“If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven;
if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
~ Gospel of John 20:23
These profound words are a key to understanding the various experiences that we have in our life. However, do not consider this verse in isolation. Related to this is the theory of Karma which often evades our understanding. Then, there is another closely related phenomenon, that is, reincarnation. If you haven’t understood already by now, how I intend to connect these dots, let me explain…
Karma and Reincarnation: We reincarnate to experience the effects of an action performed in an earlier life. The actions can be good or bad, and likewise the fruit.
Now let’s consider an event that triggered the fruit of karma: For a supposedly material gain, someone spreads false rumors about me, as a consequence of which I lose a prestigious position. I later come to know about the culprit. Now, the action of spreading false rumors about me is simply a deed, karma. This karma is neither negative nor positive. The result of this karma depends on how the person feels about the deed that he has done, or while he was doing it, and also how I feel about what he has done to me. Now let’s suppose I feel very angry about it and cannot forgive him for the wrong done to me. I work out an elaborate plan to cause similar damage to his reputation, but do not succeed. Soon I die and according to the reincarnation theory take birth again because of my unfulfilled ambitions. Now maybe in this life, according to my hopes and desires and past ‘deeds’ I am able to avenge myself. But of course, now I do not have any memory of the incident because now I’m a reincarnated character and the karma is simply playing out. Now for example, I get to avenge the person in a similar way by spreading false rumors. In a way I continue being a perpetrator and a victim in this cycle of karma and reincarnation. I may not know I’m trapped in this cycle.
But suppose I choose to forget and forgive, what happens next? I immediately eliminate the result for that ‘karma’ for that person right away. It also means liberation for me from the cycle of rebirth, because I will not have any unfulfilled ambitions. But if the person, trapped in a guilty conscience, takes the self-blame to his death-bed, maybe he will be reincarnated again with the hopes of performing a penance and may also possibly experience ‘humiliation’ or whatever he wishes to experience to ‘absolve’ his guilt.
Does this make any sense? As we are already deep into this cycle, there is no way of knowing when, where and how it all started, but we can definitely bring it to an end by a simple act of forgiveness.
‘Sins’ according to me are subjective in nature. In a way, we commit a sin every time we offend someone (including ourselves), because it binds us in a cycle of rebirth.