DR SANJAY TEOTIA says, ‘Forgiveness is bliss. Therefore, always try to forgive’
The belief is that forgiveness makes a person great. Examples are often cited of Jesus Christ who forgave even those who crucified him. The Bible’s famous saying is often quoted: ‘Then Jesus said: ‘‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
In this context, lines of Saint Kabir are very relevant, ‘Kshama badan ko chahiya chhotan ka utpat’, which means, elders must forgive the notorious activities of youngsters. Forgiveness is a very important aspect of life. No one can deny the importance and good results of forgiveness. In this era or yuga (Kaliyuga) the importance of forgiveness is much more as compared to other times.
Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offence done towards him. He lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness with an increased ability to wish the offender well. According to Buddhism, forgiveness is a practice for processing unhealthy emotions that would otherwise cause harm to our mental well being. Hatred leaves a lasting effect on our actions and forgiveness creates emotions with a wholesome effect.
Sikh scriptures say that forgiveness is a remedy to anger. You forgive an offender when aroused by a sense of compassion. Compassion generates peace, tranquillity, humility and cooperation in human interaction.
Islam, too, recommends forgiveness because Allah valued forgiveness. The theological basis for forgiveness in Hinduism is that a person who does not forgive carries baggage in the form of memories of the wrong that was done. This is accompanied with negative feelings of anger and unresolved emotions that affect his present as well as future. In Jainism, forgiveness is one of the main virtues that must be cultivated by the Jains. Supreme forgiveness forms part of one of the ten characteristics of Dharma.
Jesus reiterates the importance of Christian forgiving or showing mercy towards others. Jesus used the parable of the unmerciful servant to say that we should forgive without limits.
Forgiveness is a saintly or angelic quality. In contrast to think of taking revenge or not forgiving is a quality of cruel people or of the devils. Even God forgives his devotee when he prays asking for forgiveness and improves his behaviour. In this era, violence, crime, and the intention of doing bad for others is increasing day by day and this gives us all the more reason to cultivate the need for forgiveness. When you forgive someone, you will get inner satisfaction and your mind, spirit and soul becomes saturated. You will feel happy and cheerful, and every day will be like a pious day.
In contrast, feelings of revenge destroy the inner self of a person and pollutes his mind, spirit and soul. By taking revenge, no person can feel satisfied. Later, a person usually regrets his actions and repents and is often troubled by his inner conscience.
The way out is to cultivate the virtue of patience. Patience always conquers anger, and then it becomes easier to forgive. If someone hurts your self-esteem, you should maintain your dignity by forgiving him.
Jains believe forgiveness is a supreme act of non-violence. When we forgive, God frees our heart held captive by anger and replaces it with benign feelings of forgiveness. Prayer is the best way to break the wall of anger that we form in our heart. If we want to forgive someone, we should pray to God to help us. If we cannot forgive others, then, they too will not forgive us. Forgiveness sets us free from anger and grief and bestows us with innumerable spiritual, physical and mental benefits.
Best of all, our negative emotions disappear and this keeps us happy and healthy and full of love and tolerance. Feelings of forgiveness also benefits us with other qualities such as tolerance and rids us of narrow-mindedness and hatred. If you provoked the other person, feel sorry for your bad deed. Give up all ill-feeling and stive towards making that person your friend. In other words, love your enemies, and wish them well. Do good towards them and even pray for them. Pray even for them who completely use you and punish you. Learn to do good deeds and help the downtrodden. And always forgive those who feel guilty for their sins.
The sensible person always sees benefits in forgiving others. As the saying goes, ‘Foolish people neither forgive, nor forget, while intelligent persons forgive, but not forget. It’s no use to ask superficially for forgiveness; instead it is necessary to change in the real sense. The person who begs for forgiveness is strong, but the person who forgives is much more stronger.
Forgiveness is a symbol of strength. Mother Teresa said that if we really want to love, then we must learn to forgive. Deep-seated wounds have even been known to destroy nations, destroy families and in the process, generations suffer. The way out lies in forgiveness. Try and understand from where a person’s behaviour is coming from. Some people are self-centered and think negatively, so try to forgive such people. You will get pure happiness in forgiving such persons. By forgiving, you, in fact benefit immensely as it rids you of negative feelings and emotions. Your mind, body and spirit become pure. Martin Luther King said that you get great happiness when you forgive someone. Forgiveness is beneficial to your health as well. You suffer less from various diseases and your nervous and cardiovascular system remains healthy and strong.
People who believe in Vedanta pray to God for the happiness of their enemies and wish them happiness, goodness, wellbeing and wealth Vedanta believes that all souls are connected to each other. So, if you hate another person, it means you also hate yourself because all souls are one.
Dr Sanjay Teotia is a senior consultant eye surgeon