Forgiveness Is The Only Way To Rid Ourselves Of The Burden Of Anger And Begin The Healing

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the Strong.”   – Gandhi

By Zile Singh

Former Ambassador India(Retd.)

Forgiveness is to stop feeling angry  toward someone, or taking revenge against someone who has done something wrong to you.  In true sense,  forgiveness makes it clear that when you forgive, you do not ignore or deny the seriousness of an offense against you.  It does not mean forgetting nor does it mean excusing the offense.  Then, why do we forgive others?   The primary purpose of forgiving is to do our own healing and well-being.  Forgiveness is about feeling ourselves off the burden of anger and revenge.  Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, to be at peace, to be happy and to be able to sleep at night.  It does not change the past, but certainly it changes and enlarges the future.  Forgiveness is no doubt much more for our own health than for the benefit of the other.

There is a famous quote, “ the stupid neither forgive not forget; the common man forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”  Thus, the main emphasis is  to forgive and not to forget.  There are many examples in the world history on the benefits of forgiveness and the bad implications of revenge.  Sir Winston Churchill, former  War Minister and also the Prime Minister of England wrote – “ In War: Resolution.  In Defeat : Defiance.  In Victory : Magnanimity.  In Peace: Goodwill.”   American President Abraham Lincoln allowed General  Grant to give generous terms to General Lee for the surrender of the Army of northern Virginia.  He did not seek revenge against the southern states in rebellion.  Nelson Mandela fought against the racist system of apartheid in South Africa and was in prison for more than 20 years.  When he got out of the prison he harboured no ill-will against the white rulers.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission  forgave those involved in the crime against the black population.  Desmond Tutu, who presided over the Commission, wrote a book about it called ‘ No Future Without Forgiveness’.

One of the leading figures of Indian independence and also one of the humble human beings to have walked the earth is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi.  The man of peace and non-violence proved that forgiveness ultimately bears fruit.  His advice was “ Hate the Sin Not the Sinner”.

Christ forgave from the cross.  He said, “ Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”   Pope John Paul II forgave his assassin who shot him in the abdomen.  Guru Nanak said, “ Whoever the Lord blesses with forgiveness, his affairs are perfectly resolved.”   The act of forgiveness  in the battle field by Bhai Kanhiya is an example. He forgave the enemy soldiers and healed their wounds and quenched their thrust.     In Hinduism the act of forgiving is a process of getting freedom from inner pains, fears, sufferings and moving towards a goal of comfort, freedom, an attitude of detachment, salvation and self-realization.  The Jain and Buddhist traditions have laid emphasis on the concept of forgiveness to its limits in their Ahimsa (non-violence) practice.  In Islam,  the attributes of Allah are Mercy and Forgiveness.  There are two types of forgiveness is Islam.  Allah’s forgiveness and human forgiveness.    Human beings are in need of both.

Other reasons as to why should we practice forgiveness?  There are physical, psychological and spiritual aspects that impel us to be forgiving.  All human beings are mortals.  Everyone has to die one day, then why should we live in hatred and constant fear.  It is our duty to keep ourselves healthy and happy, then why should we create problems and bitterness for ourselves and others.  People are human being.  It is said, to err is human and to forgive is divine.  Ultimately, love overpowers the hatred.  Every mistakes or pain teaches us a lesson.  Forgive people but do not forget the lesson learnt from others mistakes and pain.  Forgiveness reflects. Whatever you give to others, you get in return.  Positive negates negative.  Forgiveness strengthens bonds and weakens resentment.  People do hurt each other.  Relationships are bound to have fights and jealousy.  Do not stay in bitterness for long.  Try to forgive and forget as soon as possible for the sake of good relationship and harmony in the family and the society.  Fighting increases your blood pressure, mental pain and anxiety.  Forgiveness lowers your pressure, pain and anxiety and saves from heart attack.  What else do we need?

Zile Singh is a former Ambassador(Retd.) of India and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca .



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