A good friend is writing a book about revenge and has asked for my comments regarding this topic. It certainly makes me consider the metaphysical ramifications of this rather powerful emotion. At first glance it seems quite reasonable to feel the desire to avenge a perceived wrong doing. This is, after all, the basis for the notion of justice and the punishment which ‘fits the crime’.
But intuitively, I feel that revenge is not the appropriate response. There seems to be an element of sudden violence in it. It is associated with such concepts as vengeance, retribution or vendetta. It also seems to be rather Biblical in its response to any seeming injustice.
Of course, revenge seems to be a natural response to personal insults or rejection. It is often the emotion that follows a sudden, unexpected loss of something important–a job, a cherished relationship. In other words, to be fired from a job because of a corporate take-over, perhaps a loss of the individual’s position due to such impersonal changes, is far less likely to induce a reaction of revenge than, say, the knowledge that someone at work engineered the firing because of personal dislike or the threat of competition.
Also, when there is a strong emotional investment in a relationship, the sudden feeling of rejection that can occur when there is unilateral severing of this bond, can result is an emotional crisis. One response is to seek an equally emotional response–the desire to see the other person hurt, physically and/or emotionally.
Although this may seem ‘just’ I believe that it is ultimately damaging to our inner sense of self. It does not promote our own evolution as spiritual beings who seek our own healing relationship with the universe. Such strong emotional negativity actually damages both parties. Like hatred, it maintains a powerful link between the two parties and can bring chaos and confusion to both. The old Chinese proverb regarding hatred is relevant here. ‘If you hate someone, you might as well dig two graves.’
A more difficult but metaphysically and spiritually ‘better’ response is to allow the negative emotions to settle down. When we are feeling vulnerable and wounded, we are in an inferior, a weakened position in relation to the individual who initiated the action. We feel powerless, impotent to move on. We feel paralyzed with grief and lash out in a primitive reactivity to feeling cornered.
With some time and perhaps meditation, we can re-establish our own sense of ourselves, our value and worth. We can withdraw our negative energy from the other individual. Perhaps forgiveness is not the correct response here but we should try to understand that the rejection is not about us, but about the individual who did the rejecting. We do not need to analyze why, merely acknowledge our own continuing value and worth.
By releasing our feelings [good and bad] regarding the perpetrator, we can move on in our own journey. They will no longer have any power over us. Justice in a civilized society attempts to remove the emotional content from the punishment it provides for wrong doing.
Those of us who believe that karma serves to balance all actions can allow this force to act for our benefit as well. We do not have to do anything. Balance and justice will prevail. Ultimately, our own healing is best served through remembering who we are–spiritual beings having a human experience. This requires us to face emotionally painful situations and respond to them with this powerful awareness to the best of our abilities.