Last modified on 17 March 2015, at 04:05


Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future. ~ Paul Boese

Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.


  • Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future.
    • Paul Lewis Boese, in Quote : The Weekly Digest, Vol. 53, No. 8, p. 146 (19 February 1967).
  • It is certainly a good thing always to forgive with generosity, but it is no doubt just never to forget the wrongs received: they belong to the route that leads to inner maturity.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 21.
  • "Forgive and forget" goes the expression, and for our idealized magnanimous selves, that was all you needed. But for our actual selves the relationship between those two actions wasn’t so straightforward. In most cases we had to forget a little bit before we could forgive; when we no longer experienced the pain as fresh, the insult was easier to forgive, which in turn made it less memorable, and so on.
  • Surely it is much more generous to forgive and remember, than to forgive and forget.
    • Maria Edgeworth, "An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification"; Tales and Novels, Volume 1, p. 213.
  • I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
    But my will gets weak
    And my thoughts seem to scatter
    But I think it's about forgiveness
    Even if, even if you don't love me anymore.
  • There's always going to be a part of me that's sloppy and dirty, but I like that. With all the other parts of myself. Can you say the same about yourself fucker? Can you forgive? Are you any good at that?
  • There comes a day when, for someone who has persecuted us, we feel only indifference, a weariness at his stupidity. Then we forgive him.
  • Turn the other cheek too often and you get a razor through it.
    • Johnny Rotten, in: Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 303. CN 5585. 
  • Forgiveness is an absolute necessity for continued human existence.
    • Desmond Tutu, as quoted in Pastoral Care for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Healing the Shattered Soul (2002) by Dalene Fuller Rogers and Harold G Koenig, p. 31.
  • I also am other than what I imagine myself to be. To know this is forgiveness.
    • Simone Weil, in "Void and Compensation" in Gravity and Grace (1947).
  • Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them so much.
    • Oscar Wilde, quoted in The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958) by Fritz Heider, p. 269.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 288-89.
  • The fairest action of our human life
    Is scorning to revenge an injury
    For who forgives without a further strife,
    His adversary's heart to him doth tie:
    And 'tis a firmer conquest, truly said,
    To win the heart than overthrow the head.
  • Qui pardonne aisément invite à l'offenser.
    • He who forgives readily only invites offense.
    • Corneille, Cinna, IV. 4.
  • We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.
    • Attributed to Cosmus, Duke of Florence, by Bacon. Apothegms. No. 206.
  • Thou whom avenging pow'rs obey,
    Cancel my debt (too great to pay)
    Before the sad accounting day.
  • Forgiveness to the injured does belong,
    But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong.
    • John Dryden, Conquest of Granada, Part II, Act I, scene 2.
  • She hugged the offender, and forgave the offense,
    Sex to the last.
  • His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong.
  • Bear and forbear.
  • The offender never pardons.
  • Æquum est
    Peccatis veniam poscentem reddere rursus.
    • It is right for him who asks forgiveness for his offenses to grant it to others.
    • Horace, Satires, I. 3. 74.
  • Ex humili magna ad fastigia rerum
    Extollit, quoties voluit fortuna jocari.
    • Whenever fortune wishes to joke, she lifts people from what is humble to the highest extremity of affairs.
    • Juvenal, Satires, III. 39.
  • For 'tis sweet to stammer one letter
    Of the Eternal's language; — on earth it is called Forgiveness!
  • These evils I deserve, and more
    * * * * * *
    Justly, yet despair not of his final pardon,
    Whose ear is ever open, and his eye
    Gracious to re-admit the suppliant.
  • Oh Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
    And ev'n with Paradise devise the snake;
    For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
    Is blackened — Man's forgiveness give and take!
  • Forgiveness is better than revenge.
  • Humanum amare est, humanum autem ignoscere est.
    • To love is human, it is also human to forgive.
    • Plautus, Mercator, II. 2. 46.
  • What if this cursed hand
    Were thicker than itself with brother's blood
    Is there not rain enough in the sweet heaves
    To wash it white as snow?
  • Pardon, not wrath, is God's best attribute.
    • Bayard Taylor, Poems of the Orient, Temptation of Hassan Ben Khaled, Stanza 11, line 31.
  • The sin
    That neither God nor man can well forgive.
  • Ignoscito sæpe alter, nunquam tibi.
    • Forgive others often, yourself never.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Menschlich ist es bloss zu strafen
    Aber göttlich zu verzeihn.
    • It is manlike to punish but godlike to forgive.
    • Peter Winter

