In life, we will, no doubt come across people who harm us, hurt us, irritate us, annoy us, trouble us, cheat us, torment us, etc. It will, of course, generate in us a dislike or even hatred for such people. At times we want to be vindictive and get back at them. Being vengeful doesn’t help. It will be foolish and disastrous. We have a tendency to blame someone or the other for being the cause of our sorrows and miseries. This invariably leads to dislike or hatred for the individual we blame. Then the mind starts planning ways and means to take revenge and inflict similar pain or loss to the one responsible for our sorrows. We all know how hard it is to forgive when we are extremely hurt or when someone has tormented us or caused us tremendous loss.
Taking revenge may give us a temporary sense of satisfaction of getting back at our tormentor, but it is not a permanent solution for the hatred that we harbor in our minds.
According to the law of karma, no action, speech, emotion or thought, whether positive or negative, goes without a result. We can never escape the negative result of even the minutest of negative action performed in this world. The law of karma is stringent and unforgiving. The law of karma takes care of punishment.
We suffer due to both, attachment and aversion or hatred and both are causes of miseries and karma bandhana (kaarmik bondage). Birth after birth people come into our lives with whom we have attachment and aversion, as relatives, friends, enemies, colleagues, etc.
If we hate someone for whatever reason and if we don’t get an opportunity to take revenge against that person in this life, nature will give us an opportunity in the next life. Of course the matter doesn’t end there. Now the other person would want to take revenge and if he / she doesn’t get an opportunity in that life, that person will get an opportunity in the next life. This is how we take forward our friends as well as well as our enemies from life after life. Enmities are perpetuated from one generation after the other in a seemingly endless cycle, unless in one of the lives, both the parties mutually decide to bury the hatchet, let bygones be bygones, forgive each other, make their kaarmik balance sheet zero and move on. Then the vicious cycle is broken.
If we keep retaliating out of hatred, we give this kaarmik bondage a fresh lease of life. Hatred strengthens our karma bandhana. It changes bodies but continues to live, one life after another. It ties us down to birth and death cycle endlessly. Instead of retaliating when we respond with forgiveness, the cycle is broken and the hatred returns or goes back to its source. The good thing about this responding with forgiveness is that, ultimately, it leaves the source as well and the cycle of this particular kaarmik bondage is broken permanently. This is in the interest of everyone concerned.
Only pure, unconditional love or an attitude of indifference will not create any kaarmik bondage to perpetuate the recurrent cycle of birth and death.
Have no hatred for anything or being, even for a fraction of a moment, even in a dream. Since hate poisons the soul, never ever cherish hatred.
A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.
“Have you forgiven the Nazis?” he asked his friend.
“Well, I haven’t. I’m still consumed with hatred for them.”
“In that case,” said his friend gently, “they still have you in prison.”
Our enemies are not those who hate us, but those whom we hate. We tend to think of those whom we hate more often than those whom we love. In fact the one whom we hate occupies a rent-free space in our minds. Mentally we are bound by those whom we hate. We are mentally imprisoned by them.
We nurture grievances. This results in loss of sleep and other ailments. The insult, injury or harm was done once, but nourishing of grievances goes on endlessly by constantly remembering it. Never wallow in self-pity or resentment. To be wronged or offended is nothing unless you insist on remembering it. Never allow anyone to drag you down so low as to make you hate them.
A devotee asked the Master:
“How shall I get the grace of never judging my neighbor?”
“By praying sincerely”
“Then why have I not found it yet?”
“That is because you haven’t prayed in the right place.”
“Where is that?”
“In the heart of God”
“And how do I get there?”
“Understand that anyone who sins does not know what he is doing and deserves to be forgiven.”
Lord Jesus gave the highest teaching to the world while being nailed to the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Therefore forgive everyone for everything. Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them as much.
“Kshama veerasya bhushanah”, says a Sanskrit Subhashitaa (wise saying). It means “forgiveness is the ornament or quality of the strong and courageous”. The weak find it difficult to forgive. Forgive from the position of strength and not out of weakness, helplessness or cowardice.
Forgiveness does not mean tolerance of any nonsense, bad behavior or injustice. It is different from being submissive and meek. Forgive, but beware of people taking your forgiving nature for granted. Be guarded against people taking advantage of you.
Likewise we also need to apologize or ask for forgiveness from those whom we may have caused harm or hurt them knowingly or unknowingly. Apologizing does not necessarily mean that we are wrong and the other one is right. It simply means that we value the relationship much more than our ego.
We are prone to non-acceptance at various levels, which is really the flip side of non-forgiveness. Some of us are unable to accept our bodies the way they are, our thoughts, or the family in which we are born. We may not have forgiven some of the incidents in our lives which caused us regret and pain. We may not have forgiven our parents, spouse or some others for various reasons.
Many people say they do not like their lives; they hate the way they are. This means that they are not comfortable with their present lives or are unforgiving towards whatever has lead to their present condition. It is possible that their own past errors may have led to their present miserable condition. Everyone commits mistakes and it is part of life. The one who claims not to have ever committed a mistake is most likely the one who never tried anything new. Errors and mistakes are part of learning process. We should also not hate ourselves for mistakes we may have committed in the past. It is also important that we learn to forgive ourselves for past errors, learn from our mistakes and move on.
Acceptance signifies understanding of the whole situation as it is. Acceptance does not mean submissiveness and tolerance.
We need to understand the negative impact of hatred and the positive effect of forgiveness.
