Recently I read a post through freshly pressed (I love freshly pressed) on 258 Days ’til 40: The Toll We Pay (For NOT Letting Go). It is about forgiveness and how it is really for the benefit of the one forgiving rather than the one forgiven. She noted one of my favorite quotes “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (not really sure who first said this ), and talks about releasing your anger and hurt and moving on to create a beautiful, peaceful future for yourself. It was thought provoking and reminded me of a story about two monks.
The story goes something like this. Two monks are walking near a river and happen upon a woman who needs cross the river to get to her family. The woman can’t swim and is terrified that she will drown if she tries to cross the river. The first monk listens to the woman’s fears and says, then I will carry you across. The second monk looks at the first monk sternly and reminds him that they are forbidden to touch women. But the first monk decides that he is willing to go against the prohibition in order to help the women cross the river safely so that she can be with her family. The first monk picks the woman up and carries her across the river to safety. The other monk looked on disapprovingly.
The monks resumed their journey and as the day went on the second monk continued his disapproving comments toward the first monk regarding his carrying the woman across the river. Finally, at the end of the day the first monk turns to the second monk and says, you know I put the woman down hours ago at the river’s edge, but you are still carrying her.
I know that this is a hard-won lesson as many people are taught that holding on to hurt and pain is a form of protection from or power over others. They do not see it for the poison that it is and choose to continue to drink it. This brings to mind another quote to think about if If you absolutely must feel that you are getting “revenge” for a wrong done to you. “Living well is the best revenge”. George Herbert
Do you have a way that helps you to forgive others and/or yourself? I would love to hear about it.