It is often said that we must hate the sin and not the sinner. So, we must forgive. But the question is: Is it so easy to forgive? The obvious answer is ‘No’. It takes a lot of courage to forgive; it’s a big effort to forgive someone who has hurt or harmed you. The easier way out is―take revenge and dispense quick justice for yourself, without thinking.
But what happens when you take revenge? Do you feel satisfied and happy? Not really! You feel agitated, still angry with your offender, even sad. That’s perhaps because your act of revenge didn’t reflect your true nature. The true nature of all human beings is to live in peace, harmony and calmness.
In our daily life, we overlook many things because it isn’t practical to keep a grudge with our loved ones. When our friends and relatives hurt us we feel the pain, maybe sulk for sometime, but we soon overcome it all, because we consider the relationship more important than nursing the hurt. However, if the same person hurts us repeatedly, then a bit of introspection and self-analysis is needed. We may then find that we may have given a cause to the other person to behave inappropriately.
At other times, we may feel we are not at fault, but our expectations from that person was the cause of our disappointment or hurt. Perhaps, our expectations were too high or we had placed that person on a pedestal. Sometimes the other person could be selfish or inconsiderate unintentionally. Whether it is due to selfishness or ignorance of the other person or our own expectations from the person, we should bear in mind that the hurt and loss of peace of mind is ours alone―this affects only our happiness, and not his or hers. The best way to resolve the situation is to change oneself rather than expect the other person to change. In such an approach, we can find a solution and happiness.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you,” says Lewis B Smedes, author and theologian. However, in the course of the hangings of Nirbhaya’s rapists, when some activists advised Nirbhaya’s parents to forgive the rapists, the mother of Nirbhaya, who had been fighting relentlessly for the last eight years to get justice for her daughter’s gruesome death, was not at all inclined to forgive.
This made me wonder if we have the right to advise others to forgive. Forgiveness is an individual call that comes from within and not an act that is the outcome of someone else preaching about the benefits of forgiveness. Justice is a very important part of the healing process in the case of victims of horrendous crimes. Do we have the right to demand or preach forgiveness to them?
We must first help the victims to heal. Did anyone who asked Nirbhaya’s mother to forgive make any efforts to understand her pain or do something to make her emotionally and mentally strong to forgive the rapists? Did human rights organisations help to heal Nirbhaya’s parents’ pain from within? In India, rapes have never stopped; so how can a mother believe that in future no other girl will go through the pain her daughter went through?
Those who tried to lecture Nirbhaya’s mother on forgiveness should have instead enrolled her support and that of other parents to join hands with NGOs in raising more awareness about the safety and welfare of women.
The heart of Nirbhaya’s mother was filled with so much pain. Can a heart with so much pain really forgive?
We may be able to forgive when we accept that misery or hurt is not because of the people who caused it, but it was our own life’s destiny that made us go through such a painful period. People causing the pain were mere actors in the drama of life, playing their villainous role.
Destiny plays an important role in our suffering as well as joy. If we believe that we are the cause of our own destiny and others are not responsible for it, then we will be in a better frame of mind, to forgive others. Instead of holding resentment against a person for your troubles, it is better to own responsibility for them.
As American author Catherine Ponder says: “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” By forgiving, we can snap the memories of the person playing a villainous role in our life. But will snapping memories help in ensuring everlasting peace and calmness? For, forgiveness is much more than making a break with the past.
Forgiveness is considered a divine attribute. How can we, mere humans, acquire divine qualities? The answer is: be bound to the Divine Force, who is the true healer of our pain and the gateway to peace, happiness and calmness―it is this Divine Force, who will bestow us with divinity.
Forgiveness requires loads of self-belief, and the strength of a calm mind―a lofty goal, which can be only achieved by being close to God, always.
And, it is only by surrendering to the Divine Force, we humans can acquire the power to forgive. We may then realise that forgiveness is, after all, a simple secret of practical spirituality.
Nita Agarwal is an ex-Table Tennis State player, qualified teacher, self-taught budding painter, a successful blogger, who writes about her observations of life and people; and most importantly, a working housewife.