Posts tagged #forgiveness

How Do You Forgive: 7 Steps to Freedom

How do you forgive when you've been massively, relentlessly hurt? How do you forgive when your heart feels like it's been sliced into tiny bits and set on fire in a garbage heap?

You might be walking around feeling like a giant flaming wound of misery from the horror that was inflicted on you. Or. You might be experiencing resentment as a quiet background hum that fills your day with irritation and alienation.

Either way, you know you need to shift something.

How Do You Forgive

1. Notice how much it hurts to not be forgiving.

It's a heavy thing to carry around, all that non-forgiveness.  Let yourself feel the weight.

2. Imagine what it would feel like to be completely free from the anger and hurt you feel.

Really imagine it. Take five minutes to do this. Make it vivid. Go.

3. Consider the fact that you feeling angry and hurt is not doing anything to help anyone at all, ever.

In fact, it's probably cramping your style.  It's making you unhappy so you're probably being unpleasant and selfish, as unhappy people usually are.  You would be much more useful to all the rest of us if you felt free and at peace.

4. Remind yourself that just because you forgive, it doesn't mean you have to let the person who harmed you back into your life.

Forgiveness doesn't mean being a doormat.  Letting someone walk all over you isn't kind.  It hurts them because it enables them to be a jerk.  Forgiveness means harboring no ill will in your heart.  It means truly, earnestly, non-sarcastically wishing well for the person who hurt you.

To be explicit: this means not wishing that they go to hell, contract a debilitating disease, become famous in Hollywood or any other of the horrible fates that might befall one.

5.  Remind yourself that you've learned from what you've experienced.

You got the lesson, throughout your whole being.  Your pain taught you the lesson.  You've learned it, it's over.  You don't have to hold on to the suffering of unforgiveness in order to remember your lesson. It's in your mind and heart.  Trust your own intelligence.

You'll never run off and join the travelling carnival and change your name to Talulah again. You know better now.  It's not a good road.

6. Imagine the person that hurt you feeling ecstatically happy, at peace, loved and loving.

Imagine them feeling completely saturated with an abiding delight that cannot ever depart, that is unconditional, that is inalienable from their very being.

Imagine them in beautiful surroundings, doted on by loving people and adorable animals.  See them drinking hot chocolate next to a roaring hearth.

Notice that if they had truly felt this happy and fulfilled to begin with, they probably never would have hurt you.  They would have been too busy being ecstatically enraptured by flowers and cuddly kitties. Folks hurt other people because they're unhappy and not at peace.  Truly happy people hurt no one.

7. Imagine yourself feeling ecstatically happy, at peace, loved and loving.

See yourself in a state of utter relaxation, warmest goodness, utter joy.  Imagine that you're in beautiful surroundings, and you just feel great.  You feel great at such a deep level that you know how great you feel can never be shaken.

In Conclusion

That's it.  Keep doing this reflection every day, devoting lots of time to imagining the person who hurt you feeling happy and to you feeling utterly wonderful, too -- and you'll achieve the forgiveness you're after.

Not only that, but you'll just be happier in general.  And fun stuff will start to happen in your life- weird, cool synchronicities.  You'll get more done.  You'll sleep better. I'm not lying. Try it.

Forgiveness isn't something that happens when you just say, "I forgive him / her / myself." That only works for the very smallest of things, things that didn't even hurt you or offend you that much to begin with.

For stuff That's a Big Deal, you need to go deeper.  You need to engage your imagination to super-charge your good will.  Good will is the juice that makes forgiveness possible.

And the act of forgiving increases the amount of good will that you have.  And then you're better able to forgive, because you've got more juice.  And then things rock.

It's good ju-ju.

Posted on February 7, 2013 and filed under Forgiveness.

What is forgiveness? - it's just giving in advance, actually

The question of just what is forgiveness and how to practice it comes up for anyone who decides to try to earnestly put Christian teachings into action.  Or for anyone who just gets sick of being angry all the time. And once you try to forgive, you realize how hard it is. What is it and how does one do it, anyway?

Here's a clue that's often left out of conventional Christian teachings about forgiveness: when Jesus suggested that you infinitely forgive everyone who has ever harmed you, praise those who have insulted you and love your enemies, he was offering a deep teaching about deleting the ego.

This is left out of most talk of forgiveness because most folks would much rather retain their egos. America is all about ego.  Just look around, man.

But as long as you value your own comfort and pleasure above the happiness of most other beings (and the action of that valuing is precisely what keeps the ego in motion), it's actually impossible for you to forgive anyone or any situation.  For anything.