Hatred Triggers cancerous cells
Forgiveness destroys cancerous cells
Hatred makes us old
Forgiveness is a youth serum
Hatred creates mental storm
Forgiveness is freedom from mental storm
Hatred gives inner turmoil
Forgiveness gives inner peace
So, in forgiveness, one is really being kind to oneself and saving oneself the torture and pain resulting from harboring hatred within.
Sometimes there is a lot of resistance to forgiveness. At all costs we want to hang on to old, forgotten issues. Hence there is a need to understand the stupidity and futility of non-forgiveness. Knowing the harm it causes, there is a need to forgive and move on.
Forgiveness is a great power.
In the Mahaabhaarata, Udyoga Parva, Section XXXIII, addressing Dhritarashtra, Vidura said: “There is only one defect in forgiving persons and not another; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues all in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on the grass-less ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities. Righteousness is the one highest good; and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment and benevolence — one sole happiness.”
The first step towards forgiveness is to understand the negativeness that are created by being unforgiving and to become aware of the futility and irrationality of nursing grudges. We need to understand the law of karma and know that non-forgiveness is against divine nature and then sincerely decide to forgive.
If we are able to imbibe this value of forgiveness, we will gain release from our negative emotions and instantly become peaceful and tranquil. When we are unforgiving we only hurt ourselves. We can neither eat nor sleep properly since the emotions of hurt, anger and revenge keeps playing on in our minds continuously. The person who has hurt us may not be affected. He or she may be sleeping happily. So when we want to take revenge, this negative emotion causes endless restlessness.
Forgiveness is not an action or emotion, it is something deeper. When forgiveness happens there is no need to say anything. It is a state where there is no sense of revenge.
Lord Jesus gave the highest teaching to the world while being nailed to cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Understand the deeper meaning of his words. He does not say “I forgive you”. He asks the Father in heaven to forgive. He had already forgiven. He was afraid that the divine law of karma may punish them. There is absolutely no sense of vengeance in his heart. This great state of forgiveness runs through the lives of all great saints and realized Masters.
Sometimes we need to discipline others, whether it is our own child or a subordinate, but let it be with a sense of forgiveness in the heart without any trace of hatred. When a mother disciplines her child there is no anger, hatred or a sense of revenge. She does it for the child’s benefit. Sometimes she punishes her child, but it is not with the intention of inflicting pain, but she does it out of love, for the good of the child.
It is easier to forgive people who are emotionally and physically at a distance, but we find it difficult to forgive our near and dear ones.
When we find it hard to forgive because our wound is so deep we should ask for help from the Lord. He will shower us with His grace of forgiveness and inner peace. We will discover that it so easy to forgive with Him beside us. When we realize our anger rising quickly we should say a quick prayer to muffle it, nip it in the bud.
Even in this very life we can pray to grant us grace to remove hatred from our hearts for those whom we hate. At least from our side, mentally we should sincerely forgive them and nullify our kaarmik bondage with them. For a vast majority of us it will be extremely difficult to love such people, but we can very well maintain an attitude of indifference towards them. An attitude of indifference doesn’t create any kaarmik bondage.
The faster we learn to forgive the better our spiritual and physical health. If we hate, we are the ones affected not the one we hate.
We can actually make forgiveness a habit by simply doing it all the time. If we learn to forgive the small things in life then we will be able to forgive the major issues that are disturbing us.
There is no option to forgiveness. In its absence, the hatred permeates generations. This is how family feuds are kept alive with hate being passed on from one generation to the next. Non-forgiveness always remains a negative emotion. One has to break the vicious cycle of hatred. If we are able to respond to hatred with forgiveness and compassion, it retreats and only peace and tranquility remain.
When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. If there is no forgiveness, it will result in bitterness. No one wants bitterness in one’s life and to get rid of bitterness, forgiveness is a must. Bitterness affects our physical and psychological health as well as it affects our performance in all spheres of life. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.
We should learn to write our hurts in the sand and carve goodness done to us in stone!
Remember, if we have hatred for any entity, even for a moment, even in our dream, it impedes our progress on the spiritual path.
One tree makes a 100,000 matchsticks.
But one matchstick can burn a 100,000 trees.
Similarly, one negative thought or doubt can burn thousands of dreams and can be disastrous…
The quality of our thoughts determines the quality of our speech, and our thoughts and speech ultimately determine the quality of our action. Day by day our thoughts, speech and actions shape into ultimately what we become. Thoughts are the most powerful. Everything begins with a thought which ultimately comes into manifestation. This is the supreme law of life. Therefore always entertain good, positive thoughts.
Our earth is the ultimate symbol of forgiveness. Another word for the earth is kshamaa, that is forgiveness. The earth sustains everyone, whether saint or sinner, without any prejudice, inspite of so many atrocities committed on it. Nature provides the best example of forgiveness. The tree gives fruit and shade to all without any distinction. Practically the virtue of forgiveness can be cultivated by asking forgiveness from Mother Earth everyday. We need to sincerely bow down and ask for the strength to forgive and it will be bestowed.
Forgive and forget that is the way of the wise.
“Why do you keep talking about my past mistakes?” said the husband. “I thought you had forgiven and forgotten.”
“I have indeed,” said the wife. “But don’t you ever forget that I have forgiven and forgotten.”
Life is too short to waste in such trifles. Forgive, forget and march on.
Sinner: “Remember not my sins, oh Lord!”
Lord: “What sins? I forgot them long ago. You’ll have to prod my memory.”