Sunday, September 25, 2011

Letting Go of Extra Weight - Becoming Efficient

When someone asked the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, why he didn’t hate the Chinese for capturing and enslaving his country and killing his people, he replied, “Hating is inefficient.” Here is a story that explains why hate and unforgiveness are inefficient.

The story involves a teacher who gave her students a special assignment. Each student was to bring a clear plastic bag and sack of potatoes to class. Then the student was to select a potato for every person he had refused to forgive in his life. He was to write the person’s name on the potato and put it in his bag. (Some of the students’ bags were heavy and others not.)

The student was required to carry the bag with him everywhere he went. He was to take it to bed, to work, and in the car with him. There was to be NO exclusions.
Naturally, it was awkward lugging these sacks. (Have you ever lugged baggage through an airport? You get the idea.) The annoyance of it affected the students’ mood, mobility and even health. In a short time, it became clear that the weight of unforgiveness was a heavy burden. Plus having to give it constant attention was tremendous work because you could not drople this burden just anywhere. It becomes part of you and infiltrates every interaction and everything you do. That would not only be inefficient and inappropriate but embarrassing!

In a short time the potatoes started rotting and soon they disintegrated into a nasty, smelly slime, which kept the students carrying them isolated. (Who wants to be around such awful energy?) Of course, this exercise is a metaphor for the price one pays for holding to past anger, pain and negativity. Often, we think that forgiveness is a gift to the other person. However, this exercise clearly demonstrates that it is a gift to yourself.

The next time you are thinking that you can’t forgive someone, reflect on the extra weight you will be hauling around with resentment and the long-term effect it will have in your life and your health. Consider also the possibility and freedom of letting it go! Then you will understand why hate is inefficient and ineffective.