The Creator's Compass
Hurt People Hurt People (Part 1)

Hurt People Hurt People (Part 1)

Dig deep and hold on tight, lest you lose yourself, too
group of man gathering inside room
Photo by Jerry Zhang on Unsplash

Hello and welcome to the creator’s compass.

I don’t believe I’ve ever explained the why of audio recording my publication. I do it for a few reasons. Some readers listen while attending to other tasks, and some readers are better able to focus while listening or reading along while listening. It seemed the beginning of this new year was a good time to explain why I add audio.

In this publication I felt inspired to begin a conversation about dealing with unkindness. I won’t touch on the more sinister types of unkindness that veers into real danger in these particular writings. I feel that territory may be more wisely handled by professionals. However, we all experience others being unkind, and we also may find ourselves to be the unkind on occasion. I hope whatever you may glean from what follows helps us all create a softer and kinder world, both within ourselves and the wider world.

How to keep cool in the face of someone being unkind, or a straight up jerk, often takes an unearthly strength, let alone keeping the flame of compassion alive for the unkind person.

Just last month, someone poked fun of my looks. This has been happening since grade school and am quite accustomed to it, but I am stunned that people are still awful as older adults. I did my best not to get swallowed by hurt and lifted my chin, pretending all was fine. But was it? No.

The evening of this individual’s remark I grew angry, imagining dressing him down, shaming him. I can have a wickedly witty tongue when I want. Yet, what good would that do? I suppose the only real thing to have done was to point out he was being hurtful. My instinct to not begin a confrontation stopped me. I wish it hadn’t, because when I don’t, I’m left with anger for not standing up for myself. This person being a jerk is an example of when my compass of compassion gets rusty and it takes a lot of discipline to not succumb to anger, one of the five poisons according to Vajrayana Buddhism.

Hurt people hurt people.

My story is not unique. We all get hurt. And we all hurt others on occasion, often unconsciously so. I can honestly say I have never intentionally hurt anyone, and I venture to guess, the readers here, have in large part, never intentionally hurt anyone either.

Given the nature of life, and the confusions and pains that we carry deeply embedded in our very bones, it’s inevitable that we hurt others simply by our sheer ignorance, arising from being blind to our true nature of compassion and wisdom. We go through our days the best we know how, bumping into each other and tossed around by our confusions like leaves in a storm. It would all be humorous, except for the fact that sufferings are great, and real consequences occur from our confused actions.

Remember, “hurt people hurt people.”

The more hurt we fling around, the more confusion that is whipped up, smacking sharp sands of dust into our blinded eyes. When hurt is hurled at us from a fellow confused soul, our hands tremble to hit back. Yet we have the free will to pause, and instead, pick up our sword of compassion.

In those moments our swords are heavy, maybe quite unwanted. After all, in these moments, our base instincts may be to scream and hurl hurt back. It’s like a dang tennis match, the ball being the hurt, and whoever “wins” has the strongest backhand. In reality, the winner is the one who breaks their racquet. And that is the beginning of a life filled with peace and joy, even if that beginning is hard as hell.

I’ve found it helpful to activate compassion for those that hurt us by reminding myself they wouldn’t be such a jerk if they were not hurting also. If you are prone to defend yourself in the moment, it may help to quell reactionary instincts to repeat the words, “hurt people hurt people” until you relax and can think clearly in order to respond wisely, if a response is even necessary. Many times patiently ignoring someone being unkind is the way to respond. Not easy, but peace is difficult to come by at times.

Meeting unkindness with compassion isn’t excusing deplorable behavior, its a skillful way to not sink deeper into our own suffering by keeping the tennis ball of hurt in play. If we continue to play, the ball will inevitably be smacked back to our side of the court. And possibly, if we stop the game and meet an offender’s unkindness with compassion, they may realize they also can rise above their hurts.

From my understanding at this point in life, stopping the game begins with a path towards discovering our true nature, a path of awakened mind. As we lift the curtain of ignorance, inch by inch, we gain greater awareness and clarity of the nature of reality and are able to behold not only our own awesome nature, but also the awesome nature of others. With an ability to maintain this profound view, hurting others by our actions stops. The tennis match of hurt naturally ends. In fact, the desire to hurt the offending party vanishes. The game stops. It does because our nature is compassionate, and compassion isn’t bound to the ego, ready to defend itself.

The game stops.

It does, because our nature is compassionate and compassion isn’t bound to the ego ready to defend itself

When we end the karmic cycle of exchanging pain for pain, active compassion is natural, like heat to a flame. There is no more ‘trying’ to be compassionate. It feels akin to stepping inside your home after being gone for an extended period of time, because we are coming home to our nature of loving-kindness.

And our suffering melts away like dew on a flower in the early morning sun.

Of course our presence very well may continue to hurt others, but not because of our actions, but because they are caught in the winds of suffering stemming from confusion, and project their suffering onto us.

Yet, if we are holding our compass of compassion, keeping the energy of compassion continually fresh and alive, it touches others, consciously or unconsciously, and our lives gain great purpose.

When I hear stories of people who have gone through horrid nearly unthinkable atrocities and are still able to shine as angels on this earth, I’m more than humbled. They help keep my compass polished. They are my heroes. If they can hold steady in faith, confidence, and compassion, I am surely capable of quelling my ego when confronted with an ugly side of a human being. Until every curtain is lifted and the light of understanding hits each of our minds, I will not stop believing in all of us beholding the wonder and sheer beauty of ourselves, even in the face of unkindness, or cruelty.

It’s challenging to look past unkindness. It hurts when others are mean-spirited. The only way out of the pain that I’ve found is to polish my compass and hold steady against the storm by remembering my own past ignorance, and acknowledging my ignorance yet not lifted. Then I repeat until my body feels it, “hurt people hurt people.” If I stay steady within this view, I soften. Sometimes I soften instantly and in the moment of a confrontation, other times the softening takes time, maybe days or months. I must say, when soft I am at peace, and the stains of pain I experience dissolve in direct correlation to how quickly I’m able to soften.

Until every curtain is lifted and the light of understanding hits each of our minds, I will not stop believing in all of us beholding the wonder and sheer beauty of ourselves, even in the face of unkindness, or cruelty.

I hope my thoughts and explorations on confronting unkind behavior helps us bind together as a force of ever clearer, calmer, and more loving individuals. We all need support to help our ripple effects from our actions cause beautiful songs to reach into the infinite expanse.

Sending you light, love, and the confidence to hold compassion steady amidst unkindness. I stand with you.


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The Creator's Compass
Explorations into the philosophy and practice of what is compassion and how to understand its depth beyond feel-good phrases that fly past us, yet never take root.