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Thoughts About Forgiveness

Thoughts about forgiveness

What does it mean to forgive? How is it even possible to forgive, when all we want is to seek cover in the trenches, not to come out until our enemy has admitted it was his or her fault?

To me, forgiveness has to do with healing my own wounds. The very act of forgiving someone might free us from our attachment to that which creates suffering in our mind. Forgiveness means a shift in focus from outward to inward. It might also cultivate a better understanding of the world and everything in it.

One of my biggest challenges has been to forgive. No longer being able to justify the fact that I was projecting my pain towards whatever/whomever reminding me about it. I was so used to blame the world through accusations, opinions, frustrations and pointing fingers. Now I had to take responsibility myself.

In order to liberate myself, I had to let go of every grudge I was holding against my parents. I had to forgive the school system, which was even more difficult. Furthermore I had to forgive my colleagues and friends. Even angry dogs, traffic offisers, the weather and the “system”. Some were more challenging than others. I even had to try to forgive myself…

My pride has taken a hard beating. It is difficult to accept that letting go is my only choice. Blaming others, shielding myself from anything that makes me itch… No longer does it work. I have to accept that I am holding the key to my own happiness.

Whenever I am able to let go of something, the pain disappear along with it. And not only the pain – the story about my pain disappear as well. What remains is a better understanding of things as they are. I realize that it is not necessarily the pain itself that has kept me trapped, but rather the story I have been telling myself, trying to explain or justify the pain.

It reminds me of an experience I had a few years ago whilst on my way to play a concert in a small town in southern Norway. I was taking the train, and on the opposite side of the isle a blind couple were seated. Time and time again I caught myself admiring the way they handled the different challenges a trip like this presented. At one point, one of them had to pick something up from a bag placed on the floor in front of them. Due to the lack of space, and as a result of not seeing, he repeatedly pushed against the seat in front of him. I noticed that the teenagers seated in front of them started to react. At first by complaining to each other, then by a loud sigh with the arms up high. Eventually he turned around.

In the blink of an eye, all the energy that had been building up for several minutes were gone as he realized why he had been pushed. What remained had a natural explanation.

What exist prior to our story about whatever is bothering us? Earlier than the story about him or her and everything that has been inflicted upon us?

In the heat of the moment, the suffering we feel is real. But perhaps we might be able to take a closer look at the feeling itself – directly and soberly. Trying to see what is in the center of our frustration – in the center of ourself.

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart… .”

– Pema Chödron –

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