Forgivenness…. a key to transform enmity…
It is very difficult to remain an enemy of a person who goes on proving your evil acts as good, as beneficial, as a blessing to him. He is very strange — his approach to life is strange, but his strangeness may change you. What the religions have been teaching does not seem to change anybody.
I have heard about a Christian missionary who was continually repeating this statement of Jesus in his sermons: "Give the other cheek, even if you have been slapped." One man stood up and slapped the missionary. This had never happened before, and he has been preaching his whole life.
A discussion followed, but this did not help; he was full of anger, enraged. But in front of the crowd he had to prove that he followed what he preached. So he gave his other cheek, reluctantly, hoping that this idiot did not hit him again. But that man was also not an ordinary man — he slapped him on the other cheek even harder!
Then, immediately there was a tremendous change in the missionary; he jumped on the man and started hitting him. The man said, "What are you doing? It is against your teaching!" The missionary said, "Forget all about teaching. because it was only about the other cheek. After the other cheek there is no teaching. I am free now! I follow Jesus Christ up to the point of his words — I don't have a third cheek!"
Gautam Buddha made a statement which shows the futility of such teachings. He said, "Forgive at least seven times." Seven times are more than enough, and a man who can forgive seven times would have gone through a transformation; otherwise how can one forgive seven times? But a man stood up and he asked, "What about the eighth time? I want to be sure. Seven times I will manage, but what about the eighth time? Am I free?"
Gautam Buddha could not believe his own ears, could not believe his own eyes. He said, "You have completely misunderstood me. Forgive me, I will make it seventy-seven times."
The man said, "It makes no difference. I'm a wrestler. I can even tolerate seventy-seven times. What about after that? You can give me any number, but the question remains the same — what after that?"
If the question remains, then the man has not given forgiveness even at the first time. He is simply following a ritual, and collecting more and more anger, more and more rage for the moment when all the times that Buddha has said to be forgiving are finished — then he is going to see to this fellow.
Seeing the situation Buddha said, "I take my statement back. I will not say seven times, I will not say seventy-seven times. I simply say, `Forgive.' I was wrong to give you numbers. I don't give you any numbers; just forgive."
But Zarathustra's approach is not to forgive, because if you forgive someone he is not going to forgive you — ever. If you hit him back you are equal; the thing is finished. But when you have forgiven, the experience remains incomplete. You have embarrassed the man; he cannot forgive you. You have created a greater enemy by your forgivingness. Nobody except Zarathustra has looked from this angle of vision — that the real point is to destroy enmity, not to create it. Neither Jesus nor Buddha were able to give you a key to transform enmity.
Zarathustra says, "If you really want an enemy to disappear — and instead of enmity a friendship — then prove to him that he has given you a great benefit, something valuable, and you are so greatful to him that you do not have words to express it." He will feel puzzled, because it was not his intention, but he will see one thing certainly: that the other side is not an egoist, a pious egoist, but a very simple and lovable man.