FORGIVE AND FORGET?
Shall we forgive and forget, and should we innocently approach the person who has wronged us?
It is so easy to forgive because after a deed has been done and one reflects upon the act that has been completed, there is something that stirs within us. For within every one of us, there is this power of goodness. But most times this power of goodness could be overshadowed by the experiences and especially by the bitter experiences of life.
But why does a person forgive or want to forgive? Because the act that has been perpetrated upon one could be of such an emotional character that the mind would dwell on the problem and when the mind dwells on the problem, it makes one go into deeper recesses of the mind, and one comes to the conclusion that: why should I keep this in my heart? What benefit is it giving me or the other person? The best thing is to just forgive.
Forgive. That is one of the injunctions laid down by all the theologies of the world. But that is not the trouble. To forgive is easy, but the real problem lies in forgetting. You can forgive, but it is very difficult to forget.
What are the mechanisms as far as forgetting is concerned? The human mind has been patterned through all the various experiences of life and the impressions gained through those experiences become strengthened by the present happening. When that is strengthened, it is not only the present act that is playing, but all those various experiences that we have had of a similar nature all bunch together. And when they bunch together in the mind, it becomes very difficult to forget.
It is not Auntie Mary saying a bad word to you that is so important in forgetting, because if that was the only thing, then forgetting would become easy. But because Auntie Mary has said something to you, it automatically associates itself with past experiences of this life and perhaps of previous lives if you believe in that, and thereby past memories are awakened. You might not be aware of those past experiences because they are deep down in the various layers of the subconscious mind. But every happening to which you are attached must have its effect, and the effect is that it associates itself with previous experiences of like nature. So here you put in one ounce and you gather to yourself in that realm five hundred pounds in weight. This becomes a burden when one has to forget.
HOW CAN WE FORGET
What is the solution? That is the crux of the question: how can we forget? Because this thought that has been now activated has become so powerful that the seed that had been planted so deeply within the subconscious mind is coming to the conscious mind, and the conscious mind translates all that which is in the subconscious.
The subconscious mind is a storehouse of memories. All the experiences you have gained in lifetimes are all there alive. In Sanskrit they are called samskaras and a loose interpretation of the word would be impressions. All these impressions that are there in the subconscious mind cannot be destroyed. They are there. But they can be shed off like water on a duck’s back. You can get rid of them, but you cannot destroy them. Once you get rid of those impressions, they go back and attach themselves to other conditions that are conducive or of like nature. Birds of a feather flock together. But you become free of those impressions.
Like that, with millions and millions of impressions in your mind, how are you going to free them all? Do you want to struggle through that which is called life for millions of years, or do you want freedom in this lifetime?
There is only one way, the royal way, and it is this: that through a systematic process of meditation and spiritual practices, one can form a direct link from the conscious mind through the subconscious mind and then to the Superconscious mind.
No amount of analysis could rid one of those impressions because the more you analysis them, the more you rationalize, the deeper would those memories, thoughts, be more firmly planted in the subconscious which is the repository of all those impressions. In order to clean the dirt in the subconscious, one has to go still deeper, beyond the subconscious to the Superconscious.
The conscious mind is at a gross level, and the Superconscious mind is at the subtlest level, the subtlest level of relativity. Being so subtle, it is closest to that Divinity that is within us. Because of its own very subtlety and clarity, greater force, more Light, could shine through the superconscious mind into the subconscious mind.
Through a systematic, individually designed practise of meditation, we can dive deep down to the subtlest forms of relativity; and by reaching the edge of the subtlest relative existence of the mind, one is in direct touch with that which is divine within man. By creating this direct channel, this hotline, to the Superconscious mind, you can draw from these universal energies within you and allow it to bypass all the impressions contained in the subconscious to the conscious mind; and if done in a systematic, focused manner, you can forget. That is the only way.
Most of you will remember many instances that have happened in your lives, and when that memory comes up, you even feel as if you are re-experiencing that happening again. This is because nothing has been done about it. The greatest gift given to man by God is forgetfulness. If you had to remember all the experiences of this lifetime or other lifetimes, you would become totally insane, and you would be taken away to the lunatic asylum. So, what a great gift Divinity has given us the ability to forget. But the tragedy is this, that we are not using this gift, that is our problem.
As we dive deeper and deeper, through spiritual practices, we are causing a certain balance in the mind. The universe is composed of what is known in Sanskrit as the gunas. You have tamas which is inertia; rajas, which is the activating force; and sattva, which is light. Most of us either live in the state of tamas, living in that darkness. Or many of us are so totally activated by the force of rajas. That makes our lives so fragmented because that very energy, that very force of rajas is not controlled or directed. Then, we have the sattvic force, which is composed of Light.
