“You must purge yourself before finding faults in others.
When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake.
This is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement.
Do not look at others’ bodies with envy or with superiority.
All people are born with different constitutions.
Never compare with others.
Each one’s capacities are a function of his or her internal strength.
Know your capacities and continually improve upon them.”
― B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life
The beautiful man who wrote this sentiment passed away this week. As much as I love the perspective, I confess it’s not easy to even step back enough, or pause enough to do just that for me at least. Even with my children, I’ve criticized them for faults I have myself. Oh the joys of being human!
One of the best parenting moments I ever have had was a few years ago. My oldest daughter and son had been fighting, they were both wrong in their actions and each was demanding some version of discipline for the other’s transgressions. I was upset with both of them for hurting one another and really didn’t have the mindset in the moment to master a quick solution on my own. I was frustrated and sad that they were being so terrible to one another. So, as they were each so eager to demand justice, I said fine, you each come up with a punishment for each other. I warned them not to be to draconian and ensure that what they come up with should be fair.
Alas, as each had not given up on their festering anger, the consequences they had each envisioned were absolutely just a small step shy of fifty lashings while tied to a stake. I spoke to them both individually and asked are you really sure that what you’ve decided befits their actions, that the punishment fits the crime? Each hungrily agreed that their sibling deserved their choice and that it wasn’t too harsh. Honestly I can’t remember what they each thought of, but truly at the time, I wondered where these atrocious ideas could even exist in their normally quite kind and loving minds and hearts.
I called them together and stated one last time as I had them look in each others faces, are you really sure these punishments aren’t too much? Both, still so heated, readily agreed. So I said ok, you each came up with a penance, but, instead of it being for your sibling, the consequences you’ve decided will be for yourself.
The silence for that first few seconds afterwards as they each were stunned in fear of what they had come up with for the other was telling. Both my daughter and son started backtracking, pleading with me, tears streaming, that it was too much, too humiliating and abusive. I reminded them that they each thought these were fair and just to be inflicted on the other, so why is it too much for you? I was crying too, as I said, please learn from this, please grasp that vengeance won’t make it better, cruelty and judgement won’t change what happened, that the golden rule and forgiveness are much better choices. I told them that they needed to apologize to each other and really think about what they thought each truly deserved as a consequence, to be careful of rash judgements when we all live in glass houses. I hadn’t read Light on Life yet, but instead told them the gospel parable, lest he who is without sin cast the first stone.
I can’t say they’ve never fought since then, but I know the message was felt and I can only hope that they remember and are learning to pause before reacting and learn their capacities and improve upon them. ❤️here is a nice tribute to Iyengar.