The Path of Forgiveness

There are many types of interpersonal relationships—happiness and love, discontentment and resentment, gratitude and enmity, positive and negative—but the most important connection between people is rooted in forgiveness.

Confucius advocated forgiveness. The compassion of the Buddha and the love of Jesus both share that same spirit. Buddhism speaks of “treating foe and kin alike,” Jesus teaches “love your enemies,” and Confucius says “to love everyone is to demonstrate benevolence.” All of these teachings are espousing the spirit of forgiveness.

If we want to have lasting relationships with people, we need to be forgiving. If there is no forgiveness, no support, and no concessions between friends, how could any friendship last? If there is no mutual trust and understanding between husband and wife, how can couples live together? Both a family’s closeness and a society’s harmony hinge on magnanimity. Nowadays, we see many families, organizations, and communities divided by disputes and arguments. However, we also see many people putting aside past disagreements and becoming friends through reconciliation. What a wonderful thing that is!

There is a parable about a follower of the Buddha named Devadatta. Devadatta was a ruffian who committed many evil deeds. One day, while he was walking, he almost stepped on a spider. However, a sudden thought of compassion arose in his mind, and instead of stepping on the spider, he went out of his way to avoid it. Later, due to his unwholesome karma, he was reborn into hell. But that moment of compassion liberated from hell and from further suffering. Devadatta’s single thought of compassion is an excellent example of renewal!

Aside from being forgiving of others, we should also be tolerant towards all beings. For instance, we demonstrate respect and conciliatory towards all living beings and nature when we protect the environment and its diverse ecosystems. Nowadays, many societies are practicing benevolence and forgiveness in their government policies. Mediation committees have been established in many communities, and a family court has been established in many courthouses. Furthermore, judges are beginning to handle all civil and criminal cases with a sense of forgiveness in mind, eliminating animosity inhuman relationships.

It is easy to forgive those we love, but only when we can forgive those we hate is the real effort of forgiveness developed. The Buddhist ideal “unconditional compassion and kindness, as we are all one” is the best example of complete forgiveness. With complete forgiveness, families will be full of joy and ease, and the earth will be filled with peace and harmony—what a wonderful world that would be!