© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

21--Forgiveness is praised by the Christian and the Vaishnava, but for me, I ask, "What have I to forgive and whom?"

When we ask forgiveness of the Divine, does He always forgive us?

Sri Aurobindo himself gives us the Divine's answer: "Forgive whom and what?" The Lord knows that all is Himself and therefore that all actions are His and all things are Himself. To forgive, one must be other than the one who is forgiven and the thing to be forgiven must have been done by someone other than oneself.

The truth is that when you ask forgiveness you hope that the dire consequences of what you have done will be wiped away. But that is possible only if the causes of the error you have committed have themselves disappeared. If you have made a mistake through ignorance, the ignorance must disappear. If you have made a mistake through bad will, the bad will must disappear and be replaced by goodwill. Mere regret will not do, it must be accompanied by a step forward.

For the universe is constantly evolving; nothing is at a standstill. Everything is perpetually changing, moving forward or backward. Things or acts that set us back seem bad to us, and cause confusion and disorder. The only remedy for them is a radical forward movement, a progress. This new orientation alone can annul the consequences of the backward movement.

Therefore it is not a vague and abstract forgiveness that one should ask of the Divine, but the power to make the necessary progress. For only an inner transformation can wipe out the consequences of the act.

2 March 1960 [old p. 48]

22--God struck me with a human hand; shall I say then, "I pardon Thee thy insolence, O God"? [new p. 48]

23--God gave me good in a blow. Shall I say, "I forgive thee, O Almighty One, the harm and the cruelty, but do it not again"?

What does this mean: "God struck me with a human hand"?

These two aphorisms are illustrations of the affirmation of the Divine Presence in all things and all beings, and they also develop the idea which has already been touched on, that there is nothing and no one to forgive, since the Divine is the originator of all things.

This is how this sentence, "God struck me with a human hand", should be read and understood. If you see nothing but the appearances, it is only one man hitting another. But for one who sees and knows the Truth, it is the supreme Lord who gives the blow through that human hand, and the blow necessarily does good to the one who receives it, that is to say, brings about a progress in his consciousness, for the ultimate aim of creation is to awaken all beings to the consciousness of the Divine.

Once you have understood that, the rest of the two aphorisms is easily explained.

Are we to forgive the Lord for the good He does us, while, at the same time, asking Him not to do it again?

The self-contradiction and stupidity of such a formula are obvious.

9 March 1960

Collected Works of The Mother, First Edition, Volume 10, pp. 47-48