An Extract from my blog, Mindfulness in the Real World: The Art of Mindful Living.
Forgiveness is far more than the three words, ‘I forgive you.’ We cannot simply talk, or think our way to forgiveness, no matter how hard we try, or no matter how many times people tell us to ‘move on.’ True forgiveness flows from deep within, and is available as soon as we find the courage to lift the veil of our conditioning; for as long as we feel compelled to judge, we can never truly forgive.
Reflect on a time in your life when you have judged another person. We have all done it – whether it be someone we know, a friend or colleague, a family member, or someone we’ve read about or seen on the news. Reflect on the things you thought or said at the time you learned what they had done; can you recall the powerful impulses that surged through you, creating disgust, anger or rage? Perhaps you thought or said things like: ‘If I was them I would never have done that,’ – ‘That’s totally unforgivable!’ or ‘They should be locked up!’ All very familiar I’m sure; but now, consider this: when we think or say such things – when we judge another person in this way, from where does our judgement arise? Our judgements are simply thoughts and opinions that stem from our deep-rooted belief systems, and therefore are merely expressions of our conditioning. So whenever we make a judgement of another person, we unwittingly insert our ‘conditioned self’ into their situation.
Now this may seem obvious at first, but we must acknowledge one vital point here. Of course we are not the other person, and so yes, we probably would have done things differently; but that is beside the point. The vital point here, is that we are not that person in that situation. If we had been born with their genes; if we had experienced everything they had in their life; if we had their upbringing – lived each and every second in their shoes – we would have done exactly as they had done. How could we not have done? If we had their exact conditioning; if we were wearing their veil we too would have known no other way in the same situation. We too, whether we like it or not, would have acted in the exact same way; we too would have stolen the money, reached for the knife, pulled the trigger, or had the affair…
True forgiveness is infinitely deeper than an act of empathy; it goes far beyond putting ‘ourselves’ in the other persons shoes. To find true forgiveness we must fully remove our veil – only then can we transcend our conditioned narrative and see the true reality of the situation; to see that the person we are judging also wears a veil, and so could not have behaved any differently to the way they did.
It is only when we truly understand the inhibiting effects of the conditioned mind that we can begin to accept that the act of judgement is futile. For to judge another person, is to completely disregard their essence; to acknowledge only their veil through our own. When we shine the light of consciousness on our conditioning, from the ashes of judgement sprouts the flower of forgiveness.
This in an extract from my blog, Mindfulness in the Real World: The Art of Mindful Living.