Forgiveness is a letting go of past suffering and betrayal, a release of the burden of pain and hate that we carry. Forgiveness honors the heart’s greatest dignity. Whenever we are lost, it brings us back to the ground of love. With forgiveness we become unwilling to attack or wish harm to another. Whenever we forgive, in small ways at home, or in great ways between nations, we free ourselves from the past. It is hard to imagine a world without forgiveness. Without forgiveness life would be unbearable.
We begin the work of forgiveness primarily for ourselves. We may still be suffering terribly from the past while those who betrayed us are on vacation. It is painful to hate. Without forgiveness we continue to perpetuate the illusion that hate can heal our pain and the pain of others. In forgiveness we let go and find relief in our heart. Even those in the worst situations, the conflicts and tragedies of Bosnia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Northern Ireland, or South Africa, have had to find a path to reconciliation. This is true in America as well. It is the only way to heal. Sometimes this means finding the courage to forgive the unforgivable, to consciously release the heart from the clutches of another’s terrible acts. We must discover a way to move on from the past, no matter what traumas it held. The past is over: Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past. Sometimes strong action may be needed for our defense. Let this be done with compassion or our own hatred will poison the response. We can meet the tragedies of the world with what Gandhi called “soul force.”
If you want to see the heroic, look at those who can love in return for hatred. If you want to see the brave, look for those who can forgive. ~Bhagavad Gita
You hold in your hand an invitation: To remember the transforming power of forgiveness and lovingkindness. To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible. The teachings in this book contain age-old understandings about love. They give simple and direct practices to help cultivate its qualities in your own heart. This wisdom is essential for all who live in modern times. The words of the Buddha offer this truth: "Hatred never ceases by hatred but by love alone is healed". This is the ancient and eternal law. Often we find ourselves in conflicts that unsettle our peace of mind. We face difficult situations, and our problems can feel insurmountable. Pain, anger, and fear can arise in ourselves, in families, in business, in communities, and between nations. We would like to find a way out of the suffering. Even in the worst situations, the heart can be free.
We who lived in the concentration camps can remember those who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread…. They may have been few in number but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from us but the last of human freedoms … the freedom to choose our spirit in any circumstance. ~Viktor E. Frankl
Forgiveness and compassion are not sentimental or weak. They demand courage and integrity. Yet they alone can bring about the peace we long for. ˜True love is not for the faint-hearted. ~Meher Babà
How can we begin? In any moment we can learn to let go of hatred and fear. We can rest in peace, love, and forgiveness. It is never too late. Yet to sustain love we need to develop practices that cultivate and strengthen the natural compassion within us. It is not enough to know that love and forgiveness are possible. We have to find ways to bring them to life.
˜The truth is we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free". ~Nelson Mandela
From The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace (pp. 1-16, 18-23), by Jack Kornfield. Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.