Thursday, March 1, 2007


Forgiveness is one of the qualities we find hardest to develop.

Most of the time we are unable to be forgive because we feel our hurt, our resentment, our anger, our hatred is justified. Justified by what? by the other person's actions.

The trouble is this - the action "was" the "other's" and the negative feelings "is" "mine" - its my mind which is tied up in the threads of hurt, my heart which still smolder with the embers of a fire that should have been put out a long time ago.

Forgiveness is about letting go.
I recognize there is a poison in my heart. It needs to be purged. There is nothing I can do about the past. What I can do is make my present more fragrant so my future becomes more meaningful. And the smokescreen that is erected by my firm holding on to the past is never going to allow my present to manifest its fragrance. A firm and gentle goodbye to the past is what is in my own self-interest.

Forgiveness is about understanding. Whatever any one does is because that particular individual at that point in time in those peculiar set of circumstances could have done that and that only. This is because whether we like it or not, there is a perfect Order that is set in place here, and everything that happens is ever in accordance with that Order alone. The other person's actions are no doubt heinous. But perhaps if i had the upbringing that he or she did, the temperament, the value structure, the social environment etc etc then my own actions may have been exactly the same.

Forgiveness is about acceptance. The past is a ghost. It has no existence save our remnances. There is nothing about it i can change. What i can do is wish it goodbye and move on. The present is ever here, every moment, waiting for me. To embrace it, i need to accept the death of the past. There is ever a resistance towards forgetting the past. This resistance stifles my growth as an individual. Resisting this resistance only creates more resentment. Acceptance is the only antidote to the poison of resistance and forgiveness is the only key to acceptance.

Forgiveness is about learning. We often mistake that by forgiving we will not learn from our mistakes. The truth is to the exact contrary. Forgiveness helps us be objective about the past. It removes our negatively distorted view about things. We see why things turned out the way they did and what we can do to prevent this from happening in the future to the extent possible. We have to learn to forgive and forgive to learn.

Forgiveness is about being strong. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
It takes courage to forgive. It takes a mature outlook that is not afraid to let go. Deep inside we are afraid to let go of the unpleasant - there is fear of this loss. Overcoming this fear takes courage and strength.

From a vedantic perspective, the person who has caused you hurt has in a way done you a favor. He has helped you examine your own capacity to hate, to be angry, he has helped test your mettle, your capacity to act and not react, he has helped measure the depths of your forgiving spirit. After all only pain can help you guage your capacity to withstand pain. Moreover pain and hurt much more than pleasure is what motivates man to enquire, to reflect, to seek.

On a final note, forgiveness applies most importantly to one-self. Self-forgiveness is an extremely important quality esp for a student of vedanta. As a severely limited ignorant entity, i am guilty of an infinite number of transgressions of omission and comission, many known and most unknown. There are so many things i knowingly did wrong, people I knowingly hurt, or perhaps did care enough about, or said the wrong things to, etc etc. Is it ever possible for me to settle accounts with each and every one of them? Most are no longer in my life, some may no longer be in this world. How am I do purge myself of this guilt? For the same negatives that we associate with hurt are exactly applicable to guilt. There is fortunately one way to settle the score. And that is Ishwara. Settle our accounts with Ishwara and in one sweep we settle our infinite debts. "O All-Knowing Lord, in my ignorance have i been guilty of multiple acts of omission and commission in body, speech and mind. O Ocean of compassion, forgive them" "karacharaNakRitaM vaa kaayajaM karmajaM vaa
shravaNanayanajaM vaa maanasaM vaa.aparaadham; vihitamavihitaM vaa sarvametatkshmasva jaya jaya karuNaabdhe shrii mahaadeva shambho"
This acknowledgement of our own incapacity slowly frees us from the sense of our "do-ership". This in turn helps us accept the present with cheer and accept the future without pervasive anxiety. What we get and will receive will be nothing but His prasad, the very fruits of my own past deeds which are being bestowed on me by His Order and my only prayer to Him is strength, that i may accept them - with cheer.

A cheerful accepting mind and disposition has been always considered a MUST for any student who wishes to proceed along the delicate path of self-enquiry.

Thus is forgiveness one of the most treasured qualities that a sincere seeker of the truth would do well to nourish and nurture.

Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyo namah


Carlykins said...


Student said...

Thank you.
Everyone tells me not to forgive.
But of course life is so short, one must forgive.
Thank you for your beautiful words.

yuxing said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. said...

Good article.
श्रीशङ्कराचार्य wrote a work named ज्ञानाङ्कुशम्। That is about controlling anger, that means it teaches many ways to develop क्षमा.

Anonymous said...

Hari Om

Beautiful, thank you for this.

Would like to point out an error, possibly a typo...

Shouldn't "karacharaNakRitaM vaakkaayajaM karmajaM vaa" read karacharaNakRitaM vaa kaayajaM karmajaM vaa?

Also, some questions linger. How do we reconcile personal forgiveness vs. punishment for the crime that social laws prescribe?


Shyam S said...

Thank you for pointing out this - is there any book or online resource where we may peruse this?

Shyam S said...

Thank you for pointing out the typo.

Very good point about reconciling forgiveness at a personal level vs that at a societal/social level. The way i see it at the level of society one is concerned with the larger issue of Dharma and the need for maintenance of Dharma as well. This requires that AdharmA not be allowed a free hand or at the least not be ignored and be dealt with to the extent that is required. In this a judge (or jury) may regard himself as an instrument of the Order of Ishwara and dispense justice to his or her best ability and knowledge

Anonymous said...

All of Bhagawan's avataras are also for reinstatement of Dharma. Being an instrument of Iswara...good point. And offer one's actions also unto Him. Goes with total sharaNAgati.