So many new ways we can hurt each other these days.

Jesus encouraged people to turn the other cheek and other great spiritual teachers all say the same. Why do they say this when it seems impossible in an abrasive world? They say this because they know it starts with one person’s attitude towards “Tit for tat”…we have been playing this game as humans since the beginning of time. It does not work! The only way to change things is stop doing it. We have to help troubled people and of course the law deals with serious offenders. What about the social media and school yards, or the family next door  who only mows there half of the nature strip. We all can consider constructive ways to help and not use “tit for tat” mentality.

Great example: A story I heard of a guy on a train. His kids where jumping and making noise and disturbing the other people. The father was sitting and not even paying any attentions. One Male passenger got so fed up he decided to have a stern word to him about his parenting skills. To the man’s surprise the father replied. ‘ I am so sorry I have no idea what to do with them. We just came from the hospital and their mother has died.’

This story may seem extreme, but we never know what happening for another person or family. My point is we all expect grace and support but often don’t share it.

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