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant WritersEdit

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • To do evil for good is human corruption; to do good for good is civil retribution; but to do good for evil is Christian perfection. Though this be not the grace of nature, it is the nature of grace.
  • Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury.
  • By experience; by a sense of human frailty; by a perception of "the soul of goodness in things evil;" by a cheerful trust in human nature; by a strong sense of God's love; by long and disciplined realization of the atoning love of Christ; only thus can we get a free, manly, large, princely spirit of forgiveness.
  • In what a delightful communion with God does that man live who habitually seeketh love! With the same mantle thrown over him from the cross — with the same act of amnesty, by which we hope to be saved — injuries the most provoked, and transgressions the most aggravated, are covered in eternal forgetfulness.
  • Behold affronts and indignities which the world thinks it right never to pardon, which the Son of God endures with a Divine meekness! Let us cast at the feet of Jesus that false honor, that quick sense of affronts, which exaggerates every thing, and pardons nothing, and, above all, that devilish determination in resenting injuries.
  • A more glorious victory cannot be gained over another man than this, that when the injury began on his part, the kindness should begin on ours.
  • For still in mutual sufferance lies
    The secret of true living;
    Love scarce is love that never knows
    The sweetness of forgiving.


  • He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me' -- in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease.
  • Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
  • Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn't develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence—the problem never goes away. So that is one level. Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn't solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that's the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.


Biblical textsEdit

Key Biblical texts on the subject of forgiveness include (here quoted from the w:New International Version):

  • "Again Jesus said [to the disciples], "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:21-23)
  • "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (w:Matthew 6:12)
  • "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you." (w:Matthew 6:14).
  • "Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." (Luke 11:4)
  • "Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times (or seventy times seven).'" (Matthew 18:21-22)
  • "In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matthew 18:34-35)
  • "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:25)
  • "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6:37)
  • "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." (Luke 17:3)
  • "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)
  • "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" (Luke 23:34)
  • "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:22).

Other quotes related to ChristianityEdit

Among the Protestant Reformers, John Wesley stated that forgiveness is an "...act of God the Father, hereby, for the sake of the propitiation made by the blood of his Son, he 'showeth forth his righteousness (or mercy)...'". 1 2.

  • That he that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man had need to be forgiven.
    • Lord Herbert, The Life of Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury.
  • The brave only know how to forgive.
  • The gospel comes to the sinner at once with nothing short of complete forgiveness as the starting-point of all his efforts to be holy. It does not say, "Go and sin no more, and I will not condemn thee." It says at once, "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more."
  • Meekness is the grace which, from beneath God's footstool, lifts up a candid and confiding eye, accepting God's smile of Fatherly affection, and adoring those perfections which it cannot comprehend.
    • James Hamilton, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 407.
  • From forgiveness anew life will spring in the believer, and as a consequence forgiveness cannot be forgotten. No longer is the Law the only disciplinarian [to lead us] to Christ, but forgiveness through Christ is the gentle disciplinarian who does not have the heart to remind us of what has been forgotten but still reminds us of it to the extent of saying: Just remember that it is forgiven. It is not forgotten but is forgotten in forgiveness. Every time you recollect the forgiveness, it is forgotten; but when you forget the forgiveness, it is not forgotten, but then the forgiveness is wasted.
  • "Life, that ever needs forgiveness, has, for its first duty, to forgive."
  • "Alas! if my best Friend, who laid down His life for me, were to remember all the instances in which I have neglected Him, and to plead them against me in judgment, where should I hide my guilty head in the day of recompense? I will pray, therefore, for blessings on my friends, even though they cease to be so, and upon my enemies, though they continue such."
  • "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us."
  • "God's way of forgiving is thorough and hearty,—both to forgive and to forget; and if thine be not so, thou hast no portion of His."


