One day, with my children, I watched a Disney movie, an extra episode of Beauty and Beast.
It was before Christmas. The miserable beast hated Christmas because it was the day he got the curse. He was turned into an ugly beast for his selfishness. Bell, the beauty, wanted to celebrate it with everyone including him. The story goes as you imagine – she is not supposed to leave the property, a bad guy manipulates Bell to break the promise with the beast, she is convinced finding a perfect tree in the faraway woods will compensate disobeying the beast, the beast thinks she is trying to escape, Bell gets the blame but at last the beast realizes how beautiful heart she has and they live happily ever after.
What happens in the story is nothing new – selfishness, loneliness, regret, bitterness, kindness, believing, taking a risk, misunderstanding, understanding, forgiveness and acceptance – all about us humans.
To begin with, since he got the curse, the beast has been really angry. Although he started to understand it is greatly his own fault, he feels it is unfair that he was turned into such an ugly creature. He sees the world bitterly. When he thinks Bell betrays him, his emotion explodes. He crushes everything she and the servants prepared for the Christmas.
What caught my attention is Bell’s behavior when he destroys the days of hard work of her and her friends. She doesn’t get mad at his violence at all. She rather looks back at what she has done and feels sorry for breaking a promise with him. Although it was not her idea but someone else’s strong recommendation to go get the tree to please the beast, she doesn’t excuse why she did it or who told her to do so.
Yes, it is a movie. It is Disney. But, how many of us can really behave like Bell when someone destroys what we put a lot of effort on, even if our own mistake caused it? Most of us will react like ‘Do you really have to break my work!?’ We tend to feel ‘Okay, I understand what you feel, but…’. Bell, on the other hand, never said ‘but’. She is a very smart woman!
Now, I introduce my own experience.
My partner got diagnosed with Diabetes last summer. The disease severely put him down. Having a difficult time to sleep, focus and move, he got really cranky. He became moody, impatient and irrational.
He started blaming me casually and unreasonably. Exhausted and stressed, his memory seemed quite confused and his imagination became pretty wild. He often blamed me based on his imagination, not the facts. At worse, he had no energy and patience to listen to me and inspect his own words and actions. He simply dismissed all my counterarguments by his aggressive attitude.
I got really, really upset. Generally I am willing to admit my own mistakes and confusing behaviors if they caused or contributed to a problem. I understand I may not remember or understand everything correctly. I listen and appreciate someone else pointing out my blind spots. But if someone claims black is white and it is me who’s wrong to say black is black, it is pure madness. It is psychological manipulation, especially toward those who tend to listen.
Fortunately, after his disease got under control and he started feeling better, this madness gradually disappeared. He got the logical thinking ability back, and his patience level came back to normal.
What he did to me was basically mental abuse. He believed in what is not fact or something too weak to say it’s a fact, picked me as a scapegoat and attacked me. It was temporary and due to his extreme stress from the disease. It took a while to me to understand why and accept that he was not the same as before. My lesson was that people can be really crazy when things are pressing.
But, when a crazy person plays a game with you, what can you do?
My partner crushed something precious to me, my trust to him and pride of myself being honest. I got really upset. Even though I understood he was so sick that his mentality was extremely dysfunctional, I still got mad at him.
Based on my own experience, I say Bell is such a strong, smart lady. She must have hurt when the beast destroyed all her work without any appreciation and recognition. But she did not react with it. Instead she focused on his pain to be betrayed by her by breaking the promise.
Often Karma is interpreted as some spiritual curse. But my understanding is it is the reaction caused by unawareness of yourself.
I was blamed by my partner that I was lying and manipulating the fact. I got really insulted and upset. Then, what can I do? I have choices of A) prove I am not lying by logical argument, B) ignore him or C) recognize him but do not react.
A and B are reactions. My partner pushed me emotionally. I get upset. Either I choose to fight directly or indirectly, I decide to push him back. This is the cause and effect. This is Karma. When you react to a cause, you create the result. By this action you are creating Karma. Your painful emotion, the negative energy, is not treated there but passed on from one to another.
C is recognition. In other words, this is how you cut the Karma, the endless passing around, off. It is often described as ‘let go’. But, it doesn’t go without any of your involvement. Before expect it go by itself, you need to recognize what is happening. Recognize your feelings, his and her feelings, the pain and anger. Then, you decide not to be controlled by those. It may take time to really digest an experience. But, this process of recognition stops the negative energy freely goes to the next. You distract and destruct it.
I still remember how terribly my partner treated me. I am not blaming him because I understand it was his best he could do at that time in that condition. Nevertheless, in general, I tend to feel ‘I understand you were sick, but…’. My emotion and pain have been weathered but my beliefs and morals tend to argue with the ‘rightness’ of the matter.
I don’t judge him but I think how I want to act. I recognize the situation, my feelings, emotions and choices. I take control over myself and I grow. When I get sick, I will remember this and try not to be unfair to my loved ones.
Karma is not an uncontrollable curse. It is something you can break by knowing yourself. And it is created and passed on hundreds of times a day in our daily life without being recognized.