In my previous blog I discussed self-forgiveness. Just as we should cultivate forgiveness for ourselves, so should we cultivate forgiveness for others.

Why?

Because resentments poison us. They make us spiritually ill. There is a saying that “hatred destroys the hater.” When you forgive someone, you give yourself the gift of peace. Forgiveness eases our suffering, which then has a positive impact on everyone around us.

Forgiveness, however, is not a voluntary act. We cannot decide to forgive. The best we can do is to cultivate the conditions for forgiveness to arise. The following mental practices help us to realize the liberation of forgiveness:

  1. Imagine the person you resent as a child. See that they were once innocent. Reflect on the fact that no one chooses their genes, their character, their parents, or their environment growing up. See that if you were they, you may well have have acted exactly as they did.
  2. Reflect on the harm you have done to others. Acknowledge your own ego, which wants to control life, including others, to your own advantage, without regard for the well-being of others. See that everyone struggles with this trait. Recognize that everyone manages their egos imperfectly. No one is invulnerable to harming others.
  3. As you consider another person’s harmful behavior, contemplate the role of their disease, their ignorance, or their situation in their actions. Your understanding will promote compassion.
  4. Pray for the person who has harmed you. This invites forgiveness.
  5. Give something to the person you resent. Do something for them. It is difficulty to resent someone when you are giving to them.
  6. See that your resentment arises from unrealistic expectations. There is a saying that “expectations are resentments under construction.” We expect people or situations to differ from what they are. We’re picking a fight with Reality when we expect Reality to differ from what it is. When we do this, Reality always wins. Whenever you feel hurt, disappointed, resentful, or even angry, identify the unrealistic expectations that fuel your suffering. You will see you abandoned your mandate to honor what is.
  7. When we let go of unrealistic expectations, we can accept what has happened and move on. Accept people as they are and Reality as it is—a perfectly imperfect Universe that only seems imperfect from our limited point of view. Accept, while still holding others accountable for their actions.
  8. See your role, if any, in the harm done to you. This practice takes some courage and meticulous honesty. Did you make a mistake that put you in harm’s way, such as trusting someone who was not proven to be trustworthy? Did you act selfishly in a way that brought about a hurtful response? Were you dishonest? Were you self-seeking? Did you fail to assert yourself out of fear? Did you blame the other person? In what ways were you at fault or behaved wrongly?
  9. Remember the sacredness of all things. All people are sacred and deserving of your utmost respect and reverence due to the mere fact of their existence.
  10. Let go of injured pride. It was never about you in the first place. Practice patience, tolerance, and equanimity. Respond with love and care from a place of mindful calm and tranquility. Treat others with respect and care because you are a respectful and caring person.
  11. See all that Life brings you not as reward, harm, or punishment, but as an opportunity for growth, liberation, and a deepening of your humility.
  12. Contemplate on the fact that resentment hurts you. As the saying goes, “It is like taking a poison and hoping the other person dies.” If your mind ruminates on resentments and grievances, observe the impact this has on your well-being. Does it bring joy, or does it bring pain? Are resentments helpful to you, or hurtful? There is a saying that “time wasted in getting even can never be used for getting ahead.”

Do what you can to assert and protect yourself from future harm. Go forth into the world with a loving heart and a shield.

Paradoxically, forgiving others and the world empowers us to take positive actions with a positive heart to make things better. Forgiveness is not acquiescence. Instead, forgiveness empowers us to bring love into the world. Through forgiveness, we are better able to address destructiveness, evil, and injustice. See for yourself. When you apply these principles to the hurtful people in your life, you will notice that your love may well have a positive impact.

Practicing these mental exercises allows for forgiveness to arise. Forgiveness relieves you of your pain. It is truly a gift to yourself. When you let go of your psychic negativity, you enable yourself to more fully experience the gift of joy. May your forgiveness of yourself and others enrich your life as well as the lives of others.

Image courtesy http://www.leonardpierce.com/blog/2017/11/06/show-me-forgiveness/.

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