Illuminations 57 – Is Forgiveness Possible Before We Are Pure?

Is Forgiveness Possible Before We are Pure?

The Golden Avatara in this age of Kali, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, asks us to do kirtana  in a humble state of mind with the tolerance and forgiveness of a tree. This instruction is not meant for the realized souls for they are already humble, tolerant, and forgiving. This instruction is for those who want to become realized souls.If we think forgiveness is not possible unless we are a saint, it’s worth considering whether this might be an excuse to hold onto resentment. We might think, “Since I am not pure I cannot completely forgive, so it’s natural to be resentful.” Since resentment can be a convenient way to blame someone or something for our personal problems, it’s a great scapegoat.It seems like resentment holds onto us and this is what makes it feel “natural.” But resentment is not holding onto us; we are holding onto to the resentment.Factually, we are keeping our resentment alive. If we stop feeding it, it will die.With spiritual advancement good qualities develop, but our advancement comes through the practice of good qualities before they fully manifest. In other words, the path to forgiveness is paved with the practice of forgiveness.

forgive without speaking ill about othersPracticing forgiveness means not speaking ill of people who have hurt us and not repeatedly telling others how badly we were hurt. Forgiveness offers the opportunity to practice saintly behavior by being kind to those who offend us. In the evolution of our spiritual progress we are meant to come to the point in which we do not wish ill to fall upon any one, even those who cause us pain.

Srila Prabhupada asked all his disciples, even those very new to Krsna consciousness, to cultivate the quality of forgiveness. If it wasn’t possible to practice forgiveness, even in the beginning stages of bhakti, he wouldn’t have asked us to do it. He knew that the practice of forgiveness would lead to genuine forgiveness. This is because it is normally easier to act our way into a new way of thinking and feeling than to think our way into a new way of acting. So if you ever ask yourself, “How can I forgive?” the answer is, “Just start practicing forgiveness.”
Also, forgiveness means to take responsibility for how we feel. So just because we feel resentful doesn’t give us the right to act, speak, and think in resentful ways.

Vedic literature is full of stories of forgiveness, compassion, tolerance and humility. Rather than see these as tales of exceptional souls whose behavior we cannot emulate, we can allow these stories to inspire us to practice the same qualities and attitudes as the great souls. With this inspiration in our heart we will attract the grace needed to genuinely become a forgiving person.

If we are having trouble forgiving, it’s likely we are keeping the fire of resentment burning and are unwilling to turn off the flame. The problem is that if we wait till we feel like forgiving, we could be waiting for lifetimes. Better to start the practice today. How? Start by turning off the flame under your pot of resentment.