is tied directly with anger. Just like anger
control, forgiveness is not a new invention
either. It is a common knowledge that forgiveness
is good for us. I do not know of any religion
which does not advocate forgiveness. Unfortunately
most of us just go thru the motion of talking
about forgiveness and give only a lip service
to the beautiful concept. We say one thing..do
something else. There is no harmony between
our thought, speech, and action. Consequently..the
knowledge of forgiveness and going thru
the religious rituals exemplifying forgiveness
is not doing anything for us. Let us analyze
the issue in detail.
First of all, Forgiveness is a lubricant
prescribed by our saints to keep the human
relationships smooth. They recognized the
weakness of human nature and realized that
the people would go thru many situations
in a life span that may cause animosity
of these situations are:
Disagreements are a way of life
and yet don't many of us display hostility
towards those who disagree with us?
Some of us misinterpret the intentions
of other people and become angry and hostile
to them unnecessarily.
When our expectations of other
people are unrealistic and we do not get
what we want, we get disappointed and become
belligerent to them at times.
Hurt feelings - knowingly or unknowingly:
Most of us hold a large ego about
ourselves and our values. When someone humiliates
or insults us, we get antagonistic.
Jealousy breeds hate and makes
us lose our sense of discrimination.
The typical stereo type responses to the
above situations are either fast revenge
or slow revenge. Fast revenge results into
anger, fight and sometimes physical injury
on the spot. Slow revenge is more common
in a civilized society. It takes the form
of deep resentment, bitterness and hate
and probably more damaging because of the
duration involved. Some people can not forget
and forgive an incidence for decades! The
common results of these responses are strained
relationships and non productive use of
precious life. The bottom line: Usually
both sides lose out . However, our ego prevents
us from realizing this.
Many religions teach that we can escape
from the harmful effects of animosity and
hate by developing the virtues of humility/sympathy/understanding/tolerance.
It is only by practicing all of these can
we develop forgivenss. Absolute and total
forgiveness is too difficult a goal for
us to reach right away. Let us see if we
can make step by step progress by looking
at different stages of forgiveness.
I: Preventive form of Forgiveness
Since forgiveness is difficult for us, let
us concentrate on animosity prevention.
Let us constantly maintain friendly relations
with all. Let us clarify misunderstandings
right away. Let us not let the knot get
stronger. Let us be sensitive to the feelings
of other individuals and exercise humility.
II : Passive Forgiveness (Forgiveness involving
indifference -Live and let live philosophy)
If we did not succeed in preventing animosity/strained
relationship, let us do our best to resolve
the situation. If we fail, atleast let us
put ourselves in a passive mode. In this
mode of behavior, the other person is not
your friend, nor is he your enemy. We may
not be even on speaking terms with the other
person. But let us never speak ill of him/her
and always offer our prayers and sympathy.
Let us remember that just because we could
not get along with the other person does
not mean that he/she is a bad person.
III: Active form of forgiveness
This is the best form of forgiveness. This
would involve not striking back even if
someone has harmed you. It entails loving
your enemies. This is the highest form of
forgiveness. This is what the religions
of the world are asking us to strive forand
this is what was preached and actively practiced
by Lord Mahavir, Jesus Christ, and many
other religious leaders.
Their legacy are the following beautiful
words which people remember even after about
Love your enemies, bless them that curse
you, do good to them that hate you, and
pray for them which despitefully use you,
and persecute you........Jesus
Father, forgive them..they know not what
they are doing...Jesus Christ
I forgive all souls, let all souls forgive
me. I have friendship with all and enmity
towards none........ Jain Scripture
Total and absolute forgiveness takes years
of practice in humility, compassion, sympathy,
understanding, tolerance and sensitivity
to fellow beings. We can never acquire these
virtues until we start melting our ego.
And that is one of the reasons forgiveness
is well recognized, but rarely practiced
in its noblest form.
In most incidences, usually our ego, our
pride, and arrogance (part of which appear
to come from the unprecedented economic
independence we enjoy) come in the way of
forgiveness. Some how if we admit our mistakes,
we feel we have gone down. We have lost
our self respect, self esteem. So.. the
real barrier to forgiveness is our ego,
pride, and arrogance. Let me share a few
suggestions to overcome the barrier:
- Let us be aware of a couple of weaknesses
of human nature:
- Usually we ignore our own faults and
magnify the faults of others.
- Most people are intelligent enough to
know when they make mistakes. Their pride
makes it difficult to admit them.
- If we can understand these weaknesses,
perhaps we will be a bit more tolerant
and compassionate to our fellow human
beings. Since our pride and ego usually
come in the way of forgiving some one,
let us make use of a common friend to
overcome that obstacle. All we need to
do is take the initiative.
- When we say I forgive you, we should
not imply that the other person is guilty.
What we should say is that let us forget
what happened and start afresh. Let us
never dig up the dirt.
- If we say ` let all souls forgive me,
I forgive all souls' on a regular basis
but do not change our behavior, we are
not being honest to ourselves.
- We must practice preventive form of
forgiveness for our misdeeds every single
- Let us the use the beautiful words Christianity
has taught us i.e. `I apologize' as often
as we can.