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What is forgiveness? What is compassion? || Acharya Prashant (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
8 min
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Questioner: Dear Acharya Ji, Pranaam! Today I was reading about brain and conditioning. Our brain is affected by moment-to-moment experiences, these experiences put the brain in a certain form. And these experiences also bring about certain deformities in the brain.

I have some memories of people in my brain that do not allow me to feel free. I feel a certain uneasiness when I think about them. What is ‘forgiveness’? What is daya, or compassion? Kindly show me light on this.

Acharya Prashant: Parmeshwari (the questioner), ‘forgiveness’ is – not having the need to forgive.

Forgiveness is – to not have the need to forgive.

As long as there is a need to forgive, it means you are still sticking to the small things in the brain. Hurts, distortions, you are still talking about those little things.

You feel offended. Because you feel offended, so the question of forgiving the other person arises- “Should I forgive? Should I not forgive?”

Real forgiveness is when you have gone beyond the little things of the brain and have totally forgotten the hurt.

That which you are calling as ‘permanent distortion in the brain’, is nothing but the attachment of ‘I’ sense to all the little taints. The distortion does not just stay on. The distortion stays on because you get attached to it.

It’s like something is staining your cloth or your skin. Do you know how the stain happens? Something in the cloth reacts with the spoiling agent, the dirt. Actually, a friendship happens. If I put some grease on this Kurta, the grease is different from the Kurta, they are two different entities. How does it happen that the grease meets the Kurta, and then the grease does not come off? How did the two become one?

The two become one because a bond develops. It’s a chemical bond, actually, chemistry takes place. They become brother and sister, or friends, or mother and son, or husband and wife. That’s how the cloth gets distorted. That’s how the brain gets distorted. The brain develops a friendship with the nonsense of the past, a chemical bond develops.

On one side of the chemical bond is the memory of the past. Who is on the other side of the bond? You, the ‘I’. The ‘I’ is getting bonded with, attached with that memory. The ‘I’ has developed a definition with respect to that memory. So now the memory will gain life, it will become a permanent taint on the brain. Otherwise, the memory will just wither down, fall off, go away.

If some totally non-reactive material comes to this cloth, would the cloth still get stained? No, because there will be no reaction. If you put any material, whether reactive or non-reactive, to a cloth that is made of a non-reactive material, would the cloth ever get stained?

If my Kurta is made of a material that cannot react, will the Kurta ever get dirtied or spoiled? No, because there will never be any reaction. This Kurta is never going to attach. It doesn’t react. It has no need for company. It does not form any bond with anything.

You have formed bonds with all the little things here and there – past, future, wherever. How to get rid of those bonds? Let’s go back to Chemistry. Tell me how does the soap function? The bond between the cloth and the dirt is there. Now how does the soap function? Soap comes and offers a reaction, an energy stronger than the energy between the cloth and the dirt.

So the cloth says, “I do not want the dirt. Where is the soap?” The dirt also wants the same thing, depends on the type of soap. There are many kinds of soaps. The dirt also says the same thing. “Better than being with the cloth, I want to be with the soap.” So the bond between the dirt and the cloth is broken.

Spirituality is disruptive.

Spirituality definitely implies the breaking of bonds.

What else is Freedom? Breaking of bondages.

When you address it fondly, then you call it a ‘bond’.

When you look at it really, then you call it a ‘bondage’.

They are the same.

So don’t worry about the reaction between the cloth and the dirt, that reaction has already happened. The bond is there. Now you have to bring in the soap and the water. Don’t talk too much about the dirt, now move towards the soap.

Remember the definition of the ‘soap’ – something so important, so reactive, so full of energy that it disrupts the existing and ongoing chemistry.

Your ongoing chemistries have to be disrupted.

Your existing patterns have to be broken with something that has higher energy than your current patterns.

That is the only way.

That is Real forgiveness.

The stain itself is gone.

In general, when we say, ‘forgiveness’, what do we mean? We mean – “The stain is there, and I forgive you for staining me.” That is a very bad kind of forgiveness. You are telling him, “You know, the stain is there. But I forgive you.”

Real forgiveness is, when the stain itself is gone.

Now, the fellow may come to you, and say, “Please forgive me”, and you will say, “For what? The stain itself is not there, there is no problem. You haven’t committed any crime. May be you tried to hurt me, I didn’t get hurt. So there is no question of forgiveness.”

Similarly, you have asked, “What is daya (mercy), or Compassion?” First of all, Compassion is not daya (mercy). Compassion is – karuna (Hindi word for ‘compassion’). Daya is – mercy. Very-very different. I have spoken a lot on it.

What is then ‘Compassion’?

‘Compassion’ is to see that people are needlessly walking around in spoiled Kurtas. Compassion is to become a soap-seller.

So, Parmeshwari, when is your laundry coming up?

The fellow comes to you, saying, “Ah! My cloth is spoiled forever and ever”, and he is weeping. “My fond Kurta, my fond Kurta, my jhini chadariya (pure blanket), my jhini chadariya , gone. Gone. Totally gone.”

Jaake babul se nazzrein milaaun kaise, ghar jaaun kaise (How do I face my father? How do I go home?). All is gone. Laaga chunri mein daag chupaaun kaise? (My pure blanket has been tainted. How do I hide these stains?).”

And he is weeping buckets.

And you know that you have the soap in your pocket. So with a mighty swag, you are looking at the fellow and saying, “Now, you. Needlessly you are crying. Come over! Just hand over the cloth to me.”

That’s Compassion – to not to become a participant in the other’s dirt, and filth, and tears.

Instead, help him out by cleaning him up.

What is mercy, or daya ?

“Oh! It’s too bad. Too bad. Your Kurta is gone. So bad. You know it happened with my cousin also. Just two years back he lost his Kurta. Here, come over. Weep! My shoulder is there. Kaandha (shoulder) is my name.”

When you are very merciful, then your name is Kaandha . When you are very compassionate, then your name is Kanha (Lord Krishna). Get the difference? Just too many people are Kaandha . When you want to cry, you go to them. If you don’t cry, the relationship is gone.

In Dharamshala, we were talking a lot about agony-aunts. Their sole purpose in life is to help others cry. That is ‘mercy’. A very ugly thing.

Compassion is – to not to weep, but to apply the soap.

You can either weep with others, or you can clean them up.


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