The Art of Forgiveness

The ability to forgive directly correlates with the yearning to understand. From blaming, the narrative takes a sudden shift to absolvement. In blame, the whole person becomes that one action, whereas, in understanding, the past story is unearthed that has led them to the act. Understanding goes beyond the surface, whereas blame is seeing the superficial, only what is there, it lacks depth. There is an intelligence in forgiveness because it demands going beyond yourself and your illusions on morality.

Forgiveness implies the willingness to witness the humanity of another person, even if their actions seem inhumane. Though we claim we could never do something so horrid as they did, we can at the very least see why someone else would. We are all just reacting from our personal database. 

As much as we all like to think we are equals, we are not. Each of us operates from a limited set of tools that vary person to person, handed to us from the foundation of familial life, our biology, conditioning, and culture. 

We are humans who are fallible in nature, we learn through making mistakes continuously. These mistakes inevitably have a ripple effect, they do not only touch us, for we are so interrelated. It spreads. 

When someone does something we deem as ‘bad’, we cannot see the person behind the action. They become what they have done. They are the badness or wrongness.

Awareness allows us to see, but it is so clouded by the ego, which is in the separation. This is what makes us unable to forgive, the ego not seeing the other’s humanity. Our melodrama is the only thing to exist at the moment. Awareness is simply a small space, a pause to see outside of yourself, to witness the other and his predicament.

I once had a girlfriend who told me that she has compassion for her rapist, because she knows he was just a product of his violent upbringing and a patriarchal society. and that to do something so horrid you have to be in a horrid state of mind. This is not saying she went and hugged her rapist or kissed and made up, it means that she did not hate him, or see what he did to her as anything to do with her, it was everything to do with him. She saw him as a person, a person with problems that ran very deep. 

Dehumanization prohibits forgiveness, a person turns monster and the monster recycles his debt, for he is not given the space to change. We see this in the polarization of the news, demonizing people and simplifying the human condition, hiding it actually. We see this with the prison industrial complex in the United States, people have their whole lives followed by the shadow of their crimes. Prison is not about rehabilitating people, it is about punishing them and never forgiving them, even when they pay their dues and leave prison. They are unable to get normal jobs and their record follows them for the rest of their lives.

When we are unable to forgive, we hold the person to low standards, not believing in their capacity to be better. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They become the bad thing they have done. 

Forgiveness is saying “I see that you did something hurtful, and I am giving you the power to not be defined by that one action.” Forgiveness always implies a type of optimism, the belief that humans can change. Forgiveness goes beyond labeling and conceptualizing another person as a villain in our lives or a predator or evil. We get in the way of our own healing so often through our own intelligence.

The intellect has become a weapon we use against ourselves. Memory is a tool, but we use it as a knife, cutting ourselves, remembering and clinging, holding onto the wrongs we feel the world has unfairly dealt us. We can feel the heat of a trauma as if it just happened. And we harm ourselves the most when we do not forgive because we are taking on that pain as our own by refusing to release it. 

The mind clings and clings, especially to the negative. Forgiving is the ability to release. When we are in hatred, we store the emotions in the heart, and the flow of energy cannot disperse because we are so blocked from past experiences and traumas. 

When energy is unable to flow we become depressed, lower versions of ourselves. The energy of life cannot enter and move. We stagnate. The world cannot flow through us with ease if we are clinging to things. We are taking the worst we have experienced and storing it within us for so long, it becomes us. 

To allow life is to accept it as it is. Even when you feel you have been misled or wronged or betrayed. Forgiving is accepting and moving on. And that does not mean that you go back to the person who hurt you, it means you do not hold on to what they did. You know that their actions do not define you.

But how to move on if we were handed no closure? Or if the pain is being recycled through us, feeling like it is never-ending? We have to accept that it is beyond us. That the external world is not something we can control. The hurt will come and we must learn how to let it go. We let it go by knowing it is not us. 

In forgiveness, we teach ourselves how to live again. When we refuse to close or contract, we remain open and allow all of life to move through us. To be a victim to life is to live in a world with beauty, and remain closed to it all because you think you are protecting yourself. The shield blocks the flowers too. 

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