The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness


Simon Wiesenthal

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Sunflower can help.

Everything you need
for every book you read.

"Sooo much more helpful than SparkNotes. The way the content is organized
and presented is seamlessly smooth, innovative, and comprehensive."
Get LitCharts A+

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness: Matthieu Ricard Summary & Analysis

As a Buddhist, Ricard believes that forgiveness is always possible and one should always forgive. Based on his religion’s teachings, an action is considered sinful if it producers suffering, while a virtuous action is one that brings about more happiness in the world.
Ricard’s argument is also implicitly made by the Dalai Lama. Buddhists believe that actions should be taken based on whether they reduce suffering; therefore, Simon should forgive Karl.
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
Ricard continues by saying that granting forgiveness is not condoning past crimes, but instead acknowledging the inner change a person has experienced in repenting. This offers the opportunity for the perpetrator to escape the “whirlpool of wrongdoing.” Finally, Ricard counsels that a Buddhist might have told Karl to pray for his future lives, in which he is destined to undergo much suffering.
Again, the beliefs of Ricard’s religion dictate how he thinks Simon should act. Because of Buddhism’s emphasis on reincarnation and karma, Ricard believes that Karl is already destined to suffer for his sins, and therefore Simon does not need to add to this suffering by not forgiving him.
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
Related Quotes