The mechanism is this that we have to allow the sattvic force to dominate our lives, for darkness cannot exist where there is Light, and paradoxically enough, without the Light there would be no darkness. Under a candle flame in a holder, there would be darkness. What causes darkness? Light causes darkness. And what causes Light? Darkness does. So, all these forces are so interrelated with each other, and they are indestructible. But for man to find greater harmony within himself, for man to find integration of body, mind and spirit so that he could function as a whole being instead of fragmentedly, he has to bring about a balance in which the sattvic or the forces of Light could dominate.
In our minds, we have all these memories that prevent us from forgetting, but they are overcome by Light, because all samskaras or impressions are the products of darkness. We cannot forget by willpower for the more we try to forget the more we are activating that very force that is causing us misery. And not only that, as I said before, we are diving deeper there and activating like forces because the mind is used to functioning by association of ideas.
Because these memories are indestructible, we have to bathe them all in the pool of Light. These memories are like ice blocks: throw them in a clear pool of water, and they are not noticed. They become one with the water, and gradually you would feel them melting away and becoming the water.
You cannot run away from those memories, but you can cover the memories with Light and thereby eliminate them from your system.
LIFE IS NOTHING ELSE BUT A MEMORY
Life is nothing else but a memory. You are what you are today because of all your past actions and thoughts. You are a bundle of all those impressions and nothing else. Even the very shape of your face or bodies, or how you function, your behaviour patterns, is governed by all those experiences, all those impressions.
The mind functions in a patterned form. We have to unpattern the mind. What is needed in the world today is not so much learning, but what is needed is unlearning that which we have learned.
Burn all the books. For with that, you are only activating the mind. You are activating the mind, which is the greatest barrier towards the spiritual Self that is within man. God plus mind makes man. Man, minus mind makes God.
The greatest stumbling block to spiritual unfoldment is the mind, and yet, the mind is necessary to exist. It could be the most cunning animal, and yet at the same time it could be used as a wonderful instrument. It is like giving a sharp knife, to a hooligan who will go and cause some harm with it; but if the same very sharp knife is given to a surgeon, he might operate and save someone’s life.
Here we have our choice: how to use the mind. But here there is a problem. Who chooses or what chooses how the mind is to be used? Funny enough, it is the mind itself that chooses. How to make the right choice depends so much on how much we have allowed that Light within us to shine through. If we, through meditation and spiritual practices, allow that Light, that universal Force, to shine more and more through the mind, then our decisions and our choices will always be spontaneously right. That is how we enter the area of forgetfulness or oblivion, and the hurts that we have suffered become no hurt. We become oblivious of it.
Oblivion here does not mean that you become unconscious of things, but you develop a new perspective. Then you are in the world, and yet not of the world. And this is the important lesson that man has to learn for his happiness. For is that not for what man is striving? Man is striving for happiness, happiness, happiness. But he can only find happiness when he grows up.
We have to grow up and proceed to happiness. But how to grow up? The royal way is through meditational and spiritual practices, where the mind could become mature. A mature mind is that which can have the force and the power not to become emotionally affected, for then you make yourself ill. Doctors have proven it today that all physical or organic diseases stem from the mind, from wrong thinking. And that little bit of wrong thinking goes deep within the subconscious and brings with it all its brothers and cousins and uncles and aunties. It brings with it the whole family of past experiences.
You cannot try to forget. Forgetfulness has to be spontaneous. The more the mind is filled with that Light, then everything that stems from some form of desire could reach fulfilment. For is it not said, and this I would repeat over and over and over again a million times, “seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven within and all else shall be added unto thee.”
You want to forget, and that, too, you will forget; because these shadows in the mind, these shadows that constitute the mind cannot last in that powerful Light of Divinity.
It is easy to forgive because there is goodness inherent in man. In reality, man is divine, and the scriptures say this all the time. Man is created in the image of God, and this is what it means. Man is the manifestation of the Manifestor and if the Manifestor is that pure consciousness, then it’s manifestation will also be pure. But because of various combinations of natural factors that the individual soul goes through, it casts all these shadows. That is how the shadows of unreality is created, and we allow these shadows to dominate our lives instead of the Light.