Your boss who takes you for granted and makes you do tasks you don't like. The government that grabs up all your money with taxes. The ex who betrayed your trust.  The parents who didn't treat you well. When your own welfare is the most important thing to you, you can't forgive these people their offenses.

How could you? They're all delivering obvious, repeated blows to exactly what you cherish the most: your self. Your security.

What is forgiveness? It's not just pardoning...

Of course, you do pardon these offenses for the sake of civility.  You grit your teeth and bear them. Keep going. But you feel all the time how they conflict with your desires and you resent them for that.  You go through your day feeling irritated and anxious and sad. That's living in conflict.

As long as your desire is chiefly for your own welfare and the welfare of those you like, you'll always be in conflict.

You'll always feel attacked.

Why? Because most other people on earth don't value your welfare above all else.  They have other priorities.  Namely, their own welfare.  This is true of your boss and the government and your ex and in often even your parents.  And so they will be inconsiderate of you.  They'll insult you.  They'll take advantage of you.

But you can't really blame them for any of that.  Why? Because they're just doing exactly what you do to them - valuing their own ease and welfare more than they value yours.


What is forgiveness? It's fore-giving

The only way to get out of this mess of conflict and constantly feeling offended and disappointed and depressed is to change your own value system.  As you may have noticed, you can't change other people.  You have to change you.

The only way to remain un-offended and happy when someone steps on you (which they will, guaranteed) is to be already willing, in advance, for them to take every good thing you own away from you.


I know that sounds extreme. Folks, it is extreme.  That's why it's been not talked about for so long.  That's why hardly any knows how to do it.

Forgiveness is extremely counter-cultural and  it's not for the faint-hearted. Most all of the laws of the great U.S.A., for example, are built around protecting private property. We're really into keeping what we have, not so much interested in giving all of it away.

Giving in Advance

So the essence of forgiveness is pre-giving. It's giving in advance. It's an attitude, a willingness that we have to deliberately cultivate.  "For" means "before."  Forgiveness just means that your giving, your attitude of total generosity, precedes their taking. Fore-give. Get it?

This is something Jesus was like, super good at.

He didn't get offended or angry when folks beat him and nailed him to a cross because he had already decided to give himself away, utterly.  He was already completely willing to give for the benefit of others.  The authorities thought it would be beneficial for Jesus to die. So Jesus was like, okay.

Dude was so peaceful about the whole bloody thing that he was more concerned for the people torturing and murdering him and how it might affect their spiritual standing than he was concerned about the fact that he was being tortured and murdered.

Most of us aren't going to be confronted with folks who want to torture and murder us.  But we will be confronted with unappreciative bosses, oppressive governments, heartbreaking exes, all-too-human parents and all the other perils of this difficult world. Most of us feel sufficiently crucified just by that.

What if you became willing, in advance, for your boss to have all your labor and comfort and ease and time, for your tyrannical government to have all your money, your lying ex to have all your dignity, your negligent parents to have all your goodwill?

Most of us immediately think, "Then I'd be a doormat."

But that's not true. You'd be a Christ.

Doormats are people who over-extend themselves out of fear.  They're afraid of being disliked, afraid of being rejected, so they try to please others in order to win approval and security. Do you think Jesus gave a fuck if anyone liked him? He most explicitly did not.

Can you see how manipulating by people-pleasing is not real generosity or fore-giveness? It's just a sneaky form of grasping and getting that takes on an air of martyrdom.

If your fore-giving comes out of a place of pure willingness instead of a place of manipulative sneakiness, it doesn't lead to you being pathetic.  It leads to you being enlightened and to you helping to enlighten all other beings.

Of course, it mind lead to you looking pathetic. Those Roman soldiers sure must have thought Jesus looked pathetic as he hung up on that awful tree.  And yet.  He was performing a service that was of inestimable value and glory.  Just about the opposite of pathetic.

Contrary to Pauline opinion, Christ didn't save us from our sins by way of turning his blood into some sort of Magic Wipe-Away-Sin Eraser Solvent that comes in convenient wine-flavored concentrate at your local rectory.

Instead, he saved us from our sins by showing us that it was fully possible for a human being to fore-give, to utterly fore-give, to remain full of peace and compassion and devotion to the welfare of others even while he himself was being cruelly tortured.

That possibility is so astounding, that example is so earth-shaking, that it has the power to completely save us from our own miserable egotism (aka, sin).

But that saving power only really comes about when we say to ourselves, "I can learn to do that, too. In fact, I will learn to do that."

