In so many ways forgiveness is the beginning of all growth and continues to ask that we look inward to connect to our capacity to learn about life by living it. Forgiveness is at the center of loving kindness compassion and our over all well being. At the same time It is often difficult and challenging and sometimes seemingly impossible. It is by no means a small task, depending on the depth of the situation, and may take a lifetime to attain. But because everything that has value in life is worth stepping toward - it does, in fact, begin with a first step. This first step may just be forgiveness of oneself.
"I now see forgiveness as a primary life skill. Adults need the skill of forgiveness if we are to have sustainable relationships and communities. And self forgiveness is only the beginning.Once we learn to forgive ourselves for being human we are able to accept the humanity of others. We will be less and less troubled by the inability of human beings to avoid mistakes and their penchant for acting imperfectly. We will be able to hold space for others as they go through the sacred learning process of a human lifetime. We will desire the calm abiding energy of compassion and see how offering it to others is a way of honoring ourselves." - Rolf Gates
Forgiveness comes in many forms, of course, there is no formula to follow. But perhaps self forgiveness is the first step forward then forgiving the acts of others and then forgiving those who forgive - not necessarily in that order - but knowing there are infinite ways we act toward others that place burdens on the soul. We stay stuck within realms of forgiving some but not others and looking around to see if we agree with someone else forgiving another. It is a slippery slope and we can get caught in a tangled web of confusion as to who deserves or does not deserve to be forgiven. Essentially we need to forgive always. In the Yoga Sutras which are 'sacred teachings - spiritual texts depicting the nature of consciousness and path to liberation'...translated by Nichala Joy Devi - who translates the teaching on loving kindness. There are four considerations or steps to achieve true loving kindness:
*Kindness to those who are happy - being truly happy for someone else.
*Compassion for those who are less fortunate
*Honor for those who embody noble qualities - observing noble qualities in others (everyone)
*Equanimity to those whose actions oppose our values....We must learn to forgive even the unforgivable. Forgiveness is a natural stepping stone to compassion. It gives us the opportunity to free others and ourselves. The same benevolent light that shines within that persons heart as shines within ours.
Therefore it can not matter who they are, what they've done and whether we like them or not.
It also is not the action that is being forgiven - some actions are not forgivable at all but the person is. We are not asked to forgive the harm done or the assault, insult, attack or violence - we are not standing idly by and letting things go unattended .We are not resigning. - we are forgiving the person. It is important to consider this as well as understanding that forgiveness is not forgetting. It is a clear and conscious act that comes only from a clear mind and an open heart. "I have learned to give people the benefit of the doubt. If their behavior is beyond the scope of normality, then their suffering is as well" - Rolf Gates
When we hold on to feelings toward others without forgiveness - there is a loss of ease in the heart. It is known that burying feelings in the back of the heart leads to imbalances. It leads to what we call dis-ease. In essence disease describes the lack of ease in the heart. " It can be helpful to ask for ease of the heart and set this as an intention for your meditations, yoga practices, morning walks..." Rebecca Pacheco. Or ask for the strength to forgive. It is within us all - none of us are born lacking this skill. We need to take the intentional steps to begin the process, and knowing from personal experience it can be a life's work. But it is the only way to be truly free of the action, the harm, the violence the hurt etc. otherwise when we stay in non-forgiveness we hold the offense close to our heart and it does us no good. So, in a sense we can set our selves free maybe by forgiving ourselves first and then others, then those who forgave, and lastly those who truly challenge our capacity to love.
Speaking from experience it is not easy, not at all - sometimes not even in the least but it is absolutely essential and it is our way of taking off the chains that bind us - possibly for a life time and maybe even longer.
With a final quote from one of the most loving beings who walked this earth...
"In the end it will all be o.k and if it is not o.k - then it is not the end" Mother Teresa