This almost unbelievable story about forgiveness is indeed a true story. It will render you awe-struck and probably bring a tear to your eye.
When Granny Joy was 43, China went through the Peasants’Revolution. Her husband and her two sons were beaten to death in front of her by seven angry peasants and she was left with 16 broken bones.
One day, I said to her, ‘PuoPuo (Granny), I will give you a massage. You must suffer from a lot of pain.’
She laughed and looked at me with the sweetest smile. ‘What made you think I suffer from pain? Why would I suffer from any pain, my child?’
I was quite shocked by her question. So I responded, ‘I was told that you had lost all of your family and your body had been broken in 16 different places.’
‘Oh.’She laughed again and replied, ‘That was just what happened to me 40 years ago, but I am not a victim of what happened to me.
‘What happened to me does not make me who I am. My decision of who I choose to be makes me who I am.
‘You see, there are only two grounds that you can build your life on. One is called the ground of joy and happiness, while the other is the ground of fear and hate. You build your life on the ground you choose to stand on. I chose to have joy as my foundation; so nothing outside of me can change this decision.’I was amazed to hear these wise words from her.
‘But weren’t you sad when your children and your husband were killed?’ I wanted to know more.
‘Of course I was very sad, my sweet child. I cried until I had no more tears left, but my sadness did not and could not make me unhappy, nor could it change my decision to be happy.
‘Sadness is an emotion. Like anger, these emotions come and go. They change like weather, depending on outer circumstances. On the other hand, joy or happiness is not an emotion. Joy or happiness is a God-given state of being.
‘It is the very nature of this land, the very nature of all creation.
‘Happiness cannot be taken away from me because it is who I am. It cannot be taken away from you because it is who you are.’Granny spoke peacefully.
‘Why are the city people so unhappy?’I was fascinated by her wisdom and eager to know more.
‘Because they build their lives on external values with fear as their foundation: fear of not having enough and fear of not being good enough.
‘They work really hard to obtain more, so they can have enough, only to find out nothing outside of them can satisfy their endless desire. Just when they think they have enough, they become afraid of losing what they have.’
I looked at her wrinkle-free face in total awe and I just could not persuade myself about the fact that she was actually a woman who had lost her whole family to violence and was almost beaten to death.
‘Were you very angry?’ I wanted to know more about how she handled her traumatic experience and how she could become so peaceful with it all.
‘Yes, of course, I was very angry, but not for very long, for a couple of hours.’ She smiled and replied calmly.
‘A couple of hours?!’ I just could not believe what she said.
‘You were angry for a couple of hours when your husband and your sons were killed and you almost got beaten to death?’ I was almost screaming.
‘Exactly, my child, I had lost them all; so why would I choose to lose more of myself to anger Anger is not going to bring them back. It is only going to kill me.
‘Anger is like drinking poison myself and expecting others to die. Anger is a natural healthy emotion. It is like the thunderstorm. There is nothing wrong or bad about it; it is just part of our life.
‘When the storm comes, you go to a shelter and wait for it to pass. You do not fight against it, condemn it, or try to resist it. It always passes of its own accord. The same principle applies to anger. When you feel angry, just feel its presence, let it be, let it come, but make sure you do not become it, and do not make any judgements about it. Sit with it. It will pass with time. It always passes like the storm does.
‘As soon as you identify with anger, you become it, then you will lose all power and become its victim.
‘Forgiveness is the only doorway to freedom.’
‘Don’t you hate those people who ruined your life?’ I was totally mesmerised by the profound wisdom she was sharing with me.
‘No, I do not hate the people who ruined my life, not for a single moment.
‘These people thought they were doing the right thing. They were good people who were scared, lost and blind; they did not know what they were doing. Up to this day, I still pray for their peace. Many of them have passed on now. Before they went, I went to help them make peace with themselves.’
‘You went to help your enemies make peace with themselves?’ I screamed.
‘They were not my enemies. They were my brothers.’Granny Joy responded calmly.
‘But they killed your husband and sons. How could you not hate them?’I was shouting really loudly.
‘The result of hating is the death of the heart. I am not capable of hating, because hatred does not exist in a peaceful heart. Also, I needed to conserve my energy for healing. Negative emotion of any kind was not going to help me heal; so I chose not to give it any power.’
‘How did you cope with your pain?’
‘I did not have to cope with my pain. I lived through it with grace and gratitude.’
‘I used the pain to my advantage.’
‘How? Tell me more.’
‘When you face the sun, you never see your own shadow. The sun is the cause of the shadow, but it is you who decides and chooses which direction to face.
‘Even though my pain was a physical reality, the effect it had on me was still totally dependent on how I chose to relate to it. It is up to me how I filter my experience. In other words, my pain may be inevitable, but suffering is totally optional.
‘You must choose to suffer in order to suffer. If you do not choose to look at the situation as a form of suffering, then you cannot suffer. You can transcend any tragedy and pain into triumph if you so choose.
‘You are the one who determines the outcome of your life. You see, my body is only a small part of who I am; so my physical pain is only a small part of my reality.
‘The bigger part of my reality is the sun, the light, the happiness that is me. That is what feeds me, sustains me and heals me.
‘How did I cope with my pain? It was as easy as looking at the sun, turning on the light, accepting my physical reality, seeing it for what it was, without dramatising, labelling, or resisting it. If I tried to run away from the pain, the pain would have more power over me.
‘It is like chasing after your own shadow to try to get rid of it. Only an insane person will do something like that.’
Puo Puo paused for a few seconds, then she continued, ‘When I experienced the intense physical pain, I would have tears coming out of my eyes, but at the same time I experienced intense joy in my heart. I felt grateful that my body was alive and functional enough to give me the experience of pain. I knew that if my body could experience pain, it could also experience healing.’
I had many sleepless nights after this extraordinary experience with PuoPuo. A few months later, I met her and a middle-aged man in a village community centre and I heard that he called her ‘Mother’.
Later that night I found out that one of the peasants who killed PuoPuo’s son died from an accident in the mines; his wife died two years later, leaving behind a six-year-old son. PuoPuo took the little boy under her care and brought him up as her own son . . .
This is the true spirit of humanity –when one heals in the heart, the body and mind heal beyond comprehension.
True healing can only happen in the light of a higher form of love –the conscious love that dissolves all human barriers; the type of love that transforms our pain into understanding, suffering into wisdom, and allows us to love our enemies as our friends.
The above article has been excerpted with permission from the book ‘Freedom To Love’ by Hong Curley
Hong is a Chinese medical doctor who specialised in psychological healing before she retired. She earned her expert status from having conducted over 38,000 consultations. She is author of Freedom to Love, from which this story was derived.[share title="Share this post" facebook="true" twitter="true" google_plus="true" linkedin="true" email="true"]