The Korean gentleman had walked around all the goods we had left for sale and stopped by the music player. Paul had put on one of his favorite classical music CDs and this gentleman asked him if he was a musician. Paul was a little surprised and being a musician said yes but asked, "why the question?" The Korean gentleman laughed and said, "you Western people only seem to play rock music."
The phrase ‘you Western people’ was not said with any maliciousness. It was a statement of fact as understood by this gentleman. He could easily have looked at me and said you brown people, you black people, or as is often the mistake made with me, you Indian people. The discussion that ensued with Paul and I was about the cultural differences and how they can lead to misunderstanding and even to war.
This aspect of cultural differences has become apparent to me within the Reiki practice. I started learning a Western-style of Reiki but when I learned Reiki from a Japanese perspective I could finally understand why things were done the way they were done. One example is in the precept used by practitioners that says, ‘Do your duties fully.’ In the Western mind it would be about doing your work to the best of your ability. In the Japanese mind it is understood that whatever you are facing you chose and therefore you must do, to the best of your ability, the things that have to be done in the situation in which you find yourself.
Apart from how something is said it also matters how you take what has been said. Paul laughed with the Korean gentleman and thought nothing of it. I wonder how many people would have taken offense. No doubt there are times when things are said which are meant to offend. But I think we too often look for the worst in others rather than the best, or we are quick to make assumptions that do not actually reflect the truth. If, as the Japanese believe, you are in a situation because you have chosen it then maybe there is something to learn about yourself.
The next time you feel that someone has offended you could you pause a moment? In that moment look within. Ask yourself if it's possible that you have made an incorrect assumption about the person speaking to you. Do you take offense often? Do you find people rude or obnoxious all the time? Could it be that you are looking for it?
Or perhaps that person has assumed something incorrectly about you and simply needs to be informed. How do you answer? With sarcasm or anger? Why not try an answer that incorporates forgiveness with a view to understanding.
Forgiveness in any situation can only bring healing. And along with love that's what the world needs now.