Be Right or Be Kind?
Sow love to melt away anger.
Published: July 20, 2010
Saying no to resentment gives us peace.
The 79th verse of the Tao Te Ching, which has been especially helpful to me personally, can be called “Living Without Resentment.” We’re asked to change the way we hold resentments following a difference of opinion or an outright quarrel. Now what causes annoyance and anger after a dispute? The generic response would be a laundry list that detailed why the other person was wrong and how illogically and unreasonably they behaved, concluding with something like, “I have a right to be upset when my [daughter, mother-in-law, ex-husband, boss, or whomever you’re thinking of] speaks to me that way!” But if you’re interested in living a Tao-filled life, it’s imperative that you reverse this kind of thinking.
Resentments don’t come from the conduct of the other party in an altercation—no, they survive and thrive because you’re unwilling to end that altercation with an offering of kindness, love, and authentic forgiveness. Lao-tzu says, “Someone must risk returning injury with kindness, or hostility will never turn to goodwill.” So when all of the yelling, screaming, and threatening words have been expressed, the time for calm has arrived. Remember that no storm lasts forever, and that hidden within are always seeds of tranquility. There is a time for hostility and a time for peace.
As the storm of a quarrel subsides, you must find a way to disregard your ego’s need to be right. It’s time to extend kindness by letting go of your anger. It’s over, so offer forgiveness to yourself and the other person and encourage resentment to dissipate. Be the one seeking a way to give, rather than the one looking for something to get.
Regardless of what others around you are doing, if you live with “true virtue,” you’ll seek a way to give. This truth completely aligns with the Tao; after all, the creator of life is always giving, never taking. So change the way you think about scarcity and resentment, and begin to truly feel the question How may I serve? The universe will seem to respond, Finally, you got it—you’re acting like me! I’ll keep that flow coming into your life in ways that will astound and delight you. As Lao-tzu says, “To the giver comes the fullness of life; to the taker, just an empty hand.”
Here are some ways to make the wisdom of the 79th verse your reality:
- Picture yourself at the termination of a quarrel or major dispute. Rather than reacting with old patterns of residual anger, revenge, and hurt, visualize offering kindness, love, and forgiveness. Do this right now by sending out these “true virtue” thoughts to any resentments you’re currently carrying. Make this your standard response to any future altercations: I end on love, no matter what!
- In the midst of arguments or disagreements, practice giving rather than taking before you exit the fracas. Offer the Tao treasures or real virtues by presenting kindness rather than a put-down, or a sign of respect instead of proving someone wrong. Giving involves leaving the ego behind. While it wants to win and show its superiority by being contrary and disrespectful, your Tao nature wants to be at peace and live in harmony. You can reduce your quarreling time to almost zero if you practice this procedure.
- Silently recite the following words from the Prayer of Saint Francis: “Where there is injury, [let me bring] pardon.” Be a giver of forgiveness as he teaches: Bring love to hate, light to darkness, and pardon to injury. Read these words daily, for they’ll help you overcome your ego’s demands and know “the fullness of life.”
Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D., is an internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of self-development. Wayne holds a doctorate in educational counseling from Wayne State University and was an associate professor at St. John’s University in New York.