This is a quote attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, and it touches upon the concept of wisdom, empathy, and forgiveness in the Buddhist philosophy.
The quote suggests that if we truly understand the circumstances, motivations, and causes behind a person’s actions (including their background, personal struggles, and mental state), we might see that their actions are the product of their experiences, and not necessarily a reflection of a fundamentally flawed character. This understanding can then lead to forgiveness because we can see that, given the same experiences, we might have acted in similar ways.
In a broader sense, this quote is also related to the Buddhist concepts of ignorance and enlightenment. Ignorance, in Buddhism, refers to a lack of understanding about the nature of reality, including the interconnectedness of all beings and the causes of suffering. Enlightenment, on the other hand, involves gaining deep insight into these truths.
So, when the Buddha says, “To understand everything is to forgive everything,” he is implying that a deep understanding of the nature of life and the interconnectedness of all beings can lead to profound compassion and forgiveness. Essentially, with complete understanding comes complete forgiveness. This is because understanding allows us to empathize, and empathy often leads to forgiveness. This is not to suggest that all actions are excusable, but rather that understanding can help us to respond with compassion and wisdom instead of anger or resentment.