The power to forgive comes from compassion; move with what is good
If we want to love, we must learn how to forgive, said Mother Teresa. Like her, many saints, gurus and spiritual teachers have often said to their followers that if anyone misbehaves with you, talks bad about you or indulges in mudslinging and character-assassination, you should forgive such a person and forget about his misdemeanour. They further advise that one should repay such a person with his acts of friendliness and think of improving the self instead of retaliating against such a negative person or person. But the question that most of us would naturally have is that if we forgive such evil-doers and forget about their malicious and maligning campaigns, will we not be letting loose many mad bulls or elephants run amuck? Will we not be encouraging such kinds of people in their nefarious designs and wicked acts? Before we come to any conclusion, one question that we all need to ask ourselves is that - is it as easy to forgive as it sounds to be?
The majority of us would say ‘NO’ because the ability to forgive others depends on how honest we are with ourselves. Have we journeyed through our life pure, perfect and clean with never a wrong thought, a wrong word or action? If we look at ourselves honestly, then how can we not forgive another person? When we face our shortcomings, then anger against others disappears. In the past, we have all acted wrongly, either because of not knowing what is right, or out of fear or misunderstanding. Looking back on the past, most of us regret many things that we have said or done. With time and knowledge we realize what is right and begin to make amends. Just by having the desire to do this, we begin this process of our forgiveness. If this process is to progress, we have to forgive others. We cannot condemn others and excuse ourselves. This is cheating and the universally applicable Law of Karma will not allow it.
There can be many answers to the questions raised by many individuals regarding forgiveness, however, what we should understand in our capacity as human beings is that, if the tendencies to evil or misbehaviour are within tolerable limits and are not likely to obtain a boost by our action of forgiveness and if the person charged with misconduct expresses sincere regrets and apologies after deep realisation of his evil acts, then we should forgive and forget else we should take such preventive, non-violent, non-aggressive steps that do not downgrade our worth as a human being. And, let us remember that vengeance, vindictiveness, violence, virulent acts, vile and guile or wickedness and wrong-doing are not the ways of a noble-minded person.
Remember! The power to forgive comes from compassion, which means we should compassionately and peacefully move forward with what is good, towards what is better. But before we start to forgive others, we must learn to forgive ourselves, otherwise, the process of releasing the burden would neither begin nor progress. Forgiving ourselves means letting go of the past. But it also means not making the same mistakes again and again; not inventing convenient ways to excuse ourselves. A person who has hardened his own heart against others cannot feel even God's forgiveness and compassion. Hence, if we want to be forgiven, then we must be willing to forgive first because the one who forgives first not only proves his justice but especially proves his love. That is why it is said that ‘A life well lived is your best revenge’. So, instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain, the power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. This will make the world a better place to live in.
(Writer is a spiritual educator & popular columnist for publications across India, Nepal & UK)