Question: Out of the blue, I recalled some painful moments when someone close was not nice to me. Though this had long passed, I still feel a tinge of pain and resentment. Why and how could I had allowed the person to treat me that way? I still blame myself. How can I ever forgive and forget? I am still angry at him, though we had sort of moved on. Had he ever felt bad about it at all?
Answer: I like a saying by Ven. Chengyan from Tzu Chi Foundation: 生气是让别人的错误惩罚自己 – Being angry is to let others’ mistakes punish yourself. Why let yourself be punished by someone’s past mistakes… again and again? Let bygones by bygones… What you should ask yourself instead is ‘Why and how could you STILL allow the person to continue to ‘mistreat’ you… by not stopping the hurt NOW, by letting it go?’ He might have moved on, but you have yet to. When resentment arises, remember this… No amount of resentment makes him feel bad, while it only makes you feel bad. It’s thus really pointless to feel resentment.
If you feel that there are issues that still need sorting out, why not meet him to discuss or write him a letter or email? If he is unwilling to respond, let it be. If the response is negative, let it be too – if you feel you have done your best to resolve the matter. There is no need to forget our experiences, as they offer lessons learnt, but there is a need to forgive. If you look back and feel that you are honestly blameless, it is wiser to accept that the negative experience must be the fruition of a spate of negative karma – to be accepted graciously. The alternative is to keep lamenting that it is unfair – but what good does it do to you?
To know if he ever felt bad, you would have to communicate with him to find out more. Guys tend to conceal their emotions more. While it is good spiritual practice to apologise when we make mistakes, it is also good spiritual practice to not crave for apologies. Some folks are just not clear-minded enough to realise their mistakes. All we can do is highlight their mistakes for their knowledge and self-betterment and leave it to them to decide if they feel sorry. Any apology offered in return should be seen as an bonus!