Ten year old students in a class were given an interesting home work. They were asked how many people they hated in their life and the reason why. For every person they hated, they were asked to bring one boiled potato from home in a poly bag. The next day every student carried a poly bag with different numbers of boiled potatoes in them. It was both surprising and ironical to see every ten year old having his/her set of potatoes, none of them came without them. Some had one, some had two, some even carried four to five potatoes and the highest scorer had ten people to hate in ten years of his life!
However the teacher asked them to tie the poly bag with their belts and carry them everyday, wherever they went, while doing whatever they did, until the teacher asked them to stop doing so. So thereafter the kids carried their poly bags everywhere with them, while sleeping, eating, playing, studying, even while using toilets they had the potatoes with them. In a few days the cooked potatoes were stale and started rotting with a very bad smell. In few more, they looked horrible with different kinds of fungus and slimy materials growing out of them. The kids were irritated and asked the teacher everyday if they could stop carrying them, but everyday the teacher said "Not yet!". Soon the smell and the appearance of the potatoes became intolerable and uncomfortable for the children. The child carrying ten potatoes was in the worst condition whereas the child having only one was not so troubled. Finally ten days later the teacher told the children to throw those poly bags into the dustbin. The kids took a sigh of relief and were elated over their freedom.
When asked about their experience, every child had a long list of troubles and discomforts they went through during this task and how everyday they wanted to throw the bags not in the dustbin inside their homes but far away so that the smell doesn't reach them at all. This is when the teacher told them, "If carrying a bag of potatoes hanging from your belt for ten days makes you so miserable and uncomfortable, Just imagine how miserable your life will become if you carry hatred and rotten bitter memories inside your mind for years or perhaps a lifetime".
Just picturing a bag of ten days old rotten smelly potatoes can make us feel disgusted and nauseous, but we never think about the rotten thoughts, hatred and stale memories we carry in our minds for years and would love to present them in front of our near and dear ones in moments of compassion and sympathy as many times as necessary. Every time the thought of forgiving strikes us, we think it is too early to forgive the people who hurt us and say to ourselves- "Not yet!". Hence instead of getting rid of the smelly hatred, we love to treasure it in our heart and mind.
Forgiveness is not a favour meant for the person whom we hate, it is a favour we do to ourselves meant for the sanity, health and comfort of our own minds, our own heart. Forgiving cannot change the past, but it can turn the future around and make us a happier, more peaceful and more efficient person. Whereas as many people we loathe in our life, as many rotten potatoes we are carrying with us while we eat, sleep, study, work, drive, enjoy or do any constructive work. How funny is it that we wash our hands before eating, take a bath before doing any auspicious work and clean our house everyday where we live. But what's the point if the mind and soul are getting burdened with slimy filthy pieces of hatred?
Hence close your eyes, imagine the faces you hate, cut down on your list of hatred and maintain the sanity, freedom and comfort of your mind, not for someone else, but yourself. Do not forgive others because they deserve it, forgive them, because you deserve peace!