Friday, July 9, 2010

The Meaning of Forgiveness

Forgiveness in one sense means being absolved of our sins. However real forgiveness means more than just the forgiveness of our wrong actions. Divine forgiveness involves illumination. Our ignorance becomes not just temporarily absolved but transformed. Speaking on divine forgiveness Sri Chinmoy says:

"Our human mind may call it forgiveness, but God is not thinking about our inner and outer misdeeds. He just wants us to raise our consciousness so that we will increase our receptivity and oneness with Him."

Forgiveness of ourselves.

Sometimes it is easy to forgive others, but it can be more difficult to forgive ourselves. When we do something wrong we can feel terrible and, consciously or unconsciously, we cherish an idea of guilt. It can be hard to let go of these feelings and emotions. However cherishing a notion of guilt does not help us in any way. The Indian spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna said something quite revealing.

"The wretch who constantly says, "I am bound, I am bound', only succeeds in being bound. He who says day and night, 'I am a sinner, I am a sinner' verily becomes a sinner."

A better attitude is to focus on doing the right thing. True we have made a mistake, but if we have done the wrong thing there is no reason why can't change our behaviour and do the right thing. We should not dwell on the past, but look forward and concentrate on the right path of action.

Real forgiveness means to forget.

To be sincere in our forgiveness of others we should not even remember the incident. Sometimes forgiveness can be conditional, we shall tell somebody we have forgiven them, but maybe later we will bring it up to use it against them. This is not real forgiveness. Only when we do not think about the experience have we really forgiven others.

When we forgive others, we should not feel that we are just doing somebody else a favour; through forgiving others we are helping ourselves immensely. By remembering the misdeeds of others we live in the critical and judgemental mind. However through forgiveness we learn to appreciate the good qualities of others. Through forgiveness we become aware of our extended reality. If someone does something wrong a good attitude to take is. "I could quite easily have done that myself". Even if we wouldn't have done this action, it makes us more humble.

On the cross Jesus Christ uttered an immortal utterance

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

This is a supreme example of forgiveness. It was Jesus Christ's sense of oneness with others that enabled him to make such a lofty statement. He identified with their limited perspective but at the same time he didn't want those living in ignorance to remain bound. His only aspiration was for everyone to transcend their ignorance and see the world from a Divine perspective.

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