Which is exactly what most of us emphatically do not say to ourselves, especially those of us who have been raised as Christians.  Because we're taught to worship Christ as if he was some impossibly-anomalous Anointed Prince of Zombies.

His attainment was rare, but he was not anomalous. His fore-giving is a vivid possibility for all of us.  Jesus was a human being whose Roman overlords didn't appreciate him, whose friends betrayed him, and whose parents were so negligent that they let him be born in a pile of straw.  He became a "son of God" because he fully realized his own potential to love as God loves - with no demands or resentment.

He showed us that we can become divine by cultivating the willingness to fore-give. To die to the illusion of our separate self. "To love one another as I have loved you."

The fruit of this fore-giveness is that we get to become awake within the dream of the world.  And I have a lot to say about that, coming soon.


image: [Tobyotter]

Posted on January 29, 2013 and filed under Bodhicitta, Generosity.

Dissipating the foul miasma of vast self-rejection

The objective correlative of suck The foul miasma of vast self-rejection is, of course, not a literal miasma but rather a mode of consciousness.  The miasma is the objective correlative of a sucky, hopeless view of the world.

J. Alfred Prufrock experiences the miasma as a "yellow fog" in T.S. Eliot's love song of self-doubt:

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

My miasma doesn't behave much like a house cat, though.  It behaves more like a wild wolf of slobbering terror.

Bad trips - always available!

When I'm in the miasma, my lovely life looks like a disaster resembling the scary drunken circus in Pinnochio.  It's not actually a disaster.  It's concretely just fine.  But our minds do create our reality in the sense that if I'm feeling misery and fear I will see misery and cause for fear every where. That's part of the difficulty of having a really strong genius.  The genius is always creative; it creates worlds. When the miasma is on me,  I'll see only the very worst in myself, in people, and in the world, and it'll be magnified 10,000 times.  It's very literally like a bad trip.

The thing most people don't realize is that you never need to take psychoactive drugs to have a bad trip. Or a good trip!  Our brains produce psychoactive chemicals all the time in response to our beliefs and interpretive decisions about the world.  I have some traumatic beliefs in me, and when those get triggered, the bad trip comes on.

Half the key to getting out of a bad miasmic trip is just to realize, this is a bad trip.  This is in my mind.  I can see this in a different way and all the yuck can disappear.  And by "disappear" I mean become no longer a problem in my consciousness.   All of reality can exist in its realness without me having to wage a special internal battle against any part of it.

I only feel like the yuck in other people and in the world is a problem for me to battle when I'm beset by the yuck myself.  The yuck (pain, aggression, delusion) has no intrinsic power.  It can be healed.  And I can't heal it when I'm obsessed with seeing it everywhere because I'm identified with it in myself.

I'm right now in the process of climbing out of the miasma.

For me, this is a process of truth-telling.  Queer Jesus said, "you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Not just any kind of truth works to dissipate the miasma, though.  To do that job I need uncut, high-grade, extremely potent truth.

Here's some:

We're all fundamentally good and that no one deserves to feel guilty or fearful at anytime, ever.

Even if you've committed  violent crimes - the wisdom to make amends for those crimes can only come to a consciousness that accepts its past confusion, recognizes its own inherent goodness, makes itself open to grace and becomes capable of loving action.  Self-hatred and self-rejection don't facilitate that process.  They make truth-telling too painful - which means we can't bear to acknowledge that we've been wrong and so we stay in denial and stay deluded and stay likely to commit more harm.

That's why Queer Jesus was so into telling everyone that they've been forgiven and they can forgive others.  Because non-forgiveness doesn't help. 

There actually is no cause for fear or suffering.  Those things are causeless illusions that only perpetuate themselves.

A way to stop the spread of contagious miasmic miserableness is to decide to remember and embody the truth of my profound innocence and everyone else's.  This means I can forgive.  I can make the decision to see myself and everyone else gently, with eyes of love.

I find it helps me to renew my inner commitment and decision that I can be joyful and free all the time, no matter what's going on in my life.  No matter if I have bills I don't know how to pay or people angry with me or if I've lost something I felt attached to.  It just doesn't matter, as Bill Murray likes to say.  I've decided that I'm worthy of happiness of the spirit all the time, without condition, and so are you, O Lovelight.

The minute I think there could ever be any real reason not to be joyful and at peace is the minute I become vulnerable to the miasma.  It's like opening a window in Venice when tuberculosis is in the air. Because even if nothing is "wrong" at this moment  - what if something could go wrong? And then I'd be unhappy! Better start being unhappy right now, in anticipation of my possible future unhappiness!

