No formula for forgiveness


Ernst Baasland, a bishop in Norway, has written a book on forgiveness following a high-profile situation where he and his wife lost their money due to their son’s gambling addiction.

In an interview with Aftenposten, he says:

Tilgivelse og livskunst hører sammen, men boken vil ikke gi en oppskrift på tilgivelsen. Den finnes ikke.

Forgiveness and the art of living go together, but the book will not give a recipe for forgiveness. There is none.

That is true. Forgiveness is always an individual and unique process. The knot that prevents forgiveness is tied in a different way each time, and so the process of untying is different for each of us and each time.

At the same time, it is not quite true that there are no recipes for forgiveness. There are guidelines and tools that can make forgiveness possible, that creates the conditions for forgiveness.

For me, The Work is probably the most effective tool.

I take a situation where there is still a knot, still something unresolved.

I investigate any story around it that is painful. I notice I cannot know. I find what happens when I take the story as true. I find the validity in its reversals.

I see and feel what is there, and what is more honest for me than the initial story. I can bring into daily life – and into relationships, the truth in the most juicy reversals.

And I can do this with any number of views and perspectives on the situation, including any underlying assumptions to any of these stories.

Finding more clarity in this way, finding – seeing, feeling and living – what is more honest for me than the initial stories, there is a shift.

There is an opening to genuine appreciation for the situation. What caused pain now is a source of genuine appreciation and gratitude.

It may appear as forgiveness, but it is really just clarity. It is what happens when I find what is more honest for me than the initial stories, when I see, feel and live from it, through a thorough, heartfelt investigation.

And that is just one path to genuine forgiveness. There are many other.



  • no formula for forgiveness-
    • true and not true
      • true
        • always individual, unique process – one’s own path
        • cannot “make” it happen, no one key that will always and immediately open the door to forgiveness
      • not true
        • are tools, guidelines that can create the conditions for it
          • investigate any/all stories around the situation – different views + reversals
            • see, feel what is there + what is more honest for us than our initial stories
            • bring into daily life, live from the most juicy turnarounds / what is more honest for us than the initial stories (daily life, relationships, etc.)
          • invites in appreciation, notice the love that is already there
          • appears as forgiveness, but is really only clarity, finding what is more honest for us – through a thorough, heartfelt investigation

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