The Awe-Inspiring Spiritual Power of Forgiveness and Letting Go of Anger as Exemplified by Nelson Mandela

I recently saw a movie about the life of Nelson Mandela. I am very much in awe of the spiritual depth and heroic greatness of Mr. Mandela. His moral strength towers even over Gandhi’s. One of my gurus and many people I knew actually marched with Gandhi, and I have more of an inside picture of his life. Gandhi was also great, but many who knew Gandhi personally and marched with him referred to his ahimsa as a strategy that only worked in the context of British morality. Nelson Mandela was at a different level. His power was many leveled, inspired from deep within. It was the power to generate forgiveness for a whole nation. It was not simply forgiveness, but also the power to give up anger for a whole nation. Anger creates an endorphin-powered, self-righteous comfort zone that is often hard to give up. Anger gives a particular primordial endorphin high that often comes from hidden and unconscious places that keep a person trapped in the past comfort zone of the unresolved events of the past. It is not so easy to give up. He was surrounded by a whole society that was immersed in anger including his wife, Winnie. The contrast between Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie Mandela was a difficult one because she couldn’t give up her anger, and so after waiting 27 years for her, he had to even let go of her as she was actively undermining his peaceful healing mission. Unlike India, with its psycho-spiritual social context, Mandela had no such support. His power of letting go of anger and of forgiveness seemed to come from an internal transformation, while in prison that was beyond any philosophy. In part it grew out of his deep commitment to create a national solution to a seemingly impossible situation. He made a paradigm shift that allowed a whole nation to join him in bringing the whole nation to a new level of spiritual growth; where people could choose to be free from anger and experience the true power of forgiveness. This is truly very unique and very powerful. He changed almost everybody. He changed the government… he changed the country… he changed the people of all the different tribes.


We were in South Africa in the year 2000, and I was able to see some of this energy. There was something that he had created that was still there. As many of you know, we have diabetes prevention programs in Western Africa in Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Ghana. I work at the governmental levels there with these programs. But something is very different about what he did in South Africa. He generated the power of inner transformation needed to bring peace on a national level.


The power of his inner peace and resolve, in part, come from his service and commitment to his people and to healing the whole country, but another level he had to go beyond his identification with race or tribe. He had to realize at some point in some way that his personality was a case of mistaken identity and that all his previous concepts were illusory reality. From that place of emptiness he was able to bring forth a paradigm shift awareness that freed him from the limitations of personal history. In that way he became the heroic master of the walk between the B’limah and the Mah (the Nothing and the Something) and access a level of holy truth that could liberate so many of his countrymen.


The spirit he instilled into the whole country was driven by the power of emptiness toward inner peace to uplift everyone from the bondage of anger and political strategies to the meaning of being a healthy whole person. He took almost everybody to a new level of spiritual understanding, enough that they could break out of the hateful, angry stuckness that they were in. That’s powerful. That’s the power of transformation we are talking about when we talk about the power of spiritual life. The power to transform your consciousness and the consciousness of the people around you, out of their anger and hatefulness is part of what will heal this world. It is the power of the fundamentals of peace. The world needs that today.


May everyone be blessed with that level of spiritual power and peace. May we know that level of the ability to forgive from a different plane. May our ability to forgive grow to transcend any sort of anger. May we be free from the anger that binds us in the past and limits our spiritual expansion in the now and in the future. What Nelson Mandela became was truly amazing. May everyone be blessed with this awe-inspiring deep power of transformation.