The Benefits of Forgiveness

06/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I think Vince Lombardi once said,"Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. Our lives have come to thrive on competition: the Super Bowl,The World Heavyweight Championship, Dancing with the Stars; much of our entertainment is derived from the importance of who wins. Second place is a no no, almost a failure. I win -- you lose -- morphs subtlely into the stance of arrogance. Forgiveness and humility are rapidly disappearing traits.The times that are upon us worship titles, wealth, power, and celebrity; all the things that say I have more, I am better, stronger, and more important than you. The five minute glow of fame has replaced the inner glow of contentment, satisfaction with what we have, not what we want.That part of our being which is hidden deep in the heart is increasingly being layered over with the physical and mental distractions that have come to fill our lives.This inner glow is non cerebral, non intellectual. It has its own palpable goodness like that of a child. The infant although totally vulnerable to many dangers will automatically be protected by those around him.The three-year-old who wanders into the street,or is lost at an airport, without saying a word, is protected by his very innocence which attracts goodness and protection from those near him. Watch what happens at a large, noisy cocktail party replete with "important" people when a tiny toddler stumbles into the room. Immediately, conversations cease and those close by will stop what they are saying or thinking and instinctively move to touch the little one. The power of innocence/goodness is far mightier than the "importance" of our agendas.

This inner goodness does exist in adults but we have forgotten it and also the power that resides in it. Once, in New York City I took some dry cleaning to a shop in Greenwich Village which had a sign saying one day service. It was 8:00 am and I was probably the first customer. I placed the clothes on the counter and asked what time they would be ready. The owner with a scowl on his face informed me brusquely, "Not today." I was irritated as I needed the clothes that evening but he turned away to help another customer. Something inside me, from "monastery days," said slow down, relax, be peaceful, be forgiving. I started watching my breath and felt a calm mood start to come over me. The owner, seeing that I was still there, approached me and must have seen something different in me for he took the clothes and said in a surprisingly pleasant tone,"3:30, this afternoon".

So, there truly is something quite remarkable inside us which has been obscured by the heavy traffic of our minds and the frenetic pace of our lives. If we can reach down into that space and touch that vibration it brings wisdom, unity and peace and can effect small miracles. It can and does change us and those around us.

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools we have to tap this inner spirit.The simple act of letting go of ego,arrogance and winning often clears the path to unexpected positive results.I always tell my clients that,in practicing forgiveness the only thing we lose is ego -- not a bad trade off. If we have surrendered to "not getting our way" then often, I find, we are blessed with an infusion of pleasant calmness. It's all quite simple but can be for some quite difficult.

It is said that
"When we have been wronged,
We should ask forgiveness
From the doer"*.

"How ridiculous"
Said I
"And how unfair;
Justice isn't like that"

But forgiveness
Lives in its own land,
One untravelled
By most pilgrims.

To understand it
We must practice it,
Slaying the dragons
Of anger and fear.

Only then
Will we know
In a second
The sweetness,
The freedom that
Lies inside

M.R.Bawa Muhaiyaddeen