In the course of a lifetime we face numerous challenges, perhaps including attacks against us and betrayals by those whom we trusted. Fortunately, we have the Master’s inner support, which provides deep solace for us when we are hurt, and his encouragement to find forgiveness in our heart. In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, Maharaj Charan Singh says, “So forgiveness is always best.”
Let’s imagine that our boss or a friend or a family member cheats or double-crosses us. Our first reaction may be anger; we may have lost significant income, authority, or prestige. We may also feel humiliated, and the passion of revenge may rise up in our minds. It is extremely important at that moment to stop!
Whatever we need to do to restrain ourselves from reacting to these attacks, we should do even though we may feel overcome with outrage and find it difficult or impossible to keep focused on the path. Refraining from revenge, while it does not excuse the attack against us, keeps us from becoming like our attacker. Hazur says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III, “If there’s one fool under a roof, then there is no necessity for two under the same roof.”
Maharaj Charan Singh counsels us again in the same volume: “If we don’t forgive what other people do to us … we may have to come back to forgive them.” Still, we may try to forgive, and not be able to. We may think, “If I forgive my enemies, they will keep attacking me.” Actually, we don’t know that. If we engage in this type of thinking, we can be sure the incident will develop into a feud or grudge; and that feud may continue, even over lifetimes. We don’t want that. Forgiveness does not mean surrender to our attackers. Forgiveness means we hold nothing against them - we do not hate them. We try to remember that the Creator also lives inside them.
If we let go of this burden of resentment, we are free to respond to any action in a positive way. By keeping our attention in simran, we are more able to respond as the Master wishes us to respond. If we continue to pile up resentments, our meditation will be negatively affected as we will be concentrating on our enemy instead of our Master. If we don’t learn to forgive, how can we expect the Father to forgive us?
By not forgiving, we are carrying a burden on our heart. That burden hinders our meditation and keeps us distant from the source of love, the inner Master, the Shabd. When we carry resentments or seek justice on our own terms, it will take us away from the Lord. The Masters tell us there is no getting even; there is simply the karmic wheel. Do we want to return to this world in order to ‘get even’ with somebody? If there is to be a payback for them, it needs to be in the hands of the Creator, not us. If we desire to get even, we’re entering the court of justice; however, if we want to be in the court of the Master, then we can strive to forgive and forget.
When we experience a personal betrayal, this experience may profoundly shock and hurt us. We only have this one moment to step aside from reaction and revenge. If we are hurt, we don’t want to spread more hurt. If the person who betrays us is a good friend or close relative, this moment will not be the last we share with them. Down the road, when this incident has receded into the past, we want to feel that we stayed close to the Master when we were hurt and that we followed his guidance as best we could. What feeling is better than that? As Maharaj Charan Singh says: “If you are carrying a grudge against anyone or have hatred in your heart, it is not pure…. Then you cannot receive what the Lord wants to give you.” No matter how deep this pain is, the Shabd and the Master’s love are deeper. That is no time to avoid meditation. As often as we can, during the day and night, it is imperative to sit still and practise simran. We have no better consolation and guidance than the Master and our meditation and we should attempt to remain calm.
Holding a grudge not only maintains a negative relationship, it may hurt other innocent people who are close to us. We see here how karmic relationships can go on forever. When will it stop? Master teaches us to be the leader and be the one who stops reacting. Hazur continues in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III: “And if you also retaliate against someone, you become like the other person.”
Don’t become like the other person; become like the Master who is constantly forgiving. Also, if we don’t retaliate, we don’t reinforce our attacker’s violence. We want to show him peacefulness and demonstrate that anger can be contained and released. As disciples we aim to “turn the other cheek”, a thousand times if necessary, because we always wish to face our Master, and he is in everyone, even our attacker. Much as it may grate on us to forgive and forget, that is our only path to freedom from the painful entanglement of negativity.
Forgiveness seems easy to discuss, but it can be hard to do. We don’t come into this life free and clear but arrive with a burden on our head; and it is this burden, which keeps us enslaved to the painful patterns of the mind and complicates our life. We appeal to the Master to relieve us of this burden and to forgive us completely. We wish to get closer to him, to become free like him, yet we also wish to remain as we are. That is impossible. We wish to be forgiven, and yet we do not easily forgive others. Hazur says, “So we should just forgive the person and call it quits.”
In our depths, we must forgive; it is there that light-heartedness resides. Imagine how many people have insulted, slandered, or slighted the Master. If he were not a completely forgiving person, shadows would surround him. He would be part and parcel of this dark world where action and reaction dominate behaviour. On the contrary, he is buoyant, light-hearted, and peaceful.
We have the classic moral choice here: to turn toward the world or turn toward the Master. Hazur Maharaj Ji is strong on this point:
It is immaterial whether the person even asks us for forgiveness. We should not have any idea of revenge within us…. We should not have that attitude, even if he’s arrogant enough not to ask for forgiveness. Even then I think we should forgive the person, because we’ve had enough and we don’t want more of these karmic relationships…. We should even forget that we have forgiven…. Forget the incident, absolutely.
The Master’s love is so deep he even forgets that he has forgiven! Meanwhile, we may be satisfied with a routine forgiveness of someone’s attack on us. We may even carry a strong memory of our forgiveness and feel proud of ourselves. Our Master suggests we not compromise on our forgiveness. He wants us to forgive others and to forgive them completely. He wants us not to “go through the motions” but to make our forgiveness real. Why would we want to hang onto any distressing event at all? It only keeps us from the Master. Do we want only a smaller karmic burden? No, we want no burden at all. He notes: “We do forgive people, but we don’t forget that we have forgiven them. So a scar is always there. The wound is gone, but the scar is always there. We shouldn’t be conscious of even the scar.” He reminds us that, “A heart full of love has no room for hatred.”
Baba Ji often reminds us that our true identity is Shabd. Given that, who is hurt when we are insulted or betrayed? If we are truly an expression of the divine current of love, then why would we hesitate to forgive, or to apologize? And after we do forgive, then why wouldn’t we let go completely, and let our hearts be full of his love?
The Name is nowhere to be had for a price;
the Name is only to be had
by following the Guru’s instructions….
The true Guru has himself shown
that liberation comes from devotion to true Name.
Jap Ji: A Perspective
When, at the time of Creation,
God separated me from himself,
I heard him say: “Am I not your God?”
“Indeed you are,” cried my soul, reassured.
Since then has my heart flowered
with the inner urge to return Home,
giving me not a moment of calm here on earth.