Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
– Paul Boese.
Forgiveness is a powerful way of moving on from unfortunate experiences; it is a way of illumining a darkened past. Without forgiveness we dwell on the negative attitudes of other people and the limitations of our own self. True, it is easier to talk about forgiveness than actually do it; but, if we can forgive, it is a powerful way to let go of negative experiences and make a fresh start.
Why We Need to Forgive
Hatred makes us feel miserable.
If we are unable to forgive and forget the misdeeds of others we will carry a heavy burden around ourselves. It may have some justifications, but, hating others means that we will make our own lives difficult. When we concentrate on the bad action of others, we give too much importance to these negative qualities and invariably they become part of our mindset.
We cannot live in the past forever
Forgiveness is a way to move forward. If we are unable to forgive we will always be thinking of the past. By thinking of past blunders we will not gain illumination. Forgiveness means we allow a new chapter to be written and prevent the old mistakes and difficulties being repeated.
Mistakes are inevitable
We cannot expect ourselves or other people to be perfect. Mistakes are an inevitable part of life. Even if people are trying to do their best, they may often behave with the wrong motives and actions. If we expect anything near perfection from others, then we will always be disappointed. To be forgiving means to be flexible, tolerant and accommodating.
To err is human.
But be careful,
Do not over do it.
If to forgive is divine,
Then rest assured,
You can never over do it.
– Sri Chinmoy
A person is more than certain actions
Often our judgement of a person depends on a particular action of theirs. When someone does something wrong, we inwardly label them as a bad person.This is a mistake; someone may have unfortunate habits or bad actions, but, this is only one aspect of that person. We would not want ourself to be judged on all our mistakes; we have done wrong things, but we know this is not the sum of our person. Forgiveness means we are able to separate a person from a bad action. We are not condoning the bad thing they do; it just means we acknowledge that anybody who does wrong things also has the capacity to do good things as well. Somebody may tell a lie, but that does not mean we have to think only of them as a bad person.
How To Forgive
If we cannot forgive ourselves how can we forgive others? If we carry a burden of guilt around, it makes it more likely that we will want to impose judgement on others; guilty people invariably look to see faults in others. To forgive our mistakes should not be seen as weakness. In fact it requires a certain strength to admit our faults, resolve not to do them again and then move on. Self – forgiveness can become a powerful way to our own personal development. If we can forgive ourselves then it becomes easier to forgive others. We realise that forgiveness is essential for being able to move on.
Look to Good qualities
The mind is often drawn to the negative qualities of others. We spend 90% of our time thinking of other people’s transgressions; this gives an unbalanced assessment and we associate that person with the negative qualities. However, if we can only acknowledge their good qualities then it becomes much easier to have a forgiving attitude. Even if a person has done 9 wrong things maybe we can concentrate on the one good thing that they have done. If we sincerely appreciate their good qualities, it is much easier to forgive their mistakes. This is also a powerful way to bring out the best in others. If we concentrate on others failings it won’t bring about any transformation; but if we concentrate on their good qualities we encourage them and bring them to the fore.
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Choose to be happy
Nursing grievances and hatred is a short cut to be unhappy and depressed. If we bitterly resent the actions of others we will never have peace of mind. We should see forgiveness as an easy way to make ourselves happier. By letting go of our grudges and grievances we allow positive thoughts and ideas to come into our mind. If we really want to be happy we need to be able to forgive both ourselves and others.
Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again.
— Dag Hammarskjold.
Forgive and Forget
To really forgive someone, we need to be willing to forget the unfortunate experience. If we say we have forgiven someone, but continue to bring it up then it is not real forgiveness because at some time it will awaken the negative feelings.
Quotes on Forgiveness at Write Spirit
Photo: By Pavitrata, Sri Chinmoy Centre