“It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place because it frees you.” ~Tyler Perry
Our eight-day annual Jain festival ‘Paryushan Parva’ just concluded. The essence of this holy period is to emphasise on our spiritual growth by means of fasting, prayers, soul-searching, self-study or svadhyaya and meditation. We abstain from eating all roots and green vegetables during this time in order to increase our spiritual vibrations. On the last day after our main prayers called ‘Samvatsari Pratikraman’, we seek each other’s forgiveness by saying ‘Micchami Dukadam’. It means that ‘If I have caused you offence in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness.’ We say this to everyone we know, irrespective of age or class or religion.
As children and later as teenagers, this practice has been maintained as a family and religious ritual. But the significance of forgiving took a huge leap for me in my personal experience of dealing with a broken heart. Forgiving those who had wronged me seemed like a herculean task, one that I was not willing to look at for a very long time. Not until I realized that by holding on to resentments and grudges, I was clearly doing more harm to my own physical and emotional being.
Over the years, in my healing process, the practice of forgiveness has been challenging. Yet in all that I understand of it, I recognized it imperative to forgive in order to heal well. And here’s what I have learnt and continue learning with experience-
Forgiving is healing – Healing from any pain or trauma in life has a lot to do with letting go of the past, the grudges, resentments, hurt and all the negativity in our lives. The act of forgiveness initiates the healing process.
“Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.” ~Nelson Mandela
Forgiving is empowering – Mahatma Gandhi said that forgiveness is an attribute of the strong, that the weak can never forgive. Learning to forgive whole-heartedly is truly an empowering feeling, only making us stronger.
Forgiveness is a gift to us – When we hold on to the pain of the past or harbor thoughts of revenge, we indirectly harm ourselves. But when we forgive others, we are not doing them a favor; on the contrary we are doing it much more for ourselves.
Forgiveness brings peace – When we decide to forgive, we are making a conscious choice of focusing our energies on bringing into our lives a sense of peace and positivity. It is akin to removing the dead cells from our body and draining our wasted energies, making us feel lighter and calmer.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” ~Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiving helps move ahead – Feelings of anger, revenge, pain keep us stuck in our past. When we choose to forgive, we release all that baggage and push ourselves towards the future. It sets us free.
Life is just too short to hold on to ill feelings, to feel victimized and remain stuck in a rut full of resentments. Until we forgive and make peace with all that has happened in our lives, we deny ourselves the state of abundance. Forgive quickly. It will set you on the path of peace that can exist in spite of whatever has happened to you.