Forgiveness is a wonderful act. Mystics, Saints and spiritual teachings all extol its merits. Instinctively, we all know at our core that forgiveness is a positive expression of spiritual living, but is forgiveness simply a nice philosophy to live by or does it hold some greater value, value underscoring a necessity, not preference, of its expression?Forgiveness means to for-give, i.e., to pardon, to cease to hold resentment, to cancel a debt. In other words, to forgive is to let go and not cling. We forgive others when they do us wrong because we want others to forgive us when we do them wrong. It’s the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.We also forgive because, in truth, we are the ones most negatively affected by the negative energy we cling to when we don’t forgive. As Saint Dariya of Bihar states, The sower of the poison cannot but be engulfed in the poison. In other words, “what we sow, we reap,” and “what goes around, comes around” – phrases depicting karma (the law of action and reaction). We all know, perhaps have even uttered, this sowing and reaping phrase, but do we actually live by it? Do we believe it? If we truly lived it, would we do the things we often do?The Karma/Reincarnation ConnectionHigh level mystic teachings inform us that reincarnation is a reality of life. Says Saint Sawan Singh: The principle of reincarnation is a fact. It is part of the Creator’s scheme. And here’s the critical rub: since what we sow, we reap, and since reincarnation is a fact of existence, then if we cling to another by holding on to resentments, then we are insuring a negative connection to that person which will bind us to him in the future. Being bound to him, we will have to meet him again in some future life to balance the karmic books. However, if we forgive him for whatever the act, then we let him go and release ourselves from having to be involved with him in some future time. We can then be free to keep climbing spiritually instead of being weighted down by the attachment we created by not letting go, i.e., not forgiving. Therefore, forgiveness progresses from being a nice philosophy to a law of life. In a nutshell, forgiveness frees us. By not forgiving, we remain attached to the perpetrator, enslaved energetically by the relationship and thereby deny our own spiritual freedom.Frankly, is it not true that if we do not forgive those who do us harm, then we become like them? Were this to happen, who would be in control, they or us? By not responding negatively to a negative act, we keep ourselves from being controlled by an outside force. If we do not react negatively to negative attacks but remain centered within ourselves, we remain in control, in charge of who and what we are. By this action of self-control, we plant virtuous, not poisonous, seeds. Thus, we cannot become engulfed by the poison we sowed, as Saint Dariya declares.SummaryIn summation, forgiveness is a spiritual law of liberation, not simply a pleasant formality or platitude. By not forgiving, we become chained. By forgiving, we become free. Therefore, non-forgiveness equates to slavery; forgiveness to freedom. In consideration of this knowledge, what will each of us choose the next time we are tested with situations involving forgiveness? Will we choose to forgive and be free, or will we choose not to forgive and become enslaved? Wisdom… and love… will dictate the answer.