Letting go of ill-will

Letting go of ill-will

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

If we look deeply into ill-will, we will see that it is actually a form of desire; a desire to see the target of our ill-will unhappy. If one is able to give up all desires for material things and sensual pleasures but still clings on to ill-will, then one is still entrapped by desire. It may be more difficult to let go of ill-will compared to the desire for material goods and sensual pleasures. A renunciate who has practiced for many years may still be trapped by ill-will when someone insults him or says that his practice is inferior. His students may forgive him for clinging on to ill-will as long as he continues with his austere practices. The world has its ways of keeping us trapped in delusion.

We cannot overcome ill-will through suppression or by berating ourselves for harbouring ill-will. These methods are at best, short term measures. They cannot help us to let go of ill-will for good. The best way to tackle ill-will is by understanding how ill-will arises and its negative effects.

There are two aspects to ill-will. The first aspect is the event or incident and the second aspect is our perception of the event or incident. The second aspect, our perception, is the real cause of ill-will and not the event itself.

Let me clarify this with a question – Can someone cause us a lot of pain but yet, we harbour no ill-will towards him? Yes; think about your last visit to your dentist!

Most of the time, our perception of an event is exaggerated or we misinterpret the true intentions of the perceived enemy. Our mind is very good at working up our ill-will; it has lots of experience. It knows the kind of thoughts that can stir us in a split second. Our deluded mind is the cause of our attachment to ill-will.

We could also misinterpret the event as good or bad due to our lack of wisdom, for example, one may lose his job and think that it is a bad thing. He later starts a successful business and becomes grateful that he lost his job because he would not have started the business had the event not happened. If we look back at all the seemingly bad events that happened to us in the past, we will find that they are actually blessings; or they were not as bad as we viewed them to be at the time.

What if our perception is correct and the other party does have bad intentions towards us? Does this justify ill-will?

We just need to answer this with three simple questions:

(1)   Who really suffers when ill-will arises?

(2)   Is ill-will necessary for us to protect ourselves?

(3)   Will we be able to think more clearly with or without ill-will?

When we cling to ill-will, we are only harming ourselves. We disturb our inner-peace and harm our health. Our anger may cause us to act rashly; resulting in wrong decisions which were not well thought through. In short, ill-will is not necessary to protect ourselves from others who have negative intentions towards us. Ill-will cannot be justified in any manner whatsoever.

Attachment to ill-will, like everything else, is a conditioned habit. We can also develop the habit of letting go. Every time ill-will arises, we can contemplate the points made in this article and let-go of it naturally. Eventually, letting-go of ill-will will develop into a habit and we will finally be free from this form of desire.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. chiaab
    Feb 09, 2013 @ 18:28:08

    it cannot be denied that ‘ill will’ is bad for mental health other than the remedy like ‘letting go’ maybe radiating loving kindness,goodwill and wishing of well being to others can be of some help…..


    • kriyayogamalaysia
      Feb 13, 2013 @ 13:00:38

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, radiating loving kindness is an antidote to ill will as it will inculcate the habit of wishing that others have happiness; the opposite effect of ill will.


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