There is a saying ‘to err is human and forgiveness is divine.’ Forgiveness is taken to be such a simple process that we assume that we can forgive people even if we can not forget them or the deeds. Question is what is forgiveness? Do we really forgive? How many times do we forgive ourselves?
The last one is the most important but is also the most unpopular or most ignored question of all the questions. Another question (for the Christian Belief) is that if we do not have to judge others why forgive? The forgiveness is not possible without guilty verdict. But that is not for me to ponder. Forgiveness is stressed in every religion/culture/region.
The other questions raised above can not be answered without observing/knowing or realizing as to what happened in the whole process from where the misdeed or guilty conduct started, the point of forgiveness (so-called) and the today, if that happens to be after the forgiveness.
So we are hurt by a betrayal, ignorance or violence of our tormentor. First two are psychological even if it involves money but last is physical.
Psychological hurt stands on entirely different footing. The relative value of money also differs for different people. What constitute ‘insult’ for one person differs from other. Psychological hurt have to be dealt with by looking at our expectations from society/life/people and can be resolved without the need of forgiveness, an aspect I shall advert later.
Violence is a rather difficult matter. We get over physical pain, wounds are healed but the psyche or the memories hound for such a long time that it is very difficult to concentrate on anything. It appears that pain never left. Shadows become terrifying images. Images become horrifying objects and people look like tormentor. It is a very long journey back from the tunnel of darkness to the light of present. With human tenacity for survival, most people do get back but are never without fear of repeating the past. If the tormentor realizes the mistake and his contrite conduct is apparent, it sometimes helps in recovery, sometimes it does not. At the stage of recovery/survival, no question of forgiveness arises.
Forgiveness without penance
Now that we have survived the tormentor, psychologically and physically and we have ensured our just retribution, through the course of justice we decide upon forgiveness. Tormentor does not ask it nor becomes entitled to it by being penitent yet we want to forgive ‘him’. Why? What is the point and how is it relevant?
We do it for our psychological peace or as religious/moral duty. We feel superior with our ability to forgive. Do we really forgive? Can we forgive?
Will we share a meal with tormentor? Can we spend some time alone with tormentor? Can we trust our tormentor? If no, where is forgiveness? Truth is there is no such thing as forgiveness unless it is asked for, with honest penance and we are able to blur if not forget the whole matter.
Easiest thing to do is to forgive blood or murder, for if I am going to die, what else can I do?
However there is one forgiveness which is very important but we never grant it. It is forgiveness to ourselves. We never forgive ourselves for trusting people. We never forgive ourselves for not knowing what was coming. We punish ourselves everyday by trying to change the society which refuses to listen. We want people to learn from our mistakes but nobody listens or understands. We torment ourselves to do better. Study better. Understand better. From psychology to chemical changes to behavioral patterns to victim rehabilitation. One event changes the flow of life in a direction we had neither imagined nor we liked. We hide from ourselves by slipping under tons of knowledge but we do not forgive ourselves. There can be no forgiveness without clean slate and if we can not have clean slate with ourselves, any other forgiveness is a pretence which does not help living but becomes another stretch on our attempt to balance the life.
There can be no peace till we see all the movements of mind and understand it.
© Sandeep Bhalla