How to Forgive


Mahabha’s insights on forgiveness.

A lot has been written about forgiveness, its power to heal, ‘put the past in its rightful place’, and ‘shine love in even the most painful of places’.

Forgive them even if they are not sorry

There are

  • some excellent forgiveness quotes
  • specific prayers for forgiveness  (a personal favourite is the famous Serenity Prayer)
  • an educational charity The Forgiveness Project uses the real stories of victims and perpetrators to encourage healing alternatives to resentment, retaliation and revenge
  • this autumn, at Findhorn in Scotland, there’s even a week-long conference dedicated to the subject.

Somehow, we all know it’s the right thing to do. So what’s the problem with actually forgiving?

I can’t forgive
To forgive takes strength. Real strength of mind and heart to put peace above our upset and anger.

It doesn’t mean condoning what they did. It means accepting that they, just like you, are human and make mistakes.

You can forgive. It is our divine nature to forgive because, when truly humble, we realise we are united in ‘not knowing what we do.’ None of us are blameless, just as none of us cannot be redeemed by love.

When we forgive another, we not only set the other but ourselves free. It is a win-win situation; an ennobling act of selflessness.

But they don’t deserve it!
The sun shines on everyone; it doesn’t decide who deserves its light and who doesn’t. True love is unconditional. And until we ourselves have attained perfection, who are we to judge others?

They’re not sorry
Some people believe that if the person’s not remorseful they can’t be forgiven. Ouch.

This is not true. The (transformative, powerful) point is to forgive anyway. Love anyway. Be kind anyway. Choose forgiveness over being ‘right’ and inner peace will curl up in your lap.

And what to do with my anger?
A wonderful quote by Osho will answer the question:

I don’t say anger is wrong, I say anger is energy – pure energy, beautiful energy. When anger arises, be aware of it, and see the miracle happen. When anger arises, be aware of it, and if you are aware you will be surprised; you are in for a surprise – maybe the greatest surprise of your life — that as you become aware, anger disappears. Anger is transformed. Anger becomes pure energy; anger becomes compassion, anger becomes forgiveness, anger becomes love.

And you need not repress, so you are not burdened by some poison. And you are not being angry, so you are not hurting anybody. Both are saved: the other, the object of your anger, is saved, and you are saved. In the past, either the object was to suffer, or you were to suffer.

What I am saying is that there is no need for anybody to suffer. Just be aware, let awareness be there. Anger will arise and will be consumed by awareness. One cannot be angry with awareness and one cannot be greedy with awareness and one cannot be jealous with awareness. Awareness is the golden key.

Osho, The Book of Wisdom, Ch 24, Q 3

I’ve already forgiven them
Forgiveness is many-layered. To say a prayer once, for example, is unlikely to release the negative tie between you and the other. It usually takes several attempts – perhaps over years, especially if the bitterness/anger/resentment is long-held.

Like Rodin creating The Kiss, keep chiselling away at your hardness of heart until the heavenly beauty of pure love reveals itself from inside your inner block (there all along, waiting for you to find it).

How will I know when I’ve really forgiven them/myself?
When you can think of the person – or meet/talk to them – and not react but remain neutral. Or perhaps the initial reaction is to contract and start feeling negative but that soon dissipates either of its own accord or through you willing yourself to be calm.

In larger view…
When you view life as eternal, forgiveness is the only thing that makes sense. To bear grudges is a kind of childishness, for to hurt one another is a natural part of human life.

Our wounds help us grow wiser and stronger. To truly forgive is to press ‘fast forward’ on the evolutionary path.

Article by Mahabha


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