Forgiveness plays an important role in Buddhism. Many a time, the message of forgiveness is hidden in the catchphrase “letting go”. We can forgive people only when we let go of the sufferings that we have experienced because of them.
He betrayed me. He insulted me. He wronged me. He abuses me. so on and so forth. All the pain and miseries caused by others create intense emotional responses in our minds. We feel helpless and we fear; we experience aversion and we harbor hatred.
Memories of our bad experiences haunt us and we are reminded of the sufferings over and over again.
Buddhism does not deny such sufferings. However, instead of promising us a just punishment against our harmer, Buddhism advises us to forgive our harmer. There is an urgent need to forgive. This is because any intention of revenge or hatred in our minds results in suffering.
Suffering in this life
If we cling to memories of our bad experiences, there is no room for happiness. Our minds become fixated on the wrongs that were already in the past. Re-living painful experiences and memories in our minds only creates suffering now. Consequently, we project negative emotions upon innocent people around us now. That attracts negative responses from others. In this manner, the web of suffering continues to spin endlessly.
We really have to sit down and generate thoughts of loving-kindness to our harmer. “May you be well and happy”, “I forgive you.” Not saying that we have to prolong our physical suffering under their hands. Rationally, we escape at soon as possible. But what we are talking about here is the mental baggage that haunts us.
We need to let go of that by practicing loving-kindness and forgiveness.
Suffering in the after life
According to enlightened masters, many enemies become lovers or close family members in their following lives. This is because their hatred for each other creates the cause for them to seek each other out; so that they can continue tormenting each other, life after life. Isn’t that scary?
In case you think that revenge is about exacting punishment upon our enemies and we appear as a knight in shining armor with a sword in hand; you got it wrong.
Hatred creates suffering in our body too. Thus, one is likely to be reborn sickly or suffer from a short lifespan. Our enemy will probably become our parent or lover. Their ignorant attachment to us will create all manner of emotional and physical torment for them as they “love” us dearly. (And you can’t be smart about this by walking away from your family burden too. To turn your back upon your loved ones requires you need to “harden” your heart. That is the mind-set of an animal and you will be reborn as an animal in the next life. There is no way of outsmarting it…..)
It takes a deep understanding to see the truth in the aforesaid narratives. Once you see the truth in it, it becomes extremely scary. Revenge becomes wearisome. Forgiveness becomes urgent.
In conclusion, forgiveness is actually for our own good. Forgiveness stops suffering. The Buddha once said, “Only love can overcome hatred.” That is why we need to practice Metta Meditation. We need to tell ourselves to forgive our enemy. Only then, can we release ourselves from the chain that is binding us to our enemies.
May all be well and happy
May the pandemic end.
Great thoughts Jamyang. I believe the one who gives us pain, is the one who is in pain.
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Good point Cornelia, and that is also why we need to extend our compassion towards them too.
Yes indeed, at times it isn’t easy, yet very necessary for our own soul.
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