Like life itself spirituality has varied dimensions and diverse perspectives. Psychological evolution of individual mind cannot happen in isolation. It is perpetually connected to an individual’s belief system which he/she acquires through being a part of a society. It is no wonder then that the emotions and feelings which originate in human mind are always in response to some external stimuli. Emotions which trigger due to the behaviour of others have an unparalleled impact on an individual’s psychological development. This in turn shapes a person’s perspective as well as personality. Ironically, despite being organically embedded in larger society most of our emotional makeup emanates from the primary groups where we are born and raised. The differences between norms, ideologies, mores and values of various families show how different people react to the same situation in totally different manners. This explains the entire phenomenon of idealism – what is morally and ethically right and what is wrong.
While religions in a majority of ways have a candid explanation of which actions or thoughts are acceptable and which should be condemned, spiritually is a different phenomenon. It never seeks to explain and preach right or wrong standards of conduct or beliefs. This is why each person’s spiritual journey is unique and inexplicable. To successfully transcend the path of spirituality it is indispensable that mind must be clear of anger, revenge and hatred. This is not easy for even the most stoic people. Since an individual’s emotional and social behaviour is largely an outcome of his/her socialisation in the community, the criteria of judging others end up becoming extremely rigid. We begin evaluating the action of other people through our own moral yardstick. This causes friction, resentment and dislike even among the most intimate friends and relatives. Most of the times intolerance between people and communities is an offshoot of a failure to accept any perspective which is either new to us or different from ours. Although acceptance is a virtue more than just a behavioural trait, it is extremely difficult to practice. Inability to respect attitudes and beliefs different from the ones we are familiar with, causes great harm to inner peace. This is the reason why practicing forgiveness is the only way to progress steadily on the arduous journey of spirituality.
Forgiveness is an act of not just letting go of the wrongs committed by other people but also condoning ourselves of all the mistakes made by us. The anger against situations and people which we hold in our minds is nothing but a reflection of our own moral framework. We must understand that real spirituality is attainable with a mind and heart free of any biases or judgments. The phenomenon of right and wrong are alien to spiritual quest as these are highly contextual. What may be good for one individual can be equally wrong for another. What may seem right in one moment may seem wrong in another moment to the same person. Therefore punishing ourselves for the wrongs committed by others by letting our inner peace get disturbed by their actions is most unfair.
Forgiveness does not really mean that we are condoning the wrongdoing of the person who has offended us. In fact by forgiving we are choosing to be happy rather than proving ourselves right. It also means that we give more importance to inner healing above everything else.Each time we forgive someone or our self we are earning freedom from a volley of negative emotions. It is like exchanging every negative thought for a more positive and productive one. The science behind cognitive behavioural therapy, which is the most trusted medical practice in healing cronic stress and depression, is infact the same. It seeks to replace the negative thought cycle with happy one by changing ones perspective on life. Spirituality is a connection which one tries to establish with one’s inner powers, abilities, feelings, failures and faults. Only when one is in oneness with one’s own self can he/she aspire to understand the meaning of the larger goal of existence. The purpose of life can be different for different people but no one can proceed to comprehend it without first making peace with one’s own self. It is ultimately self love, acceptance and forgiveness which enable us to love the world around us. Anger results in a feeling of revenge and frustration. This gets easily projected to the people around us. The same energy which we feel within us bounces back upon us, thus creating a vicious loop of negativity. When we forgive we choose to get rid of unhealthy emotions in our mind and make a resolution that no action on another person’s part will let us mire in lamentation and emotional agony. This is a resolution towards a larger commitment of focusing on our blessings in life.It speaks of a strong will power and optimistic attitude.
The Bhagwad Gita clearly expressed the importance of the value of forgiveness. It mentions, “Forgiveness arises from God only. It is associated with other divine qualities such as intelligence, knowledge, freedom from delusion, truthfulness, control of the senses, control of the mind, fearlessness, nonviolence, austerity, charity etc”. Forgiveness has been considered a way of self purification and liberation in Hinduism. To ask for forgiveness from others one needs to abandon the tentacles of ego which diminish the fundamental need to love and be loved. Even for the integration of Atman to the Paramatma a complete abandoning of ego and obsession with one’s identity has to be done away with.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. A forgiving attitude is a lasting commitment to non violence and peace. It is a belief in the fundamental ethics of humanity and an integral spirit of the pursuit of spirituality.”
(The author is a retired civil servant)
Friday, 12 April 2019 | Neeraj Kumar Pande | Spiritual
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