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A Time of Forgiveness

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Each year during this time, many cultures around the world celebrate an occasion of forgiveness, a time when you ask people around you, those you know and those you don't, to forgive you. The Jewish community celebrates Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, while some communities in India celebrate Kshamavani.

As individuals, we sometimes feel that we have not done anything wrong, yet the other person believes that some injustice has been done to him. If the other perceives us as the cause for their pain or suffering, it is wise for us to ask for their forgiveness. Even when we sneeze, without our knowledge we're killing many germs. Even when we walk, or talk or do something else -- any action has some flaws. Any of our actions could have hurt someone. Therefore, if without our knowledge, our actions have hurt someone, we should not hesitate to ask for forgiveness. Knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, if you have hurt someone by your thought, word, or deed -- you ask that they forgive you.

Neither forgiving nor asking forgiveness will make one's social status go down. In fact, it shows one's strength. You are taking responsibility for clearing up some conflict that has happened in the past, and bringing harmony in its place. The respect that you gain by your compassion, by your broadmindedness, cannot be lost.

Today, there is so much hatred, tension and violence in the world. There is domestic violence at home, violence between communities, and conflicts between countries. In such a world, observing a day of forgiveness is of great significance. If everyone in the world could practice forgiveness -- both asking and giving -- many of the world's conflicts could be solved. Many of the conflicts in families, and in relationships would be solved.

We do not plan our own mistakes. Most of them stem from a lack of awareness. If you do not plan your mistakes, what makes you think that the other person plans their mistakes? All mistakes are made out of either a lack of awareness or ignorance. When we do not have compassion for someone when they make a mistake and forgive them, then we will seek revenge. We then become bound to a cycle of negative feelings. Forgiveness shields and protects our mind and spirit from being violent.

Have compassion for those who have hurt you. When you think of forgiving, you normally think of someone as a culprit and you see an intention behind the culprit's mistake. When you are compassionate you recognize the ignorance behind the person's mistake. Compassion is even better than forgiveness. In forgiveness, you see an intention behind a mistake, but in compassion you go a step further and look into the person's heart, beyond their words, beyond their behavior, and see the wound in the person that caused them to make the mistake. When there is a wound inside individuals, they will try to share it with other people. What else can they do?

Let us all find some way to celebrate the occasion of Forgiveness, whether directly or through prayer. Let us ask forgiveness from the whole universe. Then there will be less hatred, less jealousy, less pain in the world, and we can live together as one family.

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