How do Buddhists talk about forgiveness and turning the other cheek, for extreme wrong doing? The sorts of things that are not about being offended, not insults, but the exact opposite: are atrociously evil or wrong, so one would feel appalled if it had happened to anyone. On the one hand, one may be happy to let karma do its job, but -- on the other -- bodhisattvas must be impelled to save every sentient being.

Is the answer to seek material / earthly justice, and work to enlighten them, within the limits of Buddhist ethics?

2 Answers 2


one may be happy to let karma do its job

Recalling the brahmaviharas, I think that that -- i.e. "remembering that beings are heir to their own karma" -- is recommended as a recipe for "equanimity".

That's possibly not "good will" though -- i.e. if you're "happy" about someone's misbehaviour, that sounds like the opposite of mudita -- and good-will is important, see e.g. the parable of the saw (as an example of Buddhist doctrine that's relevant to what you're asking).

There's also the Dhammapada verses 3 through 6 -- which recommend against "he hurt me!" and "not stilling your hatred"...

There are other topics on this site though, about social justice -- e.g. if a person lies then you might not want to believe them in future; if they steal you might tell the police...

Or one of the Zen stories is The Thief Who Became a Disciple

I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.


"Where is anger for one freed from anger,

Who is subdued and lives perfectly equanimous,

Who truly knowing is wholly freed, Supremely tranquil and equipoised?

He who repays an angry man in kind Is worse than the angry man;

Who does not repay anger in kind, He alone wins the battle hard to win.

He promotes the weal of both, His own, as well as of the other.

Knowing that the other man is angry,

He mindfully maintains his peace And endures the anger of both,

His own, as well as of the other,

Even if the people ignorant of true wisdom Consider him a fool thereby."

Akkosa Sutta: Insult

  • we're not talking about insults though? anyway, i asked about buddhists not aryas
    – user2512
    Jul 12, 2020 at 21:42
  • Sure the Arya will perfect what is quoted, and those weak spiritually imitate as much as possible.
    – user19412
    Jul 12, 2020 at 21:55
  • maybe. but you're quoting "insults" -- so either accept it's a poor answer, or edit it
    – user2512
    Jul 12, 2020 at 22:01
  • i say maybe because the spiritually naive will surely imitate the perfections, and only the last sentence mentions 'wisdom' -- rhetorically tho, i agree
    – user2512
    Jul 12, 2020 at 22:05
  • So be it. But perhaps you should edit your question, where in your question did exclude insult as wrong doing?
    – user19412
    Jul 12, 2020 at 22:33

You must log in to answer this question.