Let’s talk about forgiveness.
The theme for December, according to the Powerpath School of Shamanism is FORGIVENESS. Whether it is truly through astrological influences or simply through the power of suggestion, I have a hard time denying that this may indeed be the spiritual lesson we are being given an opportunity to practice this month. As all my old demons come home to roost, I am forced to acknowledge that my own forgiveness work is not done yet…..and as my friend Derek reminded me yesterday, “Jesus did tell us to forgive seventy times seven times.” I’m not sure Jesus was as much teaching us to keep on forgiving as he was acknowledging how dang hard forgiveness can be for us! So…..let’s talk about forgiveness.
Forgive and Forget?
Forgive? YES. Forget? NOT! What happens when we forget history? IT REPEATS ITSELF. So….set aside your grandmother’s burdensome mantra about forgetting…..Instead……..forgive….and set new boundaries. Don’t step back into the hornet’s nest knowing that you will only get stung once again. And if you need to….shake the dust off your feet and walk away.
YOU have the Power to Forgive.
Yes and no….but mostly NO! Yes, we have a task in the process of forgiveness. Our job is to intend to forgive, to be present to the process, to own our stuff in whatever the conflict was, to accept responsibility and to apologize and make amends where necessary. The true moment of forgiveness, however, is not ours to ordain. True forgiveness happens in a moment of GRACE and we will recognize it when we are FREE of the inner burdens wrapped around the issue: resentment, anger, sorrow, obsessive thoughts, harbored or cultivated resentment, the need to seek vengeance or to wish harm (or KARMA) on the other person. FORGIVENESS is about your own inner freedom….nothing more. And….forgiveness has NOTHING to do with the other person’s participation or even awareness. They can remain mad as hell at us or ignorant of the hurt we are experiencing and we can still experience the freedom of forgiveness. Which brings me to another point…
Obstacles to Forgiveness
These are the things that stand in the way of our ability to receive the Grace of forgiveness:
- RESENTMENT: Resentment is the armour we gather around ourselves to protect us from the pain of hurt, harm, disappointment, betrayal. Resentment gives us a false sense of strength and allows us to HATE the other person for what they have done to us.
- SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS: I’m right….they are wrong. Again…..provides us with a false sense of strength….armouring us from the hurt.
- ATTACHMENT to THEIR APOLOGY: May or may not happen. As long as we are waiting for the other party to apologize for their role in the conflict, the Grace of forgiveness will not be received. Some will never be able to set down their shield of pride long enough to say, “I’m sorry for having hurt you.” Even if the hurting was unintentional. And some….just don’t know they hurt you in the first place.
- ATTACHMENT to THEM ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY: This kind of goes along with the apology thing. Some will never accept responsibility for their part in the conflict. Some are not interested or capable of doing the deep inner work that is necessary in owning their part in a conflict…..even if the hurt was unintentional.
Forgiveness – Best Practices
At the end of the day….forgiveness is a spiritual thing. It is something that is accomplished beyond us, through us and often in spite of us. To put it in theistic language: The Grace of forgiveness belongs to God. As such, it is ultimately through our spiritual practice that we open to the Grace of forgiveness. I have found two simple practices that make us available to receiving forgiveness:
- Tonglen – I address Tonglen in detail in my blog about TRUTH. (click link to read directions on Tonglen)
- Mantra – Mantra is a form of meditation/prayer by which we repeat a phrase over and over and over, allowing it to bring us to a peaceful and relaxed state. The added benefit to mantra is that it has the power to change us by the sounds and meanings of the sacred phrase we are repeating. My favorite mantra for forgiveness is from the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer: (to hear the whole Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, click HERE.)
Washboqlan khaubayn (wakhtahayn) aykanna daph khnan shbwoqan l’khayyabayn
Which translated means: Loose the cords of mistakes binding us, as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
The Final Word
At the end of the day, forgiveness is about releasing our judgment of another person’s actions……hence the difficulty of forgiveness. It is our judgment of other’s actions that causes the separation that makes forgiveness necessary in the first place. And…it is through forgiveness that we are re-conciled……restored to our original nature as ONE with each other, with ourselves, with God and with all creation. And it is here that we shall once again know peace.
How are you being invited to enter into a process of forgiveness?