Verses from the Qur'anEdit

  • Indeed! God does not forgive the sin of ascribing partners to Him, but He forgives anything else to whom He pleases, and whoever takes partners with God has gone astray into far error. Qur'an 4:116
  • The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon Allah. Qur'an 42:40
  • O You who believe! Behold, among your spouses and your children are enemies unto you: so beware of them! But if you pardon [their faults], and forbear, and forgive- then, behold, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Qur'an 64:14.

Traditions of the ProphetEdit

  • Abu Kabsha 'Ameri reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
… and no man pardons an oppression seeking thereby the pleasure of Allah but Allah will increase his honor therewith on the Day of Resurrection.
  • Oqbah Ibn 'Amer reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
you shall keep relationship with one who cut it off from you, you shall give one who disappointed you, and you shall pardon on who oppressed you.
  • Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
Moses son of 'Imran had asked: O my Lord! Who is the best honorable of Thy servants to Thee? He [the God] said: He who pardons when he is in a position of power.
  • Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah taught his followers:
Narrating the account of one of the prophets [of Allah] whom was assaulted and wounded by his people; while wiping the blood from the face he prayed: 'O Allah! Forgive my people because they do not know.'


Hindus believe in the philosophy of karma. God in the Veda (Yayur-Veda 7:48) states that each and every act good or bad has a consequence. Man is free to do good or bad, sins or pious deeds but result is always rewarded by God. One has to face the result as sorrow or happiness, respectively for a bad deed or good deed. The concept of performing atonement from one's wrongdoing (Prayaschittha — Sanskrit: Penance), and asking for forgiveness is very much a part of the practice of Hinduism. Prayaschittha is related to the law of Karma. Karma is a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. The effects of those deeds and these deeds actively create present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain in others.

Addressing Dhritarashtra, Vidura said: "There is one only defect in forgiving persons, and not another; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on the grassless ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities. Righteousness is the one highest good; and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment; and benevolence, one sole happiness." (From the Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXIII, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli).

An even more authoritative statement about forgiveness is espoused by Krishna, who is considered to be an incarnation (Avatar) of Vishnu by Hindus. Krishna said in the Gita that forgiveness is one of the characteristics of one born for a divine state. It is noteworthy that he distinguishes those good traits from those he considered to be demoniac, such as pride, self-conceit and anger (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 16, verse 3). The Ashtavakra Gita, Chapter1, verse 2 states that ”To be free shun the experiences of the senses like poison. Turn your attention to forgiveness, sincerity, kindness, simplicity, truth.” Another thing to be understood is that karma basically means the cycle of cause and effect. If you forgive someone who harms you, you are nullifying the effect and there by the cause. By forgiving and not reacting, not only are you freeing yourself from bad karma, but through forgiving your enemy you are freeing him of his karma. In chapter 5, verse 26 of the Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna states that the peace of God is there for those who are free from desires and wrath(hatred).


  • "It is forbidden to be obdurate and not allow yourself to be appeased. On the contrary, one should be easily pacified and find it difficult to become angry. When asked by an offender for forgiveness, one should forgive with a sincere mind and a willing spirit. . . forgiveness is natural to the seed of Israel. (w:Mishneh Torah, w:Teshuvah 2:10).
  • If one who has been wronged by another does not wish to rebuke or speak to the offender – because the offender is simple or confused – then if he sincerely forgives him, neither bearing him ill-will nor administering a reprimand, he acts according to the standard of the pious. (Deot 6:9).
  • Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand. (w:Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim 9.4).

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