It is a beautiful quality. It relieves your mind of the burden of reacting negatively to other people’s actions and grudges towards you, says DADA J P VASWANI
We live in a society which uses ruthless power to succeed. We glorify individualism and the instinct for self-preservation. The act of forgiveness is often regarded as a weakness — even a sign of cowardice. We are told repeatedly: fight for your rights; do not yield to anyone!
There are two sources of power and strength. One of them is vested in those who hate, those who are not afraid to kill, hurt, wound, maim and destroy. The other is vested in those who are not? afraid to love, forgive, heal and reconcile. Yes, we must be unafraid to love — for it requires courage. Equally, it takes courage to forgive. True it is that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness or naivety. It requires courage and clarity.
The act of forgiveness holds great power — not just spiritual power but the kind of power no one can despise. It asserts your dignity and self-worth. It reveals your inner strength and establishes your ability to forgive.
So, far from leaving you weak and vulnerable, forgiveness can empower you to lead a more meaningful life. It brings conflicts and struggles to a positive ending — for it helps us to overcome the cycle of resentment and revenge, and enter the realms of unity, peace and harmony. More importantly, each act of forgiveness inspires others to do the same, setting off a positive chain reaction.
Once, thieves entered the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi at night. They thought they would find lots of money and expensive objects, for the Maharshi had several wealthy followers who visited him frequently. But, to their anger and dismay, they found practically nothing worth stealing. Suddenly they entered an inner chamber, where they came upon the Maharshi in deep meditation. Rudely they accosted him, demanding that he tell them where the money and valuables were kept. Getting no response from him, the men began to attack him. A few disciples who had been awakened by the commotion rushed into the Maharshi’s room, and were appalled by the sight that met their eyes. As for the thieves, they took to their heels and fled from the ashram in no time.
Incensed by the injury inflicted on their beloved guru, the disciples seized sticks and stones and whatever they could lay their hands on, and decided to pursue the miscreants.
“Do not go after them,” said the Maharshi. “Pause and reflect for a minute. If your teeth bite your tongue, do you knock them off?” The disciples learnt the profound spiritual lesson that all of us — all human beings — are linked in a cosmic chain of Being. Where then is there room for anger and resentment, when others are a part of us, and everyone is part of a great cosmic whole? Many people ask me, “How can I forgive someone who keeps on hurting me? At one time or another, I feel like retaliating.”
There is a Chinese proverb which says, whoever opts for vengeance should dig two graves. An unforgiving attitude is deadly. It destroys the offender and the offended. On the other hand, forgiveness is the key to peace and happiness. There is a rational and practical need for us to forgive. When we have been hurt, ill-treated or injured by someone, we can choose either to retaliate or to forgive and forget. If we choose to retaliate, we will allow ourselves to be consumed by resentment. For revenge does not leave us happy; it leaves us feeling empty and embittered. Has anyone ever heard of anger being satisfied? But forgiveness allows us to put an end to unpleasantness and get on with the act of living in peace.
Forgiveness is a beautiful quality. It relieves your mind of the burden of reacting negatively to other people’s actions, grudges and misconduct towards you. You can release that tension through the divine quality of forgiveness. Forgiveness will create a tranquil space within your mind, allowing the spirit to grow in that feeling of lightness. Forgiveness makes you kind; it gives you inner beauty. It makes you glow without and illumines you within; it transforms all those who are touched by it. ■