19 quotes about forgiveness
I've been thinking a lot about the power of forgiveness, lately - and how misunderstood the concept is, by many who mistake forgiveness for reconciliation.... meaning, that an understanding is achieved between the person forgiving the wrongful deeds of someone who harmed them, and that the harmer in that scenario apologizes, or somehow acknowledges, their mistakes. somehow, people think, the other party involved in the pain and suffering has to own up to what they did for forgiveness to occur.
but what I've learned is that forgiveness is only internal -- it really has nothing to do with the other person or people's actions in the least. that's to say, the perpetrator of the hurt or crime may NEVER acknowledge their wrong-doing, or mend their evil ways, or come to any kind of apologetic state for what they did -- and they can STILL be forgiven.
often, victims of painful experiences will protest that giving a blanket forgiveness to whomever hurt them then exonerates the guilty party -- as if forgiveness somehow wipes away the memory of what happened, and who did what to whom. it doesn't. as my spiritual mentor, Jack Schwarz, who got enlightened while being tortured by the Nazis in a concentration camp during WWII, used to say, with a twinkle in his eye: "Life is not for getting. It is for giving."
forgiving doesn't mean one has to forget any of the atrocity that occurred, whether at the hands of genocidal maniacs, a random criminal, or one's own dysfunctional family members.
forgiving simply washes the heart clean, of the person who suffered at the hands of another (or others), and allows the person to regain their own life and power, free from the burdened energy of carrying around old hurt, pain, trauma, suffering, resentment, anger, fear and all the other heavy knots that accompany holding onto wounds, and not forgiving.
when I don't forgive, I am still giving energy -- knowingly or unknowingly -- to the person who did the hurting, or feeding the energy of the wound, or usually both. (even if it's just the energy it takes me to suppress, constantly, the pain of the original wounds, and keep on living despite those wounds.)
why would I want to waste my energy like that? when I can apply it to all the wonderful, creative, loving, life-affirming things I want to create in my own life? why would I ever want to let a painful past retain any grip, at all, on my present happiness, or my future joys?
anyway, these are questions for lengthy debate and inquiry... I just wanted to let some of the greatest minds and hearts in human history and contemporary times -- many of whom learned this power the hard way, through suffering and dire traumas -- share their views on the intense, immense power of forgiveness.
here are 19 of my favorite quotes about forgiveness. I hope they'll move your heart, as they did mine....
I have forgiven and forgotten all.
~ William Shakespeare
Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.
- Hannah Arendt
Love manifests towards those whom we like as love; towards those whom we do not like as forgiveness.
- Hazrat Inayat Khan
And throughout all eternity
I forgive you, you forgive me.
~ William Blake
Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness.
~ William Shakespeare
True forgiveness is when you can say, "Thank you for that experience.”
- Oprah Winfrey
Those great souls who have brought the message of God to humanity from time to time, like Buddha, Krishna, Jesus Christ, Moses, Abraham or Zarathushtra, were well known as most learned men. But whatever they learned, they learned from the love principle. What they knew was compassion, forgiveness, sympathy, tolerance, the attitude of appreciation, the opening of the heart to humanity.
-- Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan
Someone will come and create frustration (in your life) -- that's not him. It’s Nature, creating (the frustration) through him. Forgive it. Once you forgive -- the majority of your soul is heathy, & you will be very happy. And peaceful.
- Sri Kaleshwar
God pardons like a mother, who kisses the offense into everlasting forgiveness.
~ Henry Ward Beecher
The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.
- Marianne Williamson
It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.
- Maya Angelou
Resentment costs you much and gives you nothing. Forgiveness costs you nothing and sets you free.
- Ralph Marston
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed.
~ Oprah Winfrey
Forgiveness is as personal as chemotherapy – I do it for myself.
- Eva Kor
Life lived without forgiveness becomes a prison.
~ William Arthur Ward
Force may subdue, but love gains, and he that forgives first wins the laurel.
~ William Penn
True forgiveness, makes forgiveness unnecessary. Forgiveness is the beautiful, ungrasping clarity that comes from understanding the value of a specific pain (be it mistake or injury) and the value of what that pain produced. Appreciating this value is forgiveness. Appreciating this value makes it unnecessary to forgive.
- Teal Swan