RASHTRIYA DIGAMBER JAIN PARISHAD (Regd)
Forgiving others and even forgiving ourselves is not always so easy. In fact, how do you forgive someone who has hurt you? How do you forgive yourself for regrets that you have? The truth is, even when we want to engage in the process of forgiving others or ourselves, we don’t always know how to go about it.
There are many articles and books on forgiveness that have been written to help us to understand the importance of forgiveness or क्षमा but when it comes right down to it we need specific tools to assist us in the process of forgiving others and in forgiving ourselves. But in the Jain Dharma it has a great significance and importance. In one of the Holy Speeches of भगवान् महावीर (Lord Mahavir), he said "Forgiveness is the ornament of brave persons" (क्षमा बहादुरों का आभूषण है.) But the bravery does not lie in proving the power but in Forgiving or क्षमा.
Forgiveness is the experience of finding inner peace which our saint have telling us since long . One of the most difficult things we have to do during the course of our lives is to forgive those who wrong us. When we are hurt, our first reaction is usually to seek revenge and strike back. Revenge may provide temporary satisfaction, but usually the satisfaction is replaced by guilt, sadness, and remorse. Forgiveness lightens our heart and our spirit in a way that no amount of satisfaction from revenge possibly can.
What is the importance of forgiveness in our life and what does it mean to forgive? We all have our own thoughts and feelings about what it means to forgive and why we should or shouldn’t do it. It is said that “forgiveness is a mental, and/or spiritual process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger against another person for a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution." Forgiveness is about setting us free and we can do that by releasing the past so it no longer has control over our thoughts or the way we feel. It is true that forgiveness doesn’t mean that we are approving, accepting, dismissing or condoning what someone else did. It is about setting our self free and we can do that by releasing the past so it no longer has control over our thoughts or the way we feel.
Certainly, there are a wide range of situations that we often experience and witness throughout our lives and some are easier to forgive than others. However, forgiveness is or may be possible in all situations. As forgiveness takes place within our heart, we may receive inspired thoughts and ideas of ways to initiate reconciliation. We may even find that once we shift our emotional energy around the other person through forgiveness, they actually initiate reconciliation because whether they are conscious of it or not, they may feel the shift in our energy.
Understanding the importance of forgiveness can come through exploring the effects of un -forgiveness. For instance, when we hold a grudge or harbor un -forgiveness against someone or in regards to something that happened, we are jeopardizing our own mind and health. Un-forgiveness creates destructive energies such as anger, judgment, criticism, resentment, etc. and these harbored emotions are like toxins in the body which create stress and can even lead to illness and perhaps in extreme cases, even disease. These emotions affect us on all levels: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Whether we are conscious of it or not, these underlying emotions can even affect our day to day experiences and our interactions with people. Also, when we are seemingly stuck in a place of un-forgiveness we put a kink in our ability to feel our connection to the divine or to our higher self and we may even begin to feel “lost” in our life, losing sight of what our passions are and what brings us joy. Besides this, it can be regret, sadness, hurt, fear, or guilt, blame anger, resentment, and sometimes even the desire for revenge. Each one of these states comes from a space of un -forgiveness, a refusal to let go and come into the present moment.
“Love is always the answer to healing of any sort. And the pathway to love is forgiveness."
Benefits of forgiveness
There are a lot of benefits of forgiveness. We will be having stronger intuitive insight and a deepened experience of spiritual connection ,experience of thoughts and emotions that feel good, more often, higher level of energy and a better quality of sleep, increased happiness and peacefulness ,happier, healthier relationships, greater health and less stress ,clearer thinking and so on .
Hence the importance of forgiveness can easily be realized in one’s life. It has everything to do with our own well being. Through forgiveness we literally set our self free. When forgiveness takes place, we naturally release the disturbing thoughts and emotions that drain our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. The result is a greater level of health and happiness in addition to the endless benefits that forgiveness brings. Forgiveness can release us from the past and assist us in overcoming resentment or regrets that we may have.
How long does it take to forgive?
The process of forgiveness cannot be rushed. Depending on the person, it may take days, many months or years to totally forgive someone. Forgiveness can neither be compelled nor stopped by another. It is a feeling from our within.
We often forget how important it is to forgive. If we never forgave, we would have an awful society. All people would need to have all the same thoughts and censor their true feelings otherwise we would have a world full of hateful and friendless people. Too many people would live unhappy and unfulfilled lives.
If we don't forgive someone who has wronged us, we run the risk of holding on to the anger, resentment and a sense of betrayal. If we hold on to the anger, resentment and sense of betrayal, we can make our own life miserable. A vindictive, angry mind-set creates bitterness, increases stress levels, and can diminish overall health. When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride. For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skins and to be glad in each others’ presence.
Those preferring a society in which people still spoke to one another would need to persuade their citizens to have the same thoughts and ideas as their peers. If people have different ideas, they will voice those opinions. Citizens will become furious and upset when people start voicing their different ideas. The community or Samaj will not pardon one another for the rest of their lives. They will never know what new things they could have learned from these people, because they never got to know them well enough. Therefore, if we eliminate different ideas and opinions, then everyone will be happy. We will get on well with each other because there will be no difference in opinion. Peace is not possible without forgiveness. Martin Luther King once said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” The only way children can learn the habit of forgiveness is by seeing us, their parents, forgive others and forgive ourselves.
If people never forgave one another, they would never forget. People that are always angry get stressed out, because their issues would never be solved if they have never acquitted anyone. If you absolve someone and you resolve to work through your issues, you will become more relaxed and at ease. The more you forgive, the more relaxed you become, because you have worked through your issues. Therefore, they are not running through your mind all day and night. If no one ever exonerated any one, no one would have any friends. People make mistakes and say rude things sometimes, but it’s human nature. If we don’t accept these mistakes, we will loose a lot of friends. This is because it is crucial to live and learn. If we say things that hurt someone close to us; we know not to do it again because we saw the effect it had on someone we care for.