Posted on: January 6, 2022 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

Forgiveness is the fruit of understanding. Sometimes, even though we want to forgive someone, we can’t. The goodwill to forgive is there, but the bitterness and suffering are also there. For me, forgiveness is the result of insight and understanding.

One morning in our office in Paris in the seventies and eighties, we received a lot of sad news. A letter arrived, telling that an eleven-year-old girl traveling on a boat across the sea from Vietnam had been raped by pirates. When the father tried to intervene, they threw him into the sea. So the little girl also jumped into the sea and drowned. I got angry. As a human, you have the right to be angry, but as a practitioner, you have no right to stop practicing.

I couldn’t eat breakfast, the news overwhelmed me. I practice walking meditation in the nearby forest. I try to be in contact with the trees, the birds, and the blue sky to calm my mind, and then I sit down to meditate. I meditated for quite a while.

While meditating, I saw myself as a baby born on the coast of Thailand. My father was a poor fisherman, my mother an uneducated person. I am surrounded by poverty. When I was fourteen, I had to work with my father on a fishing boat for a living; work very hard. When my father died, I had to work for my father to support the family.

Forgiveness is the result of insight and understanding.

A fisherman I know told me that many Vietnamese boat people cross the border carrying a lot of precious things, such as gold and jewelry. He suggested that if we intercepted just one of those boats and got some gold we would be rich. As a poor, young, uneducated fisherman, I was tempted by him. And one day I decided to follow him to rob the boat people. When I saw him raping a woman on a boat, I was tempted to do the same. I looked around and when I saw nothing stopping me, no police, no threats, I said to myself, “I can do it too, just once.” That’s why I became a pirate. Go rape a little girl.

Now suppose you are on that boat and you have a gun. If you shoot me and kill me, your actions will not help me. All my life, no one helped me and my parents never helped my grandparents. As a child, I couldn’t go to school. I played with spoiled kids, and growing up I became a poor fisherman. No politician or educator ever helped me. And since no one helped me, I became a pirate. If you shoot me, I die.

That night, I meditated on this. I saw myself again as a young fisherman turned pirate. I also saw hundreds of babies born that night along the coast of Thailand. I realized that if no one helps these children grow up educated and have the opportunity to live decent lives, within twenty years these children will also become pirates. I began to understand that if I was born as a boy in that fishing village, I would also become a pirate. When I understood that, my anger towards the pirates disappeared.

Instead of getting angry at the fisherman, I felt compassion for him. I vowed if there was anything I could do to help the babies born that night on the coast of Thailand, I would. The energy of anger has been transformed into the energy of compassion through meditation. One cannot forgive without understanding, and understanding is the fruit of insight which I call meditation.


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