Forgiveness

 

It is pretty straightforward to open for gratitude: Write gratitude lists or letters. And it is also pretty straightforward to meditate or pray, at least with some guidance. Or to practice acts of kindness, or become more engaged in ones life.

But how to forgive? For many of us, that seems far more mysterious.

First, whom or what do I need to forgive? Another person, someone I feel wronged me? Myself, for a choice I regret? Life, for illness or loss of a loved one?

Then, what beliefs or shoulds do I have about what happened? How do I feel about it? What do I wish had happened instead?

These explorations helps clarify how I relate to it, and also what approaches may be most helpful for me.

When I explore it for myself, I find that clarity is a good opening into genuine forgiveness. And The Work is a great way to find what is more honest for me than my initial beliefs, and allow it to sink in – gradually reorganizing my experience and images of myself, others and the world.

Among the many things The Work helps me do, is exploring and clarifying the effects of resentment and of genuine forgiveness. Who suffers when I don’t forgive? Who benefits when I find forgiveness?

What am I afraid would happen if I forgive? What is more likely to happen?

Also, I can find the genuine gifts in what happened. How is it better than what I wished would have happened? Can I find three – or five, or ten – concrete was it was genuinely better that it happened the way it did?

If I wish to forgive another person, then another way into it, and also a great test for how far the forgiveness has gone, is to find a genuine and sincere wish for all the best for the other person. I usually do this through through prayer and visualization. I can pray for and visualize genuine happiness for the other, as well as awakening and whatever else I imagine as good. And then include others and myself as well. And if I wish to forgive myself, then I reverse the sequence, first praying and visualizing for myself, and then including others.

If there is any lingering resentment, there is further to go with forgiveness. Something has not yet been seen as clearly as is possible for me. And the same with any shoulds – about another person, myself, or life. These are both pointers.

I can also do tong len, taking in the confusion and fear of the other person (which is here already) and sending out clarity and happiness (which is also here). This too is something I can do for myself, visualizing the “other” as myself back when I did what I wish to forgive, or even now suffering from lack of forgiveness.

I can improve my satisfaction in life – through enjoyment, engagement, and meaning (aligning my life with my values) – and this makes sincere forgiveness easier.

It can also be helpful to explore forgiveness through the sense fields. For instance, I can notice that lack of forgiveness and forgiveness happens within my own world of images. I can most easily notice this when I close my eyes, and recognize that myself, the other person, the situation, and relationships such as forgiveness or lack of forgiveness only exists (for me) in my own world of images. When I open my eyes, it is the same. Lack of forgiveness or forgiveness happens between images of myself and another person (or myself, or life). And it is itself an image. To the extent I recognize this in daily life, it seems profoundly and obviously silly to not forgive.

Parallel with all this, I can do whatever seems appropriate in the world to resolve the situation.

If I wish to forgive myself, I can see if there is anything I can do to make what I regret right again, even in small ways. Can I change the course of my life? Can I make other choices now? If another person was involved, can I let them know I regret what I did?

If I wish to forgive another person, I can talk about it with that person, letting him or her know how I experienced it. I can get to know the other person better. I can do what I can to make it less likely to happen again. I can get engaged in making is less likely for others to experience something similar. If what happened was illegal, I may even then take that to the appropriate institutions. And so on.

If I wish to forgive life, I can ask myself a simple yet powerful question: What I can do in the world to make what happened into a gift for myself and others? What can I do here and now? Or in the longer term, even if it seems small?

Trigger: A conversation with friends about forgiveness earlier today.

……………..
……………..

  • forgiveness
    • others, self, life
      • others – sincerely wish all the best for them

– find clarity, inquire into beliefs – find what is more honest for me, take time to let it sink in
– find the genuine gifts in it, how it is better than what I wished would have happened
– sincerely wish all the best for the other person + oneself (a shift)
– generally improve satisfaction with life – enjoyment, engagement, meaning (align life with values)
– also take care of what needs to be taken care of in the world, in all the usual ways (clarify, reduce chances of it happening again etc.)

……………..

When I explore it for myself, I find that clarity is a good opening into genuine forgiveness. And The Work is a great way to find what is more honest for me than my initial beliefs, and allow it to sink in – gradually reorganizing my experience and images of myself, others and the world.

Also, I can find the genuine gifts in what happened. How is it better than what I wished would have happened?

Another way into it, and also a great test for how far the forgiveness has gone, is to find a genuine and sincere wish for all the best for the other person, for instance through prayer and visualization. I can pray for and visualize genuine happiness for the other, as well as awakening and whatever else I imagine as good. And then include others and myself as well.

I can also do tong len, taking in the confusion and fear of the other person (which is here already) and sending out clarity and happiness (which is also here).

I can improve my satisfaction in life – through enjoyment, engagement, and meaning (aligning my life with my values) – and this makes sincere forgiveness easier.

Parallel with all this, I can do whatever seems appropriate in the world regarding the situation. I can talk about it with the other person, letting him or her know how I experienced it. I can get to know the other person better. I can do what I can to make it less likely to happen again. I can get engaged in making is less likely for others to experience something similar. If what happened was illegal, then take that to the appropriate institutions. And so on.

Trigger: A conversation with friends about forgiveness earlier today.

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