Forgiveness and Love

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(Disclaimer : Below is a written account of my personal understanding and opinions, it does not reflect upon others understanding and opinions of the same topic)

Much has been written about the subject of forgiveness.  Almost all of them say that it is the beginning of your personal healing. But, how does anyone actually forgive?  Some people who can freely forgive others, but yet others find it hard to forgive. Young children can forgive and forget at the drop of a hat. Our animal friends can forgive just as easily too. But, us adults are so complicated, we have so many historical meaning and attachments tied to the act, or the person who committed the act that sometimes forgiving is not an easy task. However, most agree that forgiving is a personal act that no one can enforce on anyone.

Alexander Pope said that “to err is human, to forgive divine.” Volumes of writings found on the web all say that forgiveness does not mean that what he/she did is OK, but it is the act of letting go of whatever negative feelings you have for the person who committed the act that has hurt you so much, and to set up your own personal boundaries with that person so that the pattern does not repeat itself again. As much web surfing as I had done to find the real meaning of forgiveness, and find out how to actually do it and actually put it into practice; none of it actually felt right. I still could not staunch that surge of emotions at the mere sight of the “offending” person in question.

This one day of clarity happen as I chanced a upon an article written about “loving without knowing how to love” as preached by this Vietnamese Buddhist monk who currently resides in France. Thich Nhat Hanh said “to love another is to fully understand his or her suffering”, I understood this as understanding someone’s past and present, and what he/she is going through. He further goes on to say that due to being caught up with our day to day lives, we never fully understand anyone’s suffering, and hence  missed out on the fact that what everyone needed was just understanding.

After I took all that I had read to heart, and adding to all the other psychological theories swirling in my head about conditioning, social learning theory, etc; I think I finally understand what forgiveness is and how to do it correctly now. When I come in from the perspective of the motivations of the offensive act, I start to see how and why this offensive person may have come to act that way. The anger in me came from the fact that I wanted to see this person suffer the retribution for his/her act of gross injustice; and I wanted to be the person to deliver it if possible. But, when I saw the real motivation behind the act, the anger ceased, and I started feeling sorry for this person’s inability to reflect upon his/her own actions. And, I decided to let their own karma take care of it, after all they are responsible for their own actions and path taken. All I needed to do was to define the personal boundaries and made sure that he/she does not cross it.

I shall end this writing with a quote from the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh – “Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand, you can’t love.”

 

Power and Domination

I had a mini “Ah-Ha” moment the other day when I was thinking about a parent child relationship. I think most people go through life without realizing this little fact, most just take it for granted. Our attitude in any parent-child relationship (I am referring the the blood-type relationship of a parent and child, adoption included, NOT referring to the Parent-Child-Adult relationship of Transactional Analysis), is one that is almost akin to “god given right”, as in “I am the parent you jolly well listen to me and act accordingly.” That appears to be the norm in almost any culture. Parents, have literally forgotten to ponder about the fact that do you really think you actually have power over your child? Apply that in a broader sense to anyone who is seen as an Authoritarian, or Authoritative figure, do you really think you actually hold the “power” over your subjects to be able to get him/her/them to do anything?

The answer in both cases unfortunately is “No”. He/she who has what appears to be “power” has only been given that “power” because those below you have willingly surrendered their own personal power to you so that you may do your job to serve them, or guide them, with their best interest at heart. In the parent-child case, the child surrendered his/her personal autonomy to you so that you may bring, guide, feed, and protect, etc, your child. Of course, the child may not know that due to his/her underdeveloped cognitive capacities. In the case of an Authoritarian, or Authoritative figure; your power exists for as long as the people under you lets you have it. If everyone under you prefers to die, or run away to somewhere else (or in some cases overthrow you),  over doing your bidding, pretty soon you will be a lonesome person with no more power over anyone else except yourself. Your power to create fear over others so that you can continue maintaining the facade of having power has a limited lifespan.

Therefore people who are in positions of “power” (parents included) be mindful about the reasons you hold that power. “Power” comes with a certain level of responsibility. That responsibility is to act with honor on behalf of your charges under you.

