“To understand all is to forgive all”
“The French have a saying, perhaps from Voltaire: ‘Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner.’ To understand all is to forgive all. When we see the state of mind beneath behavior, we realize with great compassion that behind a sharp remark, an unkind glance, a rankling insult, an outburst of anger, lie a thousand contributing causes over which that person has very little control, extending back perhaps for many years.
“When a fellow has grown up in a little farming town, gone to Pioneer High School, spent two years in the Peace Corps, had such and so friends and such and so experiences, he is likely to get provoked by certain words and actions; that is what makes him who he is. Then the question is not ‘Why does he act like that?’ but ‘Why did I not understand?’
“Praise and blame are irrelevant here. You do not romanticize or close your eyes to defects or mistakes. You simply understand, which means that you do not judge. If a blind person knocks you off balance, do you get angry? If she fails to respond to the look on your face, do you call her insensitive?
“The vast majority of people are very much like that, blind to each other’s needs. They do not mean to be unkind; they simply do not see. And instead of judging them or conniving at them, we learn to help them open their eyes. It not only enables them to change; we transform ourselves. ‘What is here is also there’ – in understanding ourselves, we understand others; in forgiving others, we forgive ourselves.”
– Eknath Easwaran, from Essence of the Upanishads: A Key to Indian Spirituality