Forgiveness: Let the Light of Diwali Shine in Our Hearts

November 2010

At this divine time of Diwali we line our homes, our rooms, our offices and our streets with brightly shining dias. The brightly lit lamps signify the people of Ayodhya's love for Bhagwan Rama and their joy at his return. On this day, we must light not only beautiful lamps in our homes, but we must light the lamp in our hearts. The significance and symbolism of the Diwali lamps is that we must allow the Light of the Divine to burn away all our impurities so that our hearts are filled with nothing but light and love.

There is so much which causes us to feel shrouded in darkness. There is so much heaviness in our own hearts that the light tends to get extinguished quickly. The light in our hearts gets suffocated by the heaviness of anger, pain, jealousies and grudges, How to remove these hindrances, these obstacles, to the light in our own hearts? The only answer is forgiveness.

One of the greatest abilities given to human beings, and one of the most important on the spiritual path is the ability to forgive. Forgiveness is not condoning someone else's hurtful behavior or saying that no mistakes were made. Forgiveness does not mean that the perpetrator should not be punished.

Forgiveness means that we, as human beings on the path of spirituality, must release the pain, anger and grudges which act like a vice on our heart, suffocating us in their grip and wrenching out our vital energy and life force. Forgiveness removes the vice from our hearts and allows us to breathe, live and love freely.

Many people misunderstand forgiveness to be a pardoning or exoneration of the act committed. It is not. Forgiveness is more for ourselves than for the person who committed the act.

Every wrong act and every evil deed will be punished by the law of karma. Every action you perform comes back to you - if not in this life, then in later lives, if not directly than indirectly. Whatever pain we cause to another, we will experience ourselves. No one is free from the law of karma. It is crucial to understand that forgiveness does not mean we absolve someone of their karma. Forgiveness means simply that we are able to seperate the person from the act. It means that the act may be deplorable, but the person who committed the act is still human and therefore has strengths as well as weaknesses, good points as well as negative points. Forgiveness means that we are able to tap into the well of compassion whivh flows in our hearts and offer some of it to those who have wronged us.

Forgiveness means that we are ready to move forward, that we do not want to stagnate and freeze in the moment of the inflicted pain. When we hold onto our anger it immobilizes us, precluding us from blossoming into the people we are supposed to become and achieving that which we are supposed to achieve.

When Will You Draw the Line?

So many people come to me, their identities determined and lives plagued by wrongs which have been wrought upon them sometime in the past. Sins of commission (e.g. the abusive parent), sins of omission (e.g. the absent or indifferent parent), sins they can recall, sins they cannot recall, sins committed by those who are still living, sins committed by those who have long since passed away, sins by those they knew, sins by strangers, sins upon them personally, sins upon the collective consciousness of which they are a part.

Their lives, their paths and their decisions have been shaped by the enduring pain of these past wrongs. They are stuck, unable to move forward, held prisoner by acts long ago committed, crying over abuse lashed onto skin cells which have long ago perished.

Just as tragic as the stories of abuse and betrayal, of stolen childhoods and shattered dreams, are the stories of these people today: broken adults unable to cut the chains that bind them to events of the past, unable to take a step without the shackles of yesterday.

We hold onto our pain because it identifies who we are, it gives us an excuse for behaving the way we do, it has become such a familiar feeling that we cannot let it go. Yet let it go we must if we want to move forward.

The best way to release the pain is to deeply forgive the person who has wronged you. We must see the perpetrator as a fallible human being and allow the love in our heart to flow towards him or her. When we are able to feel compassion for the situation (either physical or mental) that he/she must have been in to commit this mistake, the chains that bind us are loosened and we are free to take a step forward into today and tomorrow. It is not an easy task, but it is an essential task if we want to live full, joyful and peaceful lives.

Let us fill our cup from the infinite ocean of compassion and forgiveness so that we can step freely, peacefully and joyfully into the future, leaving the shackles of the past behind. Let us fulfill our unique purpose, our Divine mission here on Earth, rising to our greatest potential.

At this time of Diwali, let the divine light shine within our hearts, removing any vestiges of pain, anger or grudges. Let the divine light of the diya dispel any lingering darkness which is preventing us from moving forward on the path ahead. Let the motto of this Diwali be forgive, forget and move forward.

With love and blessings to you all,

In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati







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