“It is impossible to be happy without being forgiving”, said the Old Man to a young lady who went to the monastery seeking consolation. We were seated in the refectory and I was pouring them a hot cup of coffee. She had just finished telling her personal drama, and was disconsolate, as she believed she did not deserve her fate. Distressed, the woman confessed that what was keeping her on her feet was watching the suffering of those who had caused her harm, which she would never forgive. The Old Man frowned in the face of such intolerance; however, his shining eyes on his wrinkled face overflowed with mercy. “Eternal sentences are typical of the shadows, but make no sense with the ideas that the Light works with, always willing to give a new chance. Mistakes and errors are part of learning, and therefore they require numberless opportunities. Only an angel will be able to count all of life’s mistakes”.
The woman rebuked by saying she had made some mistakes, but never out of meanness. The monk kept his voice down. “People get disconnected for judging one another in strict accordance with facts, from the wounds they made in us and for wishing we were tried for our intentions. Well, we always have reasons that justify our actions, don’t we?” He made a brief pause for the woman to ponder his words, and went on: “This is the problem. Such incongruity is the root of relationship conflicts. Thus the need to go deep into yourself. Forget the masks and the social personae we create with our ego in an effort to protect ourselves and to be praised by others. I talk about the shadows we hide that yearn for light in the still dark dungeon of the soul, which reinforces the imperfections of others in the vain hope of hiding our own. We waste too much time in the illusion of correcting the mistakes of others instead of honing our own heart for it to reflect the beauty of attitudes we are yet to possess. You can bet, once we know who we really are, we become more tolerant with others”.
She argued that forgiving would be disregardful to her pain, and a way to open the door to evil. She also said that every mistake should be punished, and regretted that laws were not so strict. The Old Man kept a quiet, sweet tone as he spoke. “I don’t mean trial in the courts of men. There is no question evil should be firmly confronted to be halted, but wisely enough not to go beyond the need of each case, or else we will be using darkness to fight the shadows. The person at fault should be submitted to the due process, access to every means of defense, an impartial judge and a fair sentence, devoid from the passions that involve the fact. The law and the penalties vary according to time and space, mirroring the degree of evolution of a society, that evolves according to the increasing level of consciousness of the people. Do not forget that you and I are part of the people. In barbarism we claimed for revenge, but such pain required transformation; in civilization we clamor for justice, and we are still trying to perfectly understand it. The difference between revenge and justice is the load of love and wisdom that weights each decision. I have seen cries for justice that, in fact, disguise the vile wish for revenge. Justice reaches its purposes only when it provides learning, honing and involvement of all those involved”.
He kept silent for a moment, looked peacefully into the eyes of the young lady and added: “I wanted to talk about forgiveness. To forgive is beyond justice, and far away from law suits. It is a healing process that is necessary for the heart”.
The pretty and yet despondent face of the young lady reflected the question as to the actual extension of forgiveness. The monk was sensitive enough to listen to what was not uttered, and explained in the sweet way of his: “To forgive does not mean to think the other is right, but to have compassion because of the darkness that involves him, the ignorance that makes him limited and mistreats him. You see, each one acts, for better or worse, according to their degree of evolution, writing their own fate in the fields of joy or on the curves of suffering. The practice of forgiveness reflects the wisdom, love and courage of he who pursues it. Wisdom for understanding the Path; love, for offering their best, even in face of adversity; and courage for not giving up in being committed to the sublime principles of the Universe in the hardest moment of the battle. Only a true warrior that carries the Sign of Light on his shield is noble enough to forgive”.
The woman asked which shield he was referring to. “The heart”, said the monk, heartfelt, his eyes closed.
The sad lady confessed that since the day the events occurred, it was like she had lost her own life, and she was never able to resume the chores and companies that had always filled her with joy. The Old Man waited for her to list all her complaints, and tried to explain. “Do you realize how evil expands through you? How much of a captive you are? The bar of this jail is hatred, your own hatred. This feeling creates an energetic handcuff binding you to the one you consider has harmed you. Your sorrow condemns you to remain in a dungeon with the person who has hurt you by keeping evil present in your life. You should refuse the invitation of a tormented soul to dance in the ball of darkness. Allow the nobility of compassion to take the place of the primitive anger. Only then will you stop feeding the evil, put an end to your pain, and be free to walk on the sunny side of the road”.
He paused briefly and resumed his reasoning. “Wishing evil, even if you don’t practice it, leads you to the nefarious revenge of casting more shadows in the darkness. Wishing evil is very close to practicing evil, as they have similar vibratory frequencies, and permeate all those who are in line with this heavy feeling, even if only in thought. Quantic Physics has shown that all in the universe is energy; therefore your feelings are included. Be aware of them”.
She started to cry and said she was tired. It was like she was carrying a backpack filled with stones. She asked how she could get rid of so much suffering. “By always forgiving, and more and more. Forgiveness is the key for freedom and peace. Forgiveness is the only possible healing. To forgive is wise because it is liberating; it is an act of love because it allows life to move on. Trading the stones of intolerance for the wings of forgiveness will give the necessary lightness back to you”, whispered the Old Man.
The young lady said that conversation was doing her good, but she thought it difficult to put into practice. The old monk stroked his beard, and after curving his lips in a light smile, continued to explain. “Forgiveness is a spiritual exercise, as the marathon is a physical activity. No one is born with the ability to cover such a distance. However, if you take on the challenge and start running every day, and, little by little, expand your limits with determination and courage, you will certainly reach your goal. The same applies to forgiveness. The first goal is not wishing evil to others, by realizing this makes you a prisoner in the same dark cell the other person is in. This is liberating! Once this stage is achieved, we move on to the next one, which is wishing good to he who has hurt you, with all the might of your heart, being devoid of ancestral emotions that will clamor for revenge. This will give you new opportunities of learning and honing yourself. Only then we will stop nurturing the evil within ourselves. This is transformational!”
She wanted to know if, in addition to the justice of man, everyone is punished for their mistakes. “Punishment is a minor idea in the face of wisdom and unconditional love that shape, sooner or later, everything and everyone. Learning is the goal. Each one will receive the instruments and situations that will suit the essential shaping of the being. Evolution is inevitable. To Learn, Transmute, Share and Move On, this is the sense of the journey” he said, placing on the table his cup almost empty of coffee. The universe will respect your freedom to choose, and will be fair in measuring the consequences. Do your best and appease your heart”, he concluded. He smacked a paternal kiss on her forehead and excused himself, as it was time for his meditation. “May peace be with you”, he wished her as I silently watched him walking away, with slow but determined steps.
Kindly translated by Carlos André Oighenstein.