Many of us feel that when we forgive somebody, we’re doing them a favor. Perhaps they’ve changed, or apologized, or maybe we feel that we made them suffer enough.
The reality is, that the main beneficiary of forgiveness is the forgiver.
Our inner Source, our Soul, is undivided. It is connected as consciousness to all other Beings. We can’t be truly aligned with our essential Wholeness if our petty imaginary self is divided up by grudges, old wounds, and feuds.
Every time we harbor an ill will, hateful feeling, or persistent negativity towards someone, we take a portion of our energy and awareness, and pack it away in a dark place within ourselves. This is a place of pain.
Many times we try not to think of this dark place where our wounds and angers live. That is called denial. Denial dims our light and creates an obstacle to the openness and honesty we require to witness and know ourselves. Denial can only exist by our maintenance of willful ignorance of “what is”…Reality.
Other times, we remember the wrongs done to us. We chew on the ill feelings about those who hurt us. We relive those negative emotions over and over, suffering the pains of the past once again. Dwelling on the past takes us away from the only time that is Real, the present moment. Suffering the pain of the past without resolving it needlessly multiplies our suffering in life.
One of the beautiful aspects of the teachings of Jesus centers on his repeated exhortations of forgiveness. Jesus asks us to Love our enemies. In the “Lord’s Prayer,” the central prayer that we find from Jesus in the Gospels, we are reminded to forgive. We are even supposed to “turn the other cheek” if somebody strikes us.
There are many who dismiss these radical teachings of Christ as the idealistic, but unattainable, preaching of the ultimate goody two-shoes; but they are front and center in his message. Why?
The process of forgiveness liberates us in many ways.
First, facing and accepting the pain that we have endured in life empowers us to let go of it. To be free from the weight of our accumulated suffering brings Peace and Love. Witnessing the negative charge within us, without holding on or spinning it into a new drama, allows it to pass from us. Bravely facing our pains and judgments breaks the habit of denial that lets darkness reside within us.
Second, it is our imaginary idea of ourselves, our ego, which jealously and selfishly catalogs the crimes committed against us. We see the faults of others, and their transgressions, and gloss over our own. Note that Christ advises us to take the log out of our own eye before presuming to remove the speck out of another’s eye.
By stepping back and abiding in the peace and stability of our own inner presence, we can witness the clinging and justifications of the ego self. We weaken our identification with our false identity every time we transcend its negativity and embrace forgiveness. The ego’s brutal grasp on us weakens every time we release our pain and negativity and embrace the freshness of Being Whole in the Here and Now.
Thirdly, by forgiving others, we forgive ourselves. When Jesus said to “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” he was not dispensing candy-coated Sunday school morality, he was outlining the inner process of our self-damnation.
If you take a hard and honest look at your life, you’ll notice that it reflects the totality of your inner attitudes and consciousness. Some people may not notice this without deep contemplation, but make a prayer and intention to see for yourself if this is true. There are a lot of people who wear masks of well-adjusted self-acceptance, but the majority of people on the planet harbor judgments of about themselves, lack of self-worth, and inner criticism.
How could they not feel that way? When we create an illusory identity out of our mental ideas about ourselves and our past history, we’re bound to be insecure. The illusion IS insecure and can never pass for deep satisfaction without loads of denial to keep us from being aware of our countless inner demons. We are an imposter to ourselves and we know it deep down.
The judgments and grudges we hold against others create the framework for our own judgments against ourselves. Our negative feelings against ourselves are reflected in our state of mind every day, and are in turn reflected in the world around us.
Taking the leap to forgive others releases negativity within us, makes us whole, and automatically begins to heal the grudge that we have with ourselves. It weakens the bondage to the pettiness of our ego, and makes a space for Love.
Change yourself and everything changes around you. Don’t take my word for it. It will be obvious when you do it.
By now, many people have been thinking of important objections to this whole idea of forgiveness. After all, many of us have suffered very real and painful abuse and nobody wants to line up for more. Let’s look at the devil in the details.
Does forgiveness mean we have to enter into relationship again with those we have forgiven?
No, forgiveness is an inner state of not holding on to negativity. If expressing that forgiveness will subject you to further abuse, don’t go disclose it. Forgiving the violent ex-husband doesn’t excuse his actions, nor does it mean you have to take him back. It just means that you aren’t holding a place of darkness within yourself anymore that tied you to those past pains and wounds.
