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We cannot decide to feel love or compassion. Nor can we decide to forgive. Authentic love, compassion, and forgiveness are not an act, they are an experience. You cannot consciously will the virtues of love, compassion, and forgiveness. They arise from beyond us and flow through us.
All we can do is cultivate the conditions for love, compassion and forgiveness to arise.
We do this by looking deeply, in silence and stillness, into the exact nature of the flaws and suffering of both ourselves and others. We open ourselves to connection with others in order to deeply understand them. We strive to know the other person’s experience, beliefs, and emotions. We open our hearts to touch their suffering.
We abandon judgment, seeing that all our actions are conditioned, and that we are all vulnerable to acting unskillfully or destructively. We recognize that we are all born with egos (our False Self), a necessary psychic survival mechanism, that operates out of fear, with all its derivative emotions suck as anger and greed. We all have innate, instinctual drives to control our environment, to have power, to feel safe, to belong to a group, to experience approval and affection, and to be comfortable. We all instinctively grasp for pleasure and push away pain, sometimes in ways that are hurtful to others and ourselves. We all are vulnerable to denying a painful truth out of fear, or avoiding the necessary pain required to achieve a greater good. Many addictively engage in pleasurable activities, such as drug abuse, that destroys their lives.
Fortunately, we also have a True Self, that ever present still Awareness that speaks of Truth, Love, and Goodness in the silent voice of our conscience and intuition. In essence, our goal in life is to learn to know and manage our egos while living out of our True Self. To transform our way of being from living out of fear, disconnection, and insufficiency to living out of Love, connection, and abundance. We cultivate this by listening, every day, to what our Still, Silent Awareness has to say. This is why it is so important to practice silence and stillness every day.
Understanding deeply the exact nature of our liabilities and suffering, along with the liabilities and suffering of others, creates the conditions for compassion, love, and forgiveness to arise. We ultimately see that “we are all bozos on this bus” of life. Seeing others and ourselves exactly as we are fuels our authenticity. It is an act of faith and courage. No longer if there the need for inauthentic pretense. We know and accept others and ourselves for exactly who we are, with all our virtues, gifts, and blemishes…warts and all.
To forgive, we do well, in our self-inquiry, to take note of the many times we have either consciously or unconsciously harmed others. If we look closely, we see that we were in the grips of destructive emotions, often driven by untrue beliefs born out of a lack of connection and empathy. Looking more deeply, we see that our resentments cause us tremendous suffering. We see they negatively impact on those around us. We lose our spiritual balance in the midst of resentments, unable to experience gratitude and savor life. There is a saying that, “Resentments are like a poison that we drink, hoping the other person will die.” When we see this, it helps us to let go, just as we would let go of a hot pan that is burning our hands.
With clear seeing, we notice that love, compassion and forgiveness flow through our beings onto both ourselves and others. Insight and understanding create the conditions for love, compassion, and forgiveness to arise and flow through us.