Justice vs Forgiveness
I recently attended a women’s circle in Chiang Mai at Wild Rose where we drew questions revolving around a theme. One of the questions I drew was: ‘What is more important, justice or forgiveness?’
Which one is it justice or forgiveness? Not the horrible injustices in the world, but the day to day ones we all feel. When someone has ‘wronged’ us, so often we want retribution. We’re angry. We want vindication. I realized that I’ve wanted that. Then I thought about it with a little more compassion.
I have been focusing on wise speech, and had shared this with my students:
It felt hypocritical to ask this of them, and yet, not live up to it myself. I’d said some things out of anger that didn’t make me feel good on the inside. I needed to let go of anger.
What we don’t always realize is that hanging on to anger keeps us away from joy.
A few days later, Phra Ajarn Jayasaro gave a dhamma talk at Panyaden about anger. He explained that anger is frustrated desire. He continued by saying, “Anger can only arise through a lack of understanding of the way things are.” In anger we deliberately turn away from some elements of truth.
I am paraphrasing some of what Ajarn Jayasaro said here: Every time we act on an angry impulse, we feed that anger. Every indulgence makes it more a part of us. We can’t just decide not to be angry, but we can decide not to abuse physically or verbally. We need to feed mindfulness. If we’re mindful, irritation gets nipped in the bud. If we consciously decide to use metta (loving kindness), that is what will grow.
His dhamma talk is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdXd–FRjSA
Seeing things the way they are isn’t always easy. Meditation helps, but it takes so much practice. We all make mistakes.
I just started reading a book called, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky A. Bailey. She wrote, “Each moment is as it is because the entire universe is as it is. When you struggle against the moment…you are struggling against the universe. No wonder you feel tired!”
I was tired. It is now time to try and see things as they are.
The antidote to anger is love and metta. The more I focus on being loving, the more I feel loved. We get more of what we focus on.
I was pondering this while riding my bike home and stopped to take this picture. What do you notice? Where is your focus? The palm trees? The cloudy sky? The wires? The elephant? The tree with the orange blossoms? Whatever you notice, how does it make you feel?
So, is it justice or forgiveness? For me, it’s forgiveness. Forgive others for the mistakes they’ve made. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. Forgive and let it go.
Forgiveness is a step toward love.
“Love is stronger than justice, love is thicker than blood. Love, love, love is stronger than justice, love is a big fat river in flood.” – Sting