Buddhism A–Z
Forgiveness & Buddhism

Forgiveness aligns with Buddhism’s core principles of compassion, wisdom, and the alleviation of suffering. The act of forgiveness can serve as a path to inner peace and freedom from suffering. Stories of forgiveness from the lives of Buddhist figures, such as the historical Buddha and his disciples, serve as examples of the transformative power of forgiveness.

It’s important to note that forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning or accepting harmful actions. It means letting go of resentment and the desire for revenge while setting healthy boundaries and seeking reconciliation where appropriate.

While Buddhist teachings may not use the term “forgiveness” as frequently as other spiritual traditions, Buddhist teachings and practices embody the spirit of forgiveness in a number of ways.

Compassion & Loving-Kindness

For example, Buddhism strongly emphasizes compassion (karuna) and loving-kindness (metta) as essential qualities to cultivate so that practitioners can better extend understanding, empathy, and goodwill to themselves and others. Practicing compassion and loving-kindness can naturally lead one to recognize the universality of suffering and, in turn, to be more forgiving.


Likewise, mindfulness — one of the eight elements key to the Buddhist path — can help us tune into feelings of anger, resentment, or hurt without reacting impulsively when someone harms us. Mindful awareness provides an opportunity to choose forgiveness and let go of negative emotions in a difficult situation where appropriate.

Buddhism A–Z

Explore essential Buddhist terms, concepts, and traditions.