Idea from a talk by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa
Many of us feel we’ve been ‘wronged’ at times in life by others, and we harbor these feelings sometimes for many decades. Such things can tear families apart, tear friends apart, and sometimes tear nations apart.
I’ve found that with death approaching, I am searching my mind to recall anyone I may have ‘wronged’ or anyone who I’m feeling ‘wronged’ me in some way. Apparently such feelings are not uncommon when nearing the end of our time in this body. Many people sense that putting things aright is an important part of getting ‘all their affairs in order’ and preparing to exit.
As death approaches many past incidents take on a different light. I see now that all the hurts, all the differences of opinion, all the past arguments, are not important. What is important are the relationships with those people I had those disagreements with; ultimately all are my brothers and sisters and I wish for reconciliation with them.
It is not always possible to personally approach all those I may have ‘wronged’ and there may also be some who have taken exception to me that I’m not even aware of. But I’ve seen and heard of people at death’s door expressing from the heart the message: “For those that I have offended during my life I humble beg your forgiveness”.
Whether a person believes God exists or not, the need to leave this world with a clear conscience is natural and shows a degree of humility and willingness to recognize one’s own imperfections.
“Forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those that have trespassed against us.”
~ The Lord’s Prayer – Traditional Version.
But I do know God exists, and whether I call Him Krishna or Jehovah or any of the myriad of other Names He has, when I am on my death bed, when I am ‘knocking on heaven’s door’ as Bob Dylan puts it, I hope I can surrender to Him.
Surrender requires humility, not false humility, but genuine humility, acknowledging all my faults, realizing I am lower than all others, that I am worthless without God’s mercy.
At that time and in a humble frame of mind I hope that I can beg forgiveness for all the wrongs I have inflicted. But to be able to beg for forgiveness for my digressions from Him I also must be able to forgive others. It is not possible to have one without the other.
So at some stage we need to forgive others, otherwise how can we beg forgiveness from God, from Krishna.
It is actually far easier not to let these feelings towards others stay in our hearts. The sooner we can forgive others the sooner our lives can move on. Usually the only person we hurt by not forgiving others is ourselves.
If we do this we can approach God at the time of death knowing we have “forgiven those that have trespassed against us”.