by Krsnanandini Dasi & Tariq Saleem Ziyad (Co-directors, CFLEs)
Just yesterday, we provided relationship education to several couples and individuals. One recurring theme throughout those sessions was that somewhere, some way, some one had said or done something that hurt their spouse or another loved one. Trying to work through the hurt, to get past the pain, required forgiveness.
We shared with our clients that real forgiveness involves four basic steps from the side of the offender:
1. Sincere Admission of the offensive or hurtful actions or words (“I’m sorry for______________
2. Sincere Acknowledgement of WHY the above action was wrong (“This is wrong because________________________”)
3. Positive and specify Commitment for future actions (In the future, I will ____________– kindly don’t say what you won’t do, say what you WILL do)
4. Asking for forgiveness (“Will you forgive me?” AND understanding the person you have wronged may or may not forgive you and that is their choice.)
NOW, from the perspective of the one who is wronged: Forgiveness frees the forgiver! Imagine this: You are carrying two hot, hot coals in your hand, looking at someone who hurt you or offended you. Who’s getting burned? Similarly, when we carry resentment, anger or hostility in our hearts, we are the ones who are burned. So carrying grudges, being resentful or vindictive, causes dis-ease, both mental and physical.
Forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness, however. It means release. It means knowing that God (Krsna, Allah, Yahweh) is in charge of meting out consequences for bad or abusive behavior. And, we can forgive someone and still put distance between ourselves and the person who has offended or hurt us. Healthiness means wishing well for everyone even if they are not conscious enough to wish you well. When anyone treats someone else badly or with disrespect, it due to ignorance. The offender does not realize that each living being is a part and parcel of God, deeply and eternally loved by Him. The culprit does not realize that we are all connected and when I hurt you, I hurt myself, even though I may not be able to see or feel this reality right away.
“Do not be angry at the instrument of your Karma” is something well worth pondering as we endeavor to become free of the bondage of anger, hatred, resentment and envy.