By JP Vaswani
A troubled conscience will never allow us to live in peace and quiet – and our conscience will continue to remain troubled unless we rid ourselves of the hatred and resentment that makes us unforgiving.
If we wish to achieve inner peace, there is only one way – release ourselves from anger and resentment, learn to let go of hatred, and practice forgiveness. The truth is, if you are unable to forgive and forget, you pay the price in emotional terms. What form this emotional, physical deprivation may take, it is difficult to predict.
Medical experts tell us that anger accelerates our ageing process. Anger is indeed a very natural human reaction. But if we let anger remain in the heart within, it ceases to be mature and natural — it festers into a grudge. When we refuse to forgive people, we are letting our grudge control our life.
We all know that stress causes insomnia — but so can bitterness! Research has even revealed a relationship between unresolved anger and cardiac arrest. People who hold grudges fall easy prey to illness and disease. When they make the conscious decision to cease hatred and resentment — they set themselves on the road to recovery. This is why hatred has been likened to cancer — it is the cancer of bitterness that destroys both body and soul.
A woman suffered from severe rheumatic pains in the knee joint. No medicines were of any avail. The pain went on increasing, until a holy man asked her, “Do you hold a grudge against anyone?”
She hesitated, then answered, “My mind is seething with resentment against my own sister who did not behave properly towards me.”
The holy man said to her, “Your pains will disappear only when you forgive her and make peace with her.”
At first, she found it difficult to do so. Later, she met her sister and gave her a hug and said to her, “Let bygones be bygones! Let us begin anew!”
To her amazement, she found that soon thereafter the pains disappeared.
We still can’t explain or even understand how the body-mind-soul connection works. But there is a vast amount of documented research which links the working of the body with the thoughts and feelings of the mind. Our emotional turmoil is manifested in our body. We begin to be at war with ourselves. Doctors have a peculiar word — to somaticize. It simply means taking an emotional issue and unconsciously displacing it on to our own body. The result can be anything from a perforated ulcer to a cancerous growth!
Doctors and counsellors at the CMC Hospital at Vellore in India, have carried out research on patients to prove that several physical ailments are directly related to emotional root causes. Resentment, unforgiveness, hostility, guilt, anger, and enmity cause diseases related to heart, lungs, chest, stomach, intestines, ear, nose, and throat.
These researches show that repressed resentment, anger and unforgiveness lead to definite problems in the organs of digestion, as well as in the head, eyes and ears. These negative emotions are “bottled up” inside us, and we keep “swallowing” their toxic contents, until they affect our health.
Forgiveness sets us free. It gives us the opportunity to start afresh, to do better next time. It allows us to be freed from the grievances, penalties, and shackles of past mistakes. It heals the one who forgives – and the one who is forgiven.
(Dada J.P. Vaswani, born on August 2, 1918, is an Indian non-sectarian spiritual leader. He has also been working in the field of promotion of vegetarianism and animal rights. He is the present Spiritual Head at the Sadhu Vaswani Mission founded by his Guru, Sadhu T. L. Vaswani. The Mission, a non-profit organisation headquartered in Pune, India, has centers around the world. Vaswani has written over 150 self-help books)