Monthly Peace Challenge: Marching towards Forgiveness
“Every thought, every word, every action for peace brings peace. I don’t know when we will reach critical mass and tilt the scales towards peace, but I have no doubt that it is possible.” – Kozo
I am behind so this post is overdue. March’s challenge was to write about forgiveness.
At the moment my mind is shaken. I just learned that a friend, colleague, and doctor was killed when his personal plane crashed. He was a good man and a good doctor who will be missed by so many. Life is too short to allow needless negativity.
It’s also been a very rough few months in our own house. This post may be more therapy for me than good reading for you, but hopefully it has some useful ideas.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain
Forgiveness is a hard concept. Someone hurt you. Someone did you wrong. Every instinct tells you to defend yourself, to make them realize your pain, to make them make it right. When you are denied this your thoughts go further into negative territory, to punishment, to revenge. But, of course, this accomplishes nothing but more negativity.
When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. Bernard Meltzer
Forgiveness is accepting your pain and anger, acknowledging it, and letting it go. Accept that the past cannot be changed. Do not let the feelings from the past take hold of your life in the present. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone hurtful actions, or that you stop protecting yourself. It means that you do not hold on to that hurt and negativity because if you do, it will only infuse negativity into your own life. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Marianne Williamson
Forgiveness is a conscious decision. It takes time. It is a process. When the hurt feelings arise you try to look beyond them with compassion for the person who wronged you. You try to realize it arose from their own pain, their own inability to behave better. You look at the situation with regret that it happened. For something serious sometimes it can take weeks, months, even years but little by little you shift how you look at it, shift how you feel about it. Little by little the anger and hurt are replaced by regret and compassion. As this happens the negativity subsides and your mind feels more peace.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Mahatma Gandhi
Forgive yourself. None of us are perfect and we all have regrets. Keep working to improve yourself, but also treat yourself with compassion and forgiveness. This may be the hardest of all, to truly love and accept yourself. But, if you can have more love and peace in your heart, this is the first step in spreading more love and peace to the world around you.
“It’s toughest to forgive ourselves, so it’s best probably to start with other people. It’s almost like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, forgiving others, you really do get to the point where you can forgive yourself.” – Patty Duke
I understand what I have written, but living it is more difficult. There were years of rejection and banishment, but I forgave and agreed to rebuild a relationship. I quickly learned that the depths of negative feelings towards me were even worse than I thought. But, I also learned of similar behavior that has affected many others. I saw that the state of things probably has much less to do with who I am or anything I’ve done than I was led to believe. Understanding all this has helped me move forward, to make more sense of things.
Writing this post has taken time, research, and thought but it has been very helpful. Anyone can say “You should forgive” but do we really understand what that means, how the process works? Maybe not. Does it mean that whatever the other person did is declared OK? No. Does it mean that we should try to remove the negative influences of it in ourselves? Yes! Does it mean we should protect ourselves and change bad situations? Yes of course.
“If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding.” Dalai Lama XIV
The situation has been changed. My understanding has increased. I feel like I have been making progress. Thank you Kozo for the helpful challenge, and for all the positive, peaceful energy you put out into our world!
“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” Dalai Lama XIV