I have a very dear French friend, Meena, who went through one of the most powerful experiences of forgiveness I have ever come across.
When she was still in her late teens, she fell head over heels in love with a man just a few years older than her. They got married and had two beautiful, lively and intelligent children. However, the marriage soured and Meena felt she could no longer stay in it. She contacted a lawyer, despite strong opposition from her husband.
At one moment, she had to go to a clinic for a health problem, and asked her lawyer to be sure the divorce papers would not arrive at her home while she was absent. She was adamant about this, and the lawyer promised this would not happen. However, the very day she entered the clinic the divorce papers arrived at her home! Her husband tried in vain to reach her at the clinic by phone.
That night, he turned on the kitchen gas and committed suicide, taking the two children along with him. Later during the night, the electricity, which has been disconnected in the whole region, was put on again. A lose spark created an explosion in the gas filled house, and everything burned down. In one night, Meena lost her beloved children, her husband and absolutely everything she owned on earth – everything.
She was at the time an atheist living in a very rational, cartesian intellectual environment. In her own words, “I had no religion to which I could cling, no therapist who could empathize with the violence of my suffering : only the solitude of my suffering, crumbling inner defences and a bewildered ego which was falling to pieces.”
Meena embarked on a seven year journey of inner and outer exploration, travelling all over the world in her stubborn search for a reply. And seven years later, in Benares (India), facing the cremation fires along the river Ganges, she suddenly realized that the bodies she was beholding were only carcasses emptied of their essence and soul.
In an instant, she understood everything: her children and their father had been the catalysts of her inner awakening. “The miracle of grace descending into my heart. My living faith without dogmas or belongingness. A spiritual awakening”. And at that very moment she experienced the inner core of what forgiveness is really all about: it is a discovery of the GIFT that is hidden behind the trial, i.e. taking back the responsibility of what is happening to us, without any accusations towards people or the outside world.
So if there is no more guilty party, whom should one forgive? Again in Meena’s own words, “To forgive means thanking oneself and thanking the other. To forgive means coming out from duality and discovering that we are one with out co-creators”.
The ultimate moment of forgiveness happened for Meena in May 2010, when she organized a simple ritual with her close friends in homage to her children and their father. At one moment, facing the portrait of the man with whom she had shared the best and the worst in her life, she was as petrified. When facing his portrait, looking deep into his eyes, she suddenly understood that in her situation, there had never been victims or a perpetrator, only soul contracts that had been accepted by all before coming on earth. Rivers of tears were transformed into gratitude – it was as if she remembered this past contract.
Just at that moment, a friend of hers in the room who is a medium says to Meena: “I have a message from Robert. He says: ‘Finally you have understood! You remember. THANK YOU’. Then, adds Meena, I have this vision of his face which has become so luminous and of the children in the background, smiling and saying ‘We came to advance you on your spiritual path, as agreed upon.’”
For Meena, that was the ultimate gift. True forgiveness. And she concluded by saying “What is there to add but GRATITUDE.”
For me, Meena’s story is amazing. It has so many layers. And it stresses so clearly that forgiveness is first and foremost a gift we make TO OURSELVES, the gift of living without resentment, guilt or remorse. And that when we have understood that each person on earth is at each moment at his or her highest level of consciousness, we can no longer ever, ever judge. So forgiveness becomes a way of looking at reality and includes what for me is the most challenging form of forgiveness: forgiving oneself!