Embodied Life™ Newsletter Archive

All articles written by Russell Delman

Further Reflections on January 6

January 7, 2021

Dear Friends,

During a long walk after writing my "Epiphany reflections", something inside was feeling incomplete. I would like to share one of the new epiphanies that came, in case this might be relevant for you also.

What to do with vengeful feelings?

Mudita and Schadenfreude

AHH, Mudita, which is Sanskrit for the joy or satisfaction one feels for the happiness of another. I fully enjoy, cultivate, celebrate and relish this feeling. Most of us experience mudita with our loved ones, vicariously enjoying their joy. This is tremendously life-giving and worth growing/practicing for many, many reasons.

OHH, Schadenfreude, the German word for the pleasure or satisfaction one experiences from someone else's misfortune. For me, this is much more challenging and brings new reflections. Have you felt this?

I don't know what to do with that part of me that not only wants to see people, like the U.S. president and his enablers, paying a price for the suffering they have created, their lies and intentional misdeeds but also relishes images of their demise. Some part of me thrills at picturing them in prison or suffering in some way. There is an embarrassing joy in imagining them humiliated in public.

Note this is different from the "rightness" of people being held accountable for their actions and the fact that justice demands that one "pays", and ideally atones, for faulty behavior. Justice is essential; the law of karma keeps the universe in balance. This is not a problem. Rather, it is my inner satisfaction, even giddy pleasure, that I notice. This part of me is vengeful.

Some of us might say it is natural to have such thoughts and images. I would say that though retribution/revenge works deeply in the human being, I don't know about calling it "natural". While it exists in all cultures that I know, I am wondering if our collective evolution toward forgiveness and love requires freeing oneself from the bondage of such fantasy. Isn't this a kind of hatefulness?

I have no answer here; rather I am using the current situation to invite awareness of all of this and, while it is here, allowing the pleasure to be consciously experienced (Warning - I must say this awareness radically reduces and, at times, eliminates, the enjoyment). I am doing my best to notice when I am cultivating and watering these feelings and investigating/questioning that impulse as well.

My practice is to:
- Name the experience
- Sense the full array of thoughts, images, sensations, and feelings
- Cultivate the "felt-senses" and watch as they change
- Accept warm-heartedly that this thought-stream lives in me right now
- Explore it from various perspectives
- Notice the effects of the experience and the investigation (Note, I do not try to change it).

I know deeply in my heart that ill-will, vengefulness is not a positive, life-giving trait. I also notice that it is currently part of my experience. Forgiveness takes time and has its own process. My job is to practice awareness as widely and deeply as I can.

Sending Blessings to all on this great journey....Russell


Mudita is alive and well!

- On my walk I saw two dogs joyfully, playing, tumbling wholeheartedly and shared a vibrant "hello" with their owners...letting that in...AHH!

- Yesterday the man who delivers heating gas to my house told me giddily of his new baby... letting that in....AHH!

- In the newspaper today, a young girl, missing in the Colorado mountains, was found and is healthy. The thrill, relief, gratitude of her parents fills my heart.... letting that in....AHH!

- My elderly neighbor just found out that her son's cancer is in remission and is so pleased.... letting that in....AHH

Celebrating the gifts, large and small, that live in the hearts of others is an easy path to joy!

Who in your world
Received a gift
That you can share?

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