 

Revenge and Karma

According to Delores Canon, karma comes from allowing other’s actions and behaviors to affect you, so if you want to end the karmic cycle then its time to forgive the action and let him/her be. An action is just an event, it is us who give it deep meaning, thus allowing it to affect us. See it as an event, it becomes easier to forgive. When you have forgiven, the event ceases to tie you down with all the meaning you have attached to it, and you will start to feel lighter. Don’t become involved in someone else’s karmic cycle.

A matter of perspective

perspective-different-perspective-238x300We enter this life to experience and relish from all that life has offer in order to grow and expand.  It has been said before that life on earth can be very hard. Shakyamuni Buddha said “Life is Suffering“,  but, he also said “all things are relative.” Lao Tzu said “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ” Socrates said “Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it” (I shall leave you to ponder upon the deeper meanings of this quote).  And, Eckhart Tolle said “Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’.” In all, ‘life’ is tough from the perspective of each of our personal level.

A friend of mine made a post just before Christmas which I will quote here :

So many things that happen in life are beyond our control. From relationships to business affairs, the best laid plans can just fall apart in the blink of an eye and you’re left with the taste of ashes in your mouth, the queasy feeling in your stomach and a million thoughts running through your mind. Your emotions start to take over and your first instinct is to find a quick solution to either solve the problem, run from it or quell your emotions.
But if you choose to stay in the moment and not get trapped into worrying about the future or getting trapped in the past, you begin to realise that despite the setbacks and uncertainties in life, there are many other things that are going your way and you can be grateful for.

For every failed relationship there is someone who will not leave your side or knowingly hurt you. For every failed business venture, there is a lesson waiting to be learnt so that you may learn and grow. For every crushed dream and plan that falls apart, there is another dream waiting to be realised and for you to fulfill.
We can choose to give up or we can choose to hope. To believe and to keep the faith. To be grateful and appreciative. To love and be loved despite it all.

– Alistair Tan

Call it a weird coincidence, but I was thinking about making a little post about the “unfortunate” things that happen in life after listening to 2 songs from 2 different animated movies.  Then, I saw his post all within the same day. Providence and synchronicity at work maybe, but definitely inspiration to fuel the writing.  I share below, links to the 2 songs I was referring to :
You Know Better Than I from Joseph King of Dreams
Through Heaven’s Eyes from The Prince of Egypt
Despite the songs being laced with subtle references to the Christian faith, look past that and you will see that the message is the same.  We go through life being conditioned to put labels on things, that being in control is a fact of life, and trying to build grand plans for our future in order to achieve our goals in life, goals that often define what “success” means from our perspective.  In the process, we believe that all is within our control; that if we follow the steps we will hit the goal.  “Life” begs to differ, if you follow the steps you have laid out you MAY hit the goal but there are no guarantees.  So, what happens if you do not hit your goal/s?  For some, their world falls apart; for some well adjusted others they make new plans and go after new goals. We put in the effort in order to achieve our desired outcomes. When it does not go our ways we experience stress, for some “shit” just hit the fan.
But, we forget that”many things that happen in life are beyond our control”; we cannot control life’s path. Life has bigger plans for all of us. As Aesop would put it “Appearances are often deceiving.”  The following is what Dr. Jacob Held  (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Central  Arkansas) said :
We can’t escape pain; we can’t escape the essential nature of our lives. But we do have a choice. We can give in and relent, or we can fight, persevere, and create a life worth living, a noble life.

Pain is a fact; our evaluation of it is a choice.

Much too often we evaluate situations according to our myopic perspectives of the world.  We grew up being conditioned into it.  Besides, how much faith can we put into another perspective that we cannot perceive yet? But, according to Lao Tzu “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” Shakyamuni Buddha also said “The mind is everything, what we think we become.” Approach things from another perspective and the situation may appear different than what you/we may have first thought. I shall end this post with 2 more quotes.

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.

– Lao Tzu

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.
– Confucius
Be blessed all!!