Wednesday, January 18, 2006


LESSON 281 from Living with Siva

The Art of Forgiveness

The Vedas are full of verses which speak of the Divine within man,
and therefore Hindu Dharma today implores us to let go of grudges,
resentment and especially self-contempt. Most people today are working
harder to correct the faults of others than they are their own. It is a
thankless job. It truly is. Most are trying to recreate the relatively
real world into being absolutely real. Another thankless job. The wise
implore us to accept things as they are, to be happy and content at every
point in time. They tell us: do not be discouraged in seeing the failings
of others. Rather, let it help awaken your understanding of them as to
where they are in consciousness and the suffering they must be going
through. If others harm you in thought, word or deed, do not resent
it. Rather, let it awaken compassion, kindness and forgiveness. Use it
as a mirror to view your own frailties; then work diligently to bring
your own thoughts, words and deeds into line with Hindu Dharma.

The secret is that we have to correct all matters within ourselves. We
have to bear our karmas--the reactions to our actions--cheerfully. And
what are the apparent injustices of life but the self-created reactions
of our own past actions in this or a former life? The person of perfect
understanding accepts all happenings in life as purposeful and good. We
must be grateful to others for playing back to us our previous actions
so that we can see our mistakes and experience the same feelings we
must have caused in others. It is in this way that we are purified and
trained not to commit the same adharmic acts again.

All the great ones have preached the art of forgiveness. First we
must learn to forgive ourselves, to accept ourselves as we are and
proceed with confidence. Many people live their whole lives immersed in
guilt. It's a way of life passed on from generation to generation. It's
like a passive fear, different from a threatening fear. Certain religions
push people into fear and guilt. Therefore, if they don't feel guilty,
they don't feel that they are being religious. Mary Baker Eddy once said
God is love and was viciously attacked for it by the Christian community
of her day, who believed with a vengeance that God is wrathful, fear
invoking. Families who live in guilt pass it on to their children. People
who live in a state of guilt don't give a lot, they don't produce a lot,
and they don't move forward spiritually very far.

New energy is released for a healthy future when we forgive
ourselves. Yes, forgiveness is a powerful force. We must start with
ourselves, for as long as we hold self-contempt, we are unable to forgive
others, because everyone else is a reflection of ourself. We react to
what we see in them that we are not ready to face up to in ourselves.

It is a great power to be able to look beyond ourselves and see others
as they really are, how they really think and how they really feel. When
we are wrapped up in our own individual ego, this is hard to do. We
surmise that those we know are exactly like us, and we find fault with
them when they are not. But eventually we break the shell of the ego--an
act symbolized by smashing the rough, dark brown coconut in the temple,
revealing the beauty of the pure, white fruit inside which represents
our pristine spiritual nature. It takes a hard blow to subdue our ego,
and this is never without pain. But we can remove the ego's hard shell
painlessly through absolute surrender to Hindu Dharma, absolute surrender
to our own soul, to God within us. External worship and internal worship,
external surrender and internal surrender, bring about the softening of
the ego and the unveiling of spirit.


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