As I was out walking the other day, the saying” Living well is the best revenge” popped into my mind. After a moment’s thought, an additional part to the saying came to mind – “yet if you are focused on revenge, you are not living well”.
At this time of year, when peace on earth and goodwill towards men is often heard, I thought that the addition was rather apt. For the first part of the saying, it almost deals with the issue, but yet does not allow for forgiveness. We are still holding a grudge towards someone for what they have done to us.
It reminded me of a story that I recently read, where a group of young monks were given a sack and a bunch of potatoes. The Master told them that for every grudge, for every thing they could not let go, they had to put a potato in the sack and carry it with them – a physical reminder of the thoughts that they carry around in their heads, which can be outwardly reflected in our behaviour and even our bodies.
After a while, the young monks decided that it was much easier to forgive and let go than to keep carrying around this heavy load the whole time. So, one by one, the potatoes were taken out as they moved on, letting go. Yet, even as they emptied their sacks, they realised that the sacks could be refilled, and quite easily as well. So they discarded their sacks – seeing that the sack was as important as the potato. The potatoes were the thoughts, the sack was their very self. If they held onto their sense of self as lightly as they did their thoughts, seeing that there is no duality and that all things are connected, then there would be no sack, no potatoes, and no burden to carry through life.
I have applied that story to all the old and new grudges that i have been carrying in my life – why would I want to carry them in the first place? Letting go, leaving it all behind and holding very lightly to opinions and the sense of a separate self seems to be the way forward. It’s not easy, however. Forgiving someone means letting go of any sense of righteousness. It means letting go of the idea that someone is wrong. It means simply living in the moment and enjoying it for every second that it exists. The saying goes “forgive and forget”. Now, forgetting is much easier than forgiving. I think simply forgiving is enough – forgetting means that it may happen again. Forgiving implies understanding and not judgement.
So, now is the time to live well, letting go of any ideas of revenge, of grudges. Life is far, far too short to carry around all that we do not need. Go lightly through life. And blessings of the season to you.