Here is an interesting anecdote for anyone who is being attacked by gossips and slanders. This story further reinforces the wisdom of the words: Don’t take things personally.
According to the Buddhist tradition, the master went to the marketplace in a town with his disciples to collect alms. Suddenly, a woman in the crowd accused the Buddha of committing many terrible things in his life. A crowd was attracted by the commotion and was waiting for the master to reply to clear his good name. The master stood there silently and did not respond to any of her ridiculous accusations. After a while and not getting any response from the Buddha, the woman and the crowd were tired and went away. On the way back to the monastery, one of his favorite disciples asked the Buddha, `Why didn’t you reply to any of those horrible accusations thrown at you in public?’
The master replied, `When a gift was given to you and if you didn’t accept it, to whom does the gift belong?’
`It still belongs to the person who sends the gift,’ answered the disciple.
`So it is obvious that the accusations are merely the distorted thoughts of the accuser.
They are not mine because I do not accept them,’ said the master.
Just for today, I won’t take things personally.
When people pass vicious gossips around, l know that those are their problems and not my problems. It is their way of seeing the world. It is nothing personal because they are dealing with their own poisonous thoughts. Others can have their own opinions according to their belief systems and values. So what they think about me is not really about me but it is about them. Their negative thoughts and gossips are a reflection of their values and their morality. The singer is defined by the kind of songs sung by him or her. The poor quality of the song reflects much more on the singer.
It says nothing about the audience listening to it.
To counter the gossips, you must not take anything personally. Once you take it personally, obviously you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the emotional poison seeps into your system and the virus corrupts your mental system.
We fall prey to the trap because of our sense of personal importance. We need to protect our egos. It is wise to remember that what other people say or do is because of themselves, not because of you. They live in different worlds from the one you live in.
So when you take something personally, you are assuming that they know what is in your world. When someone passes an insulting remark in your presence, don’t take it personally because in reality, this rude person is dealing with his or her own negative feelings, beliefs and opinions. As long as you ignore and reject the emotional poison, the poison will boomerang and go back to the sender. But if you take it personally, it means you have accepted the poison and it becomes your poisoned gift. That is how black magic works in primitive societies. It becomes effective and deadly only if the victim believes in the power of the witch. So don’t take it personally when other people gossip about you.
By assuming this impersonal attitude, to a significant extent, you are immune to the poison in your world.
The malignant virus can only corrupt the minds of the gossipers.
I wish I could benefit from this valuable insight about gossips at the initial stage of my trouble. That would have saved me a lot of pain and suffering caused by shame.
Anyway the intense suffering has transformed my pain into love which gives me the privilege to share my insights with some suffering souls outside there- confused and lost in a different form of toxic shame.
Affirm to yourself not to take things personally. You are not the centre of the universe.
In reality you and I are mere specks of dust in this infinite universe!
So why bother to be upset when other people gossip about you?
Why bother? You will be here for only a very very short time. Here today and gone tomorrow! Don’t take their gossips personally. They are like smoke blown across your face and will be gone in a short while. Nothing in this world is permanent!
Whenever we hear an opinion or rumor and believe it, we agree with it and it becomes part of our belief system. It does not matter whether it is true or not. Once we accept an opinion and agree with it, the opinion assumes a dimension of `truth’. Unfortunately most people believe the gossips passed around to assassinate someone’s character either through word of mouth or through `poison pen letters’. According to the author of the book, “The Four Agreements”, `Gossip is black magic at its very worst because it is pure poison. We learned how to gossip by agreement… Emotional poison was transferred along with the opinions, and we learned this as the normal way to communicate..’
This author continues to compare gossip to a computer virus. This is a pretty apt analogy because one little computer virus can cause a tremendous amount of harm leading to a serious breakdown in human relationships. A small piece of misinformation or distorted opinion can undermine communication between people, causing every person it touches to become infected and contagious to others. To aggravate matters, in an effort to clear up the mess and confusion, you are forced to gossip about yourself and spread these viruses to someone else. In the process of trying to minimizing the damage to yourself, you risk making the messy situation even worse.
According to this Chinese parable, a Chinese peasant by the name of Zheng Shen left his village to seek his fortune overseas. He bade goodbye to his mother and left his home reluctantly. A few months later, a criminal with the exactly the same name committed murder and rape in a nearby village. The rumour of this horrible crime spread to Zheng Shen’s village. Without his knowledge, poor Zheng Shen’s name was dragged through the mud and was soiled.
A family friend of Zheng Shen heard about the rumour and relayed the horrible news to his mother who was cooking in the kitchen. At first, Zheng Shen’s mother laughed at the ridiculous story. She refused to believe that her son would commit such terrible crimes.
A short while later, a second villager rushed into her kitchen and repeated the rumour.
By this time, the poor old woman was trembling with some unknown fear.
The rumour was spreading very fast. Before she could finish her cooking, the third villager came to the kitchen scolded her for having such a son!
By this time, however, the poor woman, gripped by panic and deep shame, ran away even though she really believe in her son’s innocence.
What can we learn about rumours and gossips from this simple anecdote?
Gossips spread fast and they become more distorted, more exaggerated and uglier as more people are involved in the reconstruction of the story in their own minds.
This story shows us that when rumours repeated often enough, they become credible and assume the form of `realities’ in other people’s minds.
What can you do in such a messy situation?
Stay calm and let the smoke drift away. The more panicky you are, the more polluted air you will breathe in. Just trust yourself and trust God. This too shall pass away.