The Dalai Lama advised two things when asked how to work with her anger at her sexually abusive father.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jan 7, 2013
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@waylonlewis on Instagram

Reading this (entire) article via the New York Times (article linked) made my morning/month. Restorative Justice is not easy, but it’s real. RJ FTW!

This story, featured in the Sunday New York Times, involves much more than this anecdote, and broke my heart in a good way, and is worth reading. It inspired my day, and to some degree, re-inspired my life with the hope, nay certainty, that we can find forgiveness, and why it’s worthwhile to do so, even in the most horrific and tragic of circumstances. ~ ed.

Excerpt. Click anywhere to read the full article over at the New York Times: let’s reward their original, thoughtful reporting with our clicks.

Baliga had been in therapy in New York, but while in India she had what she calls “a total breakdown.” She remembers thinking, Oh, my God, I’ve got to fix myself before I start law school. She decided to take a train to Dharamsala, the Himalayan city that is home to a large Tibetan exile community. There she heard Tibetans recount “horrific stories of losing their loved ones as they were trying to escape the invading Chinese Army,” she told me. “Women getting raped, children made to kill their parents — unbelievably awful stuff. And I would ask them, ‘How are you even standing, let alone smiling?’ And everybody would say, ‘Forgiveness.’ And they’re like, ‘What are you so angry about?’ And I told them, and they’d say, ‘That’s actually pretty crazy.’ ” The family that operated the guesthouse where Baliga was staying told her that people often wrote to the Dalai Lama for advice and suggested she try it. Baliga wrote something like: “Anger is killing me, but it motivates my work. How do you work on behalf of oppressed and abused people without anger as the motivating force?”

She dropped the letter off at a booth by the front gate to the Dalai Lama’s compound and was told to come back in a week or so. When she did, instead of getting a letter, Baliga was invited to meet with the Dalai Lama, the winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, privately, for an hour.

He gave her two pieces of advice. The first was to meditate. She said she could do that. The second, she says, was “to align myself with my enemy; to consider opening my heart to them. I laughed out loud. I’m like: ‘I’m going to law school to lock those guys up! I’m not aligning myself with anybody.’ He pats me on the knee and says, ‘O.K., just meditate.’ ”

Baliga returned to the United States and signed up for an intensive 10-day meditation course. On the final day, she had a spontaneous experience…




Baliga, as you’ll read, would go on not only to forgive but to be a leading heroine of restorative justice, where aggressors are actually rehabilitated and victims and their families receive the chance at full justice and inner peace.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


17 Responses to “The Dalai Lama advised two things when asked how to work with her anger at her sexually abusive father.”

  1. Sujatha Baliga says:

    So happy to see this posted here, that His Holiness' precious advice to me is reaching so many people, and that being public about my journey might be of some benefit to others.

  2. yingyangyoga says:

    nice article! TY

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Wow! You made my morning–reading the Times article blew my concepts about justice and forgiveness out of the water…and as you can see, above, your story particularly moved me. Thanks for using your experiences, however painful, to develop and practice empathy and help others. You're inspiring.

    If you'd be willing to contact me, I'd be honored if I could ask you a question re the article: waylon [at] ~ Waylon.

  4. Sujatha says:

    just send you an email. Happy to answer your questions about the article. My best, Sujatha

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Paula: Great post. I resonate fully with this information. Anyone who has had trouble letting go of a difficult past, would greatly benefit by reading this… I'm living proof, this is exactly what worked for me.

    Johannah: Extremely powerful. Thank you.

    Susan: about restorative justice.
    Very interesting advice on how to cope with anger…

    I personally needed to read this!

    Lindsley: incredible

  6. I love the line about how they thought she was 'crazy' for holding on to her anger when forgiveness is available.

  7. Shannon says:

    I too am having a terrible time letting go of a sexually abusive past. All of the emotions,guilt,shame,and especially the RAGE of it. Thank you so much for sharing this:)

  8. Ahimsa says:

    Love, love and more love. I feel so deeply for humans with such a cross to bare. Bless you all.

  9. mary root says:

    I have clicked to hear more of your story which sounds so similar to my own! I am referred to the NY Times article, which I have read already.
    A magnificent story, thank-you for your work!

    How do I read more of your transformation? Mary

  10. ggarciaordonez says:

    What an amazing story…! I cannot stop thinking about that father from who his son learnt about anger… How can he cope?

  11. Diane Fereig says:

    There are many of us out there recovering from ongoing abuse, and your candidness is refreshing. Forgiveness is such a key thing and so many times we are blinded by rage and unable to understand the that forgiveness has to heal ourselves.
    Thank-you for being who you are!
    Peace, Love & Light

  12. […] sense of security and comfort. I didn’t know what to do; I felt so much pain. And my parents, with their own abusive patterns and selfish needs—were constantly putting themselves ahead of my younger sister and […]

  13. Sujatha says:

    Hi Mary Root,
    You can watch a talk I recently gave about my journey to forgiveness (and about Mindfulness and about restorative justice) at Berkeley Law. Hope it's helpful!

  14. Nicole says:

    Wow. Thanks very much for this. For people recovering from abuse we are always looking for answers and ways to heal. As much as I do not want to align myself with my perpetrator, I’m going to. Is there a place blog or something I can find for more info or story update? Thanks again for sharing your heart openly for the world to see and find how forgiveness can be done. I really needed to see this today. Namaste

  15. Jenn says:

    Thank you for your article. My past was full of abuse from sexual to physical to emotional. Those deeds left a scar in my heart and mind – and it allowed others the opportunity to think they could hold power over me as well. Though I feel I help women and children now to escape their own abusive lives, the images of the past flicker up at unwarranted times and effect me momentarily. Meditation has helped. Forgiveness has…at times. One abuser still holds anger and denial, any time near this person evokes many emotions, but cannot be avoided. Your article is helpful to continue both work and personal work to help others and myself. One day perhaps peace will finally come to my mind and the images will stop as well. Namaste

  16. Judy Rhodes says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article. At 67, have been dealing with anger/shame/guilt, all the emotions of early sexual abuse for lifetime. When it's a family member .. you seem to never be able to forget! This article is perfect timing for where I am in my life now. Will share this with my sister who has also had
    difficulty getting over past abuse. Namaste