How to Forgive

If someone we love hurts us, we grow when we endure.

Our loved ones may hurt us, sometimes so deeply that the wounds burrow, raw, to our core.  But the secret of forgiveness is to give a vow, a mental marriage vow, to each and every one of our loved ones: I will love you in the good times and the bad, for better or worse, in sickness and health—and stick to it.  Real love endures all things; real love forgives all things.

If we feel horrified by an ill deed a loved one does, just pretend that deed was done amongst lions, even birds.  Could we possibly hold a grudge against a lion who cheats on his lioness, against a cub who steals a piece of meat from another den, or against a bird that pecks its rival for a discarded box of French fries?  No.  We might even find it cute.  If only we could keep that level of equanimity with all beings, we’d never judge, but instead find forgiveness.  I’m sure, if there exists a God, He views all of us with unwavering love and endless forgiveness, no matter how dire our deeds.  We must forgive others, forgiving with great love, to truly embark on a spiritual path.

To forgive our enemies, we can write a glowing five-star review about them, even posting it publicly online if they own a business or work as a professional.  We can then review it nightly, reminiscing about all of their finer qualities.  It’s impossible to hate when focused on love.

Instead of striking out at our offenders, try to find a way to celebrate them.  For instance, if we want to write a tell-all book about our enemies, write, instead, a book about their finest traits.

We should remind ourselves that, if we walked in our offenders’ shoes, we may have done exactly what they did, or worse.  We all walk our journeys to learn lessons and grow.  Forgive so that others and ourselves can more easily rise above.

Forgive, but also forget.  When we say, “I forgive, but I will never forget,” we are actually saying, “I still hold a grudge.” Grudges create hardship and suffering for ourselves and others.  Let go of grudges to free ourselves of every wound.

Don’t bring up hurts to others.  Others may rehash these tales, bringing the injury back to the forefront of our thoughts.  Instead, let the injury go, replaced by the peace that is rightfully ours.

To forgive, think of the Buddhist monk who was hospitable to the burglar who kept on ransacking his home.  The author of that story, Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, writes that the Buddhist monk found enlightenment.  Even Christianity says turn the other cheek.  Forgive to discover the divine.

Ask ourselves, “How would we prefer to be loved?  By a loving father or mother, or by a vindictive soul?”  Behave like that loving father or mother, but toward all beings, no matter how severely they harm us.  Forgiveness is the answer, without fail.

When we forgive others, we come closer to forgiving ourselves for the wrongs we may have committed.  Certain spiritual texts, like the Christian Bible and the Koran, even suggest that God will forgive us our sins, if we cover for the sins of our brothers.