sujatha baliga's legal career is characterized by an equal dedication to victims and persons accused of crime.
As a survivor of child sexual abuse, she was fairly certain that she wanted to become a lawyer and lock up child molesters. Along the way, life circumstances brought her to Dharamsala, where she heard Tibetans recount "horrific stories of losing their loved ones as they were trying to escape the invading Chinese Army." She recalls, "Women getting raped, children made to kill their parents -- unbelievably awful stuff. And I would ask them, 'How are you even standing, let alone smiling?’ And everybody would say, ‘Forgiveness. '" She wrote a letter to the Dalai Lama, asking for his counsel: "Anger is killing me, but it motivates my work. How do you work on behalf of oppressed and abused people without anger as the motivating force?" Dalai Lama invited her to a private audience and gave her two pieces of advice: meditate, and open your heart to the enemy. At the time she laughed out loud, but Dalai Lama patted her on the knee and says, "Ok, just meditate."
She returned to the United States and signed up for an intensive 10-day meditation course, and on the final day, she had a spontaneous experience that she described as a “complete relinquishment of anger, hatred and the desire for retribution and revenge.”
Today, sujatha is the Director of the Restorative Justice Project at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. A former victim advocate and public defender, and long time meditator, she's been bringing victims and those who harmed them together for many years now, as she promotes restorative processes, the possibility of forgiving seemingly unforgivable acts, and Tibetan ideals of justice.
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