Life brings us many disappointments and challenges. All of us go through life with some incident happening that we do not like or that hurts us. Each of our personal stories generally begin with something that happens to us that we do not like. Some person has wronged us in some way. Maybe someone has said something to hurt our feelings or has hurt us physically. Maybe someone has taken something from us, cheated us or has taken our power, position or wealth.
So, what happens next? We are upset, hurt, annoyed, and angry. When we grow angry when someone hurts us, we suffer twofold. First, we have to bear the pain others may cause us. Second, anger not only upsets us emotionally, but it has a deleterious effect on our physical body, causing stress, which in turn contributes to stress-related ailments.
Let us trace what happens to us when we do not forgive. We think about what happened. We think about it again and again. We may even talk about it repeatedly either to the person who hurts us or to others. Some people who have less control over themselves may thrash out physically to the person or take out their anger physically on someone else. Thus, from that one incident, we end up creating more scenarios and situations in response.
What has happened in the process? We have lost our peace of mind. The initial incident may have lasted a few moments, a few hours or a day, but we have now spent hundreds of hours and countless days replaying what happened and thinking about how to get even. Instead of keeping our attention on what can help us, such as thinking of God, meditating, doing selfless service, and achieving spiritual benefits, we have wasted the time in replaying a bad movie.
On the spiritual path, success in meditation is to be able to focus within by having a still mind. We do not want to be distracted by the outer world, our body or our mind. One of the greatest distractions that interferes with our meditation is when something happens that we don’t like, and we cannot forget it. We become nothing more than a tape recording or a video recording that plays the same bad scene over and over. How many of us want to see a bad movie twice, or listen to a song we don’t like again and again, or eat food that we don’t like again?
What are the keys to developing the power of forgiveness?
One of the keys is to “let go”. when we forgive and forget we are letting go of the past and what has happened. We are saying, “I forgive the person for what has happened. Then I am going to forget about it.” In this way, we are letting it go.
Let us devote ourselves to forgiving and forgetting, letting go and getting back to the Lord. We can tell our mind that we need to forgive everyone and everything from the past and make a conscious decision to forget all the previous hurt. Let us use forgiveness, and in this way we can also protect our body from the damage caused by the hormones released because of anger. We can then see a reduction in stress-related ailments.
If we can be brave and courageous to learn to forgive we can put our attention into purposes that we help us attain union with God. If we maintain a calm mind, we can make progress in our meditation leading back to God.