FORGIVENESS AND COMPASSION
Updated: Jun 4
Forgiveness and compassion are pretty much a package deal, you either have both or neither. I would say, however, that forgiveness is the first part and leads to compassion. When I don’t have compassion for another or a situation, it means I have forgiveness work to do. Forgiveness work always starts with self-forgiveness and acceptance, even though it doesn’t seem to be the case. With out self-forgiveness and acceptance I will project my guilt onto others so I don’t have to deal with it. However, like a boomerang, it will come back to me.
The ego/separate self never truly forgives and uses pseudo forgiveness to feel superior (something like, ‘I forgive you but won’t forget would you did’). The ego will always hold onto grievances and seek some form of punishment. This process is all too evident in the world, starting with families/friends and working up to nations/ethnic groups/religions.
Why forgive? It could and often is done with the viewpoint that it is not deserved, and therefore, comes from being the better person. This is right back to ego pseudo forgiveness. With introspection (the examination and observation of one's own mental and emotional processes), an understanding comes from personal experience that provides the valid reason for forgiveness. No one (use yourself as an example) acts badly towards another unless they are believing the crazy thoughts of the ego. An ego believer has no choice but to act from their beliefs, so in a sense, they are innocent. Without the ego thoughts and beliefs, all action will be kind and loving because that is who we are in truth.
For many, the most difficult type of forgiveness is self-forgiveness. This can be the case because of guilt, which the ego mind wants to hold onto. Guilt often is mostly unconscious and this makes the forgiveness work more difficult. Another reason that can stop self-forgiveness is that it takes away the ‘power’ of being a victim. The victim position results in a lack of compassion and even justifies vengeance. Once we realize our true power we can help address issues that infect society such as the blatant racism that has been allowed and even supported by authority institutions.
Without forgiveness I can’t live with joy, peace, compassion or love unconditionally. I can’t live a happy and purposeful life. Forgiveness comes from an open heart. When another (or self) acts badly, the only sane response is love. Certainly, the daily news of the world shows us how much we need more forgiveness and compassion. The coronavirus pandemic has only made that more evident and needed.
How do I know when there is a need to forgive? Whenever I’m angry, upset, judgmental, want vengeance, hate or even have an unkind thought, it means there is a need for forgiveness. To truly forgive, my heart must be totally open and compassionate toward the other. Then I can see them as innocent because their actions comes from believing ego thoughts. How often do I need to do it? As many times as needed to reach peace and compassion.
This process works whenever I am consciously aware of being upset because of a life situation. I also practice a proactive approach of forgiveness which helps clean out my subconscious mind’s garbage that I’m not aware of (unless triggered). This is done by both my meditation and compassion practices. It can also be done by a centering prayer practice. I will cover these practices in another blog.