The Laws of Dharma: 2. Forgiveness (kshama)

For most of my life, I found it nigh on impossible to even consider forgiving those who crossed me. I realised eventually that it was something to do to my Mum’s saying, whenever we children fell out with anyone: “Shake hands, and forgive and forget.”

“Why would I ever want to forget how that person is capable of crossing me,” I would think. “I need to remember who they are so I don’t get fooled by them again. And why would I want to give anything to anyone who treated me so badly?”

Much later on, I realise that my young unformed mind wasn’t too wide off the mark, although I still had a way to go.

When I look back down the long road of the pilgrimage of this lifetime, it’s not so much a quiet country lane curving smoothly through peaceful, pastoral scenes, but more zig-zagging like the path of a ball in an arcade bagatelle machine.

And where the speed and the trajectory of the ball is dictated by its ricocheting path, so mine has been. In other words, I was pushed much further on in my understanding about the nature of life from my engagement with the harsher of my adversaries, which fired the development of my consciousness along at speed.

The word ‘give’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon/Norse ‘gifu’ and it is actually a rune, shaped like an X.

As with all runes, there is deep meaning in the shape of the symbol and, to me, in this instance, the cross represents a force going two ways. In other words, I received the gift of the teaching – whether I liked the person or or not, or whether they were a ‘good person’ or not – and they got something from me. And so there was a partnership, an exchange.

The Indian Vedic word for ‘forgiveness’ is ‘kshama’ which is not dissimilar to the word ‘karma’.
So I think forgiving my adversaries is a way of honouring that gift, and releasing the person who crossed me from any karmic debt owed, so they are unlikely to need to cross my path ever again! Win win!

But I should never forget the teachings I gained from meeting them at the crossroads of the bagatelle table because they are the gems in my treasure chest of accrued wisdom.