Why Cultivate Forgiveness (continued)
2. Freedom from anger
Forgiveness and freedom from anger are closely related. Sri Shankara explains the difference between the two: “If no reaction arises in the mind when someone scolds or insults us, it is forgiveness. If there is a reaction, calming down the mind is called freedom from anger.” Forgiveness prevents us from manifesting anger and suffering its train of after effects: delusion, loss of memory, loss of discrimination, and spiritual ruin.
3. Freedom from faultfinding
Faultfinding is a tendency of an outgoing mind that has not been disciplined by spiritual practice. Besides being ignorant of our own faults, we stain our mind by looking for faults in others. Says Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi: “A man first makes his own mind guilty and then sees another’s fault. Can you injure anybody by enumerating his faults? You only injure yourself. I cannot see anybody’s shortcomings. If a man does a trifle for me, I try to remember even that. To see faults in others! Forgiveness is a great religious austerity. There is no higher virtue than forbearance….I cannot see others’ faults. I am simply not made that way. There are enough people to criticize others. Surely the world will not come to an end if I refrain from doing so.” Faultfinding makes any spiritual practice difficult, since we remain enslaved by the uncontrolled mind. Forgiveness is an antidote to faultfinding.
4. Mental health
The natural tendency of our mind is to remember insult or harm inflicted on us. When the memory of an unpleasant incident arises in the mind, we relive the incident and suffer mental anguish. This intensifies our pain and sometimes kindles a feeling of vengefulness. Unable to forgive the offender, we make ourselves miserable. Until we forgive, we remain mentally captive to him long after the incident. Forgiveness sustains our mental health and spiritual life.
(To be continued)
Copyright© 2011, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York.