Even health research has proved how maintaining the qualities of resentment, hatred and vengefulness can create deterioration in every aspect of our life. If we were to pick a burning, hot ember of coal in our hands and hold on it day after day, week after week, year after year with the intention of throwing it at our object of our abuse, then who would suffer? By holding on to that burning fire, in fact, we are torturing ourselves. If we keep that burning coal in our heart, it will burn to ashes all our virtues, spiritual qualities and will make us simply miserable. If we withhold the free choice to forgive someone, then we simply remain a victim of whoever has hurt us or abused us. As we give the gift of forgiveness, we’re healed.
According to the great saints of all traditions, love can be defined as the capacity to endlessly forgive; Forgiveness actually means to be well-wishers of our persecutors, and think in terms of their welfare.
One great thinker has said that if we do not forgive we are breaking the bridge, which we must cross in order to be forgiven for all of the improper things that we have done.
In the new treatment of the Christian scripture, Lord Jesus Christ in teaching his devotees how to pry taught, “My Lord please forgive me as I have forgiven others who have trespassed me. “When he was on the crucifix beaten, tortured and blasphemed, just before he entered into a state of Samadhi, his last prayer was- “My dear Father, please forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is the spiritual principal one should ideally follow.
It is said that forgiveness is the fragrance that a sweet smelling flower like a rose or a violet leaves on the heel that has just crushed it.
However opponents of this ideology will state how easy it is to talk about forgiveness theoretically, but can one be forgiving when our mind and hearts are turmoil over various apparent injustices to ourselves. It is important that we understand, on a philosophical level, the phenomena that is taking place.
The Bhagavad Gita explains that there are eight principal categories of elements within this material nature from the gross elements to the subtle elements- earth, water, fire, air and ether, which compose the gross body. The subtle body, which cannot be perceived in anyway by the senses but still exists, comprises of the mind, the intelligence and ahankara- the false ego. Then there is the higher nature- the jivatma- the soul, which is the source of life, the source of consciousness that animates and witnesses through this body. We are that eternal soul and we cannot be burnt by that fire, cannot be withered by the wind, cannot be drowned by water, cannot be disturbed by words, and cannot into pieces by any weapons. It is simply an illusion and an untruth that makes us take seriously the ‘phenomenal’ events that come upon our mind, body and ego. These in reality have nothing to do with us. But as conditioned souls, we are habituated to enjoy through this body and therefore any infliction that interferes with enjoyment of the body, mind and ego causes us terrible pain.
In the beginning, we may forgive on a superficial platform but actual forgiveness comes from the heart and that may take time. The Lord understands our intentions and purpose even if we don’t have the power or ability to forgive with ease. We may be too hurt to forgive but we know that by forgiving we will be relieved of the poison of this hatred or resentment or guilt. We will be forgiven if we forgive. So we will try not to inflict our ill will upon that person but we pray to be relieved of this disease, and try to cleanse our hearts through prayer and chanting God’s names.
- Radhanath Swami