Path to healing
B.S. Thaur

Finding Forgiveness by Eileen Borris-Dunchunstang, EdD.Tata McGraw-Hill. Pages 268. Rs 250.

This book attempts to allay the usual characteristics of human behaviour—hatred, bitterness, anger and acrimony. One of these characteristics is the root cause of tension in family, friendship, neighbourhood, and in society at large. The world history is full of events when personal bitterness among leaders caused wars, resulting in annihilation of populations and properties. Present-day conflicts between India and Pakistan are originally the cause of age-old hatred among communities compounded by politicking and personal ego of leaders. It is said that a personal bitterness of President George Bush against Saddam Hussein was among the other causes for attack on Iraq. Bush’s bitterness, they say, dates back to the period of senior Bush (George Bush’s father) who was not gracefully treated by Saddam Hussein during the former’s visit to Iraq.

The feelings of anger, hatred and bitterness in man’s behaviour are the reactions of inner weakness of the psychological nature of human mind the author diagnoses and finds their remedy in cultivating the trait of ‘forgiveness’. Our sacred books and sages’ sayings are full of sermons and teachings emphasising the importance of forgiveness. For example,

"Kshama baran ko hot hai, chhtan ko utpat

Vishnu kya ghat giyo, jo Bhrigu mari lot"

The powerful forgives and the weak only quarrel. The Hindu gods Vishnu did not stand to lose when hit by Bhrigu, a smaller devta, with foot.

We are told that to forgive is divine, but we are not told that there is immense power in forgiveness and reconciliation—the power of personal freedom. Forgiveness is not to make you holy or to elevate you in the divine sense but to empower you above those who have hurt you.

It is true that forgiveness is not that easy as it is said. So, apart from explaining what forgiveness means in one’s life, the author has detailed skills and methods as how to cultivate forgiveness. A seven-step programme has been given as a charter—like yoga practices, for letting go of anger and bitterness leading to self-solace and peace in forgiveness rather than seeking relief by avenging your hurt in retaliation which inflames the hurt further.

All the seven steps are explained in seven chapters. The first step, How do we Forgive, discusses how to heal emotional pain by choosing to see the way we think of ourselves and the way we see the world. The seven steps are further elaborated by incredible stories and real-life happenings.

The foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama has lent a credible weightage to the contents of the book. Lama sees the effectiveness of forgiveness not only in individual private lives, but also in the arena of public and international relations.