Forgiving others is one of the most self-empowering, liberating and spiritual exercises available for all of us, here on this planet. Mercifully, the act of forgiving someone is totally in our hands… It doesn’t call for anyone else’s permission… It doesn’t call for even the reciprocation from the one who we wish to forgive – the one who has hurt, abused or harmed us…
Yes, forgiveness is totally a private call we take to cleanse and heal our own hearts… It paves the way for peace.
In every religion, forgiveness and peace assume significant importance… For us, Christians, Christ Himself demonstrated it as he battled there in pain on the cross… Just before He breathed last, Jesus looked up and prayed: “My Father, please forgive them as they do not know what they are doing.”
Jesus’ words have so much meaning: Our tormentor is not aware of what he is doing… He does it in his ignorance… So, he deserves not punishment but forgiveness… mercy…
A tough call for mortals like you and me… To accept the notion that the one who torments us and hangs us is ‘innocent and ignorant’ and deserves forgiveness and mercy… Yes, it is a tough idea to accept.
But, then, there we are… standing right under Jesus’ cross… Probably, that’s why, the Mass in a church is incomplete without that powerful gesture wherein all bow to each other and say, “Peace be with you”… Even the Priest sends us home with such a reassuring words, “The Mass is ended… Go in peace!”
Two statements of Jesus have always humbled me. When asked by his disciples if forgiving our enemies seven times was enough… Christ famously declared: ‘Sevetnytimes seven times”… Infinite! Then, there is this advice. “When you go to God’s altar with an offering, and there if you remember your brother against whom you hold a grudge, I say to you this… Go back to your brother, make peace with him and then come back and do your offering to God.”
Yes, these things have been infused into my blood right since I was a baby… and, yet, I confess, like most around me do: Forgiving my tormentor is not easy.
Last night, I was with a group of men and women chalking out a certain peace process. One of the gentlemen, a Sikh who is married to a Jain, said this: “Have you not heard of ‘Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ’, the spiritual practice in Jainism? It means: If I have offended you in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness.”
The gentleman had pointed out this amazing Jain principle of forgiveness because, during our discussion on peace process, he had sensed the roadblock… that, most of us had our old baggage of past hurts and misgivings… that, unless we came to terms with all the blockages that held us captive, it was not possible for us to make a real progress towards peace… “Let the bygones be bygones,” the gentleman told us.
And, the gentleman was right!
Peace is the most precious state of grace… It comes only when we go down on our knees and pray, “Lord has mercy on me”… and, when we say with our folded hands, “Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ.”
Peace be with all…