We don’t have to resume sending money to the wayward daughter so she can finance her alcoholism. We don’t have to dismiss charges against the violent criminal so he can go find another victim. We can tackle muggers, speak out against injustice, and protect the weak and exploited.
How we deal with the various and complicated situations of life that evolve out of our decision to break free from our negativity can be inspired from our heart, with due consideration for all the factors involved.
Once we take out our emotional garbage, our feelings will give rise to intuition. Our minds will be free to take a less-biased view of the state of affairs. The free mind and liberated feelings will give us a sixth sense of how to proceed in life without the constraints of limitation and fear that we applied to our previous choices.
There is often a middle ground in many situations that our more skilful, freer selves can manage. It’s often possible to have an amicable friendship and cooperative, supportive custody relationships with an ex-spouse without re-marrying them. It’s often possible to work with difficult people without internalizing negativity about them but without accepting degrading treatment at the same time.
Miraculously, we often find that once the hatred is out of our own hearts, others can no longer sustain the negativity they have for us either. People who we assumed were rotten to the core are suddenly capable of humanity.
If it feels safe to express your forgiveness to the one you had begrudged, it can often be a liberating experience for both of you. Use your intuition and courage. Even if they don’t deserve it, sometimes especially if they don’t deserve it, it can start a chain reaction of transformation and grace that cascades into the world we live in.
When you give from your Heart, not based on what is earned, but rather based on embracing the Love within you, that Love expands and your self-obsession shrinks. When you see the potential for Love and kindness within another person, it summons the best in them to the surface. When we see God in others, God inhabits both.
Think about it. How many people who accept you without onerous conditions have made it to your enemies list?
There are people who resist and hate those who unconditionally love them; that’s only because they are desperately clinging to their dark denial of themselves. They resent anyone who threatens to shine a light into their cherished oblivion.
So don’t prejudge how reality will take shape when you release your bonds. Let life become miraculously wonderful beyond your expectations.
On the other hand, don’t fret if you face difficult times. Often, when people make a commitment to freeing themselves of their inner poisons, they suffer the bad taste of it on its way out. The key is to accept these pains and challenges as temporary and part of the process. Resistance to our experience is 90% of our suffering. The actual pain is just a small, bearable experience in the moment if we are mindfully aware.
You may evolve your own process of discovering where your negativity lies and rising to forgive your friends and enemies alike. Here’s one way to get started with it:
For some, it’s painfully obvious whom they haven’t forgiven. Others will have to be still in mind and “intend” to discover the inner pains that they haven’t let go of. Know your inner landscape and where the weeds are.
In a state of concentration and mental quietude, fully Feel, and be Present with, the feelings and reactions that come up when you examine the person and situation that needs forgiveness and release. Ask yourself if you are ready to let go of it. Just “Be” with it, for as long as it takes for it to lose its negative charge.
Don’t refer back to the ego and justify your anger or multiply your reasons for being upset. Watch it and let it be. Realize that humans are often weak, ignorant, and self-obsessed. It’s natural that we hurt each other, consciously and unconsciously, in countless relationships. We all have faults in the actions of our personality. Live and let live.
The Spirit Essence is beyond, and untouched by, our negative actions of the past if we can only return to ourselves. The Spirit Essence of Others is Pure as well, despite the terrible things that their personalities might visit on others on this planet. Recognize that the offending party need not always be a bad person. Free them to be better by releasing your hold on a negative concept of them. In doing so, you release your hold on a negative concept of yourself.
Repeat this process until the negative charge in your mind and heart regarding the person is discharged. Be Free, Be Love.
Don’t carry a stinky load of crap around in your Heart! It’s too sacred for that. Then you experience a new joy and wonder in life.
In the course of our lives and in nearly every human relationship, we experience and inflict grief and hurt, intentionally and unintentionally, in communication and miscommunication.
Sometimes, when I feel myself awash in divine presence, voice this intent.
“To all those I’ve ever hurt, I’m sorry and beg pardon. To all those who have ever hurt me, I freely and unconditionally forgive you.”
This doesn’t mean I don’t have understanding and compassion for myself. I accept that personal limitations or even valid situations might have led me to hurt others in the past. I express sorrow for the grief experienced by others out of loving kindness.
Since you are reading this message of mine, we are connected in some way. Please accept the same prayer and intent from me now. “If I’ve ever hurt you, I’m sorry and beg pardon. If you have ever hurt me, I freely and unconditionally forgive you.”
May all beings be Happy.
With Great Love