Friday, October 20th 2017

Been abused? Surprising Darma from Dharamsala

Lessons from the Dalai Lama — ‘Forgive, turn, and run away.’

BY DAN WOO — More than seven years ago, a friend and I were introduced to a woman who had just returned to Seattle from India after a volunteering stint with Mother Teresa’s organization.

She also went to Dharamsala where she had an interview with The Dalai Lama.

This is part of what she told us. . .

“I asked The Dalai Lama about forgiveness. I asked him what was I to do with someone who had truly abused me.

The Dalai Lama moved his face inches from mine, squinted his eyes and in spacious silence, looked into my heart.

After the passage of some indeterminate time, The Dalai Lama said that I must turn to my abuser and say ‘I forgive you’ and then turn around and run away as fast as I could.”

What I take from this; forgiveness is not an invitation to be abused or to continue to be abused or to condone harming actions. Forgiveness is ultimately one of the steps to freedom and to live presently, not snared by the past.

It is an opening of the heart and movement into the Heart of Perfect Wisdom.

Daniel D. Woo woke up to an understanding that suffering is not ended until view, intention and action are changed. Dan practices law in Seattle, Washington. You can reach him via Facebook or Linkedin.

Read Daniel’s previous articles for Soul’s Code: Screaming at me?: My Buddhist comeback and The heart whisperer.

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10 Comments on “Been abused? Surprising Darma from Dharamsala”

  1. Wow, that is great advice. Yes, the lesson is clear. Forgive, leave. Not "Forgive, repeat".

  2. Fantastic, powerful post and sharing. Thank you from all of us!

  3. There's a concept that says "Acceptance and forgiveness eliminates the need to let go." So many people see this as if I accept and forgive I have to let it happen again. But the real meaning is to accept that it has happened, forgive yourself and others and then move on.

    As crazy as it sounds not accepting and forgiving, especially ourselves often guarantees the pattern repeats somewhere. When we don't accept and forgive we judge the behavior and beat it into ourselves by our judgment. So the concept; "Be an observer not a judge."

  4. To look into the eyes of the abuser and be able to confront and forgive him/her is I think the bigger step to put an end to any abuse. To accept abuse is a kind of weakness toward a person or a subject; whereas forgiveness is one of the strongest behaviors. I think the Dalai Lama meant through his lesson that we must take advantage from our strong moments and use them as a one way ticket to a better life.

  5. Yes, this is a simple and clear way to communicate that forgiveness does not mean accepting the abuse.

    Neale Donald Walsch has an interesting thing to say about this. Allowing the abuse to continue is unloving not only to the abused... but to the abuser.

    An interesting perspective I thought.

  6. I liked this piece a lot, especially by an attorney. The heart and soul of law includes helping people stand up for themselves against abusers -- not to nail the other person to the wall, but to "become whole."

    There is a way to stand up for ourselves while having compassion. As an employment law paralegal, I've seen many case where the legal response to a bullying or harassing situation at work was part of the spiritual journey for all involved. We need more of that!

  7. Thanks for everyone's comments.

    Abuse victims need help that goes beyond ideas and concepts. At the start of my legal career, I was a very young deputy prosecuting attorney in King County, Washington. Among the cases I handled in some capacity were violent abuse cases involving children. When I left that job, I did not continue with criminal law.

    However in the intervening 33 years, I've known or become friends with individuals who work with the abused and also have come to know a number of individuals who had experienced horrific suffering (both physical and sexual assaults) and later recovered. Forgiveness of self was an essential component in their recovery. That includes an ability to let go of the anger and fear associated with the abuser.

    This morning I had decaf with a friend who is one of the most gentle compassionate individuals I've met, who had transformed his suffering with the help of others, professionals and friends, to become who he is today. This friend was seriously abused as a child. I can say with certainty that I do not know in his case (and in the cases of others that I know) what I may have become if I had the same experiences.

    I've learned from these friends and many other people that I must be very careful about my judgments - especially since I know so very little about what others have experienced, unless they feel safe enough to tell me.

    I am also grateful that there is today an abundance of literature (spiritual, clinical, psychological and others) to help those who cannot forgive. Self-forgiveness is inextricably intertwined with forgiveness of others.

    Just a short example of many resources for lay persons are books by Dr. Fred Luskin of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, teachings of Buddhist metta (loving-kindness) or tonglen (sending-receiving) practices, and Dr. Don Colbert who writes from both a physican's and a Christian's perspective.

    I still remember in great detail watching and hearing the individual tell a friend and myself this story shortly after her return from India and seeing the light in her eyes.

  8. Thank you for sharing this. Truly amazing.

  9. This is truly an amazing article. Well spoken. Reminds me of the saying "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me". Always learn from your mistakes not create them over again. Great article!!!!

  10. different story:

    Even 'evildoers' had friends, 'saints' had enemies.

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