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Accepting Mistreatment

Create a vibration of love and harmony. Misunderstandings, not cleared up, build year after year. Karma is in no hurry. If we do not retaliate for negative events the karma is gone. Principles of karma management include appropriate responses. Accepting what happens to us as our own creation from a past life is very liberating. Be kind; have a sense of forgiveness in your heart. Karma's lessening brings us closer to the goal of Moksha

Unedited Transcript:

Was looking at the write-up of Pancha Ganapati this morning. And I thought I'd share the sadhana for the second day because it gives a reference to a very important aspect of it:

"The family sadhana for the second day of Pancha Ganapati is to create a vibration of love and harmony among neighbors, relatives and close friends. This is a day for presenting gifts to next-door neighbors, relatives that live in the area and close friends. The sadhana of the day is to offer apologies and clear up misunderstandings. Relatives and friends living in far-off places are written to or called, forgiveness is sought, apologies made and tensions released. As on the other four days, all gifts received today are placed unopened before Pancha Ganapati."

All to often in life there are misunderstandings and they're not cleared up. They just build one upon another after another after another, year after year after year. And pretty soon, some relatives, it's even hard to talk to them anymore. We've got so many misunderstandings we've managed to pile up over the years.

What Gurudeva is doing here is he's encouraging us to clear them up on a yearly basis. In other words: This is the day to do it. We can't procrastinate and it's not supposed to be done tomorrow or the day after; this is the day to do it. The second day of Pancha Ganapati.

It's hard to do, particularly initially. Could be a new activity for some of us but it's worthwhile. We don't realize how much tension and how much subconscious disturbances that we feel come from these kinds of misunderstandings that we've just let build up. They could be resolved, particularly early on. One of the beauties of resolving issues with relatives, neighbors and friends on a yearly basis is it's fairly recent. It's something both parties can remember; it's not something that happened five years ago. The older something gets the harder it is to talk about it. Doing it within the same year is a great practice, therefore.

One of the interesting aspects of life is: Somehow we get mistreated. Have you ever noticed that? Things happen to us that we definitely don't deserve. We didn't do anything, anything at all to cause that to happen and yet these negative events happen to us anyway. Fortunately, Hinduism has a solid explanation in the belief in karma and reincarnation that: A lot of what happens to us is the result of what we did in past lives, not this life. Lot of karma's a bit slow. So, we do something in this life it might manifest in the next life of the life after. Karma's in no hurry. It spaces things out. That's what I like to say. You don't get too many negative events at once, spaces them out. You get a few major ones and then things go well for a while and then you get another major one and so forth. They're nicely spaced out.

But human nature doesn't want to accept that. Someone mistreats us. Human nature is to be upset with the person who mistreated us. How many are able to say at the time we're mistreated: Oh, thank you so much for mistreating me and bringing my karma back to me. How many can say that? That's what we should say, right? Thank you so much for mistreating me; this karma's gone and as long as I don't retaliate it's totally gone. No, we don't think that way at the moment. We get upset with the person. Perhaps we even retaliate.

A simple example I use in one of my talks is about working in an office where someone always takes everybody else's pens. Is a pen thief. Pen thief. What do you do? When you realize he's taking your pen do you wait till the lunch break and go over and take his? Or take all his pens. That's retaliation. It sounds kind of simple but it would be retaliation. You just feel upset about it or do you do something? Reaction that's suggested in the talk is: You buy a good supply of pens and on an appropriate day you give them to him. Say: You know, you always seem to be running out of pens. Here's a good supply; this should last you a year of two. And solve the problem and also get rid of any grudge on your part. Because to buy somebody pens and give them to him you have to forgive them and realize it's just a weakness.

There's a helpful write-up in what we call "The Ten Principles of Karma Management" that relates to mistreatment. The first three in particular. The first one is what we were talking about: "Refrain from retaliation." Good example is teenager at school. Say 14, 15 year old who gets mistreated by some of the other teenagers which happens in school. What does the teenager do? Does he gather up his friends and fight them back the next day? That would be retaliation. Not a good solution. Does he do nothing? That's not good either because he's going to resent it. Therefore, the best action is to respond through appropriate channels. The channels in this case would be a teacher, a principle, a yard supervisor. Either the child him or herself, or with the help of a parent approaches the right person and presents the problem. Tries to get it adjusted so it won't happen again through going through channels.

That's why we have policemen in the world. You know, if someone shoots someone in our family we're not supposed to go out and shoot someone back. The police do that. They take care of it for us. We need to use channels. Not appropriate to do nothing when we're mistreated in a serious way but we definitely have to use the proper channels.

If we can manage to avoid retaliating, the second point is: Accept responsibility. Which means, whatever happens to us is our own creation. There's a verse in the Tirukural that says: Why do those moan when destiny brings them misfortune who are so glad when it brings them fortune. You know, human nature. When our karma is good we're very happy to receive it. But when our karma is bad we kind of reject it. But being able to accept that whatever happens to us is supposed to happen to us and is our own creation because of how we've acted in a past life is very liberating. Because then, we don't blame the person who mistreated us.

One way to make it impersonal is to think: Well,f this person didn't mistreat me someone else would have to. Because I'm destined to receive that action back from one person or another. So that helps, not look at it personally that this is a bad person; they mistreated me. Somebody has to fulfill that role. You're causing someone to fulfill that role.

And then the third step is to forgive the person. Cause again it's human nature. Even if we managed to do the first two steps, we don't retaliate. We kind of philosophically accept that: It's my creation, the person is the instrument. We can still resent the person. We're still upset with them and we're still clinging to the event. How do we know we're clinging to the event? We remember it frequently. That's how we know we haven't let go.

The Tirukural gives us advice: Let it go; be kind to the person. If you're kind to the person what happens? They become ashamed of their behavior. They're encouraged to up the standard of their behavior by you responding in a cultured way; forgiving them. Saying: Oh I'm sure you didn't mean it. And actually having that sense in your heart. It encourages them to avoid that kind of behavior in the future by showing them you don't believe in that kind of retaliation and ordinariness. You want to approach it in a spiritual way.

Gurudeva has an interesting definition of moksha. Usually, when you read about moksha it'll say something like: Moksha is achieved, moksha is liberation from rebirth and it is achieved through realization of God. Standard Hindu explanation. We need to realize God in a very profound way and then we're liberated. There's no need to come back. Gurudeva adds an important second area to that. He says: Liberation is achieved, yes, when you profoundly realize God but also when you resolve all karma. That's a requirement too. We can't have things to receive here. We can't be scheduled to be the recipient of certain of our karma and achieve moksha. Cause we won't be here to receive it. That doesn't... So, we have to come back just to receive the karma. Therefore, that's why the idea of karma management is so important. We want to handle well the karma that comes back to us through non-retaliation, acceptance and forgiveness as well as act wisely on our own and not create a new karma.

And therefore, the karma's lessening and that's bringing us closer to the goal of moksha.

Aum Namah Sivaya

[End of transcript.]