Compassion is forgiving someone without them knowing it
Have you heard this story from Buddha’s life? I have said it before. Buddha was in an assembly and then a gentleman came and he was very furious. He thought Buddha was doing something wrong. He was pulling people away and people were all meditating now and they were very calm and quiet. He was a restless businessman and he found his children going and sitting with Buddha and meditating, two hours every day. He thought that if his children would engage themselves in business at that time, they could make more money and they would be better off. Two hours of going and spending with somebody with your eyes closed! What will anyone get? So he was very upset and said, “I am going to teach a lesson to this man”.
So, with furiousness, he came and looked at Buddha. He walked straight to Buddha. You see, he was a well-known businessman of that locality. As soon as he came near Buddha, all his other thoughts disappeared but anger was still there. He was shaking. He could not speak. Now words wouldn't come out of his mouth, but he spat on Buddha's face. Buddha simply smiled. All his disciples around there were so angry but they could not react in front of Buddha. So, everybody held their lips and fists tight. They wanted to ask him, "How dare you do this?", but could not say anything. This man could not stay any longer. After he spat, hethought that if he stayed a few minutes longer, he would burst out. So he ran away.
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Buddha did not react or say anything. He just smiled. For the first time in his life, that man met somebody who would just smile when he spat on his face. The man could not sleep that night and his whole body underwent such a transformation. He was shivering as if there’s an earthquake. His whole world became upside down. The next day, he went and fell at Buddha’s feet and said, “Please forgive me. I did not know what I did”. Buddha said, “I cannot excuse you”!
Now, the disciples were shocked. Then Buddha had to explain again what he meant because everybody was in a state of shock. He said, “Why? When you did not do anything, why should I excuse you? What did you do? What wrong did you do?” He said, “No, I spat on your face yesterday. I am that same person”. Buddha said, “Oh! That person is not there now. If I ever meet that person whom you spat on, I will tell him to excuse you. To this person who is here, you have done no wrong”. That is compassion.
Compassion is not saying, “Oh! Make somebody a culprit and then I will forgive them”. That is not compassion. Your forgiveness should be such that the person who is forgiven does not even know that you are forgiving them. They should not even feel guilty about their mistake. This is the right type of forgiveness. If you make someone feel guilty about their mistake, then you have not forgiven them. That guilt itself is the punishment, that itself is good enough. Guilt is good enough to eat you, swallow you. Knowledge takes you away from the guilt and puts you on a pedestal where you do not see the world at all. You do not see the world in the sense that you do not see all this complicated chit-chat of this small world. They all appear insignificant.