Feb 14, 2015


LOVE, HAPPINESS AND FORGIVENESS are feelings which we all face at some time in our lives, but they don’t become real to us until we experience the opposite feeling. In other words we don’t necessarily appreciate love until its gone, we don’t understand happiness until we experience unhappiness and we don’t always learn how to forgive until we are forgiven. 

Forgiveness is defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as 'to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt'. 

The concept and benefits of forgiveness have been explored in many arenas particularly in justice and religion. It can be considered in terms of a person who forgives and of a person who is forgiven or the relationship between the forgiver and the forgiven. 

Most religions include teachings on the nature of forgiveness, some place emphasis on the need for humans to find divine forgiveness for their own shortcomings, others on the need to practice forgiveness of one another and others make no distinction between the two. 

In Christianity Jesus repeatedly spoke about the importance of forgiveness. In the parable of the “Prodigal Son” for example, Jesus said “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. “Forgive and you will be forgiven”. Jesus is saying unless we forgive we cannot be forgiven.

Buddhism recognizes that feelings of hatred and ill-will have negative effects on our mind and create bad karma. Instead it encourages us to cultivate thoughts that leave positive effects. "In contemplating the law of karma, we realize it is not a matter of seeking revenge, but of practicing forgiveness. When resentments arise, the Buddhist view is to release them through meditation, when we don’t forgive we create an identity around our pain and that is what is reborn so we continue to suffer. 

By turning the feelings of revenge and hatred into loving kindness, compassion and joy, forgiveness becomes a natural thing. This way no one can hurt us and we avoid resentment in the first place, we understand all suffering in the world, both our own and the suffering of others.

Asking for forgiveness is a big part of spiritual practice and is related to the law of karma which is the sum of all that we have done, all that we are doing and what we will do in the future. These actions will create an effect making us responsible for our own life and the pain we cause in others.

Forgiveness is not weakness even though it may be a virtue of the weak. Forgiveness subdues everything. What is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do to us if we forgive them, it will only brings peace and happiness.

For me, the most profound example of forgiveness is from a film called, “Forgiving Dr Mengele.” Dr mengele was an SS officer and physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. He was known as the “Angel of Death” Dr Mengele, amongst other things, practiced medical experimentation on children, particularly twins. Thousands of children suffered horribly and most of them died.  The film features a woman who survived this horror, she survived and remembered vividly, the dreadful things that were done to her and her twin sister. What she said was that the only way she was able to get on with her life was to forgive him. It must have taken tremendous strength to put together a documentary on forgiveness and forgive the Nazis for what they did.

Several survivors commented on the documentary and many were critical saying that to forgive is condoning the war crimes and is a sign of weakness. However, as this woman pointed out, as long as she allowed hatred and revenge of the Nazis to torment her, Dr Mengele continued to make her a victim and to torture her. Forgiveness was the only for her to find peace. 

I think this is where many of us miss the point about forgiveness. All of us have been hurt at some time in our lives by another person, our parents, other regimes, a system and forgiveness does not belittle that in any way. Dreadful crimes have been committed collectively against others for reasons that cannot logically be explained. Without forgiveness there would be nothing but hatred in the world. Everyone is guilty of it, but to harbor revenge and “an eye for an eye” mentality only hurts us, and we can never find peace. We are each responsible for our own misgivings and karma, the victimizer is the true sufferer and by making ourselves suffer through hatred only hurts us more.

ATAY Questionnaire on the Spirituality page - Determining the Qualities of the Mind Sattva Rajas Tamas


In order to reach a higher state of awareness, the mind must have a predominantly sattvic quality, that is purity of body and mind. Unlike prakriti (true nature) of body and mind the gunas can be changed through diet and lifestyle. By gaining control of rajas, the tendency towards action, tamas the tendency towards inertia the mind will become more sattvic. More videos & blogs at According To Ayurveda & Yoga - Spirituality Page

According To Ayurveda and Yoga - Ann Holaday 


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