Rate this Article
A man came to Buddha one day saying terrible, hurtful, hateful things to him. The Buddha sat there, smiling and listening.
When finally the man was finished, the Buddha said to him, “Thank you.”
And the man said to Buddha, “Why aren’t you furious with me? I am saying horrible things to you.”
“No, I am grateful,” said the Buddha. “I am grateful and I am filled with forgiveness, because it is clear to me that I hurt you in another life. I have been waiting for you all of my life to come and say these things to me in order that I could complete that aspect of my karma, so that I can be totally free. And now you have come to me and closed the circle. We have no more karma, you and I. Say nothing more.”
It is extremely difficult for people in Western cultures to understand forgiveness and the laws of karma in the way of the Buddha, a forgiveness that comes out of the understanding that if someone insults you in this life, most likely in another lifetime you insulted that person.
It is, however, as the Buddha said, we are not free when we have not forgiven people for the things that have been done, ourselves included. We also cannot be free if we are not grateful for the opportunity to right past wrongs, no matter how difficult that may be.
Sometimes it seems impossible to understand forgiveness, at all. So often when I work with people who have been deeply wounded, we get to the point where the only thing left to heal is their relationship with forgiveness for what has happened, and they balk. They get angry all over again and don’t know how to move off that miserable stump. I understand. They are not alone on that stump. We live in a very angry world.
We have developed such a tortured relationship with forgiveness. Somehow we have come to look at it as akin to saying, “Oh, it’s alright what that person did. It doesn’t matter. I forgive them.” And that’s nonsense. No wonder we have such a problem with forgiveness. In reality, what happened may matter a great deal. You may have sustained a real wounding that needs to be healed. If your ego was in some way threatened, most likely it has left you seething inside, and that is something that urgently must be healed. It is a fundamental truth that forgiveness must be reached for there to be real healing. Blindly saying, “That’s OK, I forgive you,” however, doesn’t even begin to address the issue.
I would like to offer a somewhat different perspective on forgiveness. If you look up “forgive” in the dictionary, this is what you will find: “Forgive: to give up resentment of ….”
Stop and think about how truly healing it is to give up your resentment. When you are in resentment, you are in real darkness and it is a dangerous place to be. Always remember this: resentment has a very big mouth. It will consume you if you let it. It will devour your life and everything you’ve ever dreamed life could be, especially if you follow it down the pathway to revenge. Revenge, finding someone to pay for what was done to you, isn’t going to heal you in any way. There may be times when that is necessary, but fortunately we live in a world where there are institutions for just that purpose. So let them do their job. Your task is to heal your wounds.
Focusing on revenge is only going to fuel your resentment. Know this about darkness, the darkness wants you to resent it. It has an even bigger mouth than resentment. It feasts on your resentment. When you are in darkness and resentment, all you are really doing is harming yourself even further.
There is another path to follow, a path that takes you into the light of healing grace. It is the pathway of gratitude. You can’t come to the healing grace of forgiveness, the letting go of resentment, until you first come to gratitude.
Being grateful is a celebration of the life force. It is a celebration of light, a way of saying to the Great Spirit, “Thank you for the great gifts of life. Thank you for all of the things that have gone right in my life today,” instead of, “Blast the world for all of the things that have gone wrong.” You take the focus of your attention off whatever it was that went wrong and you place it on all of the things that didn’t go wrong, all of the things that are right in your life. Let that focus open your heart to a celebration of thankfulness to God for the great gifts of life, and allow the healing grace of forgiveness to fill you.
When you focus on what you have to be grateful for instead of your resentment for wrongs inflicted, so often you find that all of the barbs and arrows you feel were shot at you simply fall away. Where there has been real harm, it is only when you let go of the destructive force of resentment that your life can begin to heal. You reverse the feeling of resentment to a place of love, a place of forgiveness, and allow the life force of the Great Spirit to flow into you and heal you.
When I work through resentment with people to the place of gratitude and forgiveness, so often they say to me, “I am still not happy that this happened, but I am so thankful for what I have learned about myself and my life because of it.” They realize that they may have never found spiritual growth and contentment without going through what they did.
Make your life about celebrating forgiveness, not fueling resentment!
About the author:
Lynn Andrews is a shaman teacher who is recognized worldwide as a leader in spiritual healing and personal development. She is the internationally best-selling author of the Medicine Woman series, founder of the Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training. www.lynnandrews.com.