– Master Cheng Yen
This is an incredibly powerful lesson from Master Cheng Yen and it is very much self explanatory in a way. As much as we thought that forgiving someone is being kind to the person, it actually works the other way round – we are being kind to ourselves.
When we forgive the person, we free ourselves from the hurt the person incurred. We also free ourselves from the needs to know the ‘WHYs’ and ‘HOWs.’ Why did he do this to me? How could she betray my trust? Why did they hurt me like this? And more self-beating questionings and torments to which we may never get any answer or relief. In fact, to people who truly love us and didn’t mean to inflict the hurt upon us, they are hurting as much, if not more for some. And for those who didn’t care, they wouldn’t bother how much they have hurt you at all. Thus, in either way, isn’t forgiving others doing a much bigger favour to yourself than to others?
There is a powerful learning behind this broken bell picture which I had used with the quote from Master Cheng Yen to further illustrate this teaching from her.
The story goes back to the time when the owner of this Christmas ornament, a porcelain bell, was 13 years old. A visiting friend to the house dropped his favorite Christmas ornament at that time. The owner cried and wasn’t particularly nice to the woman who broke it and did not accept her apology.
Could you imagine how terrible she must have felt at that moment? She gathered the bits and pieces of the shattered bell which she could find and without letting anyone knew, she spent hours painstakingly gluing the recovered broken pieces together.
What you see in this picture was the hard work of the woman trying to restore the porcelain Christmas bell ornament to its original look but it never looked the same; the missing part near the top was the point of impact which she wasn’t able to glue back.
This story reminds us that when someone makes a mistake, it is not only being kind to the person to forgive him/her, but it is also being kind to oneself. I’m sure the owner of the porcelain bell felt terrible too when he learned what the woman did. He learned a great lesson on humility. He said, “This bell reminds me that it’s arrogant to be angry when someone else makes a mistake. That it’s good to forgive, even when you’re hurt. This bell teaches me to be humble.”
Photo credit 2011 J. Ronald Lee