You can only hurt yourself

hurtSo I asked a friend recently, “why do you say things just to hurt me?”. Bhante Sujatha was standing nearby, and said “Nobody can hurt you, you can only hurt yourself”.
This was kind of like a gut punch to awareness for me. I am still reeling from the blow a bit actually. And really, I just love when Bhante does that to me. It makes me think, and realize how unaware I am sometimes of my thoughts and words. it’s that ignorance, lack of wisdom, that I often refer to here.
And please don’t think that I just accept everything Bhante says, because I always examine it myself. But fortunately, Bhante’s wisdom is always spot on. And how do you not love someone who can sucker punch you in the kindest, gentlest way? Obviously I do have so much love and respect for Bhante.
But enough about Bhante Sujatha, let’s get back to the issue of hurting ones self.

If someone tells me I am fat or ugly, will my feelings be hurt? I have to admit, to some degree, yes they would be.
But I see now that the other person did not hurt me. It was my own mind that hurt me. And the same would apply if someone said I hate you or I don’t love you anymore. It is not the other person or their words which hurt me, it is my own ignorance that did this. An untrained unskilled mind views these things as reality and personal. Both are completely incorrect.
I am no different or lessened by any words. I can be mindful, loving and accepting of this person. These moments are great opportunities for mindfulness and compassion. Awareness of the suffering of others, and cultivating love where it may seem that none exists.
Part of attempting this mindfulness is letting go of expectations I think. When we expect anyone to act, speak or respond in a certain way, we are only deluding ourselves. I can’t control you, nor should I wish to. You are a human being, just like me.
When Bhante teaches us to accept, be mindful and cultivate, he makes no mention of judging or expecting anything. Therein lies the greater wisdom.
Boasting and pride can be replaced by silence and humility. I think perhaps that I talk too much and think too much.
Listen, with an open heart. Think, with compassion and acceptance. Act, with loving kindness and equanimity.

So thank you so much Bhante, I needed that.
And I hope that you may also find benefit to his words, and as always I wish that you be well, happy and peaceful.

8 comments for “You can only hurt yourself

  1. dshort2010
    Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I remember saying this exact thing to my mom. We were talking about the negetive talk in her head…she told me that when she’s at the grocery store, she hears her mother telling her how fat she is. So, she buys ice cream and cookies, then eats them all.

    So I said to her…but Grandma isn’t here telling you those things…YOU are! She, for just a moment, understood that it was her own thoughts…

    I wonder myself sometimes, if the things that people say hurt me, because a part of me believes it is true. Working on the mind is and endless journey, but a fullfilling one!

  2. jgshobie18
    Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Once again writing about something that I can see, understand, and agree with, but is very difficult to practice. I have to admit the whole concept is pretty new to my thinking. I am told that is why we call it “Practice”.

  3. ParkRidgeDDS
    Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    I can accept and understand the concept that “the other person did not hurt me….it is my own mind that hurt me” for most circumstances. But when you talk about what I call my “love circle”….the people that share my love either by biological connection or commitment connection, that concept is a bit harder for me to wrap my arms around. I struggle more with it. How can you not be hurt or angered or frustrated by the words that your love circle may say…perhaps in an effort to “help” you. It’s a hard one for me. Even listening with “an open heart” how can you not be affected by the words of the people who mean more to you than anything? How can you accept that is “my own mind that hurts me” when it doesn’t always feel that way?

  4. dshort2010
    Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    ParkRidge…I can defintely understand how hard it is to wrap yourself around it when it comes from someone that you know should love you. I have a very volital relationship with my mother, and it took me many many years to really grasp that the mean hurtful things she said are truly NOT about me. They come from a place of pain…HER pain. It is only by truly stepping back, and quieting the noise of all that they say, that you can truly hear the message….

    In most instances it is simply “I love you, please love me too!”

    I stopped taking her “attacts” on me personal. They really have nothing to do with me. I try to return to her love compassion and understanding. It is almost never received that way, but I know that is also on her.

    Take hear PR…quiet the noise, and hear the message. These people are usually in a great deal of pain.


  5. WHPDave
    Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 7:47 am

    @dshort2010 @ParkRidgeDDS That’s a wonderful response dshort2010. I think if we are able to stop and see when “I” enters the equation that we are then viewing things with an unskilled/untrained mind. And yes, the closer you are to someone the more challenging this can be. But letting go of the “self” is still the right action. We cannot possibly view anyone else with compassion and equanimity when we are absorbed with the self.

  6. san
    Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    David brings up an excellent point here. I guess, everybody who commented is in the ballpark. I call this “becoming a victim.” We are looking for happiness outwardly instead of inwardly. We tend to think animate and inanimate things make us happy. I agree that nobody can hurt you unless you let them. This happens with loved ones a lot. Not understanding the nature of the reality we get too close and too attached. That builds up tremendous amounts of expectations each time when we contact with these people or materials. It’s become mine. At this point instead of enjoying it we try so hard to protect it. Now we remain in fear of losing what we own.

    We become a victim of others anger and love. I think this is a very critical point because our brain makes these illusions and make us to believe it. Understanding, compassion and mind training is the only way to handle this problem.

    “Just as rain does not penetrate a well-thatched house, cultivated mind doesn’t get hurt” ~ the Buddha~

  7. WHPDave
    Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 8:00 am

    @san Thank you so much Bhante for your great comments. But I would ask, is one supposed to try and detach from loved ones? Or do we merely accept that we do not own and possess these people? Detachment can seem to be somewhat un-loving to me.

  8. san
    Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 9:10 am

    @WHPDave You don’t have to detach from loved ones at all. Just be with them and enjoy the accompany. When the time comes to let go of things, would you be able to let them go? So, in my opinion we should be able to be with them and enjoy their presence and when the time come should be able to let them go. We try so hard to hold on to them. It’s not just because of love, it’s because of fear of losing our pride, ego etc.. I’ve seen so many people try to so hard to keep their loved ones just for themselves, but they don’t realize that their happiness is letting you go.

    Nobody encourage us to let loved ones go and be an ascetic. When we understand nature of things it allows us to be wise. We wouldn’t be fall apart when things lose. Equanimity becomes stronger. I think if you can detach that’s where we can show unconditional love to somebody. This can be a very hard practice. Good luck!!!! :)

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