Have you ever felt so deeply wounded by someone that you wanted to wreak vengeance, or at the very least clobber him? Have you ever felt someone was out to get you, or that she has severely damaged your reputation to the point where you want nothing more than to totally ruin her? Have you ever been so completely obsessed by someone who brought you down that you plotted day and night how to totally remove him from your life?
Revenge is a crude survival mechanism coming out of our animal nature to kill or be killed, the Law of the Jungle. We can glorify it by seeking justice and have a third-party do the dirty work, but the objective is the same: To stop your rival in the tracks, if not liquidate him.
It is telling that the earliest law codes emphasized an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This was done to ensure that any efforts at vengeance didn’t go too far or get carried away. Eventually, armies and police were organized such that you were required to go to the authorities rather than just take out a six-shooter and knock the person off.
Clever people have suggested it is far better to simply leave your offender to his own devices to suffer the consequences, that karma is a classier way to “punish” someone than by inflicting like damage. You can be equally committed to ruining the other person, but why not let God or society take care of him. As the Old Testament advises, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.”
I don’t believe in karma as any kind of answer. The word in Sanskrit simply means action. When someone says to you, “It is your karma,” that just means it was your own actions that resulted in this mess. This is held to simply be the Law of Cause and Effect.
If you do this, then that will happen. It reminds me of a clever poster I once saw in Berkeley, California: Ripping off messes up your karma. While this may actually be the case; it reveals that the apparent victim is not really all that enlightened. It also assumes that the victim absolutely had no part in the aggression, which is rarely so. Usually, we are complicit in whatever happens to us.
On top of it, when you hope that karma will “take care” of someone you ‘hate,’ it means that you are still clinging to a form of revenge (counting that some “third party” will take care of this issue for you). In this case scenario, you still walk around full of hate and carry the old baggage (all emotions related to that event) around, which does not do you any good, nor free you from moving on… or moving forward where you can begin creating fresh (from a clean slate and not from your past experience).
Watch this well explained 5 minute video on our beliefs in karma vs. reality.
Adopting a life stance that what goes around comes around is not all that inspiring.
You are most clearly NOT out to make a difference in the world. As Jesus Christ put it, “If you love only those who love you, what merit have you?” Rather, Jesus set up a higher standard which, after nearly 2,000 years, still rocks the world.
First, He imparted the Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Your neighbor doesn’t merely mean your friends and family, but anyone in your community, anyone, no matter who they are, whoever crosses your path. Second, Jesus drives the point home in an unforgettable way: “Love your enemies…Turn the other cheek…Pray for those who despitefully use you…If your enemy compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”
Jesus went on to demonstrate this day after day by healing total strangers of all kinds of conditions and diseases, including deafness, blindness, lameness, hemorrhaging, even bringing people back to life. He further went on by calling His betrayer, Judas, “Friend,” when Judas gave Him the fatal kiss. Jesus would not defend himself before the Roman government, but simply maintained that His kingdom was not of this world. When crucified, He faced His hypocritical accusers by praying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
You might wonder just how practical this all is in our modern, or post-modern world?
You only need look at Mahatma Gandhi, who thoroughly studied the Gospel accounts, especially the Sermon on the Mount. Gandhi found a way to fight against institutionalized racism without resorting to violence.
He actually considered violence a form of weakness.
While Gandhi realized that it took great courage to turn the other cheek to the British, he knew them well enough to appreciate that they would be increasingly embarrassed by their own aggression.
Gandhi started out practicing nonviolence in South Africa, perfected it, and then went onto India to free a nation and change the world. It may be truthfully said that one man brought down the entire British Empire through love.
Why love? Because Gandhi made it his policy NOT to inflict damage on the soldiers occupying his country, but rather show ultimate consideration. While he ended up in jail many times for his nonviolent resistance, his status throughout India, the British Empire and the entire world grew and grew to the point where he was simply referred to as “the Mahatma,” or the Great Soul.
If Gandhi could pull this off with an entire nation moving in unison within recent times, as did Martin Luther King, we can most certain put these principles to work in our own lives.
Let us take the case of a young wife whose husband consistently cheats on her, then falls in love with another lady, temporarily abandoning her and leaving her and the children to fend for themselves. This is the type of situation that is totally repugnant, yet imaginable, even in the best communities and neighborhoods.
How does the aggrieved wife respond?
As a human being, she may feel deep feelings of anger that shake her to the very core, followed by shock and profound grief.
She may cry for days, weeks, even months.
She may wish to kill, not only the seductress who robbed her of her family, but her ex-husband, as well.
However, let us suppose that she was leading a life of meditation and prayer after having an enlightenment experience such that her life was about something bigger than herself. In this case, she would come from a different place. She would know that she does not own her husband (or any human being) and would understand that she is not in charge of his choices (even if they seem to be harsh), but still come from a place of love.
The wounded wife can get in touch with what is most important to her. She truly loves her ex-husband and wants what is best for him, no matter the cost to her. If he loves another woman more, she backs off from putting a ball and chain to him, but gives him complete freedom.
She prays for both her ex-husband and his mistress that they truly find happiness together. However, she need not be a doormat. Of course, she will confront her husband, work out alimony and deal with all the practical issues that such a choice presents. But she will not choose to grill him or browbeat him. She will simply encourage him to open up and share what has been going on with him.
This changes the entire outcome.
This may not sound like much of a victory, but this woman is now free to create a whole new life, unhampered by constant feelings of revenge and punishment... like karma.
Even this event may have caused her enough pain and tears initially… coming from a place of love will allow her to let go and move on much faster. It will help her connect with the deeper love (that Magnificent Intelligence, God) within her and experience inner peace.
She will find a renewed sense of self-worth and be free to create a fresh future with no remains of the past.
Next time you feel like getting even, find some options to the never-ending boomerang of Offense or Defense, or ad nauseum.