Life is an adventure in Forgiveness. – Norman Cousins.
Forgiveness is a key spiritual component in most religions and spiritual practices. It is our most important tool in the process of letting go of toxic emotions like resentment, pain, grudges, and unresolved conflict. Forgiveness isn’t just good for relationships with others, it is also good for our health. The act of forgiveness lowers the risk of heart attacks, improves cholesterol levels and sleep. It reduces pain, blood pressure, levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. There is an enormous physical burden that happens to our bodies when we are hurt and disappointed. To maintain optimal health mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially we must create the conditions whereby forgiveness can show up in our lives, and flow though our words, thoughts, and actions.
Yet, current societal norms feed us the notion that violence, revenge, and cold heartedness toward those who have wronged us is our right! This thinking is supported by the movies and music that bombard our electronic devices. It is also found in policies and procedures in the boardrooms and in the classrooms. However, what we find over time is exactly what James Forbes penned in one of his speeches: “It is not possible to achieve by vigilance in anger and revenge what the soul is longing for. What the soul wishes for is peace.”
Spiritual activist Marianne Williamson reminds us that “at a time when we see so much evil, we are called upon to have the moral grandeur and spiritual audacity to believe in good, to proclaim it, to stand in conviction, to take the people who truly do evil and, yes, hold them accountable. But to nevertheless stand for the possibility of human redemption that turns even the hardest hearts.”
But what of those people who had done reprehensible damage to our lives? How do we go about forgiving them? There are many stories in Ifa that teaches examples of Forgiveness. Here is one story where Orisa Oosa forgives Igbin for stealing his wife, Ogele. (Sacred Oracle Idin’gbe)
Bata a gba a bidi kare cast divination for Igbin who was going to marry Ogele the wife of Orisa. Igbin snatched Ogele, Orisa’s wife but he himself is well known to Orisa. The surrogates of Igbin then started singing, “We have snatched Ogele totally. We have snatched Ogele. We are only waiting for what Oosa would do. We have snatched Ogele totally.” In horror, Igbin exclaimed, “Your declaration is insulting if I don’t find a way to appease Oosa,” he reasoned.
“What would people say when they hear that Igbin has snatched my wife?” Orisa said. As Igbin saw Orisa coming from far off, Mother Igbin drum started drumming and singing. “Forgo her. Relinquish her for God’s sake. Orisa forgo Ogele for me. Oosa forgo Ogele for me. Pardon me. Renounce Ogele for me.” As Oosa was stepping, his steps matched the rhythm of the drumbeats. Oosa exclaimed, “What do I do now? The person who has snatched my wife is now the person appeasing me. Anybody who asks for forgiveness and pleads for mercy, if that someone is remorseful, then Ifa teaches us to soft pedal for that person.” Igbin was dancing and rejoicing. He was praising his babalawo. His babalawo was praising Ifa. Igbin said it was exactly as his babalawo said.
bata a gba a bidi kare cast divination for Igbin who was going to snatch Ogele, the wife of Oosa. The surrogates of Oosa were chanting that they had snatched Ogele totally. We have snatched Ogele off. The Igbin mother drum was saying, “I beg you Orisa Oosa forgo Ogele for me. Forgo her for me. Renounce her for me.” Oosa, displaying his magnanimity, renounced Ogele for Igbin.
Forgiveness is not easy work but it is best. Ifa says if the wrongdoer apologizes with sincerity and remorse, that we should soften our ways toward them. What of the ones who never admit their error? For the health of our own heart’s sake, we should forgive them too, no matter how long it takes us. May we have the generosity and courageous spirit of Orisa Oosa to forgive those who have wronged us. May we march to the beat of the drum, releasing contemptuous feelings toward our evil doers. Blessed be to those who see wisdom and apply it.