“Forgiveness is the might of the mighty”
Devotee: Please speak a little about forgiveness. It’s something I just can’t seem to do and I’m concerned. I can’t let go of the bad things that have happened to me, and this is making me bitter. I saw a bumper sticker a couple of weeks ago, it said, “Be bitter or better. Your choice.” [laugher]
Forgiveness is the way to being better, and if you’re bitter you’re right to be concerned because you are the one who’s suffering. The power of forgiveness is immense…it’s quoted and listed as one of the 26 Qualities in God Talks With Arjuna:
“One should forgive under any injury. It has been said that the continuation of the species is due to man’s being forgiving. Forgiveness is holiness. By forgiveness the universe is held together. Forgiveness is the might of the mighty. Forgiveness is sacrifice. Forgiveness is quiet of mind. Forgiveness and gentleness are the qualities of the self-possessed. They represent eternal virtue.”
As it’s clear from these words how important forgiveness is, how do we begin to learn to forgive? First of all remember the Truth needs no defense. Every injustice will be remedied by God. “Let go and let God. Turn the other cheek seventy times seven.” We hear these things but this is true, we have to practice faith.
Also know that we are not alone. There’s not one of us here that’s alone in terms of forgiving. We have all been hurt on a personal, a national and on an international level.
During the past year I learned that there is a great movement underway in the world to foster forgiveness. In fact, yesterday was International Forgiveness Day, I thought that was very appropriate for the first day of convocation.
Guruji said that when you forgive you are in spiritual consciousness. Forgiving means you give your enemy a chance to gain a better understanding. If you become vengeful and angry, you only make your enemy more blind and angry.
So even though you’re providing for your enemy an opportunity, the greater good is for yourself. Forgiveness is first of all about you, no one else. Forgiveness holds the universe together because hatred and vengefulness destroy, and Satan wins.
The Visible Magnetism of the Shoeshine Man
Many years ago there was a man in downtown San Diego and driving by…I was attracted to the site because there was a visible magnetism around this person. His name was Amos Manuel and he had a shoeshine stand. Many, many years later I read his obituary…and in it they quoted his lifetime philosophy of forgiveness. He said, “Nobody’s no better than I am. Nobody’s no lousier than I am. And I haven’t got time to hate nobody. Life’s too short.”
Mr. Manuel had a choice, as do we all. He practiced not only forgiveness, but also forgetfulness. They go hand in hand. Forgetfulness is the deeper level of forgiveness, because this is where it resides in the mind and in the memory. We have to forgive at this level, because we need to erase those patterns in our subconscious mind.
Guruji said that God has given us the use of memory for a reason. If we remember some injury, physical or mental, and that memory brings up a hatred or a dislike of some person or persons, then that is an abuse of the faculty of memory. He said we should never relive unhappy experiences, or bring up or think about the negative thoughts that we have about some past experience, that we shouldn’t dwell on them.
Forgetting doesn’t mean that we necessarily forget what happened, but it does mean that we don’t let is fester in our minds, which creates anger, resentfulness and hatred sometimes. You don’t have to like the person who hurt you, but Guruji says you do have to make your peace with them and learn to love them as souls.
“Be better or bitter”
One of our members told me of an experience she had with forgiveness. She came from a large family, and she was the only girl. She was verbally abused by her father who was an alcoholic, and she grew to hate him. This hatred caused her to be angry and resentful.
As the years passed and she found the spiritual path, she realized that she needed to do something about these feelings because they were destroying her. Her father lived on the east coast, and so she didn’t have to see him. But she decided that she would just try to talk to him from time to time. They talked about the weather and other general topics. She never brought up feelings because she knew that she was not capable of recognizing how he had hurt her. Her brothers had all distanced themselves from their father to the extent that they no long talked to him, and they wouldn’t even let him see his grandchildren.
So whenever Father’s Day came around, she would think about sending a card, but just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Finally she decided that this was the year, she would give him a Father’s Day card but it would have to a very simple card. It could only say, “Happy Father’s Day,” nothing more. So she said she spent hours looking for the card, and hours until she found a card that only said, “Happy Father’s Day.” The minute she picked up that card and made the conscious decision to send that card to her father, she said that a wave of forgiveness passed through her that was so powerful that she could hardly stand up.
This happened because she was steadily making small efforts at, not liking what he did, but loving the soul that did the wrong action. We never know at what point God will be able to remove an obstacle. We can only make efforts toward that day when the obstacle will be removed.
Thoughts are things. Pain and suffering reside in the mind. So have some thought, some affirmation ready, that you can put in place whenever these negative thoughts about the past, about things that happened to us when they come to the fore. And beyond it all Guruji said to keep in mind in the face of all adversity that God created cosmic evil just to test us, so that we would have an opportunity to use our free will to go home. Whether we like it or not, this is the plan, and we have to cooperate with it.
So if you need to forgive someone, make this week you begin to do so. Decide to forgive. Live in the present. Be better or bitter. [laughter]
exerpts from SISTER MRIDANI’s Convocation talk CD “A Master’s Techniques for Creating Harmony and Abundance in Daily Life,” in the Self-Realization Magazine, Spring 2008