Harsh words hurt us, and we lose a lot of sleep thinking about the words of abuse people use against us. We might forget all the pleasant things people say to us, but the harsh words are never forgotten. We then complain about how insensitive people are and how they do not realise that they have hurt us.

While it may be true that someone’s words to us are abusive, we are responsible for the hurt feeling which we have and which we nurse with such care. The truth is that no one can hurt us, if we do not allow them to. All we have to do is to ignore their words and we will not be hurt. If we learn to ignore cruel words, the abusers will get tired too, and will stop bothering us, said Akkarakkani Srinidhi, in a discourse.

One day a lady brought some fruits for a preceptor and sought his blessings. He blessed her, but returned the fruits to her. One of the disciples of the preceptor was quick of temper and did not keep a restraint on his tongue. He was, for some reason, angry with his preceptor.

He began to abuse the preceptor, but the latter remained calm. The abuser continued to abuse, but still the preceptor maintained his calm. The sishya could not comprehend the passivity of the preceptor. How could a person not lose his temper, when he was being shouted at? Why did the preceptor not react as anyone in the circumstances would? Why had he not burst out in anger? These questions occurred to the abusing sishya. He decided to ask his guru the reason for his stoical silence.

In reply, the preceptor asked the sishya if he had seen the woman who had brought fruits to the guru. The guru had returned to her the fruits she had brought.

Likewise, the words of abuse had returned to the abuser! What we do comes back. What we say reverts to us. When we abuse others, therefore, we are only abusing ourselves. Every unkind word we utter to others, in fact, just comes back to us. So, just as it is important for us not to abuse others, it is equally important not to be upset by other people’s words. Their words cannot hurt us, for they go back to where they came from, and cannot harm us.

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