The Art of Forgiveness

Aside from the regular yoga program, Krishna Village often hosts guest speakers, and this week we were lucky enough to be graced with the presence of Mahatma Das. Well known as a spiritual teacher within ISKCON, Mahatma lives in Mayapur (India) with his family, but spends about 6 months/year touring the world. He gives talks and runs workshops for businesses, organisations and Krishna devotees likewise, on a broad variety of topics in the fields of spirituality and self-development. On Tuesday evening, he delivered a presentation on ‘practicing forgiveness’, some nuggets from which we will share with you now...

Mahatma Das - this week's guest at the Krishna Village

Mahatma Das - this week's guest at the Krishna Village

You can’t change what’s going on around you until you start changing what’s going on within you. It’s no good looking at everyone else’s shortcomings and trying to fix them first - work on yourself and the rest will come.

You have to change the invisible if you want to change the visible, or as Mahatma put it, “water the roots to get the fruits!” The ‘invisible’ here is our consciousness. Easier said than done, this process starts by simply realising that something needs to change, for example ‘I need to be more compassionate’ instead of thinking ‘I’m already a good person and so I shouldn't have to think about being more compassionate.’ Leading on from this...

Compassion is the key to forgiveness - and it starts with forgiving ourselves for our own imperfections...

Compassion is the key to forgiveness - and it starts with forgiving ourselves for our own imperfections...

Cognitive dissonance often clouds our judgement. We often believe that we are acting in alignment with our values, when in actual fact we are not. Mahatma illustrated his point with a powerful little exercise: imagine someone had secretly filmed you 24/7 for the last year of your life and watched the footage in order to determine your values. You cannot tell them anything – the pictures speak for themselves. Would the values you hold in your head and heart match the conclusions the observer would draw from watching your actions? Something to think about…

The path to forgiveness is paved with the stones of practice. It is often easier to act your way into a different way of thinking than to think your way into a different way of acting. Such a simple but powerful realisation: Do it until you feel it! This doesn’t mean you’re faking it – it simply means that you can get started before feeling you’re ready. Because truth be told – you might never feel like being kind to a rude colleague or forgiving towards your Ex. By acting kindly and showing forgiveness, appreciation and humility, you will start feeling it though – so start ‘doing the do’ and see what happens.

Nelson Mandela certainly set a brilliant example when after being released from prison after 27 years he chose to forgive

Nelson Mandela certainly set a brilliant example when after being released from prison after 27 years he chose to forgive

Forgiveness is a choice - as is everything. When people say that they can’t let go of something or they can’t do something this is a choice - instead we should acknowledge that we choose not to do something. For example, I choose not to play guitar. I choose not to let this grudge go. Holding on to resentment is keeping it alive - we can kill it if we choose to. The world is in desperate need of forgiveness, not resentment.

You are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel. Don’t give up on your own kind, pure inner nature because you are met with resistance and hardships. Don’t let lower vibrations bring you down. Always (re-)act with kindness, especially when you are not offered it by others. Live your own truth and choose to be your best self.

The definition of forgiveness - is giving kindness to people who don’t deserve it. The logical mind may say “no, don’t do it” but the spiritual heart always says “yes, be kind.” Those who challenge us in life are our teachers and act as deliverers of karma that we have generated ourselves – more recently, or during previous lifetimes.

You deserve to live in alignment with your Higher Self.

You deserve to live in alignment with your Higher Self.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and truly forgive. Forgiveness is not letting go of boundaries and allowing people to hurt you again, it is helping others and yourself to heal. You deserve it - even if they don’t.