April 7, 2011

“I’ll Forgive You, You Miserable Bastard.” Forgiveness That Hurts or Works.

Forgiveness as a new view

Imagine you are stuck in traffic. You find yourself in a rage at the driver of the car stopped up ahead. He’s causing this whole mess! And then you are lifted up, as if in a helicopter. You see an accident a mile ahead. You have a new view. You now look at the driver ahead, who, a moment ago you hated. You shake your head and smile.

This is how true, liberating, forgiveness works. It happens quickly and completely. Your new view of the situation is based on truth, not on a mistake.

Most of us have no idea how to forgive. We keep doing it over and over the wrong way. And we get the same temporary sick satisfaction, but no lasting happiness or liberating sense of freedom.

The ego’s version of forgiveness


The ego wants to be “good” and so it has its own method of forgiving. One of the ego’s favorite ways to “forgive” might sound something like this:

“I will forgive you, you miserable bastard, because I am the bigger person. I’m the lordly one. I grant thee, you poor lesser soul, my forgiveness.

Or this:

“I will just let it go.” (This one actually sounds spiritual.)

In both cases, there is no real forgiveness. The offending person is still “guilty.” The forgiver will attempt to let go of what “really” happened. But how can he? It really happened and no pledge to just let it go can change that. All that was really accomplished is the “forgiving” ego inflated itself in smugness and fortified its judgment.  Now these egos can look spiritual and wear a halo.

If you break it down, the ego is designed to judge, justify judgment, and unfortunately, then condemn. It starts with judgement, yes, but notice the role played by the justification of judgement. Justification is like welding a coat of steel armor over the judgment. It protects the judgment by declaring, “I am right.” This is a closed and heavily guarded system. It’s pretty much foolproof. Looking into both examples, the forgiver’s judgment is still “right,” and justified. If you look closely, the condemnation is quietly, proudly, there too.

There is no forgiveness in either of these approaches, only a temporary feeling that, under examination, might be called superiority, manipulation, or control. Someone loses so the ego can win. It’s kind of sick. This is the best the ego can offer: a sick satisfaction.

So, the ego has constructed a convincing, heavily defended, anti-forgiveness system that looks like forgiveness and feels a little “good.”  What do we do?


Drop the whole ego judgement system.


It can’t be fixed or prettied up. It can’t help itself. It simply cannot forgive.

Forgiveness that works begins with the acknowledgement that you don’t really understand the situation. It is the admission that maybe there is something out of your view, something you don’t see right now. It’s a willingness to remove the armor of justification.   Will you leave your judgement unprotected?  It’s the most courageous and rewarding act in this world.   Will you allow the possibility that your judgement is wrong?

Many stop here, deeply afraid that this admission will diminish their identity, their very being.  But long as you believe you are “right” or you “know,” you remain spiritually arrogant and ignorant.  Would you give up your self to know your Self?   Would you insist that your hatred for the driver of the car up ahead is justified?

When you relinquish this point of view and admit that you may not know everything about a situation, you become available to new insights beyond your eyes’ tiny view, beyond your sketchy memory of “what happened,” and beyond your instant, irrevocable and conclusive judgment. Simply put, “I don’t know.”

“I don’t know” makes the tiniest of cracks in the armor. Insight, compassion and understanding, waiting since time began for this opening, shine through.

You could call it intuition, your higher self, or divine inspiration. It doesn’t matter what you call it. We waste time arguing over words. Words are symbols of symbols. We argue way out there, at the remote border of a symbol of a symbol, missing the meaning that is right here when we say I don’t know. We get insight when we drop all the insane arguments, and just say I don’t know. We get a new view of the situation. This is forgiveness that forgives, frees and uplifts. This is forgiveness that clears away all obstacles to Love.

Is a mistake a sin?  Is it a sin to be afraid?

You may now see mistakes you made and realize you were just afraid when you made them. This doesn’t condemn the ego, (that would just be more ego), it just shines a light of compassion and understanding in there.

Is it a sin to be afraid? You may see what was unforgivable in yourself and in others as simply mistakes made from fear. Would you condemn another person for being afraid — just as you are sometimes? Could you see that all our actions born in fear -no matter what they look like, are really a cry for help? Would you condemn another for asking for your help? (Here we may be forgiving our own projection.)

This kind of insight will automatically transform all of your relationships, if you are willing. You may get hung up believing that there are some people (even you) who are simply unforgivable. This is like saying:

“I would rather hold on to my tiny view and keep hating the driver stopped ahead rather than know the truth.”

You can always change your mind. Just go back to the beginning and acknowledge that you don’t really understand the situation. Make an opening for insight. So many of us carry our burdens for years unnecessarily. Forgiveness is always right here if you are willing to make a little opening for it by just allowing the possibility that you don’t really understand the situation.

In that instant, a day, a week, whenever you are ready, you will have a new vision of the situation.  Ignorance disappears automatically.  Real forgiveness is easy if you are willing to admit you don’t have insight into what happened.

The only limit

Our insights will expand to the point where going further might scare us.  Our higher mind would never increase our fear; our lower mind is in charge of that!  There is a lot of insight possible.

View of the whole world

And as the helicopter goes higher, you will understand more.  To get a really good vantage point, you’d actually need a rocket ship. And from this rocket ship, you’d hear quite a din:  sirens wailing, people laughing, machine guns spraying, babies crying, earthquakes shuddering, an airliner zooming, and dogs barking.  The whole world.

You might see that everyone in the world is afraid.

We are all afraid that people won’t like us, that we are not good enough, and that we are somehow fundamentally unsafe. Underneath that, we are all afraid because we don’t really know what we are, or what we are supposed to do here. Below even that, we are afraid because we may vaguely sense that something is wrong here, and we may even feel a hint of guilt about it.

Everyone is in some kind of traffic jam

Despite this, we might put on our happy game face and act like all is well and that we are successful. But underneath, we are all afraid. Everyone is in some kind traffic jam.  Some live lives of outright desperation. Some, to quote Thoreau, live lives of quiet desperation. It doesn’t matter. All degrees of unforgiveness block our path. The slightest unease blocks love exactly the same as full-on rage.

We are all looking for the perfect safety of love and the perfect worthiness of love, but we just don’t know how to find it. And lost in our fear, we strike out in every imaginable way. Now, seeing the world this way, you could have a new vision.

You may see that ALL BEINGS are simply lost in fear just like you. You may be overwhelmed by compassion for their struggle. This is forgiveness of the chaos of the world.  It is pure Love. It can happen instantly. It may seem a pretty far stretch from hating the driver a few cars ahead, but the experience is there when you are ready to give up your own eyes’ tiny view, your short horizon. Your remaining fragments of unforgiveness might just disappear in this insight. It would indeed be hard to hold onto harsh judgments of others now.

Quantum Forgiveness


Beyond this, you may be lifted up right out of time and space. Some people call this Quantum Forgiveness. “Quantum” might not be the best word, but it gives you a sense that maybe physicists are right: Time and Space are an illusion.  This view is also called non-dualism.  Not-two.  For most of us right now, this view is just outside of our experience and remains a mere intellectual exercise.

It is a shocking new view. However, those who have glimpsed it, tell that it is ecstatic. It is sometimes described as waking up from a nightmare (this world) and saying, “Oh, it was just a dream. Nothing happened.” As Buddha and many yogic texts say, “all is illusion.” What others did to me never happened in Reality. There was never anything to forgive. In this view, some people call the one reality Love, -all we are really seeking here.  Forgiveness based on a new view clears a path to it.

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