A friend of mine recently asked me the following question: If someone is damaging your soul, is it OK to retaliate?
I said I think this is a three part question. What is a soul? Can it be damaged? Is it OK to retaliate?
First. Here is my opinion on the soul. I do believe that the energy that comprises a person’s essence or consciousnesses could very well live on past death. Energy can not be destroyed. So yes, I think people have “souls” This also fits in well my my view on life in general and how amazingly interconnected we all are.
Second. Can it be damaged? Let’s come back to this.
Third. I answered this one with no hesitation. No, it is not OK to retaliate or seek vengeance. I am not an eye for an eye guy. Whole world blind thing. I am trying to make this an absolute, but I do have some exceptions. (Pedophiles and rapists, people that perpetrate genocide…) I digress.
Back to the second question. I do not think anyone can damage your soul unless you allow them. Or there is systematic abuse. This is not easy. The ego is greedy and seems to like or want to feel pain.
Some simple answers to a big question.
Here was her follow up question. If someone is trying to stab you with a knife, what do you do? What do you think The Buddha would do?
My first response was run and find a safe place. Striking back rarely helps these types of situations. But self defense and self preservation are key to long term survival. As for the Buddha… I said I think he would do everything possible to deflect the attack for as long as necessary. If the attack continued I think the Buddha would take the knife. No fear, no anger, no judgement. I talked about the story of the angry man that tried to give the Buddha his anger and the Buddha never accepted it, leaving the giver with the anger. In order to retaliate or seek vengeance, you would have to take possession of the anger yourself first in order to give it back.
I have learned a great deal about myself in the past two years and how I deal with people and anger. I was always angry. On a scale of 1 to 10, I was usually at a 2 or 3. It took little for me to make the jump to a 8 or higher. There are two main things that have helped me deal with the anger and learn how to function better. One was Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits. He talks about the moment between stimulus and response and that people rarely use it. I have learned how to harness that moment and learn to respond in a constructive way without (or with little) anger. The second is that responding with anger or lashing out does no good 99% of the time. Instead it usually escalates things and starts a downward spiral of negative emotions between the parties involved.
Bottom line. Learn compassion and acceptance, learn that vengeance and retaliation never end well. I have heard the phrase “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” That you do not have to take possession of anyone’s anger and give it back. Let it go, let them keep it and you stay centered in peace.