Forgiveness means relinquishing our right to get even
When people hurt us, we often feel the urge to get even. And when they hurt us grievously, we feel we have a right to get even.
However, the right to get even has the wrong effect of filling us with resentment, anger and vengefulness. And through all that pent-up negativity, we hurt ourselves, possibly more than what they have hurt us.
Moreover, even if we succeed in getting even, the relief we get is meager and short-lived. Why? Because vengefulness becomes a habit. Our mind soon finds some other wrong for which to get even. And this sequence of finding wrongs and getting even goes on lifelong, lifetime after lifetime.
The way out of this trap is forgiveness. The Bhagavad-gita (16.03) states that forgiveness characterizes the godly. How can we cultivate a forgiving mentality? Through contemplations such as the following:
- Difficult circumstances can sometimes make even good people do bad things.
- Whatever hurts they have inflicted upon us are reactions to our own past bad karma.
- Just as Krishna has forgiven us for our wrongs, we too can forgive others in a mood of service to him. Even if they don’t merit forgiveness, still Krishna merits a heart whose devotion is not marred by resentment.
- If we don’t attain emotional closure for our hurts before death, we will need to take birth again to bring about that closure. If they remain unrepentant or malevolent, we may practically do the needful to protect ourselves and others from being hurt again. But internally, we need to simultaneously close that chapter of our life through forgiveness.
By thus relinquishing the right to get even, we get rid of resentment. And, irrespective of the specifics of how we deal with them, our emotional energy becomes freed for focusing on Krishna and relishing his sweetness.
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