Here we give up angry, punishing reactions toward others, animals, plants, and things. If such attitudes arise, we resolve not to feed them, and to cut them off as fast as we can.
The Buddha placed great stress on the importance of releasing ill will. In the extreme, he said that even when we are being grossly mistreated by others, we should practice good will toward them, and wish them the best.
To be sure, that does not mean turning a blind eye toward injustice and mistreatment – of ourselves as well as others – nor does it mean turning our back on skillful actions of protection, advocacy, and betterment. It is perfectly appropriate to defend yourself, assert yourself, pursue your own interests – and to do all that on behalf of others, too – as long as all that is done in the spirit of wisdom and good will. This stance is seen pointedly and poignantly in the Dalai Lama’s reference to “ . . . my friends, the enemy Chinese.”
Of course, in daily life, practicing with ill will is often extremely difficult – especially when we feel we’ve been truly wronged. For help, please see, “21 Ways to Turn Ill Will to Good Will.” As a summary, those ways are listed here:
- Be mindful of the priming.
- Practice non-contention.
- Inspect the underlying trigger.
- Be careful about attributing intent to others.
- Put what happened in perspective.
- Cultivate lovingkindness, compassion sympathetic joy, and equanimity.
- Practice generosity.
- Investigate ill will.
- Regard ill will as an affliction.
- Settle into awareness of ill will, but don’t be identified with it.
- Accept the wound.
- Do not cling to what you want.
- Let go of the view that things are supposed to be a certain way.
- Release the sense of self.
- “ . . . ill will is suppressed by the first jhana based on lovingkindness and eradicated by the path of nonreturning.”
- Resolve to meet mistreatment with lovingkindness.
- Cultivate positive emotion.
- Have faith that they will inherit their own karmas one day.
- Realize that some people will not get the lesson.