The world of high finance and banking can seem far off, but don’t we all act like debt collectors sometimes? We often keep tallies of the actions of those who’ve hurt us, and hold them to account in arguments and in our minds.
While we hold people to account, they hold us to account too; with each looking to get paid back what they are owed (when we’re hurt, we tend to settle things by hurting others back). The whole of nature is based on this principle of balance—we tip the scales when we hurt others, which provokes a tip back as recompense.
So what part does forgiveness have to play? Letting a criminal loose who would only commit the same crime is a crime in itself; sometimes we have a duty to act, without negativity of any kind. But what about when someone could do a greater good by being freed of a debt, instead of being bound and hurt by the weight of repayment?
The never-ending cycle of debts and payments in life would continue ad infinitum, as those who demand repayment must return to collect their debt and in time only amass more debts themselves. That is unless there was a higher law that transcended the mechanical weights and balances of the natural world.
“Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from Tao; but the law of Tao is its own spontaneity.”
~ Lao-Tzu in the Tao Te Ching, translated by Lionel Giles
That’s where mercy and forgiveness, sometimes called divine grace, comes in, and acts with an intelligence beyond the mechanics of the natural world. If this did not exist, it would impossible for humans, with all our flaws and mistakes, to ever have the chance to awaken spiritually and transcend this universe of relativity with all of its laws. And then, what would the point of a mechanical universe be?
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, was not said by Jesus as some devotional feel-good throw away line. It contains deep knowledge of a divine and profound principle, and reveals something that we can apply to those in our lives, just as it can be applied by the divine to us.