Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal
with the intent of throwing it at someone else;
you are the one who gets burned.
We will all feel resentful at some time in our life. We will all feel angry. We will say, “this isn’t fair.” We will suffer because something, someone, some event, does not meet with our expectations. We will be disappointed and worse, hurt, wounded and bitter.
Truly, it does not matter whether life is fair or not, whether there is someone to blame or not. Look around you, observe history and the present time. Is life ever fair? Whether fair or unfair, what matters is how one reacts to each event and interaction as it happens. Always, it is the subject and not the object that is important. We live with our perceptions and reactions and this colours and shapes our character and our life. Our perceptions and reactions decide whether we are happy or not, whether we are kind or not and peaceful or not, long after the memory of an objective event or whether something or someone was fair or not.
Humanity is not inspired to grow nor mature well through anger or hate. On the other hand, so great is forgiveness that when history records the spirit of forgiveness within individuals, societies and countries, our world is moved and irrevocably changed. Writers compose stories of those who are able to move beyond the rigid fortresses of their minds revealing the softness and kindness of the heart. Poets, singers, musicians are inspired to honour, respect and celebrate the essence of mercy, compassion, generosity and openness. Forgiveness inspires because it is the expression of a divine seed within us that enables us to move beyond mere flesh and bone and the rigid patterns of self and survival, to become a true human being,
We respect those who show forgiveness; we love them; we feel safe having them in the world. We even fall at their feet. All the great divine teachers of our past have embodied forgiveness, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Rama, Krishna and many more. Thousands of years on, ordinary people are still inspired by them, talk of them, write about them and take up the mantle of forgiveness in their daily lives because of their example and in so doing irrevocably change their own lives and their world.
One more recent person whose name has become synonymous with the essence of forgiveness and its inspiration is the late Nelson Mandela. His life and heart was a global stimulus for all ages, colours and creeds and is unforgettable because it was a life imbued with the power of forgiveness.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison for trying to end white-minority rule through violence in South Africa, becoming a symbol of forgiveness and peace. He made peace with those who had been the vehicles of his oppression and captivity and his open heartedness and forgiveness inspired his captors no matter their roles or their beliefs.
On one of his most famous occasions after his release and rise to power, Mandela donned the Springbok rugby jersey at the 1995 rugby World Cup final. During apartheid, the Springbok jersey was a symbol of black oppression and by wearing the green jersey, Mandela made a huge statement of peace and forgiveness and a heart-filled message to his country to unite. Being imprisoned for so many prime years of his life, most people expected that Mandela would be full of anger and a lust for retribution. Instead, he astounded the world by his forgiving humanity and kindness to those who had wished him dead or to rot in a prison cell.
Forgiveness can create an avalanche of the heart, purifying all that is darkly hidden in the recesses of hate and anger. It is the momentum to Love and non-judgement. It is the character and expression of God Itself. Without forgiveness we can never be happy or have the causes of happiness.
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.
The Lord’s Prayer
In embracing forgiveness, even the smallest forgotten and hidden resentments may rear into our consciousness. We must not be dismayed. These manifest so that they may dissolve in the light of awareness. It is their chance to be seen and be made free. Let us not run away from them, camouflage them, justify or defend them. Let us not pretend they are not there or that they are not dangerous. Let us see them for what they are. Let us identify them, name them, claim them and in so doing, let them go, allowing them to dissolve and be released.
Remember that such grievances are poison to our being. They will hurt us and limit us and make us hard. They will make us unyielding, neurotic, anxious, tight, fragile and self-centred. They will make us defensive and aggressive and shatter us when even gently prodded. Yes, hardness can extinguish us. Let us allow these mind toxins to arise in our consciousness and surrender them to kindness and forgiveness. Let us hand them over and pray for their release. This is our chance, the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to heal deeply once and for all.
* * *
Addressing Dhritarashtra, Vidura said:
“There is one only defect in forgiving persons, and not another;
that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak.
That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration,
for forgiveness is a great power.
Importantly, fundamentally, everything begins with you. The one you most have to ask for forgiveness is yourself. The one you most have to be soft with, to be compassionate with, to love kindly and dearly, is you. Yes, you have wounds and hurts and scars. Yes, you are not perfect. Yes, you are sometimes not kind or good. You have been in internal wars, have become lost, wandered from the light and you have been found. Face the pain. With kindness the pain will ease and heal.
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone
who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself,
and that person is not to be found anywhere.
You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,
deserve your love and affection.
Allowing yourself to feel is deeply kind and healing, unlike a whip that will merely deepen your wounds, your scars and your pain and make you all the more hardened towards others. Make peace with yourself and the world will be peaceful with you. Reduce your expectations, be happy with what is, what is less. Be kind with yourself and all others and your kindness will extend naturally and lovingly to all beings as well as yourself. Forgive yourself and others for what they have done, what they do and may still do.
may you be happy and have the causes of happiness
May you take care of yourself happily always
May you be peaceful and strong
May you be at ease in this world.
May you have peace, peace, peace.