We allow tamasic values to dominate us, and that is the root cause of our misery. Yet inwardly we are always hankering after happiness. Why does man hanker after happiness? Why does man want to be happy? Because deep inside him, there is nothing else but joy. Man’s inner being, his real Self, his divine Self is but joy, and that joy is forever trying to come out. It would have its little effect on the subconscious and conscious mind, and that is the stirring force of sattva that makes you seek happiness. But do we give it a chance to shine? These shadows are so dark.
THE SHADOW IS BEHIND YOU
All these memories that do not allow us to forget any happening are nothing else but darkness. But with our rationalistic mind, we think it is real. Yet we are chasing shadows and not the Light. When you chase a shadow, the shadow will always be in front of you. But when you chase the Light, the shadow is behind you. The shadow is behind you because you are chasing the Light, facing the Light.
So forgiving is easy, forgetting becomes difficult for the man of today because his search is always in externalities. He tries to find happiness, but the craving for happiness, the yearning for happiness stems from within. Yet our search, because of this stupid mind, this cunning animal, our search is forever outward: a better dishwasher or a better stove or a better motorcar or a better home or a better this or a better that. Nothing wrong with it. But how much are we attached to it? There lies the problem. You can enjoy everything in life, but in non-attachment, so that it does not cause impressions upon the mind. That is how the mind becomes more and more clear, more and more clarified so that the Light can shine through.
I do not know if you have heard of the word ghee. That is an Indian word for clarified butter. It is effortless to make ghee. You take some butter, a pound, two pounds, ten pounds, whatever you want, put it in a pot and you boil it on the stove. As it becomes hotter and hotter and it is boiled, you will find all the impurities that is contained within the butter coming to the surface. Then you skim off the impurities and you are left with the purity of ghee which can last fifty times longer without refrigeration and can be used as butter.
That is what we have to do with the mind; we have to bring it to the boiling point. We have to heat it up by that force of Light that is within and get rid of the impurities until it becomes like clear glass, and by impurities I mean all the impressions that are contained within the mind. When the glass is clear then more Light would be perceived, and life is Light. It could be nothing else. We create these darknesses; these shadows are creations of the mind. The mind is nothing but a collection of thoughts and impressions.
Impressions are not reality.
IMPRESSIONS IS NOT THE REALITY
You might have a particular impression of this vase of flowers. Different people will view this very thing differently, according to their association of ideas. It is just your thought pattern that makes you determine if any object is ugly or beautiful. It is not the flower that you have in your mind; it is just the impression of the flower that you have in your mind, and how real is that impression. We dabble in all the unrealities of life. The mind is cluttered with these shadows of unreality, and that is why we suffer, we go through throes of misery. And even the very thoughts and those miseries we go through are the creation of something which has no basis of reality. For the mind is composed of nothing else but thought patterns, impressions, and not the real McCoy.
Talking of forgetfulness reminds me of a story. Fasladin had an appointment with a professor of philosophy, and the professor was coming to Fasladin’s home to discuss this intricate point of philosophy. Meanwhile, Fasladin had forgotten that he had an appointment. The professor was there on time, so when he did not find Fasladin in, then in his anger because this chap did not keep the appointment, he wrote on the door, “Stupid fool.” So, when Fasladin came home, he saw this on the door, “stupid fool;” and immediately he remembered that he had an appointment with this philosopher. So, he ran to this philosopher’s home and apologized. He says, “Sorry, Sir, I had forgotten the appointment, but as soon as I reached home and saw your name on the door, I remembered.”
Try to forget, and you cannot. It Is like this lovely piece of prose that was sent to me on a Christmas card; it said, “If you chase the butterfly it will fly away from you. But just sit still, and it might alight on your shoulder.”
You see, it is all so simple, this is my favourite, “it is so simple to be happy, but so difficult to be simple.” You can forgive because we all have some common sense, and of course a lot of nonsense within us. By using common sense, we can see the goodness in man, and that is how we can forgive certain acts. But to forget becomes more difficult because of the past experiences, not with that particular person, but because of the past experiences over a whole span of time which this particular happening regenerates.
We have a lot of forgetting to do, and all the memories are not on the conscious level, but exist in the deeper strata of the mind, in the subconscious mind, and that slate of the subconscious mind has to be rubbed clean, and we clean it with that power of Light that is within man.
MAN IS DIVINE
Man is divine. If you keep on saying, “I’m weak, I’m weak, I’m weak,” you will become weaker and weaker. But stand up like a lion and roar. Awake and arise and stop not till the goal is reached. Start from strength. Affirm to yourself that, “I am strong, I am potentially divine.” That is how you will find that you are divine. You can face any obstacle; you can forgive, you can forget—all the time.
