I write my morning posts off the top of my head, meaning I don’t generally research the topic, so you must forgive me if I use ancient stories merely as devices to get a message across, and don’t bother unduly about details or settings. Anyway, this morning it struck me in a new way that some humans are so damaged that they cannot express their intense feelings for others except via negative comments, passive-aggressive behavior, slurs or downright untruths.
Now Gautama Buddha’s beautiful wife Yashodhara had a brother, Devadatta, who hated his brother-in-law for several reasons—not least that he had abandoned his beloved sister to follow the path to enlightenment. Devadatta did not simmer silently nor alone, no; he sneaked around the Buddha’s sangha (congregation of monks) making trouble and telling terrible lies about the sage. The Buddha tolerated him, of course, for nothing can fracture the equanimity of a true sage. But one day, when Devadatta crossed the line yet again and began to spew insults at him, Gautama said something like this: I know that anger is all you have to offer me, Devadatta, but nevertheless I reject your gift.
Why did he use the word “gift”? I think it was because he knew that all Devadatta had within him was raging jealousy and hatred, and therefore all he was capable of was hurling toxic arrows at a man he both loved and hated. Loved? Yes, loved, because I find it impossible to believe that beneath this volcano of anger, Devadatta did not love the Buddha, or he would never have bothered with him.
This tale struck me hard because I felt that if Gautama could so firmly reject hostility, so could I. Which is why, if I sense that someone close to me has mixed feelings of anger and love for me, I sooner or later cut away from them, rejecting their bizarre “gift.” What’s more, this “rejection” is actually an act of love; think cosmic love here, not the icky sticky emotion that passes for love among humans, but the deep love that respects the spirit of a being and wishes them to evolve above all else
There are great benefits to disconnecting: for one thing, it sends a strong message that there is critical work to be done before the rift can be bridged. Our attacker can no longer do what he or she does with impunity for now there is a price to pay. Do no harm, states the basic spiritual dictum, and by disconnecting (temporarily or permanently) from those who wish to hurt us (simply because they have ignored the path of wisdom and chosen to be eternal spoiled children, unwilling to acknowledge the shimmering beauty of the inner path that some of us choose to follow), we prevent them from spreading their misery and also block their creation of further negative karma. Yes, it is perfectly fine to reject gifts we do not want; in this way we sharpen the blade of our own discrimination and become even stronger in our resolve to surround ourselves with only the highest goodness.
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to destroy all that blocks us from knowing that we are the immortal and blissful Self!