#4930 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - Editor: Dustin LindenSmith
- #4930 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 - Editor: Dustin LindenSmithToday's issue comes from September 2010, edited by Mark Otter. It deals with forgiveness. I'm sure almost all of us have some experience from earlier in our lives that hurt us in some way, and many of us carry that pain forward to the present moment for many years after the fact. It's not very uncommon for us to have also used compulsive behaviours like binge eating, drinking, or drugs to numb those painful feelings, too. In fact, it's pretty rare to see an alcohol or drug addict who hasn't experienced some significant form of trauma earlier in their life.I recently had a therapist take me through a 30-minute "talk" that reframed the context for some of my own painful childhood experiences in a way that removed almost all of their sting for me. And when we were finished, the feelings I had towards the person who caused me that pain were really quite transformed."Ironic Process Theory" is a term derived by psychologists to describe how trying to avoid thinking about certain thoughts can actually make those thoughts more persistent. It's often demonstrated by asking subjects not to think about a white elephant, and then checking in with them a minute later and discovering that they can't stop thinking about white elephants.Forgiveness might be something like that too. If you've frequently -- even subconsciously -- reiterated certain thoughts about certain events from your past, you may have been reinforcing those painful thoughts over and over again in your mind, rendering them so persistent and present in your mind that you can't avoid the suffering that arises from those memories.As the passages below attest, forgiveness is not for the weak. It is not an action after the fact. When you hold resentment towards someone, it creates painful and terribly strong emotional bonds between you and them. But with true forgiveness genuinely comes true peace.Dustin---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: markwotter704 <markwotter704@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5, 2010 at 11:52 PM
Subject: [NDhighlights] #4004 - Sunday, September 5, 2010
Nonduality Highlights: Issue #4004, Sunday, September 5, 2010
Forgivness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
- Mark Twain (Thanks, Kath!)
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- Mahatma Gandhi
True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment.
- David Ridge
When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.
- Catherine Ponder
If you want to get rid of your enemy, the true way is to realize that your enemy is delusion.
Kegon Sutra, posted to Distillation
Forgiveness is an essential ingredient of bodhichitta practice. It allows us to let go of the past and make a fresh start.
When a close friend of mine was dying, a Tibetan teacher told her to review her life with honesty and compassion. This process led her to some pretty dark places, corners of her mind where she was stuck in guilt and resentment. The teacher then instructed her in forgiveness, saying that the most important thing to do was to forgive herself. He suggested that she do a variation on tonglen. She should begin by visualizing herself and then intentionally bring up all her life's regrets. The point was not to dwell in painful memories but to contact the feelings underlying the pain: guilt or shame, confusion or remorse. The feelings didn't have to be named; she was to contact the stuckness in a nonverbal way.
The next step was to breathe these feelings into her heart, opening it as wide as she possibly could, and then to send herself forgiveness.After that, she was to think of others feeling the same anguish and to breathe their pain and hers into her heart and to send everyone forgiveness. My friend found this to be a healing process. It allowed her to make amends with those she had hurt and those who had hurt her. She was able to let go of her shame and anger before she died.
A woman who came to Gampo Abbey for a tonglen retreat had suffered severe sexual abuse from her father. She strongly identified with caged birds; she told me that she often felt like a bird in a cage. During tonglen, she would breathe in the feeling of being small and caged; on the outbreath she would open the door and let all the birds out. One day as she was sending and taking in this way, she experienced one of the birds flying out and landing on a man's shoulder. Then the man turned around and she saw it was her father. For the first time in her life she was able to forgive him.
Forgiveness, it seems, cannot be forced. When we are brave enough to open our hearts to ourselves, however, forgiveness will emerge.
There is a simple practice we can do to cultivate forgiveness. First we acknowledge what we feel - shame, revenge, embarrassment, remorse. Then we forgive ourselves for being human. Then, in the spirit of not wallowing in the pain, we let go and make a fresh start. We don't have to carry the burden with us anymore. We can acknowledge, forgive, and start anew. If we practice this way, little by little we'll learn to abide with the feeling of regret for having hurt ourselves and others. We will also learn self-forgiveness. Eventually, at our own speed, we'll even find our capacity to forgive those who have done us harm. We will discover forgiveness as a natural expression of the open heart, an expression of our basic goodness. This potential is inherent in every moment. Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start.
- Pema Chodron, from The Places That Scare You, via the Allspirit site
There is a very simple secret to being happy. Just let go of your demand on this moment. Any time you have a demand on the moment to give you something or remove something, there is suffering. Your demands keep you chained to the dream state of conditioned mind. The problem is that when there is a demand, you completely miss what is now.
Letting go applies to the highest sacred demand, and even to the demand for love. If you demand in some subtle way to be loved, even if you get love, it is never enough. In the next moment, the demand reasserts itself, and you need to be loved again. But as soon as you let go, there is knowing in that instant that there is love here already. The mind is afraid to let go of its demand because the mind thinks that if it lets go, it is not going to get what it wants - as if demanding works. This is not the way things work. Stop chasing peace and stop chasing love, and your heart becomes full. Stop trying to be a better person, and you are a better person. Stop trying to forgive, and forgiveness happens. Stop and be still.
- Adyashanti, from Emptiness Dancing
Through forgiveness, which essentially means recognizing the insubstantiality of the past and allowing the present moment to be as it is, the miracle of transformation happens not only within but also without.
- Eckhart Tolle