That is how you live for the moment. Because if you are trying to forget an incident you are not living in the now, you are living in the past, because that happening happened in the past. It has not happened now, for the very idea of forgetting means that you are talking of the past. People live either in the past or they live in the future, but the idea is to live in this very moment. There is no past, and there is no future. Who knows if there is a future?
Because we measure time and space in a linear fashion, we think of the pasts and the futures and forget the present. Being three-dimensional beings, we linearly measure time, and without time there cannot be space, without space, there cannot be time, and we proceed from A to B.
That is man’s greatest illusion because all the dimensions that are existent are interpenetrating all the time. Within you, there are so many, many dimensions and levels of existences of which you are unaware. The master knows those dimensions, and he tries to awaken your cognition of those dimensions.
All these various dimensions are all intermixed within you, right from the mineral kingdom to the plant kingdom to the animal kingdom to the human kingdom; and further still from man to god-man; from god-man to God.
They have always been there, for life is eternal, and you are eternal. Shedding this body means nothing. You are coming out from one room and entering another room. It is like exchanging one suit of clothes and putting on another suit of clothes, for that Spirit within you, the real you, is forever eternal and indestructible, immortal. For if that were not the case, then you would be limiting Divinity into mortality instead of immortality.
There is a lovely Sanskrit prayer, and one line of it goes this way: “Lead me from mortality to immortality.” You cannot be led because you are immortal; but what it means is give me the understanding, not a mental understanding, but the knowing that is deep within man. Through meditational and spiritual practices, we awaken the knowingness; it does not become a blind belief anymore.
We want to fill the churches and not empty them. If a person is a Christian, I would like to see him become a better Christian; if he is a Buddhist a better Buddhist; if he is a Hindu a better Hindu. We teach the basis of all the religions on Earth, and the basis is but one.
From one candle flame, so many candles can be lit without diminishing the power of the original candle. There is only one truth, one God, one life. You are the life. You, yourself, are the way, and that is the truth.
The Guru cannot shine any light upon you, but he can shine some light on the path so that you could avoid pitfalls.
In reality, we have to find reality and we find reality by seeking the “Kingdom of Heaven within” and we seek the “Kingdom of Heaven within” by diving within ourselves through a systematic, individualized, prescribed program for the individual person, for no two people are alike. They are alike at deeper levels, for there is only one Spirit, but on the surface level of the mind and the body each one is a unique entity, and each one needs a particular prescription for his ailment.
Ninety-nine point nine nine nine percent of the world’s population are imbalanced. There is a very small fraction of the total percentage that is balanced. Those God-realized beings have the perfect balance within themselves; and therefore they are a law unto themselves, for they have the mastery of all the laws that govern this little planet Earth, this little speck of dust in this vast universe.
All these injunctions of our scriptures are so true and so correct: “knock, and it shall be opened, seek and thou shall find.” But what are we seeking? We are seeking for momentary pleasures that are here now and gone in the next moment and leaving an impression that in turn activates its very opposite. For man today is governed by the law of opposites, and we have to go beyond opposites to find that true joy, to find the “peace that passes all understanding.” For if you have pleasure in a certain quantity, be sure to know that you are going to have pain in the same quantity. If you have sun, you must have rain. Everything has its opposites, and yet the opposites are so well-balanced that you create some alteration on one side of the polarities of life, and it will affect the other side of the polarity.
Through diving within, we come to the centre. Then we are not going up and down in the seesaw of life but standing in the centre in that very stillness that man seeks- such beautiful stillness. There dwell that joy and the ecstasy.
Yet this stillness is full of motion, the highest amount of motion, for nothing can exist without the motions of the gunas. In the equilibrium of the three gunas, there is motion and yet stillness. It is like a top that the children play. When you spin the top, and there is that high speed, it seems to be still, and yet so much in motion. Here motion and stillness combine itself.
The Absolute and the relative join hands and function. You are totally and consciously aware of all the motion and yet so still, so unruffled by anything around you. That is how you forgive and forget. That is the only way. You cannot forget but forget the forgetfulness, and the mind will be cleansed of that memory that causes all the problems. Let these forces come, let friends be adverse to you, let them curse you, let them do what they want to, let them distort you, let them malign you. Let them do whatever they want to, but you remain firm and still, and nothing affects you, because no impression can cloud your mind. You are then beyond all impressions that cause unhappiness and misery.
If a person has wronged you, and if you innocently approach the person and say, “Look, you have wronged me, but I don’t mind at all. Wrong me more. Slap me on the one cheek; I offer you the other cheek.” Then that person will become a different person.
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang US 1980-12