Many wonder, and some even ask, if and why I love our enemies, have I forgotten what they did to us, have I forgotten history, how can I be such as a fool and so sympathetic towards them when I should instead welcome the time of their redemption?
I tell them I have a heart – a big, forgiving heart – a humane, empathetic, passionate heart. As for enemies, I have been my own greatest enemy. My trusting heart and my unwise expectations of reciprocity – from those for whom I toiled and suffered – are my enemies. As a fool, I expected help from those who never proved to be my true friends. I tell them I have seen so much suffering all my life that I wish no more suffering for myself or anyone else. I tell them I believe in the law of karma and I ask them to stop reminding me of my past, now that I have moved far from it. Memories of my personal suffering and wishes for retribution no longer fill my mind or consume my spirit.
Only through our deep suffering we develop empathy for fellow sufferers. Deep suffering cleanses our spirit. One who has not developed empathy towards other sufferers has not suffered enough; his/her days of deeper suffering are yet to come. Feeling empathetic, with true forgiveness, reflects ones liberation and rise as a true human.
They may call me a traitor, a pseudo-secular or a pseudo-intellectual. Some may call me a communist or a religious convert. Some may call me a leftist or a rightist. I tell them I am none of these. I am just a human, treading a middle path, whose heart beats not only for humans but for animals too when I see them in pain. I have been a vegetarian (a vaishnav) all my life – by my spirit – but solely for humane considerations, not for any religious and astrological reasons.
Despite what I say to them, I know they will never change their opinions about me, they will describe me based on the colour of the glasses they wear. They may never realize I have been their true friend, one who cares and works for them.
It will be useful if we try to decipher and understand a great poem from the 15th century, written by Narsinh Mehta in the Gujarati language, vaiṣṇava jana to tene kahiye. The following first three stanzas are reproduced below (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaishnava_Jana_To):
vaiṣṇava jana to tene kahiye je pīḍa parāyī jāṇe re, para duḥkhe upakāra kare to ye mana abhimāna na āṇe re
[Call those people vaishnavas who feel the pain of others; help those who are in misery, but never let self-conceit enter their mind.]
sakaḷa loka māṁ sahune vande, nindā na kare kenī re; vāca kācha mana nischala raakhe, dhana dhana jananī tenī re
[They respect the entire world, do not disparage anyone; keep their words, actions and thoughts pure, the mother of such a soul is blessed.]
sama-dṛṣṭi ne tṛṣṇā tyāgī, para-strī jene māta re; jihvā thakī asatya na bole, para-dhana nava jhāle hātha re
[They see all equally, renounce craving, respect other women as their own mother; their tongue never utters false words; their hands never touch the wealth of others.]
… Bill K Koul (11 Oct 2019)