People who hurt others, are by necessity suffering themselves. Hurting others is in a way a form of communication for the offender based on their own painful experiences; it is a cry for help. When we regard them as victims who are suffering – rather than offenders – we can discover compassion.
Becoming hurt or offended is a choice that we each make, most often subconsciously. It is a grasping on to something that was never meant to be held on to.
When we are hurt, we can turn the eye of our awareness from looking out towards those who hurt us, to looking inside, to observe our own pain. When we do so, it is possible to see that we can become free by choosing to let go. We can loosen our grasp on whatever painful feelings we experience and just let them evaporate.
When we grasp, we weaken ourselves. Grasping is a knee-jerk reaction – an uncontrolled reaction to an outside circumstance. We may find ourselves being blamed, mocked, judged, ignored, disrespected, or being victims of lies about us, abuse, anger and more. All of that is happening outside of us and unless we do something about it – it remains outside of us. That ‘something’ could be grasping, by which we intentionally bring it inside through the act of becoming upset, angry, depressed, offended, vindictive, or by responding in a similar manner. Similar to grasping, rejection is another reaction which creates a negative counter force within us, force that becomes the foundation for toxic emotions within us.
But we have a choice; we can simply let it be, allowing it to remain outside of us and maintain our inner peace. If our knee-jerk reaction is to say something back, we are already grasping. When that happens, it is better not to say anything. Initially, by doing so, we may feel that it’s wrong and that refraining from saying something back is a weakness on our part and is being perceived as such. But in fact, that’s our strength. We take the initiative through our own strength to not be pulled into a toxic circumstance. Initially, we may say nothing, but our mind will say everything. This is still grasping, although much less. As we continue, one such situation at a time, we’ll see that gradually our minds quiet down as well; the strength of our initial response set into motion a spiral of positive energy that makes us stronger, to the point where we don’t grasp at all.
The grasping starts with emotions, followed by thoughts, followed by speech and sometimes followed by actions. We cancel this domino effect by stopping at the end, with the action, then after some practice we can stop at the speech, than the thoughts and finally the emotions.
Jesus’ assertion about giving the other cheek is worth mentioning. By giving the other cheek to an offender we:
1) Allow them to see their own weakness. Had they been truly strong, we’d be taking distance from them, not turn the other cheek.
2) Conquer our knee-jerk reaction (our weakness) building inner strength, self control and inner peace.
How to love our enemies? By understanding that we don’t have to label them as such and discover by doing so, that we really have no enemies. We may also discover that some of those people whom we may have labeled enemies in the past, end up being very caring, close, supportive and loving.