I would like to share a childhood story which my father ceremoniously told us children every year. The story is about Tom’s mother.
Tom has a friend, John. One day, John was being chased by the police and he knocks on Tom’s door. “Please hide me”, he pleads, when Tom’s mother opens the door. Tom’s mother lets him in and gives him refuge. When the police, following close on John’s heels, arrive, Tom’s mother peeps out of the window and asks, “Sergeant, what’s the matter?” The policeman asks: “Did you see John? He came this way”. “No sergeant, I haven’t seen John”, she says.
After the police have left, Tom’s mother goes to the backyard, and helps John to escape. She does so, even after the police inform her that John had a massive fight with Tom, in which Tom was killed. John was her son’s killer.
I found the story boring and meaningless in those days. Now it strikes me as inspirational and revealing. Look around, TV serials, movies, fictional thrillers are built around the theme of vengeance, revenge, hate, sex and blood, to some extent even glorifying abysmal characters.
In such an ambience, where even our cultural icons have fallen from grace, this childhood story, of Tom’s mother, taught as a character-building primer, brings fresh perspective. It upholds that rare spiritual quality, forgiveness.
It is not so easy to forgive. It requires great strength of character. What made Tom’s mother forgive John? Inborn compassion? Perhaps compassion and forgiveness go together. One has to be compassionate enough to be able to forgive.
In our lives, we come across awkward and difficult people, who at some time or the other, wilfully cause harm, hurt and emotional damage. Nursing the wound or waiting to ‘hit back’ can only generate negative energy; destroying peace of mind and obstructing clarity of thought and perception.
All those nice, good people who in their desire to be exemplary in the social eye, often claim with a certain degree of vanity, that they have forgiven so and so. The ‘so and so’ may be the boss, the bosom friend or a non-entity. But scratch a bit, and you get the universal statement, ‘It is easy to forgive, but difficult to forget’. If the memory lingers, it means forgiveness is not total. A bit of the hurt, of the wound still remains embedded in the subconscious mind.
In a letter, John Ekundayo wrote: To err is human and to forgive is divine. Forgiveness is seldom practised. Some may say they have forgiven but they often talk to others with bitterness about the wrong done to them. This is not forgiveness, for true grievance is still present.
Bitterness leads to frustration and emotional imbalance. Gurus have been inducting the therapy of forgiveness. This therapy is a sure panacea for peace of mind. It leads to expansion and that awareness brings the joy of love. Forgiveness is a cleansing and a purifying process. It elevates. It is a peace pill. Forgiveness has the power to heal.
Forgiveness is not a one-time affair. It is a continuous process. It is a process which takes the beautiful form of an everyday prayer, where hands are folded , forgiveness sought and forgiveness given and where that all fulfilling connectivity with the universal soul is resumed. Forgiveness makes life beautiful.