Best, actually, to decide that unhappiness is totally unnecessary.

I can acknowledge loss, address problems, correct my mistakes - all without having to feel heavy and guilty and awful.

So if you're feeling the miasma right now - start waving your hands around and jumping up and down to get it off of you.  It's just a bad trip.  It's not real.  You're perfect and you always will be.  You deserve to be cuddled up into a big blanket and given nice hot tea.  You're not a failure, you're not awful.  You're a magnificently strange human creature who makes the world better just by breathing.

What Is Unconditional Love

Love Without Limits

Unconditional love is the decision to never enact emotional violence against yourself or anyone else, ever.  It's a decision that's radical and deeply freeing.

You can become free of self-hatred and misery, free from patterns of suffering that keep you stuck. It doesn't matter if your problem is sucky romantic relationships or a job that torments you or a giant creative block or a compulsion to use substances or engage in dangerous behaviors.  It just doesn't matter what your problem is because all problems manifest from one thing: a lack of love.  If you become willing to apply simple spiritual principles in your life (love; forgiveness; hospitality; generosity; honesty; hope - and the greatest of these is love) without condition and without reservation, then your life can turn into a stunning glitter bomb of joy and possibility and magic.

I know that this is true because I went from being someone who shot heroin every day and wanted to die, someone whose primary concern in life was whether or not I could get enough drugs that day to numb the stunning pain of the problem of being me to being someone who wakes up every morning soaked in gratitude and thrilled to be myself - even when I'm broke, even when I'm single, even when I've failed at major projects that were dear to me.  This same self that I literally wanted to murder - I now cherish and delight in, without condition and without limit.

The Unconditional Decision

How did I get to this point? It happened because I decided to give myself huge joy and love and respect no matter what. What does that mean? It means that no matter what I do, no matter what happens - I'm going to feel great. "Carolyn - you mean, even if you kill somebody you're not going to feel guilty, you're not going to feel shame?"  And my answer to that is: yes, precisely. There's nothing I could do which I would not utterly forgive myself for, and forgiving myself means letting myself feel happy and wonderful. It means refusing to ever reject or punish myself, for any reason.  And the thing is, when I'm willing to give myself unconditional love, unconditional kindness- which really just means I'm willing to never impose shame and regret on myself - when I have that willingness, I'm without violence in my heart.  I would never want to hurt someone or kill someone because I feel so damn happy and loving.

Sometimes people think I'm crazy when I mention the unconditionalness and unlimitedness of my love for myself.  And that's okay - they can think I'm crazy and they can tell me all about the conditions under which they believe that shame and regret and guilt are appropriate.  Usually these conditions are situations of violence.  What the people who tell me this don't understand is that regret and guilt and shame are themselves forms of violence: inner violence, emotional violence.  The use of them creates more violence.  Do you think that people who hurt and abuse other people are filled with self-acceptance and joy? No; they're filled with shame and regret and bitterness and rage.  They're inwardly filled with emotional violence and that violence manifests outwardly as harm to others and harm to themselves.

What I've learned over the years is any limit I'm willing to put on the love I give myself is a limit I'm willing to put on the love that I give you and the love that I give the universe.  And the smallest, most seemingly reasonable limit becomes a giant dam that plugs up the flow of delight and wonder in my life.  So I don't mess around with making up limits on love any more.  I just give it all, all the time, without holding back, without trying to play it safe.

A Limit On Love is An Attempt to Control 

I realized that any time I'm seeking to limit love, what I'm doing is trying to control.  I'm trying to control myself to make myself fit into some "acceptable" mode.  I'm trying to control you; to control the whole world.  But it's impossible.  Any time that I try to control something, I end up in pain.  The magic that I am, that you are, that the world is - is quite beyond control.  Have you noticed? I did - I saw that no matter how much energy I put into making myself acceptable I always fell short - I always found reason to regret something I'd done, something I'd said, something I'd failed to do.  And what I realized is that regret, shame and guilt - they're all forms of violence against myself, they're feelings but they're actually the result of  a belief that's a weapon.  What is that weapon?  It's the belief that I'm not always already fundamentally good, that I'm not fundamentally perfect and whole and valuable and innocent.

By becoming willing to be happy and grateful in all situations - even in situations when I've failed or where someone or something has failed me -- I can practice unconditional love, I can practice the truth that undoes the lie that myself or anyone else is less than wholly good, wholly innocent, wholly wonderful as God created them to be.






image: [Lel4nd]