Is Forgiveness Possible Before We are Pure?
Practicing 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.