Forgive-and be free! This is the message that comes to us clearly and loudly from the latest collection of stories by Dada J. P. Vaswani.
This collection is special, for all the stories in this book revolve around the theme of Forgiveness, that as always been very close to Dada’s heart. This little volume is a special collection that is being brought out to celebrate the Moment of Calm-August 2, 2012, Dada J. P. Vaswani’s 94th Birthday.
Dada has always been a splendid story teller, choosing the right anecdote, the appropriate tale, the perfectly matched parable to drive home the point he is making: they make his writings and discourses memorable, combining precepts with practice, pure values with live, practical examples. His stories are so well chosen and narrated with just the right emphasis, that they leave us with plenty of food for thought.
We feel sure you will enjoy these stories that have been specially chosen for you.
There is no easy or simple way to define forgiveness. Forgiveness is a bridge that all of us need to cross at one time or another in our lives. It needs to be experienced. Forgiveness is an attitude of compassion and understanding with which de choose to react to the world. Forgiveness is not a one-off action-it is a process in which we evolve towards tolerance and acceptance. Forgiveness is not a series of incidents-it is a way of life that we choose. Forgiveness is self-restraint, self-control, self-discipline, through which we transcend our lower selves. Above all, forgiveness is an effort on our part to bring out the divine that is in all of us.
Forgiveness is not always easy. How can parents forgive the murderer of their children? How can mothers forgive the rapists of their daughters? How can anyone forgive hose who have massacred their family and friends?
I am the first to admit it is not easy. But the alternative is to become like those offenders-intransigent, cruel and unfeeling. Forgiveness releases you from the fetters of hatred, and frees you from the pain, shame and humiliation of the past which is thankfully dead and gone!
Are there no limits to forgiveness? Would forgiveness not mean exonerating, excusing, or condoning evil actions? Would this not be immoral, not to speak of it being unethical and unjust?
The writer and poet C. S. Lewis argues that forgiveness transcends the idea of human fairness: it sometimes involves pardoning those things that can’t be pardoned at all. It is much more than excusing. When we excuse someone, we simply brush their mistakes aside. As he puts it, “if one was not really to blame, then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites.” He concludes:
Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror dirt meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the person who has done it. That, and only that is forgiveness.
Even when reconciliation is not possible, forgiveness can play a vital role. George Macdonald writes:
It may be infinitely worse to refuse to forgive than to murder because the latter may be the impulse of a moment of heart.
Forgiveness need not be a struggle-if we realise that it is also a great gift and a blessing. It is a choice that we make – either to love or hate, to punish or pardon, to heal or hurt. We choose to tread the path of peace and reconciliation, rather than succumb to bitterness. To quote the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”
Forgiveness is above justice. Justice seeks to punish, forgiveness seeks reconciliation. As Shakespeare puts it so beautifully,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this-
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for, mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
Forgiveness is not for saints and sages. How often have we not come across people, who, when urged to forgive and forget, retort with passion, “I am not a Mahatma…I am not a saint…I am only human!”
So many of us believe that we cannot forgive; that it is too difficult, that it is prerogative of saints and other evolved souls-not for the likes of us.
Forgiveness need not be a feat of supernatural power. It is just a way of putting the past behind you-once and for all. It is a way of moving on. It is a way of seeing things differently; looking at life from a new perspective. It is the realisation that we cannot stay bitter and angry for the rest of our lives.
Forgiveness is the noblest virtue. Here is a story to illustrate its. A rich old man divided all his property equally among his sons. However, he withheld an expensive diamond ring, which was a family heirloom. His sons were sent out to travel and take on the world. When they returned on a certain specified day, the diamond ring would go o him who had done the noblest deed.
On the appointed day the sons returned home. They were asked to report on what they considered to be their noblest deed.
This first son said, “A wealthy banker handed over all his money to me for investment. I could have kept it all – but I served him honestly, and restored every pie of his to him, with interest.”
“That was indeed well done – but you only did what you should do,” said the father.
The second son said, “As I was walking along the seashore, I saw a little child who was about to drown. At the risk of my life, I rushed into the roaring waves and rescued the child.”
“That was a brave deed – but not worthy enough to deserve the priceless ring!” was the father’s response.
It was the youngest son’s turn. “I was tending my sheep on the mountains, when I saw my bitterest enemy stumble on the edge of a precipice and fall. He hung on to the edge of the cliff in terror – I rushed to his aid and saved his life!”
“You are my pride and joy,” said the father. “Returning good for evil is the noblest deed. The ring shall be yours!”
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