Forgiving is easy but forgetting is not
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us
~ The Lord’s Prayer
Most people in the world whether believers in religion or not are familiar with this line from the Lord’s Prayer.
In the archaic literary sense, the meaning of the word trespass is sin or offence.
I must have said this prayer, rather mumbled it, through countless school assemblies like many Indian children who have studied in what is loosely termed a “convent school”. Convent schools were started by Missionary orders especially of nuns whose aim was to teach and educate young, native minds. Apart from mere scholastics, they imparted a value based education and equipped many a young person with skills that stood them in good stead all through their lives. While I didn’t attend a convent school, I studied in a similar system – the Anglo Indian School which was largely meant for the Anglo Indian population . We began each day with the compulsory recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, a tradition embraced whole heartedly by Christians and non-Christians alike.
But this post is not about prayer or even schools, it is about forgiving and forgetting.
Many of you must have heard the story of two Buddist monks who came upon a river bank during the course of their journey. While they were deciding how to get to the other side, a pretty, young woman came up to them and asked them to help her get across too. The monks agreed and the three of them crossed the river and made their way on their respective paths. A few hours later, the younger of the monks asked the older monk if he found carrying the young girl a heavy task. The old monk replied that he had carried the girl and forgotten about it while the young man was still carrying the girl in his mind all this while!
This simple story reaffirms the burden of carrying a slight, an offence or guilt. As the days, months and even years go by, it gets harder to forgive so one should forgive instantly and carry on.
But, while I am not quick to take offence, I definitely am no saint and even if I understand the logic and sense in forgiving, I find it hard to execute. And from my observations, the closer one is to a person, the harder it is to forgive. Even though the Gita advises us to be unattached and work without expectation, it is a human failing to expect an effect for every action. Even though one may not consciously expect anything (not even gratitude) when nothing comes by way of reward there is disappointment.
Being brought up on the principle that one should forgive and forget, I find that I may be able to forgive but it is extremely hard for me to forget.