Paramhansa Yogananda felt that forgiveness was one of the crown jewels of human qualities. He often said that one of the most glorious acts of Christ was to say, during a time of ultimate suffering, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Why forgive one who wrongs you? Because if you angrily strike back you misrepresent your own divine soul nature—you are no better than your offender. But if you manifest spiritual strength you are blessed, and the power of your righteous behavior will also help the other person to overcome his misunderstanding.
The desire for vengeance is a karmic cage that imprisons both individuals and cultures into enduring suffering. If you carry a strong enough desire for vengeance into your after-life, you will have to reincarnate in circumstances where you can fulfill that desire.
But then your “victim” will have to get his chance for vengeance. On and on goes this terrible cycle until you can say “Enough, let God, not me be the judge.” You will pass a great test of karma if you truly pray that God forgive your adversary.
Why carry the heavy weight of negative emotions from past events? Isn’t it time to lay down your burden? Forgiveness is the way to cut yourself free.
Yogananda said that through the forgiveness of Jesus “an unseen monument of the mightiest miracle of love was established in each heart.” Most of Christ’s more obvious miracles were not greatly important for themselves, but rather to give proof to his divinity and his teachings. “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”
Imagine, for a moment, if we could perform some of the miracles of Christ. How would they improve the world? Would mankind be better off if we could change water into wine? Not really. Would the world be improved if we had the power to cure the lame and give sight to the blind? Yes, of course, but modern medicine has already accomplished many such feats and yet mankind’s consciousness is not greatly enhanced.
But think now for a moment about the miracle of forgiveness. How vastly improved would this world be if forgiveness could replace hatred? If the blessing of forgiveness were given to mankind tonight as we slept, we would wake to think we were in paradise.
Perhaps it is too soon to expect everyone caught in a cycle of pain and hatred to forgive their enemies. But it is not too soon for you or me. We have only to choose to forgive. This choice is within our grasp. Let the miracle of forgiveness start with us. Let it start now, in this very moment.
Here is a beautiful and inspiring prayer-demand from Yogananda on forgiveness:
Teach us to forgive others who offend us most, inwardly first, then outwardly. Bless us, that we may scatter the fragrance of forgiveness, and impart sweet speech for sour exclamations, love for hatred, kindness for anger, and good for injury. Awaken us, that we may feel that even the most night-black soul is only an error-dreaming immortal. With the divinity of our forgiveness, inspire us to awaken him to the consciousness of his celestial sonhood, potential purity, and immortality.
The secret of self-acceptance is...
FORGIVING OTHERS; for as we forgive, so are we ourselves forgiven by them, and by Life itself. By forgiving others, we acquire also the wisdom to forgive ourselves.
From Secrets of Self-Acceptance by Swami Kriyananda.