There are occasions when, out of the blue, someone attacks us verbally. Our natural instinct is to answer back in passionate self-defence. But this only results in further turmoil as accusations and counter-accusations get hurled to and fro. More often than not it is wiser to consider what is the cause of these attacks no matter how unreasonable they seem on the surface. Silence and reflection are almost invariably more effective than retaliation and retribution.
I once had a dream in which I was boarding a coach and just as the doors were closing I saw that a dog was wanting to be let out to defecate. In the next sequence the dog was on my head, shitting all over my face. People ran from me, crying, ‘Monster! He’s a monster!’ Then I thought: am I a monster? And I went in search of a mirror. When I looked in the mirror I saw that I was not a monster, and there was no sign of any dirt – but there was a small bruise under one eye.
When I awoke I pondered this dream and what it meant. It occurred at a time when I was being maligned, when a lot of muck was being thrown at me by two or three individuals, including threatening letters saying that ‘blood would be spilt’!
That much was clear about the dream; but I remained puzzled by the small bruise. It was some while before I grasped its significance: in any collision between two people, even when the accusations are unjust, there is always some aspect in one’s nature, psychology or behaviour that can act as a trigger. Such attacks are rarely one-sided. But it takes time, silence, and self-examination to see this and to recognise our vulnerability.