Question: If you want to offer your best wishes to a friend who lives far away and then through negligence you miss their birthday, is it too late afterwards, or can you make up for it?

Sri Chinmoy: Better late than never. Your friends will forgive you, because they know that these things happen. It is not something uncommon. But if you have a very strong inner connection with that person, it will be difficult for you to forgive yourself.

Many times it happens that we can forgive others, but we cannot forgive ourselves because we expect something infinitely more beautiful, more soulful, more powerful from ourselves. Ordinary, unaspiring people forgive themselves. Then as soon as they see the same fault in somebody else, they can never forgive that person. But when good people see an iota of imperfection in themselves, they get so mad at themselves. When bad people see a little imperfection in others, they try to make it larger than the largest. That is the difference between a good person and a bad person. A good person will try to forgive or ignore the other person’s faults. He will say, “Poor fellow! I also have imperfections.” A bad person always tries to hide his own imperfections. He tries to only look at the imperfections of others. A good person looks at his own little imperfection and says, “If I have this imperfection, how am I going to become God’s dearest, most perfect instrument?” He does not want to forgive himself. He wants to perfect himself at every moment.

To come back to your question, if you do not offer your good wishes to your friends, if you are a good person, you will suffer infinitely more than the person who has not received the card from you. For this reason you have to be always very careful. If you have already made the mistake, then call the person or write to the person and apologise profusely. If there is sincerity in your heart, it will definitely touch their heart.

Sometimes people deliberately do not call their friends or dear ones, and afterwards they say that they forgot their birthday. Or they may tell a lie: “I phoned you, but you were not there.” Sometimes they will say, “I sent you a card, but the post office must have lost it.” They make the post office the culprit. Bad people will mail the card the same day or ten days later and blame the post office. They will say that somewhere in the post office it got stuck. Always bad people will make a third party responsible. When it comes to good people, even if a third party is responsible, they will take the blame themselves: “Perhaps I did not put enough stamps” or “Perhaps I forgot to mail it.”

Your inner sincerity is the most important thing. First of all, if your connection with that person is very deep, you will not forget. But if you have forgotten, then apologise. If it comes from the very depths of your heart, from your inner being, the other person will feel that it was a deplorable mistake and in no way did you want to ignore them.