How Forgiveness Can Reduce Stress

Spiritual growth and evolution inevitably lead to peace and happiness, a life without strife and friction, negativity and stress

Spirituality helps us to realize the truth of who we are, what life is all about, who God is. We realize that we are the Soul. That we are all one, a part of the Supreme Immortal Power we call God. We realize that everyone and everything is a manifestation of the Divine. We no longer perceive others as being different from us. As we evolve spiritually, we transcend the ego. And hence, negative emotions such as hate, anger, jealousy, vengefulness are done away with. Instead, we live with faith, compassion and love.

Our focus shifts from chasing material things to focusing on spiritual evolution, and attaining God because we realize the futility of the former - nothing belongs to us. We come empty-handed. We will return empty-handed.

Therefore, as we can see, spirituality transforms us, our perspectives, our interactions, relationships, our focus, our life. Forgiveness, which is associated with spiritual growth, comes naturally and translates into physical and emotional wellbeing. Interestingly enough, when Peter had asked Jesus, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus is said to have said, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ Effectively, which means endlessly.

Spirituality helps one realize that life is Karma. Everything that happens in life, is an outcome of our own deeds, in this life or a previous life. Therefore, we tend to accept things in life, including the suffering that comes our way. If wronged, we see it as the settling of a Karmic debt. We also realize that whatever happens, ultimately, is a drama. Nothing is real. Prabhu Satya. Jagat Mithya. The only truth is God, this world is an illusion. This fosters acceptance as well. Forgiving, as said earlier, comes naturally. And forgiveness, not just for namesake, or as a lip service, but true forgiveness, forgiveness without bitterness, with love and kindness. We forgive. We forget.

Forgiveness is a gift not just for the one who is forgiven, but an equally priceless gift to the one who forgives. When we forgive, we no longer live in the past, cursing, nursing and rehearsing our hurt. We reverse it. We put an end to it. Carrying a grudge or hatred in our heart is akin to carrying thorns in our heart, thorns that constantly prick and hurt us. It’s a heavy load to carry, and just like anger burns us before it burns those it is directed against, grudges can consume us, leading to restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, hatred. So imagine getting rid of the root cause of such misery! Imagine getting rid of these thorns! The fire of anger, vengefulness, bitterness! Imagine the freedom it would give; the happiness and peace it would create. When we let go of grudges and hatred, when we forgive, it paves the way for compassion and love. Stress and anguish are reduced. Peace prevails. It heals both the forgiven and the forgiver.

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