The core scriptures of Buddhism, taken from the teachings of the Buddha nearly 2,500 years ago, state the importance of forgiveness. Buddhism teaches the importance of a peaceful state of mind as well as a peaceful way of life. Buddhists believe that forgiveness is a critical step to achieving this peaceful state.
In the Buddhist belief system, there is no concept of a creator God with the power to punish or forgive. However, the idea of forgiveness is an important part of the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha teaches the importance of forgiving others as well as ourselves.
Buddhists believe that to not forgive gives rise to suffering. It is taught that those who cannot let go of a real or imagined wrong against them are unable to free themselves from hate and that they will suffer because of this. Hatred can, in turn, lead to more widespread suffering, and in turn, more hatred. According to the Dhammapada, “Those who attempt to conquer hatred by hatred are like warriors who take weapons to overcome others who bear arms. This does not end hatred, but gives it room to grow."
Buddhists believe that atonement, as well as forgiving others as well as ourselves, is an important step on the path towards a better life and towards enlightenment. Giving up hatred and forgiving the harm done to us by others allows us to move on and to achieve peace of mind.
Forgiveness and Meditation
Buddhists see forgiveness as an important method, along with meditation, of achieving inner peace and right thinking. Many Buddhists have integrated forgiveness into their meditation, thinking thoughts of forgiveness towards others as well as towards themselves.
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