I’ve been meaning to blog about bitterness for a little while. Bitterness is a frozen form of latent anger and resentment. Bitterness grows out of our refusal to let go when someone or something is taken from us. Bitterness is being constantly hurt by a memory.
Occasionally, I see it in people’s eyes. One time I was at a hardware store and a young man in a wheelchair (obviously the result of an accident) looked at me with smoldering bitterness as I casually walked by. The intensity of his look has stayed with me to this day.
I’ve seen it at other moments too – it can be very intense and is often projected onto someone else.
But the truth of the matter is that we all have the same bitterness as the man in the wheelchair. Everyone has all qualities. Life is holographic: as the macrocosm, so the microcosm. It is just a matter of where it features in your life.
It may not be obvious in your life, but it is there. Perhaps instead of you expressing it yourself, it finds expression through your bitter old neighbour or someone at work or a relative. You may say, but that’s not mine! But it is. This world is non-dual. There is “not two” – only the One – Brahman – your own Self.
When you see bitterness in another, ask yourself: Who is feeling this bitterness? You are! The bitterness is in you. (This also applies to seeing virtues in others).
Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his essay Compensation:
“The true doctrine of omnipresence is, that God reappears with all his parts in every moss and cobweb. The value of the universe contrives to throw itself into every point. If the good is there, so is the evil; if the affinity, so the repulsion; if the force, so the limitation.”
The secret is to become friends with bitterness. After all it is a part of your own self. You can’t make it go away. Attempts to suppress it will fail – it will just express itself in another area of your life.
Your task is to appreciate everything in life. If you reject everything that is “bad” and embrace only “good” then you will become bipolar and be constantly running away from “bad” and trying to grab “good”. Don’t live like that.
“Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Thus resentment is the result of lop-sided perceptions. A failure to see the perfect harmony and balance in life. Seeing only loss when the fact is that loss and gain go together. Finding out how you gain from your losses neutralizes bitterness.
In Vedic astrology bitterness is governed by Saturn aka Lord Shani. Everyone has Saturn in their horoscope. For those who are astrologically inclined, reading the book pictured above may help to befriend bitterness.