Chapters in the Story of Consciousness – Lecture Series, Vol 24 . read
Forgiving oneself and others
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group
Regardless of who has harmed you, whether they actually deserve your forgiveness or whether you choose to forgive someone (excluding forgiving yourself here) it does not mean you are condoning or excusing offenses.
An important rule about forgiveness is not to say you forgive someone when you don’t. It won’t make you feel better, and it won’t make your life easier. The universe will not recognize this as a genuine act and thus it has no spiritual consequence.
True forgiveness means acknowledging that our suffering matters—to us, the one who’s lived it—whether or not the other person ever agrees with us. We say, you matter—to our own heart. And it bears repeating, we do all this with or without the other’s awareness. It is not necessary to bring the other person into your desire to forgive them this is an inside job for your consumption, healing, and wellbeing.
Practicing forgiveness can have powerful health benefits. Observational studies, and even some randomized trials, suggest that forgiveness is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility; reduced substance abuse; higher self-esteem; and greater life satisfaction.
Forgiveness is difficult in part because evolution has endowed us with the psychological motivation to avoid being exploited by others, and one of the easiest ways to prevent exploitation is to hit back or simply avoid the exploiter.
Forgiving does not mean extending an invitation of reconciliation to someone. The people who wronged us won’t accept the offer. Worse, they’ll pretend their hurtful words and actions weren’t toxic at all. Forgiveness is all about getting rid of the emotional burden of bitterness on a spiritual level than about making peace with the abuser.
However, making peace with our own bitterness doesn’t mean diminishing the harm done to us and pretending it never happened. It just means we’re no longer locked in the same mental state about what happened in the past and we can continue to grow and evolve our consciousness.
The need for humans to practice forgiveness of one another at the spiritual level, begins with forgiving oneself. We often hurt ourselves most by making poor choices that affect us personally, our loved ones or others unintentionally yet we feel profound guilt. Sometimes we have done something to others deliberately for which we have to reconcile our actions with our morality. If we are experiencing personal guilt of some type, we must forgive ourselves first before trying to use forgiveness of others as a tool for healing.
Forgiving yourself is about more than just putting the past behind you and moving on. It is about accepting what has happened, taking responsibility for it, and showing compassion to yourself. Facing what you have done or what has happened is the first step toward self-forgiveness. It’s also the hardest step.
Some people find self-forgiveness hard because they do not permit it and continue wanting to suffer in remorse. They may interpret it as condoning themselves and allowing future hurtful acts. Self-forgiveness is also not the nature of narcissists and idealists as they refuse to admit they have made mistakes.
What if the worst thing that could happen to us, after we leave this world, was to experience how someone we harmed felt about the experience of what we did to them and how they felt about us, how harshly would we judge ourselves? Would we then inculcate this experience into our being so that in another life we did not repeat this kind of behavior? Maybe that is the lesson of doing wrong to others or being wronged by them?
Here is a meditative exercise directed toward self-forgiveness:
Once you are in a deep meditative state instruct your witnessing awareness or your higher self to step away from the body. Use your imagination to facilitate this. Turn around and look at the seated body and observe it. Feel the conflict it has going on inside about what it is seeking forgiveness for. Observe the pain it is experiencing, feel its suffering and confusion. Note that you the witnessing consciousness has no pain, you are fine your emotions are stable.
Now allow your witnessing self to feel compassion, empathy, and love for the seated body. You the witnessing body understand the struggle the seated body is going through and feel deep sorrow for it. You the witnessing body, through your observation knows the seated body is fragile, trying to do the right thing and needs your help. Strong emotions well up within you the witness for the suffering going on inside the seated body. You now encourage the seated body to let go, inform it that all will be as it should be, love and healing will return by accepting forgiveness as the path, accept that path now. Stay focused in that thought for as long as possible and even reaffirm that to the seated body as many times as you like. Once you feel the intention has been set in motion in the seated body return to it and gently awaken it. This exercise can be repeated in future meditation sessions until you are comfortable that forgiveness has been set in motion at the being level.
Here is a meditative exercise directed toward forgiving others:
Once you are in a deep meditative state gently bring you attention to the one that has created this deep hurt within you. Set the act that caused the hurt aside and bring you attention to the person. Look past the hate, anger, or malevolent actions toward you and see them as just a person, another witnessing consciousness in this world, like you are a witnessing consciousness, like we are all witnessing conscious beings.
Sit with that idea for a moment, really understand what it is you are asking of yourself. Now begin to think of this world as a stage play in which each of us has a role. Some play the role of good people; others play the role of bad people. The purpose of the stage play is to teach us lessons by which to evolve our consciousness and our souls. Sit with that for a moment, absorb the idea that life is a reality show and has a grander purpose that we sometimes do not understand, like the horrific thing the person has done to you.
The lesson is to come back from despair in a world that is not fair to find peace, serenity, and love. You understand this life lesson is about creating contrast between good and bad to show you a way to become stronger and expand your love of self and others. You realize you can come back from despair by forgiving this person. The power of your negative energy, dislike, hate or ill will toward them only prolongs your healing, you must let it go now. They have brought you the gift of a lesson.
You need to forgive them at your being level, you do not need to reach out to them in the waking stage reality. Forgiving them at your being level is enough to heal and become healthy again. Let go there is nothing left to be angry about, you understand the lesson, you understand that at the being level this person was the tool that brought you that lesson and has no real malice toward you at their being level. You know that this is a big move forward in your spiritual development. Close this meditation by sending the person who harmed you a blessing of love and gratitude for bringing this lesson to you. Repeat this meditation until you can see this person without anger but with love and gratitude.
Quotes to Ponder:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Marianne Williamson
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Mahatma Gandhi