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From guilt to self-forgiveness – Part 4



Moving forward happily

Let’s know that let-down and failures are part of common humanity- it’s an experience we share with billions of others on this planet. The Vedic scriptures remind us repeatedly the example of Indra- the leader of gods in the skies. He slips, falls but rises again and resumes his services. If the Lord of the heavens is imperfect, we can console ourselves, and like Indra, happily move on in life, with lessons learned. Let’s make mistakes but not repeat them. This way we always grow. If your slips are so terrible that you can’t delete them from your memory file, it’s all the more important to forgive yourself and create a new way to remember that incident. Let that awful past now become an awesome hope for the future. “If we will be quiet and ready enough,” said Henry David Thoreau, “we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” Or as Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”

The Brahad Bhagavatamrita explains the journey of Narada in search of the greatest devotee of God. Each person he meets glorifies another devotee as more exalted. Indra, Brahma, Shiva, Prahlad, Pandavas, Hanuman- and others that Narada encounters in his journey reveal the importance of living in anticipation of a better future. Each one of them looks at his faults and blunders of the past, regrets it deeply, and at the same time reveals deep contentment in his practice of devotional service. The Bhakti Yoga process teaches us to balance guilt with self-acceptance. Emperor Parikshit holds himself responsible for the offense to a great sage and desires severe punishment for his acts. At the same time, he expresses full confidence in his relationship with God and wishes to hear the narrations of the Lord, uninterruptedly, from Sukadev Goswami.

A sincere devotee feels inadequate but also carries a quiet sense of self-acceptance. Since there is no end to our insufficiency, and as Voltaire said, “Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do,” it’s vital to our well-being that we simultaneously cultivate self-forgiveness. Let’s now make friends with our selves; we could then connect better to others on this planet.

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