May 14, 2014

Forgiveness: Recognizing Our Shared Humanity.

Ahmad Mujaddid/Pixoto

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”  ~ Pema Chodron

That pain you carry around: I invite you to dust it off.

I know, I’m asking the unspeakable from you.

Take it off the shelf, dust it off, and open the cover. Crack the spine. Resist the urge to find your way out of it (this moment, the practice). Acknowledge the tension and discomfort that reading your own pain may bring.

Getting lost in confession.

Acknowledge that too.

But before you get hooked on the storyline of your pain and the who-did-what-why-how-could-they, see if you can come into a place of observance.

Notice the main players. Who are they?

Recently, during a meditation session on forgiving, I asked myself what it would take for me to do the same thing. Those same actions that are causing so much pain. What state would I have to be in?

At first it was “f**k that, nothing. I’d never.”

And then it was all like “Oh really?”

So ask yourself, what would it take for you to do the same thing. And when you come to that likely place of “nothing,” I urge you to give yourself a playful sideways glance and ask “Oh really?”

Because nothing is impossible. You can find a set of circumstances that might bring you to act in a similar way.

Practice this in short bursts, several times. You’ll find that each time will reveal another layer. Eventually you may get to a point where you find compassion for the actors in your story, and/or you are able to let some of the storyline go.

Maybe not. It is a practice, never perfect but always evolving.

A caveat: 

Forgiving is not justifying.

Forgiving is not absolving someone of their responsibility.

Forgiving, for me, is a personal practice that I use to bring myself into a place of ease. It is selfish in many ways, because carrying around that burden over time becomes heavy and I cling to it.

I create more suffering when I hold onto it. So this practice is one of kindness, compassion, gentleness and letting go. I move into this practice from a place of resistance at first, but I am practiced and well versed in my resistance. I encourage you to play with the wall of resistance, but ultimately be kind to yourself. Just as we say in yoga class, “don’t force yourself into the pose.”

This is a practice in finding shared humanity, that which unite us. If we remember that, and move towards that, it will become our guiding light. We will find our way.

Sometimes we need support in our forgiveness practices. A trusted ear is helpful. Prayer too.

May you find ease.



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Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Ahmad Mujaddid/Pixoto


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