Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What I Learned in Germany - The Sadness of Being Sorry Too Late

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got back from a week in Germany on Sunday, November 2nd, 2009. It was a crazy trip as my friend and I discovered that their father had passed away while we were out hiking.

One of the stories that was shared with me was about a person who hated, or was at least contemptuous, of his neighbour. But one day, his neighbour passed away. He contritely went over to convey his condolences and offer assistance but was turned away: A lifetime of ill-will had nursed resentment and bred distrust. It was even thought his gesture was a cunning attempt to improve his own reputation, to be seen as a respectful person even to someone he thought so little of.

Perhaps he was really, at this too-late time, sorry for the relationship with his neighbour. Perhaps pride had gotten in the way of reconciliation when they were both alive, and somehow at his neighbour's death, when an olive branch wouldn't be met with rejection, it was easier for him to be sorry.

You can unburden yourself of an "I'm sorry" at someone's grave, but they're long gone, and can't take it with them.

Dharma: What is that which, when renounced, makes one lovable? ...

Yudhishthira: Pride, if renounced makes one lovable ...
Dharma: What enemy is invincible? What constitutes an incurable disease? What sort of man is noble and what sort is ignoble?
Yudhishthira: Anger is the invincible enemy. Covetousness constitutes a disease that is incurable. He is noble who desires the well-being of all creatures, and he is ignoble who is without mercy.

-- from the Mahabarata

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