My teacher always said that forgiving was not an act, but an inner state. Similar to light that falls upon whatever comes in front of it, when we are in a state of forgiving, we forgive anyone, without any judgment. We use the term ‘I have forgiven’; my teacher used to say that the ‘I’ cannot forgive. Forgiveness can only be brought about with the dissolution of ego.
For us, forgiving is an act. We must strive to practice as often as we can. If we can observe ourselves a little, we will see how easily we take offence at the smallest provocation. We feel hurt and resent being criticized. Say, a child may feel it is not being appreciated, a husband may feel that his wife does not understand him, an employee may feel that his boss is overworking him, and so on. We also feel someone has been disloyal to us. We hold on to many grudges, which are like open wounds in the subconscious.
We continuously hold tension, remain volatile and angry, slowly leading to a neurotic state where our minds chatter all the time, narrow our perception, make us rigid, sour, bitter, revengeful, jealous, moody, and fatigued. This not only ruins our psychological health, but over a period of time also affects our physical well-being. Once we are in a highly strung-up state, we get caught in everything that does not go our way, in turn leading to irritation and holding a constant resentment that life is not fair.
Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of such resentment; to drop the act or the grudge that we are holding, to relax from within and enjoy at letting go of the burden. Whenever we feel hurt, just pause, weigh the grievance, see the damage it will cause us, and will it away. We do not need to excuse or condone the act, we just forgive the other.
Another way is being in the other person’s shoes. We never try to put ourselves in others’ situation, and always want people to realize our difficulties. We must learn to empathise, true sympathy automatically follows.
If we keep practicing in the small acts of living, one day the lamp will be lit, and forgiveness will become second nature.