The Nature of Forgiveness

Do you find that you are able to forgive others?

Are you able to ask for forgiveness from others?

I realize both of these offer their own challenges. Life is often messy and complicated and it’s easy to fall out of harmony with family, friends, and others. Even when doing our best, we may offend or hurt them or be hurt by them.

Balance is easy to disturb but not as easy to mend.

Much is said about forgiveness. There is a school of thought which says an apology must be offered first before forgiveness can be granted. Another school takes a far different approach and says that forgiveness easily given releases everyone.

After struggling for most of my life, I was finally able to come to a place of peace with the whole forgiveness process. It happened as I wrote about it. A story took shape inside me and needed to be brought into the light. This is how my book, Little Buddha (Book One) was born. In the first chapter, a man, Sam asks a wise six-year-old sage (Little Buddha, Claire) if she can help him understand the nature of forgiveness.

Here is the passage.

“Do you think you could answer a question for me?” I asked a little timidly. “Perhaps” she said. “Well, I was wondering if you could tell me about forgiveness. Do you know anything about that, even though you’re so young?” I admit, I thought I was being foolish asking, but in light of her wisdom and my lack of it, I didn’t see how I had anything to lose. She sat for a minute or so filling the bucket to the top with dry white sand.

“Can you imagine something?” she asked. “Sometimes I have a hard time with that, but I’ll try hard”, I responded.

“OK”, she said, “Imagine that my bucket is you. It’s everything you think and feel and experience during your life. Imagine that everything that is within you- YOU chose to put there. Nothing got in without your choosing. Nothing. Whether conscious or not, every thought, feeling, idea, reaction, and prejudice. Every cruel word, every kind gesture, every act of faith, every indifference, everything. Imagine that each of these things takes up space, just like the grains of sand in my bucket. Once it’s full it’s very hard to find more space for anything, no matter how valuable or important. There are ways you can empty part of your bucket if you choose. One way is forgiveness. But first you have to imagine one more thing.

“Can you imagine that everyone else here is just like you? They’ve lived their lives filling their buckets and sometimes they don’t have any space left either. They’re doing the best they can with what weighs them down. In their hearts, they too wish to be free and to have open space to experience more of the beautiful things in life. But they too don’t know how. 

“They probably sense it, dream about it and desperately want it just like you do. This is very important to know. To forgive anyone anything, requires YOU make a conscious choice. No one else can do it for you.”

She eyed me carefully saying, “Now bring to mind something which begs forgiveness. Feel the space it holds within you. The weight of it, the size, color, and dimension. Imagine knowing it needn’t exist and that you can fill its space with something beautiful. Now, close your eyes. Welcome it in. Let it rest in front of you. Believe that it has served its full purpose for you but does so no longer. Look inside your heart and allow love and compassion to open within. Breathe easily. Smile for a moment. Know that no matter what, this decision is up to you and no one else. Picture your love and compassion surrounding you and the focus of your forgiveness. Now, allow it to fade and fade and fade until it disappears. Breathe and feel the space inside you open. Feel the sunshine enter you and the air move around you. Listen for the sound of your own being. Sense the room created inside of you, now open for that which does serve you. For beauty. For wholeness.”

I believe that these words came ‘through’ me and are not my own. They have more strength, wisdom, and insight than I possess. I believe they were meant for me, to help me, to free me. And now, I offer them in the hope that they do the same for you.

PS

Should you want to know more, this book is available through Amazon in print and eBook versions.

3 Replies to “The Nature of Forgiveness”

  1. I’ve learned to differentiate between forgiving and agreeing. I can forgive someone for their behavior when I can understand why they behave the way they do. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with that behavior. But it does mean that I can let go of all the baggage that comes with hanging onto something that, in the end, does not serve me.

    Like

    1. It’s a wonderful thing to be able release the things that don’t serve us and I’m grateful you’re able to do that. It certainly saves us from a lot of suffering.

      Like

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