Excerpts from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda
The God of some scriptures is a revengeful deity, always ready to punish us. But Jesus showed us the real nature of God....He did not destroy his enemies with “twelve legions of angels,” but rather overcame evil with the power of divine love. His actions demonstrated the supreme love of God, and the behavior of those who are one with Him.
“One should forgive, under any injury,” says the Mahabharata. “It hath been said that the continuation of the species is due to man’s being forgiving. Forgiveness is holiness; by forgiveness the universe is held together. Forgiveness is the might of the mighty; forgiveness is sacrifice; forgiveness is quiet of mind. Forgiveness and gentleness are the qualities of the Self-possessed. They represent eternal virtue.”
When a person does wrong, he easily excuses himself; but when anyone else does wrong, his immediate reaction is to judge and condemn the wrongdoer. Instead, be frank with yourself; put yourself in that person’s place and see how you love to forgive yourself. Why shouldn’t you as readily be able to forgive others? People make mistakes not because they are essentially evil, but because they do not discriminate; they rather move by the impulses of their ignorance…. Remember, love changes people.
“Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” I prayed deeply to understand this uncompromising counsel. “Lord,” I protested, “is it possible?” When the Divine Voice finally responded, It brought a humbling flood of light: “How many times, O Man, do I forgive each of you daily?”
As God is constantly forgiving us, even knowing all our [wrong] thoughts, so those who are fully in tune with Him naturally have that same love.
Go on doing good no matter how much you get slapped by others. There are thousands who will appreciate your efforts, and a few who won’t. When they crucify you with unkindness, that is the time to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Continue to do good to please God, including efforts at resolving the misunderstanding. Don’t be a doormat or cooperate with evil, but in your heart separate them—their souls—from their misguided actions, and give them love sincerely. Thereby you will attain self-mastery—a peace within yourself that cannot be destroyed by the actions of others.
If you would develop Christ-consciousness, learn to be sympathetic. When genuine feeling for others comes into your heart, you are beginning to manifest that great consciousness....Lord Krishna said: “He is a supreme yogi who regards with equal-mindedness all men....”
Wrath and hatred accomplish nothing. Love rewards. You may cow down someone, but once that person has risen again, he will try to destroy you. Then how have you conquered him? You have not. The only way to conquer is by love. And where you cannot conquer, just be silent or get away, and pray for him. That is the way you must love. If you practice this in your life, you will have peace beyond understanding.
“Today I forgive all those who have ever offended me. I give my love to all thirsty hearts, both to those who love me and those who do not love me.”