If we characterize spiritual advance as reaching the summit of a mountain, being offended is the weight of a leaden backpack we carry as we attempt to climb upwards. The more we feel offended the harder it is to climb. Frequently, the quest becomes like the fate of Sisyphus: repeatedly nearly reaching the top only to tumble back to the start.
The weight of offense is measured by the resentments and entitlements we harbor for the wrongs done to us. These heavy emotions and expectations poison the mood and spirit of everyday life. Though we may have little control over the things that befall us, we have total control over the attitude we assume toward the fact that they happened.
The shamans of ancient Mexico came to the realization that we live in a predatory universe. Objectively speaking, all life feeds upon other life. Even an advanced Yogi who lives through breathing in air alone takes from it and consumes its prana, the subtle ether that sustains the physical body.
Shamans accept the predatory nature of the universe as an energetic fact. They focus on how to navigate life to both survive and advance under these predatory conditions. They see the major hindrance to successful navigation as the human tendency to get caught in affronts to one’s self-importance.
When Jeanne Marie Ketchel was diagnosed with breast cancer, she struggled for years afterwards with resentment. “Why me, I don’t deserve this, I take extraordinary care of myself!” Eventually she came to, “why not me, I’m no more special than anyone else.” This loss of preoccupation with being offended was to free her energy and lead to her spiritual healing and advancement. When she left this world there was no need to fully reincarnate to work through issues of offended self-importance.
Shamans recommend that we use those occasions of feeling offended as opportunities to hone our souls. Though we may be hurt and injured by an attack, we can lighten our pain and sharpen our focus by not being personally offended by an event. The wisdom of martial arts is to never waste any energy at being offended by an attack but instead to have one’s full attention available to prepare the best response.
Shamans suggest we view our interactions with the antagonists in our lives as opportunities for spiritual advancement. This is not about treating our challenges as gifts but simply as necessary opportunities for growth. The task then becomes what we choose to do with our challenges. Our first task is to ruthlessly stare down any self-importance that would compromise our energy and effectiveness.
If we complain, we lose energy. If we get caught in self pity, we lose energy. If we shed offense, pity and judgment, we are free to mold ourselves into any being that would be a step toward ultimate success.
Thus, if I am unfairly treated at work I can allow myself to do grunt work calmly, without wasting energy on being offended, if I see that this will lead to my ultimate advancement. I can feel good that I am honing my energy for spiritual and career advancement by remaining calm while actually being treated unfairly.
Even if I never receive the promotion I deserve, I am significantly lightening the weight of being offended, and lightening my backpack, as I rapidly surmount the summit! That’s the best use of the predatory universe we live in.
Without attachment to outcome, release the weight of offense and you can’t help but spiritually advance.