Forgiveness is an anchoring virtue in all religions and spiritual paths. Without this very first virtue, it is impossible to pass onto obtaining the other qualities.
In the Old Testament, rabbis would tell others to forgive a person, three times.
In the New Testament, Peter asks Jesus of Nazareth how many times he should forgive someone. Peter knowing the scriptures, took the three times mentioned in the Old Testament, multiplied it and then added one for insurance, just to cover his bases.
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matt. 18:21)
Jesus’ answer surprised Peter. Peter’s problem was that he was still thinking in terms of justice and legality. Jesus’ reply was not based on law and justice, but based on spiritual law, not man-made law. “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times,'” (Matt. 18:22) meaning without limit!
Yama Niyama are the do’s and dont’s of the Vedas.
Yama’s are “the dont’s” or things to restrain from where Niyamas are the do’s, things to observe.
In the Yamas, both Kshama (Patience) the virtue of forgiveness and restraint from continued agitation from wrong others have done and Daya (Compassion) as the restraint from cruelty to any living being by one’s actions, words or in thoughts, speak of forgiveness.
Note: depending different teachings of the Vedas, there can be as many as 60 Yamas. The most popular would be the Father of Yoga, Patanjali’s Yama Niyamas where there are 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas.
There is the simple saying…”To err is human, to forgive is Divine”. Although this might sound simple, we are taught on many levels, not to forgive. We are taught we are different from each other, which brings about competitiveness in a form that makes us think one of us is better than the other. Yes, on the material level, one athletic is better then another, one student is smarter than another on one level, another is “our country is better than that country”, again, nothing wrong in being proud of your country but not at the expensive of putting another one down. The big one today is “my God is better than your God”, need I say anything about this one…?
This competitiveness is deeply ingrained in our psyche in an unproductive way. But forgiveness is also a natural thing for us to do. We see it all around us. We as humans in general are very forgiving. That is the Divine part of our nature.
It is the lasting forgiveness that will bring about the peace that comes from forgiving. Not forgiving someone today but talking about them in a fruitless way tomorrow.
Remember, we are not forgiving the action, but the person. Most people commit harmful acts due to their unconsciousness of who they really are, they are thinking that they are separate of God, and acting selflessly, only thinking of themselves. If we truly can see we are all “Sons and Daughters of God, of the One, we would honor each other as we honor God.
If we can remember this simple thought below, we can cut through the bonds and entanglement around forgiveness.
“Everything is happening for us, nothing is happening to us”. There is something to gain out of everything that comes to us in life. It is up to you to find it.