Someone is carrying anger in her heart towards me. It has manifested itself in such extreme bitterness that she invests energy into turning other people away from me. In a couple of cases, she has succeeded. I have been observing this for about three years, not really sure what I did to deserve her hatred. I even asked her once, but she was either unable or unwilling to explain. Her feelings are so extreme that I am still feeling the effects of it almost two years after I last had contact with her.
There is a part of me that is drawn to thinking about this situation and obsessing over what in the world I could have done to incite this extreme reaction. But then today, I realized that my head was in the wrong place.
What I should be doing is focusing on situations that have occurred in my life in which I have continued to hold a grudge against someone or been unable to forgive someone. Holding on to a grudge is like wearing a heavy weight around my neck. It causes pain and strains my heart and eventually will make me stoop into an older version of myself. So, I need to focus on those folks who have hurt me in some way and work on changing my reaction to a forgiving one.
People are the ultimate fallable mammals. We do screw up spectacularly. Not every bad act is the result of someone wishing to do evil. Sometimes people cause pain because they are so caught up in their own lives that they don't realize the impact they are having on someone. Sometimes they have been damaged in their own lives and their behavior is a result of that damage.
The Buddhist faith describes "dukkha" as an uneasiness that we all carry within us. The work of the faithful is to focus on ridding ourselves of that disquiet. Some describe dukkha as riding in a cart that has a broken place on one wheel. Each time that broken place rolls around, we are jolted. Holding grudges or being unable to forgive is like having a wheel with a broken place. We can't travel through life on a smooth path nor focus on the beauty of life because we continue to be jolted.
Those who have hurt me over the years are just as human as I am. Clearly, I am capable of hurting other people, sometimes without even knowing how I did it. So, perhaps those who hurt me would be surprised to know how I feel. Perhaps by adopting a forgiving heart, I am somehow upsetting the apple cart of cosmic energy. Maybe that energy can heal those who are so angry with me. Maybe not. But I can at least be comforted by knowing that I am trying to let go of those dark spots on my heart. Ridding my life of dukkha and allowing joy and the light of the One who loves me most to shine on me - and through me - each and every day.