No Forgiveness. . .
A businessman once came into Buddha’s assembly, and spat at Buddha. He was furious that his children who could have spent their time earning money, meditated with Buddha instead.
Buddha merely smiled at him. There was no word, no reaction. The man walked away in a huff, shocked. He could not sleep all night. For the first time in his life, he met someone who smiled when he was spat at. His whole world had turned upside down.
The next day he went back to Buddha, fell at his feet and said, “Please forgive me! I didn’t know what I did.” But Buddha said, “No! I cannot excuse you!” Everyone in his assembly was taken aback! Buddha said, “Why should I forgive you when you have done nothing wrong?”
The businessman reminded him of what he did on the previous day. Buddha simply replied, “Oh that person is not here now. If I ever meet the person you spat on, I’ll tell him to excuse you. To this person here, you’ve not done any wrong.”
Identity is liquid — like water it can change shape. But, like the monks we have an illusion that it’s fixed in stone. They saw the same angry man even when he was on his knees.
If you sit on the couch 8-hours a day, we call you lazy. And soon enough, you see yourself as lazy too. This tag made of your past actions, will bite you when you try to improve. Even if you exercise and get fit, you will still see the lazy fat person in yourself.
When you are in this illusion, your growth becomes limited. You fail in tasks that go opposite to your identity. This places a huge ceiling on our life. You’ll only be able to do what your past allows you to.
Psychologists say identity is derived from our memory. When we tend to derive identity from our past, we engage in rear-view thinking. It’s when we look at the past to define what is possible for us in our future. When you say — “I’m too this shy, anxious, stupid, ugly… (insert a bad trait)”, you are remembering all the times you have done that.
A better way to live is through the lens of present, like Buddha. I know you aren’t a teenager and most of your identity is anchored. But research proves, you can start to reshape later in life. Write down who you want to be on a paper. Figure out how that version of you shows up, talks, and acts.
“What’s stopping you from showing up like that?”
Peace and Love, Jim