When we don’t feel like asking for forgiveness what should we do?

by Chaitanya CharanJune 2, 2014

Transcription by– Keshavgopal Das & Ambuj Gupta

Question: Sometimes we ourselves feel hesitant to ask for forgiveness because we feel that may be just by other devotional practices things will become alright and by asking for forgiveness we expose ourselves more to the other person and that’s why we don’t want to ask for forgiveness. What do we do in such situations?

Answer: Basically there are three different possibilities- first is that we have done something wrong and the other person is not aware that we have done that wrong thing. Second possibility is that, we have done something wrong and the other person is aware that we have done that wrong. Third is that we have done something wrong and not only the other person aware that we have done wrong but we are not aware how much is that person is been hurt by our wrong doing and how much our asking for forgiveness would mean to that person.

In general, relationships thrive on trust. Trust is very difficult to develop because people can only see actions. People can’t see intentions. When we do something wrong then the other person has to become a detective of our heart to find out why we did that wrong thing. The other person does not know what ever was our intention. Then it becomes for that person to sort of do a guess work. Unless a person is very advanced it is difficult to give benefit of doubt. That means if somebody has done something wrong, rather than thinking that oh, that was just an accident or incidental. We may think, does that person actually have some deep rooted malice against me? Does this person actually delight in seeing me suffer? That person may ascribe that kind of intentions to us also. Therefore, clearing up the air is always helpful. That means if in the first case we are absolutely sure that we have done something wrong but that person is not aware of what we have done wrong and it does not really hurt that person also much then in that situation there is no need make that person aware that I had this wrong thoughts about you and I thought like this and I thought like that. Generally, if things are at the level of the mind only then at the level of the mind so many things happen. There is no need to bring out the dirt in the mind to the other person and then that person may never have thought like that about us and that person start thinking like that about us. That may not be required in many situations. So in the first case there may not be any need to ask for forgiveness directly from that person. We can just pray to Krishna and by the intense practice of bhakti that thing can become closed.

But in the second and third cases if the relationship is to be restored to a proper level of trust then clarifying the intentions or clarifying the situations and conveying our emotions about that is important for that person’s emotional recovery or for that person to have a proper emotional disposition towards us in future. We can turn the situation around and if somebody has hurt us and that person acts in a relationship as if nothing has happened then we are left thinking. Is this person so insensitive that person didn’t know that I have been hurt? Or is it that we live in two different emotional worlds that this person not even aware of my emotions? That can create a big distance. Often asking for forgiveness can actually clear the emotional air and even if the relationship doesn’t improve then still at the very least the overall circumstance make that person heart lighter, even our heart can become lighter. In that sense its very good to seek for forgiveness.

I have been doing some work on studying “death” and in death there is something called emotional closure. Emotional closure means that after doctors have decided that this person is terminal and he is going to die soon. Often people who have had some emotional issues with somebody else, they want those emotional issues to be resolved and after that they can die relatively peacefully. They are in great restlessness. Sometimes they say please, a father may say please call my son or a brother may say please call my sister or whatever. I want to talk with them. I want to resolve these issues with them. The need for emotional closure becomes very urgent when we understand that the end is so close. In the same way by asking for forgiveness or by clarifying situations we may help ourselves to do emotional closure or we may help other person to do some emotional closure. In general that emotional closure is healthy emotionally and even if we don’t feel the urgency, like the people who are about to die may feel but still it always good to have that emotional closure, so that things can move forward. In general by recognizing the specific nature of that situation we can convince ourselves about the need for forgiveness where it is needed. Need for at least asking for forgiveness and then ask for forgiveness. Thank you.

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Chaitanya Charan

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