[This journal entry is from January 30, 2005. As always, Jay’s current thoughts about this entry are in the post script – Dawn]
Forgiveness is so very important. We seem to be creatures with an incredible capacity for hanging onto stuff that serves no one. Things we don’t even consciously remember being hurt by or pissed off about or jealous of are stored in the cells of our bodies and in the depths of our subconscious minds. It’s all poison, and it must be flushed out.
One thing I think I should mention at the outset here is that forgiveness, as far as the spiritual perspective is concerned, is a bunch of crap. There’s really no such thing. The idea of there being a “me” and a “you” that exist as two separate entities is a human-perspective-created fiction. Even if there was truly such a thing as a “me” that was somehow separate from “you”, “you” only do things to hurt “me” or piss “me” off because “I” asked “you” to backstage before the show. The fact that you take the time and effort to do them is something I should be thanking you for, not forgiving you. Alas, to gain that spiritual perspective we must transcend the human perspective. And forgiveness is a great tool for that.
By the way (yes, we will get around to the actual point), I’m not advising you to seek out painful situations so you can thank cruel people (or even just ignorant people) for causing you pain. We’re trying to leave behind cruelty and ignorance, not justify it.
All those times Mom or Dad wouldn’t buy you the treat you wanted at the store, you may have said you would never forgive them. Sadly, that’s usually the case. Most fifty-, sixty-, seventy-something-year-old people out there have a little tiny tension inside them for every little treat their parents refused them decades ago. And that’s nothing compared to all the harsh words, the reprimands, the cross words between spouses and employers and employees… humans are, for the most part, little balls of tension with a couple arms and a couple legs running around trying to get stuff done. Usually most of the stuff they have to do causes them and others even more tension that never gets let go of either. It’s a wonder people live as long as they do.
If you’re not ready for Ultimate Responsibility, which is basically owning everything from your birth until now and claiming responsibility for every aspect of every moment therein, try this: take responsibility for every reaction to every situation you’ve ever been in. You don’t need to recreate every situation and live it through again. Just make a blanket statement to yourself and the Universe that you hereby take responsibility either for every moment of your life or for every reaction to every moment of your life. Then state that you own the good completely and forgive the bad fully. Let it go, man.
Forgiveness is another word we all have a definition for that is unique to our perspective. As our perspective changes, so does our perception of this concept, and many others. Forgiveness looks like weakness to the human perspective. The fearful mind assumes turning the other cheek means getting eternally backhanded, the “powerful” mind must balance the scales with vengeance. Forgiving something feels like losing something to the human mind: it’s counterintuitive to trust someone who has violated our trust. Often even when we say the words, “I forgive you”, the tension created in our psychic and physical bodies does not necessarily get released with our words.
Looking through the heart can help us see that what we give up when we forgive is a part of us that is not serving us. Minor hurts create defense mechanisms which create circumstances, or draw them to us. These circumstances poke and prod at the defense mechanism that is designed to keep them out (but actually causes them), pushing our buttons and causing more hurts… which we build more defense mechanisms to combat… which brings more people or situations our whole life is now built around avoiding… which causes more hurts… Compassion for our own hurt helps us see that releasing those resentments is wisely self-serving.
There is a place where we can see that we are all just parts of one incredibly awesome whole. In that place, we understand that the only people who can cause suffering are suffering themselves. At this level of experience, forgiveness can run the risk of being discarded if it is not once again given a new definition. It looks about as pointless as playing with action figures and teddy bears, and way less fun. Forgiveness requires a protagonist and an antagonist, or more accurately a victim and a victimizer. Compassion for the hurt of others shows us that the people we think are doing the victimizing are victims in their own eyes. Since any level of thinking that sees victims is inherently subjective, and all points of view being equal, at that level of thinking there is nothing but victims. The murder victim is killed by a person that is a victim of their social conditioning, their upbringing and their unique chemical cocktail. We are all just one chemical imbalance from madness, just one choice away from spinning completely out of control. Understanding that makes it impossible to separate humans into groups easily labeled with “good” or “bad”, or “victim” or “victimizer”.
Practicing compassion does not require that we put ourselves in harms way, or refuse to step out of the way when we see it coming. It does require that we resist the urge to bully the bully, or murder the murderer, or terrorize the terrorist. If you lie to me or steal from me or cheat on me, I don’t forgive you because I can’t forgive you. I understand that your behavior is a result of your programming and your unhappy places seeking to be brought to the surface so they may be healed. I might even have the energy to listen to your perspective, to see how everything you see and do somehow makes sense to you. Most likely, I will neither resist nor attract you, and you will flow naturally from my life.
When you see that the only way one part of life can appear to be a douchebag to another part of life is if both parts are in pain, it helps shift your focus. Doing just a little work on healing your own hurts can transport you from a world of victims and victimizers to a world full of brothers and sisters at different places on the same path. All without taking a single physical step. Everything that comes your way is love, is walking the path of love, and dispenses love upon it’s arrival. What’s to forgive in that?