When Forgiving Is Impossible
By Wayne Saalman
SOME RUTHLESS, HEARTLESS, MURDEROUS acts are unforgivable. One does not need to apologize for saying that. Cold-blooded killing, imprisonment, torture, rape, abuse, the merciless ruin of reputation, the unwarranted theft or destruction of property, the savagery of warfare and so on are all reprehensible deeds which infuriate and cause outrage; they are acts which invite the kind of retaliation and revenge that boils the blood and causes heartrending upset.
We have heard of men and women in rare instances who have forgiven the most abject horrors which others had fomented against them in the past. Among these were personal violations so terrible that one cringes to even contemplate them, let alone recount what occurred in heartbreaking detail; suffice it to say that at the top of that list is inevitably what Hitler and his Nazi cronies perpetrated against millions of people in Europe, most especially those of the Jewish faith.
In today’s world, quite obviously, we have the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin and his Russian war machine, and we see the devastation he has wrought in real time; we see the cities reduced to rubble, the men, women and children trapped in his mountains of debris; we witness the suffering, the dying, the bodies being dug out; some alive, many not.
People laud those who forgive others. That is good; we should see forgiveness as a virtue. Nevertheless, there are certainly acts so heinous as to be unforgivable and one can easily sympathize with those who simply cannot forgive. As for forgetting, none can do that in the wake of malevolence that is beyond the pale.
Wisdom masters the world over tell us that what others say and do is their karma and what we say and do is ours. How we react to the offenses to which we are subjected is also our own karma.
The best way to react, one might consider, is to neutralize and spiritualize the offense. By neutralizing it, we take away its power over us. We deplete it of energy, rather than feeding it energy such that it may grow in power over us. By spiritualizing the offense, we see it in a larger context, one that views the act from a higher perspective and sees the offense for what it is. By spiritualizing it, we pray that the perpetrator will eventually, one day, see how evil or wrong the offense was and learn a spiritual lesson never to be forgotten.
Those who have returned to their lives on earth after a near-death experience tell us how they were made to endure a life review, one in which they not only saw and heard all that they had done in their most recent life, but were made to feel, in deep and intensely penetrating ways, how their words and actions made others feel. Invariably, in that moment, one’s offenses against others are said to be emotionally excruciating in the extreme, for one is forced to experience events from an expanded, spiritualized perspective. In this way, a person is made to fully grasp the error of his or her ways. Here is finally the ultimate spiritual lesson and the ultimate chance to evolve to a higher level if the message gets through.
This event — the life review — does not, however, enlighten the individual forever and anon. Instead, the karmic necessity of making amends comes into play. Redress must occur. Redress is a balancing of energies of a dissonant nature. That which has caused harm to others must be taken upon one’s own shoulders, so to speak, in the next life or one to come and so life moves on.
A balancing of the scales of justice will necessitate that the offender should find him or herself in a circumstance that will put a similar situation before them. Again, what the person subsequently says and does will determine if the lesson has been learned or not. If it has not, then the wheel spins around once more and it will keep spinning around until the person finally wises up.
For the one offended, the karmic question is whether revenge is sought by them or not. If one can neutralize it and spiritualize it, that will resolve that particular situation. What this can mean is that one need not forgive or forget during the lifetime he or she is now in, but one should indeed hope and pray that the offender should grow in wisdom and genuinely regret his or her actions.
Harboring hatred, of course, only hurts oneself.
Ideally, one should wish one’s offender enlightened, not dead, not sent to rot in Hell, not blasted into oblivion as unworthy of life. After all, each and every soul is worthy of life and deserves the opportunity to evolve spiritually and grow in wisdom. Acts of selfishness are founded on ignorance and they are ruinous in a karmic sense. If one cannot see that then one is in a very primitive spiritual state indeed. One can only hope and pray that an awakening will come and that such a being will evolve to a wider perspective in which they can finally fully see and feel the hurt that such actions cause.
The bottom line: karma is real. Reincarnation is real.
This is why what we ourselves think, say and do is everything in this life. Even if we cannot forgive others the harm they have caused us, we can keep doing right by others so that they will feel inclined to do right by us. This is the way to defeat evil and ignorance in the long run. This is the way to achieve peace in one’s heart. This is the way to make a better world for everyone.