About Forgiveness

Besides parties, food and rest, I think holidays (Holy days or sacred days) are a good time for introspection, to go inside, to come in contact with oneself.

In this context it really struck me to find out that the word forgiveness in Aramaic (the language several parts of the Bible are original written on) means to untie.

I found this to be amazingly beautiful. Usually we think about forgiveness as being about other people – forgiving others. But if we think about untying, we realize it’s actually about us, about breaking from something that holds us tight. When I have an account or resentment, I am bound, I am a prisoner, I am enslaved. But when I forgive, I become free.

We live in a society where it’s very difficult not to have some accounts, some kind of resentment with other people, and the older we become, the more accounts we have, even with people that are already dead. And every account is like a weight on our shoulders, a heavy weight in our life. We need to get rid of our resentments, of our accounts…of our hatred.

There is a quote I really like that says: ‘resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.’ And this is so true! Resentment eats our life while doing absolutely nothing to the other person. Having resentments, even if we are not aware of then, is like a little rat eating our heart, little by little, in silence, making us bleed. We need to bring this to mind often, otherwise there are so many excuses we find why we want to keep our resentments.

…One of our best excuses is the feeling of being right.

But is so difficult to really know the truth about anything that happened! For any resentment we may have right now, in order to keep it alive, we rely on our memory. But it’s well known that memory lies! (For an interesting article about this, please see http://www.entelechyjournal.com/ericdlehman.htm)

But let’s imagine we can be sure our memory is 100% accurate. I remember a teacher of mine saying: ‘it’s even worse if you are right’. It’s worse because the believe in our rightness will make us blind to one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Nobody does anything unless they believe in the moment to be correct. Even if we know they are absolutely wrong, in that particular moment, given their understanding in that moment, they do what they do because they believe it to be good.

This is very difficult to understand, but nobody does what we call ‘bad things’ on purpose. (For a better understanding of this idea you can see this note: About Wrongdoing)

Of course this does not mean that a person may not have to go to jail or pay for some perpetrated wrong, but forgiveness is not necessarily an external action. It is an internal one, it is the untie, the letting go, the mental freedom that I bring to a situation when I understand that nothing is made out of evil, but only out of ignorance. A person may be blind, it may not see what I am seeing, but then, how can I resent blindness?

One more interesting thing is that in my experience, the worst moments I had in my life (and I had some very bad ones) have changed me like nothing else. In those difficult moments I have learned so many hidden things about myself, about other people, about the world. Those moments have helped me to improve myself, to change; they were like golden purifiers. Of course I don’t wait for them to happen to me again and I don’t wish them to happen to anybody, but if they do, and sooner or later we all may experience difficult moments, it’s possible to become grateful for them, to be grateful even for the people involved.

One way to forgive, to untie ourselves from a situation, is to deeply understand that in whatever happens there is always, underneath the suffering, a very quiet whisper that says: ‘you can use this to grow, to mature, to become a more beautiful human being’. Suffering can crush us, or it can make us grow.

Categories: Reflections

There are 4 comments

  1. carmen

    Dear Carlos,thank you SO much for this reflection.This is came in a moment of my life that I desperate need to learn TO UNTIE and forgive myself first of all and than to the other.Every word you share in this reflection is like an echo in my had,but still,this is SO SO difficult to let it go… It is possible to forgive just inside,without expressing:)? Half measure….it’s not!Best wishes to you and your family ! Happy Holidays !

    1. Carlos

      Dear Carmen,
      For me, the way I see forgiveness is not really an action, but an understanding. The understanding may become an action, but it is not something ‚I need to do’. An action comes, or not, as the result of an understanding.
      You say you need to forgive yourself. Yes, good, but don’t think at all about how to do that. Instead, focus on the understanding of what is preventing you from doing it that. May be—and of course I have no idea, I am just giving an example—you have a thought that says you are not a good person because of something you have done. What you need to do is to INVESTIGATE the truth of that thought. There are many ways to do that, and the note I just wrote mention a few of the ways (for example, the understanding that whatever I did, was not out of evil, but out of ignorance. In other words, it was not because I am a bad person, but simply because at that moment, I didn’t know better.) There are many more. You can write me at carlos@yogaofpresence.com if you need some more help with this.

      The same with forgiving someone else. You say: ‘Is it possible to forgive inside, without expressing?’ I will say, it is the best way! Don’t worry about the expressing part. The expressing may come as the consequence of your inside understanding, but it is not the main part. Yes, of course if the desire appears to express your understanding, that is wonderful—and actually the deeper the inside understanding, the stronger the desire may become to make that understanding available to the other person. But, as I said before, that desire, that impulse, is not something you need ‘to do’. It is the consequence, the side effect, of your insight.

      What we need to do…and actually the only thing that we can do, is to correct, to redirect our own thoughts to the truth; the rest will take care of itself.

      1. Carlos

        An after thought.
        This process of investigating our thoughts is precisely that: a process, and sometimes it can take a while, especially when our resentments (our believes) are very deep. Investigating our own thoughts is a wonderful, although not always easy work that takes courage. We love our resentments because they give us a sense of being right; but we should love much more our freedom. And it is this love, this understanding that truth is incommensurably better than my attachments, what allows this process to proceed.

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