Saturday, July 2, 2016

Forgivess is a Choice - Difficult But Worthy....

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In The Book of Forgiving, the author Desmond Tutu asks the reader to hold a stone big enough to fit your palm for six hours. It is to be held in the non-dominant hand for the allotted time while the reader does the work he usually does at that time. The author then asks us to note down a few things in a journal. Things like what one felt while holding the stone, whether certain actions were difficult to perform while holding the stone and whether the stone became one with the 'unforgiven hurt' that one carried in his heart.

I did not actually perform the said exercise but imagined myself holding it and facing difficulty in performing the daily activities I am wont to. I realized at once how crippling an effect it had on my mind. I could think of nothing else but the stone. I could not perform even in my imagination, a single act.

And that was the point the author was trying to make in his book too. When we hold on to our hurts, and our grudges, we are disabled. We are paralyzed. We are contained in a prison, so to say. 

Forgiveness is not easy to come by. Yes, Jesus is an epitome of forgiveness. In history, we have the supreme example of Mandela forgiving the wrongs done to him and his nation. But to be able to forgive, or to seek forgiveness requires tons of strength - mental strength. To be able to let go of the humiliation, and the pain one or one's loved one has been through is no mean task. 

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Desmond Tutu explains in his book that to be able to forgive, one has to live through the pain by articulating it, by accepting it. For not doing that can never lead to the path of liberation. True freedom from grudges can only come when one has accepted the hurt given or suffered. 

In everyday life, every single human being feels hurt when trust is broken, when expectations are  not met, or when some injustice befalls him or on the people he cares for. Friendships die, relationships loose their warmth. If we had the courage to speak up what hurt us the most, if instead of trying to brush a person aside from our life, we were able to confront that person, then forgiveness would be everywhere. But we don't do that. Not all of us are able to do that. We are trapped in our self-made prison of bruises. But letting that person go from our life never lets that person out of our mind. And therein lies the pain that we repeatedly inflict upon ourselves, reliving the moment of injustice again and again. It is not easy to forgive, for we have our egos to satisfy. We fail to see from any perspective other than our own. And we do not forgive.

But if we do, we leave behind us the agony and the torment of injustice. We refuse to become puppets of vengeance. If we seek forgiveness, which is a gargantuan task, we let go of our egos. We enfeeble our demonic thoughts of narcissism. We exhaust the beasts of hatred and revenge. We refuse to enter the vicious circle of blows and counterblows. We nip them in the bud.

The way we respond, the way we react decides what happens to us. 

In Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's The Palace of Illusions, the protagonist Draupadi is besieged by thoughts like these when she witnesses the devastation around her. She has been the one to bring it all about, she realizes. But who wins. Does the one who win the war emerge truly victorious? As she watches in horror the way warriors on both sides fall, she understands, a bit too late that "the chariot of vengeance" requires "no horses or wheels". It feeds only on hatred, and ego.

Choices and responses define us. Forgiveness is a choice we all have, whether we are seeking it or granting it. And although it is a difficult choice, it is all that takes to make life worthwhile.

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Written for IndiSpire 124

42 comments:

  1. How nice, Sunaina, the world would be if it could understand half of what you've written.

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    1. If it helps just one person, it saves many from doom....:)

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  3. Absolutely true, it is difficult but then it is what would make us better eventually. We don't want to become saints, but we can become better for people around us atleast.

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    1. Right Alok. It is very tough to seek or grant forgiveness. But it can help many.

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  4. Very well written. Loved reading it.

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  5. Nice write that negates the thought that forgiveness is the weapon of the weak

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    1. True....it belongs to those who are mentally strong.

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  6. You know Sunaina, I've actually tried the stone example when I was struggling to move ahead from terrible betrayal. I understood why Tutu asked of us what he has. And what happened with you also happened to me. But I can't lie. I have not forgiven, perhaps never will. Time lessened the pain and I have learnt to live with it. That's all that happens sometimes.

    Coming to your article. It is perfect. You've shown every side with care and clarity, every side there is to the whole choice of forgiving or not forgiving. Admire your write up.

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    1. Tutu says that for some forgiveness can take years. If by giving it a try, it has helped in lessening your pain, then perhaps you are on the road to recovery. Having said that, forgiveness can come differently for different people. It is by no means easy either. Thanks for appreciating my post. And I am glad I found someone who has read the same book...:)

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  7. At the same time forgiveness should not lead to a 'holier than
    thou attitude'. If it happens the vicious cycle continues.

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    1. Right...that is another extreme and plummets you to depths of haughtiness. Humility should always accompany you.

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  8. I've struggled with unforgiveness and found that it's important for my own well-being to do it.
    I love the way you've explained this.

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    1. Thanks Corinne. We all struggle with it. It is easy to write about it but difficult to live up to it. But it is worth attempting.

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  9. Very true Sunaina. Hope we can follow even a part of this. It is not easy to forgive for we have our egos to satisfy. Out of habit we hold on to our grudges and keep scratching our self inflicted wounds.

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    1. Habit and ego - both are so hard to relinquish...!

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  10. Beautifully said Sunaina... Forgiveness is important for our own inner peace...but not always so easy:-)

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  11. Indeed. We should learn to forgive for the sake of our peace of mind. Hate is like acid. It corrodes the soul.

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    1. Hey Purba....I am delighted to see you here. Hate burns you completely, and you don't even know that you yourself are the cause of this burning.

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  12. Forgiveness sets us free from unnecessary burdens. Nice thoughtful post.

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    1. Thanks Swati. It is liberation indeed.

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  13. Nice post Sunaina! The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. It is the Road To Peace

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    1. It is the road to peace. So well-described Amitesh...!

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  14. A very profound post, Sunaina. I agree, to forgive isn’t an easy task. It requires lots of courage. People mostly think knowledge is the foremost requirement for spirituality. No, courage is the foremost requirement in the spiritual path. I’m definitely gonna read The Book of Forgiving.

    Many people recommended me to read Divakaruni’s The Palace of Illusion and I have also read some reviews of it but they never caught my attention, until I read your citation of the book in the present post. I’d like to read your view on the book, if possible. Once again thanks for such an enlightening post. :)

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    1. You are going to love both the books Ravish. They are both profound in their own way. I will definitely post my views on The Palace of Illusions, now that you have asked for it. Give me some time. I am in the middle of reading your book too. So have to devote my time to both these tasks.

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    2. In that case, I’d like to read your views on my book first. No hurry for The Palace of Illusion. Hehe…take your time. Hope you’re enjoying the read :)

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  16. Very true, well written.
    I'll learn to forgive. Inspired by you.
    http://gbnavapara.blogspot.in

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    1. Thanks Gautama. Words inspire, but actions are needed. If you are willing to forgive or seek forgiveness from someone, I am sure you will be able to do it. Good luck with you on that. Do share your success story once you are able to achieve it.

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  17. Well said Sunaina. Forgiveness is indeed a difficult choice, but it relieves you from sordid suffering of hatred and vengeance. I have practiced a lot to forgive. it takes quite maturity, time and courage to do that. But still I can't forget, and that makes me suffer a lot. So, I think I need to work on that too. I'm deeply inspired and touched by your post. Because I too feel, we should practice rather than preach. :)

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    1. It is very tough Sangeeta. My writing this post does not mean that I forgive easily. It comes with lot of difficulty to me too....but I try not to feed my negativity by not dwelling too much on why I got hurt. My husband helps in this. He always says, "Do not feed your hurt." And that helps a lot.

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