Taste of Liberation

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An ex-colleague (Z) whatsapped me last week with a cryptic message: “Are you free to talk now?” Z explained that she wanted to share her realization for that week with me as I would probably understand it better than others. We came to know each other as she had supported the business segment that I worked in previously. Also, we had sometimes discussed dharma and its application in life in general.

About a year ago, Z was somehow accused of attempts of fraud by her colleague in finance. She had always upheld her own highest standards of ethics and compliance consistently for these are primary must- haves in her particular role in the department. Furthermore, as someone who had been with the company for many years that accusation was too much for her to bear with equanimity then.

I remember lending my ears at that time over several tea break sessions, digesting the history and facts of the whole matter. At one point, Z really wanted to approach her boss and other stakeholders to re-open the case. If the whole issue is not re-addressed, it would look as if she had admitted to the “crime”. Her integrity and reputation were at stake not just in the company but also within the industry. At that time, I vaguely remembered sharing that the case seemed to have already been put to rest by the bosses. it might not serve any real purpose in re-opening it. As her religious inclination is also towards Buddhism, we did a lot of retro-inspection of the whole matter and analysed it through karma, one’s integrity and reputation and the underlying roots associated with the ego. This again took place over several lunches and tea breaks.

Fast forward to one year later. Two of her colleagues who were involved in that case apologized to her. Z said that she was quite surprised at her own reaction then. Her spontaneous reaction in that moment was the ability to face them with peace and no ill-feelings, unlike a year ago. In that instant, she felt the first taste of internal liberation. And a further understanding of the words from one esteemed Venerable from whom she takes guidance – in the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher – helped her further. In return to their apology, she offered a lunch invitation to the two colleagues in the near future. As one of them is leaving the company soon, she also offered to be her referee if needed.

The experience of mental and emotional anguish and turmoil when the situation first occurred was not easy to pacify and address. Each of us may take different approaches and ways to sort out such challenges. She allowed the dharma to help her. It was definitely not instantly. It took time, contemplation over some dharma related doctrines and a dose of belief and faith that the dark clouds will dissipate at some point. In her, I see someone happy with her own transformation however minute that would be.

On this Vesak day, I would like to make this sharing as an offering to the Triple Gem and to benefit those who may also be in similar situations and that you too will find your way out quickly and the inner dark clouds to pass soonest.

Leow P Shan (15G023E)

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