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I’ll Take Forgiveness For $1,000


is still, and quietly does nothing. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not.

The other day, I came across the Insomnia Jeopardy from the New Yorker Cartoons. I laughed so much that I had to share it with friends and family. Apart from the last column – I guess I have no Hollywood aspirations – I have hit each of the other categories. My personal favorites would be the first and the second-to-last columns. 

“Ways in which people have wronged me” for $100.

That would be the cases when I harbored resentment towards someone who presumably said or did something against me, just to turn out in the end that they never did. It’s a case of jumping to conclusions and making assumptions without putting effort into communicating. And between seething silently and confronting someone to clear up the air, why does my preference go more frequently towards the former than the latter? In this hundred-dollar category fall all scenarios of perceived wrongs because they are just that – perceived. All I have to do in such cases is open a channel of communication with the other person, and the conflict disappears.

Going for the higher stakes

Down the forgiveness category, the issues take up more grave and less forgivable connotations. There lie all the wrongs that I like to turn over in my mind – some fresh, some almost as old as I am. The thousand-dollar questions inevitably bring to mind issues that are so traumatic that I don’t even want to think about them. How can I ever forgive such misdeeds? And, even the better question, why should I even want to do it?

Forgiveness has been misunderstood for a very long time. On a typical day, we think of forgiveness as a synonym for abandoning justice and condoning wrongness. By forgiving, we feel that we let others get away with their misdeeds or enable them to continue on the wrong path. There is another meaning of forgiveness, however, and it has nothing to do with the others but only with ourselves. In its most fundamental and primary sense, forgiveness is about the release from the mental misery that we inflict on ourselves – be in the form of sleeplessness, perpetual anger, or wasted opportunities. It is permission to free ourselves from the past so that we can be happy now. That is the forgiveness that all the sacred texts speak of when they exhort us to be forgiving.

“Why did I say/do that thing?”

Do you doubt that forgiveness is about ourselves and not the others? Watch what happens to the questions in the “Why did I say/do that thing?” category once we have begun the process of letting go of wrongs and hurts. Every time I am able to forgive another person who wronged me, I find it possible to forgive one of my own words and deeds that torment me. It is a matter of fairness and elegant symmetry. If one person receives forgiveness, we all get a chance for forgiveness as well. It works the other around, as well. If I wish the release from one of my own words/doings, all I have to do is forgive one issue from the first column of what others have said/done to me.

Forgiveness is a mindset, not just an occasional good deed. I am either in a forgiving mindset or an unforgiving one. I am either for release of mental anguish or against it. This holiday season, let us take all the wrongs that we keep dwelling on and hand them over to our Higher, Forgiving Self. Let us be grateful when the guilt goes with them as well. We don’t have to wait to learn the hows and the whys before we are released. All we need to do is be willing to accept the possibility of such a release.

I wish you peace and joy, my friends! We are all in together on this roller coaster ride.


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