All of us try to keep ourselves calm and collected in our lives. We try to maintain a sense of goodwill towards others and work in harmony. With practice and perseverance, we may be able to do this to a reasonable extent. But what happens when someone’s intentional acts of ill-will or sabotage hit our daily lives? Our equanimity may stand violently disturbed. A lot of effort and months(or years) of practice may seem to come to nothing.
I recently had such an experience when someone tried to harm my father intentionally. I felt anger and negativity for 2 days. More than that, I felt bad for having let myself slip into negativity. It led me to contemplate about the causes and what I can do to stay positive in the face of intentional, malicious action.
Here is what I think helps.
1. Focus on the good. You inivite in life what you put your attention to. Think seriously about what is your ultimate aim, to avenge yourself and do harm, or to get back to a state of happiness and equanimity?
The situation may not be in your hands but your focus is. Think how can you get back to a happy state. Do what you can towards this aim.
As far as life in general is concerned, focus and develop on the things you love, be of value to people. Problems, when you grow, usually take care of themselves. But if you keep thinking about your problems, you will end up fighting them more often. As you grow, new vistas, hitherto unknown, will open up. A lot of problems will die their own death, some others will become small and irrelevant.
As to people, instead of focusing on the people you don’t like, focus on the people you do. Connect with positive, strong and uplifting people.
2. Accept and endure the problem you can not change. We cannot know everything in advance and have to face some problems as we meet them. Again, see what you can do to fix it. If there is something you can do, do it. If you cannot do anything about it, accept it and endure it. If you accept it, you take a lot of suffering out of the suffering. This is not to surrender to it without looking for solution. This is just accepting what is. This acceptance will take away anger and hatred. When you are thus calm, you will also see the situation well and may see solutions that, until now, you could not see.
Remember, problems are not all bad. They push us to test our self constructed limits. If you stop feeling agitated and face it, it will often show you new dimensions to yourself, that you had not known before.
Don’t go seeking suffering to grow, but when it comes to you, accept it, endure it and learn from it.
3. Work from your Inner Self, rather than your ego mind. Have you had an experience when, faced with some danger, you acted on the spur of the moment, without thinking? And then, when you thought back later, you were astounded by your own presence of mind. You wonder how you were able to do the right thing at the right time.
In times of mortal danger, the ego mind shuts down and pure awareness takes over. What is working through you is not your mind but your higher, Inner Self. It knows better. It is the collective of all that you have learned, consciously and subconsciously, throughout your whole life. Some even say it is connected to the Universal consciousness and has, therefore, infinite knowledge.
If you are too worked up or excited, trying to use your mind to decide may backfire. You may take a rash decision to satisfy your ego that you will repent later. Instead of trying too hard to work out a solution in your mind, leave it to your intuition. Just try to stay calm and aware. Take things as they come and decide on the spot.
4. Act with love. Love heals you, love heals your enemy and love heals those who witness you displaying it. Try to practice love in a bad situation. Start with yourself. Often we are very hard on ourselves for not doing the right thing and allowing things to fall to a bad state. Understand that you are but human, that you make mistakes, and it is OK and normal to do so. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
Once you are able to love yourself in a stressful situation, try to love your enemy. He is the medium through which these lessons are coming to you. Wish him well in your heart, hope that he will find more happiness in life and better control of his emotions.
When you thus meet him with love, he will sense it and will feel compelled to reciprocate. His anger and hatred will start melting away, even though he may try to hold on to it. This may not happen right away, there may not be a strong effect but, as you keep doing it, your effectiveness improves and the strength in your love improves.
5. It takes two to tango.. and two to fight. I read a story somewhere. When Alexander was returning from his conquests in India, he met an Indian Sadhu. The Sadhu was not a worldly man and was deeply spiritual. When Alexander tried to impress upon him how great a king he was, the Sadhu just laughed and said that it was of no consequence. Enraged, Alexander threatened to kill him for his insolence. The Sadhu laughed again and said he didn’t care. Alexander drew out his sword and swung it at him. The Sadhu kept smiling back. Just before the sword was about to hit the Sadhu’s neck, Alexander stopped. The Sadhu had not flinched, he did not even bat an eyelid. Alexander just could not lift up his sword to kill him. He left, confused. Later he said, it is impossible to kill a man who doesn’t put up a fight.
Remember, no one can fight you if you refuse to fight back. A fight needs two charged up fools. If you refuse to be one, the fight cannot take place. It may take time and practice to build such inner strength, but it is possible.
6. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Your negative energies don’t counter their negative energies, they only multiply. Counter negativity with positivity. When they are bad to you, try to connect with them with positivity and, above all, love.
In martial arts, we start with blocking blows. As we progress, we learn to parry(deflect) them. With still more practice, we learn to use the opponents energy, just channelize it in a way we want and get the desired result. Same happens in life.
As you grow as a human being, the desired result is not the satisfaction of your ego in beating someone. It is to use the person’s negative energy for your greater good and his, and of the world at large. Try to progress from blocking to deflecting and from deflecting to using this energy gainfully.
7. Show compassion. Your enemy is a victim and needs compassion. Understand why the other person tries to harm you. He is probably slave to his own anger and hatred. These emotions are not something one consciously decides upon. People don’t decide to act with anger, they are controlled by it.
Try to protect yourself but be compassionate to this person who is unhappy and afflicted by these negative tendencies. Remember your love can heal him.
When some one tries to harm you, it is a time of test. The true strength of your character will be revealed in times of such adversity. Act in a way that you will be proud of later.