Between Pain and Forgiveness

When we are hurt by others, it hurts terribly, and it can happen in our lives at any moment. Questions immediately arise: When is there room for forgiveness and what is it anyway?

In principle, the size of the blow is the size of the compensation that can cover it. Forgiveness, revenge, slight, insult, investment, these are all things measured only in relation to my egoic desire to enjoy. If the ego still feels hurt and demands revenge, it means that the place of hurt has not been filled with proper compensation. The pit that opens up in the heart is still open, so we cannot truly forgive.

It is human nature to enjoy, to satisfy ourselves with all kinds of things that seem good to us. We want to enjoy food, sex, family, money, honor, control, information, and a combination of these above all. We constantly work to fulfill our desires, and consider how much energy we should invest in something specific depending on the expected outcome.

To illustrate, let us say we want to buy a nice suit for a particularly festive occasion. We invest a large amount of money in it, equivalent to almost a week’s work, and purchased it with great pleasure. The long-awaited day arrives, we put on the new suit and walk around among everyone with a smile from ear to ear. People say, “What a great suit.” The chest swells with pride.

And suddenly someone utters in front of everyone, “What’s that funny suit you are wearing? What kind of costume is that?” And from that moment on, reality changes. Everyone giggles, and we are filled with shame.

Later that evening, we run into the same person again, who quietly tells us, “Sorry if I said something inappropriate earlier.” Immediately we respond with a rejection. Is such a request for forgiveness a reparation for the harm done? Certainly not. That is why we do not accept it.

Real forgiveness should have been one that compensates me for the large sum I invested in buying the suit, for all the expectations I had of receiving compliments, respect and recognition, hopes that were replaced by contempt, ridicule and shame. For all the things that have accumulated in me, I need proper compensation.

The reparation can be made through revenge, as it is usually done, or alternatively by the person in question coming to me with a sincere apology and convincing me that he or she understands the damage and terrible insult caused to me. Let’s say the person writes a check that would cover the purchase of ten more suits, for example. In that case, if I feel that the apology is indeed sincere, and the check also seems respectable enough to me, then I am willing to forgive, to erase the case as if it had not happened.

In principle, the size of the blow is the size of the compensation that can cover it. Forgiveness, revenge, slight, insult, investment, these are all things measured only in relation to my egoic desire to enjoy. If the ego still feels hurt and demands revenge, it means that the place of hurt has not been filled with proper compensation. The pit that opens up in the heart is still open, so we cannot truly forgive.

Until now, we have analyzed phenomena that we all know. At some point, a feeling may arise in a person in which the desire for revenge, of seeking honor, of fights for control and wars — become extremely exhausting to us. It destroys our health, our relationships, our whole lives. “What do I get out of all this,” we begin to ask ourselves, “What is it worth living for? Is this my mission in life, is this all I have to do?”

The awakening of these inner questions brings us to a quest for inner development, a method of overcoming the limitations of the egoistic nature. This wisdom teaches that the great purpose of our existence on earth is to discover the universal power of nature, the quality of love and giving, and it is discovered by acquiring a similar quality to it. This revelation is called spiritual because it elevates every human being to a higher, eternal and complete level of existence.

How does it happen? Broadly speaking, by developing loving relationships in a small group that serves as a laboratory, we complement each other in ways that we cannot achieve alone. We learn to connect with each other in harmony, like different organs in a body. Injury, reparation, revenge, forgiveness, all these games lose their meaning because we understand that we are not fighting against each other, but we all together raise above our narrow calculations in the face of our common egoistic nature.

When I realize that I have hurt someone, I go directly to the person and ask him or her what I can do to make amends for what I have spoiled. To get closer to him or her, to connect with the person and do everything I can to restore the power of love between us. And if someone has hurt me, I remember that it is not his or her fault, but the human ego, and try to help the person rise above it. In this way, we gradually approach a situation where our world becomes a place where it is fun to live. With the highest power of nature, in reciprocity, support and trust.

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PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah. MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute.

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Michael Laitman

Michael Laitman

PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah. MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute.

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