Living Forgiveness


Love manifests towards those whom we like as love; towards those whom we do not like as forgiveness. –Bowl of Saki, by Hazrat Inayat Khan

Recently, I have been working with feelings of resentment and anger, arising from the situation I write about below (“Always Endings”).  I am steeped in modern psychologies, and it has been tempting to “allow” myself to feel and express the natural anger and pain I am experiencing after giving the major part of my adult life to a young woman who could not receive my love, and finally deciding (in great agony) to walk away from the relationship, which by now included her child, a little person I have grown to love greatly.  I find myself going through the classic stages of grief, yet my tendency has always been to mask my grief with anger, which to me seems more manageable.  And after all, I deserve to be angry, right?!  This person has jerked me around and abused me for most of her (and my) life!

But then last night, I thought of the child, the child I can no longer see, the child I pray for and send love, light and protection to daily.  I thought of a story told about Inayat Khan:  in the middle of the night, one night, he was called out to see a sick child, and he went.  When he got there, however, he did not go to the child, he simply gave a blessing to the mother.  To me, the meaning of this story is what I feel to be true:  the mother is the first God in the life of a soul on this earth, and she is the channel of all guidance, protection and healing for her child.  How could I try to be a channel of blessing for this child, while resenting the mother?  It seems that every thought, feeling and action of ours impacts deeply on its object, more deeply than we could imagine.  Clearly, my obligation, here, is to bless and love the mother, even if I cannot understand and cannot be with her.  My responsibility is to do everything I can to help her to be a good mother.

In the East, when we speak of saints or sages, it is not because of their miracles, it is because of their presence and their countenance which radiate vibrations of love. How does this love express itself? In tolerance, in forgiveness, in respect, in overlooking the faults of others. Their sympathy covers the defects of others as if they were their own; they forget their own interest in the interest of others. They do not mind what conditions they are in; be they high or humble, their foreheads are smiling. To their eyes everyone is the expression of the Beloved, whose name they repeat. They see the divine in all forms and in all beings. –Inayat Khan

Elsewhere, Inayat Khan says this even more succinctly:  “Blessed are they who cover the scars of others even from their own sight.”  This is the ultimate psychology!  Think of the power we have over others, both for good and evil.

Many years ago, when I was ending my first marriage, I was having similar problems with resentment, and a teacher of mine pointed out something else Inayat Khan said in a poem:  “Before you judge my actions, Lord, I pray you will forgive.”  That is where I am at:  I have made a cataclysmic decision about a relationship, one that goes against all my moral and spiritual ethics:  I have decided to end a relationship, for excellent reasons:  Yes!   Yet ought we not always to try to maintain that ariadnean thread of connection that exists between us and souls who come within our unfoldment?  Perhaps so, but here I am:  not only cutting the cord, but in doing so, of necessity making a judgment.  Before all this, however, I owe this person forgiveness, and I owe both her and her child the power of my kind and hopeful thoughts.  Perhaps, in this sense, the relationship is not being ended, only changed.  Perhaps, in this radical action, the cord will hold.

Think of the life of the great Master Jesus… one sees that from beginning to end there was nothing but love and forgiveness. The best expression of love is that love which is expressed in forgiveness. Those who came with their wrongs, errors, imperfections, before the love, that was all forgiven; there was always a stream of love which always purified. ~~~ “Religious Gatheka #44”, by Hazrat Inayat Khan (unpublished)

We may make an ideal in our imagination, and, whenever we see that goodness is lacking, we may add to it from our own heart and so complete the nobility of human nature. This is done by patience, tolerance, kindness, forgiveness. The lover of goodness loves every little sign of goodness. He overlooks the faults and fills up the gaps by pouring out love and supplying that which is lacking. This is real nobility of soul. Religion, prayer, and worship, are all intended to ennoble the soul, not to make it narrow, sectarian or bigoted. One cannot arrive at true nobility of spirit if one is not prepared to forgive the imperfections of human nature. For all men, whether worthy or unworthy, require forgiveness, and only in this way can one rise above the lack of harmony and beauty.   From


I have spent my adult life attempting to live by these ideals, particularly where this young woman is concerned.  The ultimate test of this has been trying to pour my understanding of them upon not just the “just,” but the “unjust.”  It is all but impossible to think kindly, lovingly, positively about someone who returns one’s thoughts and intentions with verbal and even physical abuse.  It is even more difficult leaving a child in the tender care of that person, whom I have already seen to put aside her regard for her child in the interest of self-indulgence.

Perhaps I ought to be grateful for this ultimate test of my spiritual idealism.  Certainly, the best thing I can do for the child I love is to love her mother, even if I cannot do so in close proximity.  And after all, where there is resentment, there must be love.

Shatter your ideals upon the rock of truth. —  Inayat Khan


The quotes in this little essay are all from the writings of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, both published and unpublished.  I want to thank Wahiduddin for his WONDERFUL page ( which makes them easily accessible for this particular purpose.  I highly recommend his page, which is bursting with all sorts of Sufi “lore,” from many different sources.  He has a mailing list you can sign up for, which will deliver each day’s reading from the Bowl of Saki to your very own mailbox daily.  Most of the quotes above are from today’s reading, which was extremelly helpful to me at this time.  YA FATTAH!!!  WAHIDUDDIN!

5 thoughts on “Living Forgiveness

  1. Janet Stratton

    What I would not give to sit down with you, share a cup of warmth and hear more about your truth. Your writing is beautiful and has a raw ache that those of us who understand the struggle you have endured can immediately see the love behind every one of your thoughts and actions. Keep writing and I will as well. And maybe someday the two shall intersect with the conclusion that we both deserved more compassion for self than we were ever capable of expressing in a life time.

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