In the serene Shantisadan Siddhashram (Abode of Peace centre for realisation) where I live, generally peace reigns. Seven paid helpers of the ashram appeared to work cooperatively and harmoniously for years. However, some recent events that had their origin when I was away marred the ashram atmosphere. One of the workers quit after getting another job. After about 10 days a police officer arrived at the ashram door to inquire about a complaint against an important ashram member. The complaint resulted from a false accusation. Soon the ashram atmosphere became saturated with vicious toxicity. I was also reminded of the false accusation years ago in the USA that could have dragged my name in the dirt. At that time I was a very responsible and prominent psychologist doctor on the staff of a children’s psychiatric hospital. As I was not arrested after the complaint and inquiry, I asked the police detective why I was not arrested, his spontaneous but simple response was that he did not believe the story of the complainant.
The question really is how to forgive the unforgivable. How does one forgive those who out of some kind of vindictiveness attempt to ruin others’ reputation or assassinate their characters? In short, how does one love one’s enemies? This was the question put to me in last night’s satsang (gathering of saints) in the ashram. In a world of the law of talion (“an eye for an eye”), forgiveness is not in vogue. I tried to look into the teachings of the World’s Best Masters. The truly satisfying spiritual answer that came to me was from the teaching of Christ. “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6: 27-28). Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita also exhorts us who are on the path of liberation to go beyond hatred and revenge. Because those who hurt us are not different from us. They are really us. When Christ tells us to love our enemies, I do not interpret it to mean that we like them. Liking comes from our feelings. Loving is a commitment that comes from our will. That kind of loving is in our control while liking is not. So we can love someone we dislike. Eventually we get consciously into the habit of loving everyone.
Loving everyone also paves the way to the unity of humanity that is so necessary in a world of fragmentation and divisiveness. Moreover, we do not make others’ problems our problems. The energy we spend in hating others will eventually destroy us as we do not have that energy for our own development. Thus not hating or taking revenge is in our own enlightened self-interest in the long run. I do not by any means suggest that we suppress or repress our legitimate emotions coming out of our hurts, that can harm us. We definitely need to vent those feelings in appropriate settings to be emotionally healthy.