Question: When something painful happens in my life, it affects my heart or, let us say, it breaks my heart. Then it is very, very hard for me to forget about it. I can actually forgive certain things pretty easily, but to forget about it is almost impossible for me.7

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is true that to forgive someone is easier than to forget the experience. But we can take it as a challenge. To forgive is the first challenge. Suppose someone has done something very bad. I have taken up the challenge to forgive him, and I have succeeded. Then I have to accept another challenge — that I will forget what he has done.

It is like hurdles. The first challenge, let us say, is like a hill or a mountain which is not as high as the Himalayas. You have climbed up that mountain by forgiving the person. Then you are finding it difficult to forget the painful experience. You have to take it as another mountain which is higher. Even though it is higher, you cannot say that mountain is not climbable. You are saying that when somebody does an injustice to you, you forgive them. Many, many people cannot forgive. You should be proud of yourself that you have forgiven the person. The next challenge is to forget the incident. You have to take it as another mountain much higher than the previous one.

The key is love. You do not have to love the person. You have to love God infinitely more. Suppose somebody is your friend. He has done something bad, and you have forgiven him. You feel that is enough. Why should you go one step further and forget the experience? But the memory of that particular experience is killing you. From time to time it comes into your mind, and you think, “How can he be so bad? I have been so nice to him.” At that time you have to forget about the person and only think of the Supreme. You have to ask yourself inwardly, “Does the Supreme want me to hold onto this experience, or does He want me to forget about the experience the way I have forgiven the person?” Then your Inner Pilot, the Supreme, will say, “This experience is causing suffering for you. From time to time it comes into your mind, and it destroys all your joy. Therefore I want you to forget it completely.”

Then the best thing is to follow the Supreme’s Way. He has inwardly inspired you to forgive the person, and you have forgiven him. If He says you must forget the experience, then you have to do it. Just because you love God and God always tells us, “Forgive, forgive, forgive,” you have done the first part. The second part is to say, “Since I am suffering whenever I think of that experience, the best thing is to forget.” You have to prove your love of God by forgetting. The more you can love God, the easier it becomes to forget the experience. In your case, your love of God has already come forward to a certain extent because you are ready to forgive the person. If you increase your own love for God, God will give you the capacity to forget the experience. It entirely depends on love.

Another way to tackle this question is by having sympathetic oneness, by saying, “If I had been in his place, perhaps I would have behaved worse. Poor fellow, on that day perhaps somebody insulted him or scolded him. Perhaps he was fired or something else of that nature took place.” When people misbehave towards us, we have no idea what went through their mind or what happened in their life on that particular day. We judge a person by seeing his normal activities. For years and years we have observed someone. We have formed an opinion that he is a good person. All of a sudden why is he behaving so badly? Perhaps on that day something happened to destroy all his peace and joy. Perhaps he had become a victim to miseries, so he was emptying his miseries onto you. By nature that person is good, but on that day perhaps he became subject to some worries, anxieties or criticism. If we have sympathetic oneness, then we will know something has gone wrong in his life. Otherwise, he would not have misbehaved so badly. Then if we have more sympathetic oneness, we will say, “Perhaps I would have done worse. I also could have said unkind things to somebody who desperately needed to hear something nice from me.”

When we establish sympathetic oneness, we see very few mistakes in the world. Always we see faults because we feel that we are perfect, while others are imperfect. But if we establish our oneness with others, we may see that we have more weaknesses than they have because we have one extra weakness: we criticise them, while at the same time we are telling the world that we have established sympathy.

As I said before, take it as two mountains. Our peace mountain in the Himalayas is the third highest in the range. Imagine this is the first mountain that you have to climb up, and you have done it. Then feel that there is another one that you have to climb up. Every day, every hour, every minute we have to challenge ourselves for our own self-transcendence. Only self-transcendence gives us joy — nothing else. If we enter into competition, we will never get joy. Only our own progress gives us joy. In your case, you are able to forgive the person. Now you have to transcend yourself by forgetting the experience that he has given you.

Always challenge yourself. Do not challenge the person who has done something wrong. Do not think, “I can beat him up or I can show him tit for tat, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Out of His infinite Bounty, God has given you the capacity to forgive. You have done it. Now the same God is more than willing to give you the capacity to obliterate the experience totally from your heart or from your mind. You have to accept the challenge to do it.

Otherwise, if you challenge that person, you will take a tit-for-tat attitude: “He has done something wrong. In which way am I weaker than he is? If he has punched me, I can give him a heavier punch.” But you have to take the opposite approach by saying, “He has done something wrong. Equally strong is my forgiveness-power.” It is stronger to forgive. Then something else comes into the picture which is infinitely more difficult: to forget the painful experience.

Nothing on earth is impossible if we persist. If we persist in our endeavour, if we continue, continue, continue, nothing is impossible in God’s creation. If the world has given me suffering, then God also is there to remove the suffering from me. There is always an antidote. If somebody strikes me, if somebody hates me, then immediately there will be somebody else to love me. If somebody hates me, then I will come out of the house and immediately I will see that somebody is loving me, smiling at me, showing me such kindness.

Always there will be a positive and negative side. But we have to be wise. We have to pray and meditate, and love God and serve God. Then He will always give us the strength to accept the challenges of life and to overcome the challenges. Otherwise, if you want to avoid them, like a thief you will run away from them, thinking, “If I go there, then perhaps I will not have this painful experience.” No, no matter where we go, sadness-experience and failure-experience will always follow us.

The first step you have taken. The second step is more difficult than the first step, but we cannot say that nobody can take it. No, many, many, many people have taken it, and many will take it. Again, many will not be able to take it. It depends on the inner strength of each individual. The first step you have taken successfully. The second step is more difficult, but I assure you, that also you will be able to take.

SCA 787. Sri Chinmoy answered this question on 27 February 2000 in New York.