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Forgiveness Happens

how to let go of the past... right now

"Life is an adventure in letting go” - GP

I wish the verb form of forgiveness could disappear and we were only left with the noun. Why?

To me that is really the way it works.

Forgiveness is not something you do, it is a state you arrive at.

If we simply try to gloss over past mistakes or offenses, to "forget it and move on" we will only suppress the unprocessed emotions and perhaps traumas that still linger in the heart and body. And, more importantly, we will miss the golden opportunity that confronting our pain provides.

It is not enough to simply "forgive and forget" whatever that means. We want to be free, completely free of any residual negative, painful energy. That kind of full freedom is only arrived at through understanding.

What is there to understand? They hurt me and they shouldn't have. I can't forgive them until they own up to it. Or (and this is even more difficult) I hurt them and I deserve to be punished. I can't forgive me until they do... and maybe not even then.

The Sage of Nazareth used that word many, many times. But, for him, it did not mean the same thing that it does for us. In its modern form, it means "to pardon" which means you have done something terrible and deserve to be punished. None the less I, in my great magnanimity, are letting you off the hook.

But there is a different possible meaning; "vindicated, found innocent, non-guilty."

Well that puts a whole different slant on it, doesn't it? But, how in the world do I find someone who did wrong me, not-guilty of wronging me?

Imagine you took in a rescue dog that had been badly abused. He was quite unpredictable and kept trying to bite you.

Would you be offended and demand that he apologize before you would feed him? Obviously not. You would understand that, he is only reacting as he had been conditioned. He is, in fact, innocent. He is only acting out all he has even known.

You would understand that it is not his true nature. You wouldn't be saying, "How could he do that to me?" because you know precisely why he is doing that to you.

This is the understanding that creates the state of forgiveness. You have found him not guilty. Of course, knowing that, until that conditioned behavior is improved, you may need to put a muzzle on him.

Jesus on the cross gives us one of the clearest expressions of this. In a time of great pain, having been falsely accused of a crime that brought with it the ultimate punishment, he said, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do."

Or using this different definition of that word "Father, find them innocent, they don't know what they're doing." Like that rescue dog, they had no idea of the unconscious forces that were driving their behavior.

The same is true for self-forgiveness, admittedly the hardest kind to arrive at. The truth is, every harsh, nasty, unkind, selfish or stupid thing you have ever done, arose out of your blind obedience to conditioning. You were never actually given a choice and, like that poor mutt, your actions would be have been inevitable. If you can begin to fathom that you have touched the border of forgiveness.

Conditioning, or the way we were programmed to be, runs our lives until we become conscious of it. Like a robot, programmed to always respond in the same way to some external event, we react without having the foggiest idea why. These automatic responses will continue for your whole life, unless something miraculous happens.

And the miracle is this. Unlike the rescue dog or the robot, we can become self-aware. We can begin to see conditioning as conditioning and not your self.

This self-awareness means, you are way more than your conditioning. You are not a robot. With this recognition comes the opportunity for conscious choice. Automatic reactions become deliberative. You start to participate meaningfully in your own life. And nobody, when conscious, chooses to hurt others or themselves.

This conscious awareness also brings the wisdom to recognize that, until someone is conscious, they will be acting out their conditioned patterns. So, like muzzling the rescue dog, we can find them essentially innocent and protect ourselves at the same time, the perfect mix of wisdom and compassion.

This is the understanding that you can call forgiveness. "Find them, me and everyone, innocent. They, we, me had no idea what we were doing."

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GP offers dozens of workshops, meditations and courses on his learning platform, The OM School

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