How To Forgive




Unforgiveness holds us prisoner, to feelings of victimization, anger, bitterness, guilt, and depression, and to attitudes of blame and judgment. Unforgiveness removes us from the experience of life we have in our hearts and offers no support for others finding their heartfelt experience either.

Forgiveness does not imply that we condone or would support certain behaviors now or in the future. What it does is to stop the war with the past and with life. It may have to be done over and over until old habits of trying to get what we want by blaming others/life/the past are undone, yet every step of the way brings freedom. This is the freedom that maximizes the potential for creative influence upon the present, such that happiness now and the promise for the future are maximized.

Forgiveness is not about others or what happened to you or to anyone else. It is about what you are doing right now in this moment. The feeling of forgiveness--for others or for oneself--proceeds from: making connections with life, bringing attention into the present moment, extending yourself in participation with whatever is happening in that present moment, reminding yourself that only the present is real, that using guilt is not a skillful way to motivate yourself or others to behave as morally and ethically as possible, and that in deciding what to do right now it is vital to look to impulses or motivations from the heart. It results from a change in thinking toward whatever happened, understanding that the "perpetrator" acted from ignorance and a distorted experience of reality. No one acts like that whose heart is fully open and who is awakened to life's deepest truths. And while we must honor life and prevent abuse by those caught in delusion, it is delusional on our part to interpret this behavior as evidence of that person's true, undeluded nature.

When you are fully present in just this moment, your potentials for thinking, feeling, and acting powerfully are maximized. In extending forgiveness to others, you will find before long that you yourself feel forgiven: sooner or later you will have brought your own self into your own heart and found the unlimited source of forgiveness awaiting therein. Ultimately there may no greater source of healing than this. Why not give it a little extra try today?
© 1997
 Mark Shafer  


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