A discourse between Justme and Michaela
J: Michaela, a lot of times the subject of forgiveness appears. It is a subject which a lot of people find difficult. Some think perhaps there is a certain limit to forgiveness – that some things are just unforgivable. Others find that they have been so hurt by others that they find it impossible to forgive. First question to you is this. Is there a limit to forgiveness,and why ?
M: Well, first of all we have to understand what forgiveness really is. Normally people would think if I have done injustice to them and apologize, it is up them them to forgive me or not. Fact is, that most people may accept an apology, but often the do not really forgive. They continue to hold a secret grudge or resentment. This is in particular true if something significant has happened, or if the harm that needs to be forgiven is going beyond the individual scope, into the realm of the collective. So we have to understand what forgiveness really is.
Forgiveness is letting go of the thought that anyone can harm me.
The basis for understanding this is that we are not separate. So if I harm you, I am really harming myself. The same is true for forgiveness. I cannot really forgive you, without forgiving myself and vice versa. In reality, I am only forgiving myself, of course – by letting go of whatever caused me to hold anger, fear or resentment. So there can be no limit to forgiveness – it is a matter of my own capacity to give space to it, and if I am really open – I will see there is nothing to forgive.
J: I have to agree with you. The truth is there is nothing to forgive. So the highest form of forgiveness is the understanding that there is nothing to forgive. So now we ‘know’ that , how do we act on that in ‘real’ life ?
M: A good first step would be to explore the incidents in my life when I believe injustice has been done to me. I will easily remember that. It is necessary to find out that indeed “forgetting” is not “forgiving”. A good second step is to enquire when and where I have harmed others. This is the basic misunderstanding. We always think about the injustice that has been done to us, but in reality – we have to come to the understanding of our own role in harming others. Or what do you think ?
J: I think this may be a step in the right direction. However, there is a statement which I have known for a long time and that is ‘If there be fault it is mine’ this is a very powerful statement and leaves no room for debate. So maybe if we explore why this statement is true – if it is, and come to understand that it is true, then maybe we can approach every incident with this knowledge and it will let us know, there is nothing to forgive. So can we discuss this statement?
M: If there be fault it is mine – to me that means if I forget about being a part of the whole, I may label an action right or wrong. So it is only me, eventually, who is making a judgement of being harmed. Is this what it says?
J: Could it mean ? If I see fault in others and believe that others can harm me or that others need my forgiveness it is only because I have not understood that I in truth am a spiritual being and all these others are my brothers and sisters and we are really all of the same spirit. If I see fault or something someone can do on me it is because I don’t see the truth of who they are and who I am?
M:Yes, I agree. Only if I am deluded about who I really am, will I seek fault in others. In any interaction with others, I will only find projection of myself. So I wonder if something like “fault” actually exists ?
J: So once again the voice I hear is shouting, that’s ok in theory but how do we put it into practice?
M: Well, forgiveness is really letting go. It does not mean to “ignore ”, It does not mean to “forget”. It means to accept that what has happened, has happened exactly as it did and that I do not know, nor do I need to know, nor am I supposed to know, why it happened to me and not someone else. In fact, a good first step would be to seriously consider, if I believe if what has happened to me, should have happened to somebody else. Many people say: “why me”, but few ask “why not me”.
Maybe there are 3 levels to consider: First the things that have been done to me directly. Then there are the injustices that I experienced indirectly, because I believe that something that happened to family affected me negatively. And then there are the injustices on a tribal-collective level, that may have determined the way I live. The difference is that I may be conscious of the first, less aware of the others, but it definitely lingers in my memory of being hurt. So only if I become aware of the fact that I hold resentments, will I be able to let go.
J: Could I add and would like to ask your opinion also,that maybe just by being aware that there is a statement which says ‘If there be fault , it is mine’ and this statement could be true, and by just being aware of this statement, even if we cannot forgive, there is a certain release from the bondage of not forgiving? We can accept we cannot forgive and because this is an act of surrender it has its own blessings. Would you agree ? Is there anything else you would like to say about forgiveness? Would you like to summarise?
M: Of course, the nature of letting go is even to let go of the idea that we must forgive. if we cannot forgive – we accept. This adds a space around it.
What I would like to add is that I often come from the “other side”, working with people who have no formal knowledge about spiritual truth. So it often is a challenge help them “see” the nature of forgiveness, or letting go. To let them “feel” the resistance of not truly having let go in terms of the rage that may be still there, is often helpful.
J: I have nothing to add. Thank you.
August 25th, 2010