As always, I am sharing something close to me, something which I see often in my day to day life. I am sure everyone must have seen or even practised this as a principle. Ever since we are children, we are taught a proverb- tit for tat. So many stories like the fox and stork instantly come to mind. For those who don’t know-

Once a fox invited a stork for lunch. He served him porridge in a flat dish. Due to his long neck and beak, the stork was unable to eat it and left hungry. The next day, the stork invited the fox for lunch. He served porridge in a container with a long, slender neck. The stork was easily able to drink due to its beak, while the fox left hungry. This is of course, a much smaller paraphrase, but you get the point. 

I present to you that this saying and story ( or some version of it ) has imbibed within us a sense of entitlement. Often we throw around phrases like- “She behaves in a wrong way with me, therefore I will behave wrongly with her.” or “He gave me a cheap gift last birthday, I will do the same this time around” or some version of it. If we ponder upon these statements, we can find that the common denominator to all these is ego. Or rather an inflated sense of it. Some ego is necessary. Healthy even. Because if we don’t have a strong sense of self, we will become a doormat for people. Without ego, people will take advantage of us, take us for granted. It is healthy ego that makes us firm, helps us to take a firm stand despite of what others think or say to us. 

But just because we are being wronged with, does not give us the license to wrong them as well. Because then there remains little difference between us. Now I know what people are thinking, “Shouldn’t criminals be punished then?” of course they must. For the sake of upholding dharma, for the sake of law, criminals have to be duly punished. The difference however, is alike a soldier and a militant. Both use weapons to kill. One does it out of selfish desires, misguided interest while the other does it out of duty towards his/ her country. And lets be a bit practical here- most day-to-day scenarios do not warrant such extremism of thinking. 

What if I extend more hospitality towards those who don’t extend the same? What if I talk sweetly to the delivery guy who addressed me a bit rudely? Whats the absolute worse that can happen? People will ignore and continue the way they are. Doesn’t take anything away from the fact that you did something good. 
Unrelated confession by the way- I am an adult and I enjoy videogames! In a famous videogame called God of War which released in 2018, there is a particular line that stands out and sets the tone for the series- “Don’t be sorry, be better.” Instead of simply apologising out of courtesy, instead if we actually work on what is lacking, we can make progress. Sometimes an apology is not needed. The drive to be better is enough. By doing so, the mind instantly is freed out of the shackles of wanting and unrealistic expectations. As monk by the name of Gaur Gopal Das once said( paraphrasing! ), “If you want respect, you might not get it. If you want to give respect, who can stop you? If you want love, you might not get it. If you want to give love, who can stop you?” 

I’d like to share a small story from the Ramayana before I end this- When Lord Rama informed his brother Lakshmana and mother Kousalya about his father’s decision to make his half-brother Bharata the king due to Kaikayee’s wishes, the usually calm Lakshmana was fuming. Bow in hand, he asked his brother to claim the throne for himself since the entire land of Ayodhya demands it. He chastised his father and half-mother. He proclaimed that he will slay any living thing that comes in the way of his brother’s chariot and the throne. Lord Rama understood that his brother actually intended to do so, and it was not a hollow threat. He instantly calmed him down. What happened later is history. 

Now, anyone in the place of Lord Rama, blinded by anger, grief and injustice could have easily left Lakshmana to his deeds and taken the kingdom by force. Tit for tat you can say. You try to unjustly oust me out of my birthright, in retaliation, I do the same. But Lord Rama chose to be better. I too want to make that choice every time opportunity presents itself.

Word of caution though, people might easily take advantage of you. While being good to others, don’t be blind. Don’t turn a blind eye towards everything they say and do. If something wrong is being done to you, speak up. It is everyone’s right to retaliate against injustice. Don’t become a dtoormat due to your goodness. Learn to say no if it is really beyond you. Society will respect you nonetheless. What I am trying to put forth is the idea to not be entangled in this never-ending cycle of not doing good to others just because the other person isn’t good to me. 

And leave the punishment to God please. He’ll handle it. Ever since I have given up the need to get back at those who try to wrong me, I have seen marvellous results. Somehow, those people suffer before my own eyes. And I know for a fact that it is their bad karma from the past that caused it. In turn, it is my good karma and practice that helps me exercise restraint. If not anything, it will make you peaceful. Our lives are anyways inundated with problems. Let God take care of some of it. 

Thank you for reading my posts. My previous post was featured and it gives me immense confidence to write more. Thank you once again. And remember- be better.