To forgive is divine

All karmas (actions) spring forth in the divine consciousness called Brahman. The illusion that they are being performed by different people is called Maya. Knowledge is that, which realises the doer of all actions to be One. The first step towards this knowledge is to realise that we are just a witness in this creation. To realise that ‘‘I am a witness’’ is Atmagyan or self-knowledge. To realise ‘‘I am the Doer of all actions’’ is Brahmagyan or cosmic knowledge.

 

Wisdom is knowing that everybody is an instrument in the hands of the divine. When we are just an instrument, then the question of a good or bad action or the question of praise or criticism does not arise. The wise do not criticise the one who does a bad action, nor is he overwhelmed by praise.

 

Forgiveness is a balm to soothe the mind which is full of hatred and aversion. Normally when somebody has done a bad action its doer ship brings guilt. Asking for forgiveness frees one of this guilt.

 

Similarly forgiving others frees one from anger and hatred. The person with little knowledge forgives others to save himself while an egotist expects others to ask for forgiveness to satisfy his ego.

 

Those who give or seek forgiveness are not established in knowledge. The wise does not forgive! For he knows that the culprit indeed is not the doer. He realises that he is beyond the purview of causality. What is the need to forgive when there is no other?

 

When someone’s ego is hurt, he becomes destructive and hurts others, justifying his own pain as the cause for his actions and reinforcing his ego.

 

There are three levels of knowledge. At the first level, the person thinks ‘‘some one else can hurt me’’. At the second level, a person thinks ‘‘I am hurt’’. A person suffering from pain wants to get rid of it and resorts to prayer. At the third level, the wise knows that he is beyond hurt, stays untainted at all times and recognises the play of karma and stays surrendered at all times.

 

If you are not surrendered, then you get into the cause and effect of actions and the cycle of karma continues. The wise will always find good in other people, because he sees them all as instruments of the divine. He sees divinity even in a thief. An average person will sometimes see divinity, sometimes negativity in others and hence stays in conflict. But one who is emotionally disturbed will find fault even in a saint.

 

In Christianity the emphasis is on forgiveness and not on the cause-and-effect theory. The main objective here is to save the mind and have compassion. In Jainism, the emphasis is on non-violence. While in Jainism, you ask for forgiveness from people, in Christianity you only ask for forgiveness from God. There is a festival in Jainism called Kshamavani (which is held in end August-early September) where one asks for forgiveness for mistakes committed consciously or unconsciously.

 

Thus Christianity uses forgiveness to calm violence and anger in oneself, while Jainism uses forgiveness to reduce violence and anger in others.

 

However Ashtavakra (the great sage who is the author of the famous treatise Ashtavakra Gita) uses forgiveness as a tool to free one from bondage. Guilt and anger also cause bondage, and hence forgiveness is used to free oneself from these emotions. Ashtavakra advises forgiveness only for the seeker, not for the enlightened, when he says that ‘‘the seeker should be forgiving, focussed and compassionate’’.

 

Ashtavakra uses forgiveness in the beginning of his treatise, while Jesus uses forgiveness in the end, when he says, ‘‘Forgive them for they know not what they do.’’ Ashtavakra begins where Jesus ends.

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