Evidence of the importance of forgiveness lies in the fact that all spiritual traditions give it a central place. One of the main reasons why it is not easy is because deep wounding can bind us in a perverse way to the source of our pain, resulting in our remaining very fixated in and therefore attached to our suffering and essentially, what forgiveness asks of us, is that we learn to let go. Let us imagine that something terrible will have happened to us, say, that we will have been betrayed, abused or tortured in some ways, or that those we love are stolen from us. What we will tend to feel is great outrage, the sense that something very precious and sacred to us and that gives our lives meaning, will have been stolen from us. And here the outrage, together with all the suffering accompanying it, can become the new meaning to fill our void!
Forgetting that we turn into what we hate, the sense of having been wronged can create in us the illusion of our own purity. In our minds, we become all good, and those whom we feel will have hurt or betrayed us, all bad. Thus we may feel justified in giving vent to our destructive tendencies we are now allowed, in return, to rape, pillage, torture, abuse and try to destroy those we perceive as our destroyers. To forgive them would deny us this luxury! Such scenarios can be further exacerbated by the fact that many of us can carry deep wounds that seem unconnected with anything that would appear to have happened to us personally. Many report carrying deep cellular memories of ancestral, racial or religious violence relating to incidents they have no personal knowledge of and many of these old enmities are surfacing powerfully at this moment because we are living at a very special time I believe a new culture of love is currently wanting to emerge and is doing its very best to break through into our awareness.
In other words, we may say that we are all living at a time of great spiritual awakening, where much spiritual light is now emerging on our planet. And one of the effects of spiritual light is to expose or illumine for us, the dark and cobwebby areas that obscure it, not only inside each of us personally, but also within humanity collectively and within our world globally. So, given these many challenges, how then, do we forgive? Here, the first thing to bear in mind is that situations requiring forgiveness always involve conflict and that conflict can never be solved at the level that it exists at. It can only be solved at a higher level of consciousness, at a level where oppositions begin to converge as opposed to fight. To forgive, then, whether it be ourselves, another person, another race or a nation, or whatever, what is essential is that we be in a place of being able to raise our awareness to a level higher than that in which the original perceived wounding occurred. So long as we still remain caught in our old dramas, no resolution is possible. The bigger our egos, the harder it is to forgive and the less we will be motivated to want to do so! I maintain, then, that in order to forgive, we have to be able to open our hearts, for it is essentially only with our hearts that we can experience our true self worth. I believe that the more open our hearts are, the more we able to access the kind of wisdom that enables us to understand what lies behind why certain painful things will have taken place.
It is only inside our hearts that we discover the wherewithal to let bygones be bygones, the humility to give up our self righteousness, the compassion and the generosity of spirit to love those who have hurt us, together with the spiritual intelligence to understand how forgiveness brings freedom. When our hearts begin to open, we only want justice and truth; everyone increasingly becomes our brother and sister and less and less is there the space to have enemies, for we are no longer interested in exacting revenge.
The more open our hearts are, therefore, the stronger are our possibilities for forgiveness. Indeed, inside our inner hearts exists a veritable alchemical laboratory whose fire not only allows us to transmute and burn up our grief, but also empowers us recognise the deeper purpose behind why certain things happen as they do, even if those things are painful and terrible. I believe all these perspectives are necessary if genuine forgiveness is to take place. One might say at this stage: “it is all very well saying all this, but how can our heart open in such circumstances?” Surely, the effect of our wounding is to keep them crushed and closed. Surely, to experience courage and strength and self esteem in such instances, is not possible! While I agree that this can sometimes be the case, it is not always so with everyone.
We remember that in the act of forgiving those who may have hurt us, we not only help re-humanise them, but we also do the same for ourselves. To forgive, then, is an important part of our own transformational process. It is also a significant form of service. And one powerful way of helping activate this space is to make a daily practice of seeking to behave in a loving and generous-spirited way towards everyone we encounter. I have met people who were so practiced at this, that one could say of them that their very presence radiated the spirit of forgiveness. However, please remember that the cultivation of such presence cannot happen overnight and we must be patient and learn to live gradually into our forgiveness. While we will begin our journey calling out to it, searching for it, we may end it by the spirit of forgiveness drawing us ever closer into its own heart.
We must remember that to forgive is an important part of our own transformational process and a significant form of service. Be Happy – Forgive Your Enemies.