“Nothing hurts like indifference”, our teacher had once told us while teaching Shakespeare. These words have stayed with me through the years. I believed in them. You may love or hate a person with a passion but they are still emotions ruled by the heart and by doing so you give control to that person. He or she can still affect you; they have a power over you. But when indifference comes into play you become devoid of any emotions, the object of your indifference ceases to exist in your world – he is frustrated, he is insecure, he feels helpless because no matter what he does or say has any effect on you. He doesn’t matter to you anymore. Imagine his impotency! He may dance around stark naked in front of you for all you care!
But today I question this. Are we truly devoid of feelings when we become indifferent? I think not. Indifference always stems from hurt, anger, resentment, helplessness and frustration. These negative emotions are suppressed when we become indifferent towards a person but they do not really go away. They lie dormant somewhere deep within us only to manifest themselves in another situation. You may no longer have those negative feelings towards that particular person but sooner or later they raise their ugly head. So we don’t really heal then, do we? And as we move on we carry these emotions with us as baggage. We may enjoy the feeling of power we have when we see the other person grovel and make futile efforts to get our attention but it is only a temporary thing. It is only a façade, this sense of pleasure which is almost sadistic because as we move on thinking we are free, we are not. We are not at peace; we are unhappy; we still haven’t found the joy, love and peace that are within all of us, that is us, our true essence.
I have tried indifference many times but except for that short term sense of victory that I have overcome pain and will find happiness, I am back to square one feeling miserable and dissatisfied. I still carry pain with me and often break down. By being indifferent all we do is push our negativity to one corner. All the hurt and pain caused by a person does not leave us if we become indifferent to him or her. It is only a reaction to the pain and hurt caused. Even the line “Nothing hurts like indifference” is negative. “Hurt”? Why? Just because you are hurt so hurt back? Will that give us peace? No it won’t. It hasn’t given me so far! Eckhart Tolle very simply explains what is true power in the following lines.
“Somebody says something to you that is rude or designed to hurt. Instead of going into unconscious reaction and negativity, such as attack, defense, or withdrawal, you let it pass right through you. Offer no resistance. It is as if there is nobody there to get hurt anymore. That is forgiveness. In this way, you become invulnerable. You can still tell that person that his or behavior is unacceptable, if that is what you choose to do. But that person no longer has the power to control your inner state. You are then in your power – not in someone else’s, nor are you run by your mind.” (The Power of NOW)
Forgiveness, surrender, non resistance, yielding, acceptance are words used again and again by our spiritual masters. They may seem like words only for the weak but they are not. They have tremendous power and it takes immense courage to practice them.