Many people find it hard to forgive others. When someone has wronged you, it is easy to feel hurt, defensive or even self-righteous. But is this good for us, and can we learn to be more understanding? Is it really that difficult to be tolerant?
ne day, a teacher gave his students a test in the form of an experiment. He asked them each to write down the names of the people they can not forgive onto potatoes and then put the potatoes in a plastic bag. They, then, had to carry the bags with them everywhere they went; day or night, the bag had to stay by their sides. Even when they slept, they had to place the bags in their beds.
After a while, the students began to realize that the bags were truly a burden. They were heavy and hindered them in their daily lives. Whether they were eating, sleeping or working, they had to carry them with them. Besides, as the days passed by, the potatoes began to perish.
Throughout the experiment, the teacher said to them, “As you can see, the inability to forgive others is a burden. Hatred accumulates rubbish in your mind. If you persist with hostility, you will only sully yourself.”
The question is, why do so many of us find it so hard to be compassionate and forgiving to others?
True forgiveness takes more than merely saying the words, and for some, this can be challenging. However, pain and suffering are unfortunately inevitable in life and by holding onto resentment, or unresolved issues, wounds will only fester. Hate can linger when pain resides in the body or mind.
Being unable to forgive can also be seen as a sign of selfishness. This is because in order to truely forgive we must be able to empathize. If all we see is our own pain and suffering and not that of the person who has wronged us, why would we ever forgive? So, it takes great amounts of understanding and empathy to forgive those who have hurt us. A true sign of inner strength.
In fact, forgiveness is often seen as a type of mental strength. Forgiveness is not weak or compromising; it is not even an act of surrender or submission. Forgiveness is liberation from past wrongdoing.
Ancient cultures would say ‘take a step back and you will find the sea and sky are boundless’. If you can take a step back and calmly consider an issue, you will see it from another perspective. That is the realm of the noble, of compassion, altruism, and tolerance.
People say that nobody is perfect; people can’t be flawless, so, of course, they make mistakes all the time. You too will make mistakes and will be in need of forgiveness. If you can’t tolerate the mistakes of others, then what forgiveness can you expect from them. Who could be sure that they would never make a mistake in their life?
Perhaps, forgiving your enemies also means untying yourself from their deeds. If you don’t untie the invisible rope that binds you, the more it would clench you and gradually become resentment, causing mental sufferings and countless sickness. Therefore, being compassionate and forgiving also man saving yourselves.
The story of king Chuang of Chu
There is an ancient story about King Chuang of Chu, who held a feast for his subordinates. During the feast, a strong wind blew through the hall and snuffed out all of the candles. Just as darkness descended, one of the men harassed one of the king’s concubines. The woman pushed him away and pulled off his hat and then asked the king to light the candles once more to find out the identity of the offender. However, the king rejected her request and said that everyone at the party should get drunk and remove their hats for the rest of the feast. Of course, all the men followed the order and so, the offender was never exposed.
Two years later, war broke out between Chu State and Jin State. Over five aggressive battles, one general tirelessly risked his life to lead the army, and in each, Chu State was victorious. King Chuang of Chu found it so miraculous he wanted to speak to the general himself. The man said that his name was Tang Jiao, and he was the man who had offended the concubine at the feast. He appreciated the king’s compassion so greatly that he wished to risk his life to protect the king.
King Chuang of Chu is respected today as a great man and leader. Had he not forgiven Tang Jiao at the feast, he would not have been the one to lead the army and fight the victorious battles for him?
In the absence of forgiveness, resentment resides and resentment is an evil you do not want to allow to live in your mind.
Forgiveness, however, is not only giving grace to others, it is gifting our souls.
Forgiveness is a refreshing fountain that extinguishes the pain that burns in your heart.