Long ago I heard a Tibetan Buddhist teaching on what is the best response when someone hits you in the face.
I took my vows 17 years ago and rarely am I able to even consider the teaching when put in such unpleasant circumstances. But then again, I don’t get hit in the face often. OK, I’ve never been hit in the face… or even been hit. But I’m guessing the Lama was giving a demonstrative example and not actually thinking that we Canadians go around punching each other out.
Moving on… let’s assume the teaching was about what you should do if someone does something crappy to you.
And here, as best I can explain, is the premise.
If someone hits you in the face you have two options. You can hit them back (and I would probably hit back even harder), or you can react with something along the lines of, “Oh my goodness, why would you ever hurt me? You must be so upset. What can I do to help? What can I do to make this better?”
See, it’s a simple teaching on karma. If you hit them back you only add to your own negative karma and continue a cycle. If you respond with compassion and kindness you add to your own positive karma.
The best response is clear. Almost impossible to do, but at least something to aspire to.
It felt like someone hit me in the face this week. Every ounce of me wanted to strike back and hurt them. Bring them to their knees.
Luckily I was stuck in traffic. We all know you’re not allowed to text and drive. I had to stew over the hurtful circumstance and words for a long time.
Then I remembered the story about a fist to the face.
When I did respond it was a credit to the Lama that told me the teaching so many years ago.
The final outcome was filled with love and understanding.
This story and what happens next will most likely be a chapter in my new book.
But for now the message is clear, “don’t text and drive.”