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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Jul 13, 2022

Many of the great religious leaders have asked us to practice non-retaliation, to turn the other cheek, and practice nonviolence. The Buddha explained that non-retaliation is not only important for the person who harms us, but for the protection of our self. Buddha once said that if you throw burning coal at someone, you will definitely get burnt. In the same way, when we retaliate in our mind by harboring resentment, we experience that harm by drawing out the suffering we experience. If we retaliate verbally or physically, we create negative karma that will cause us to suffer again in the future. To this point, Buddha once asked this question: if someone gives us a gift but we refused to accept, who owns the gift? When we choose not to retaliate we lay the burden of our own suffering down. JoAnn Fox explains a simple practice for non-retaliation that can be done both in meditation and in daily life.

A practice of non-retaliation 

Step one: Choose peace. Know that forgiveness of another person is necessary for our own mental peace and sanity. When we forgive others it helps us most of all. 

If we’ve already lost our peace of mind and have become angry, the advice is to step away from the situation until we become calm.

Step two: Generate Compassion. Try to separate the person from their uncontrolled minds like anger, jealousy, attachment and so forth. These uncontrolled minds are the real enemies of ourselves and others. They destroy our happiness and cause us to harm others. 

Also contemplate the ways that the person who harms us is suffering or is causing their own future suffering. We try to generate real compassion for them. 

At the end of a meditation: Develop resolve. We make a determination that through the week, whenever we start to think negatively about that person, we will instead move our mind to consider the ways that they suffer. We will try, through mindfulness, to replace our thoughts of anger with thoughts of compassion.

Condensed practice: Choose peace, generate compassion. 

As an elephant in battle 

Endures an arrow shot from a bow, 

So will I endure verbal abuse; 

Many people, indeed, lack virtue. (320) 


The tamed elephant is the one 

They take into a crowd. 

The tamed elephant is the one 

The king mounts. 

Best among humans is the tamed person 

Who endures verbal abuse.

-Buddha, The Dhammapada


References and Links


Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. (Kindle). Shambala, Boston and London, 2011. (Link)


Buddha (1986).The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories. Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A. (Website). Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon. Courtesy of For free distribution only, as a gift of dhamma.