The other day the phrase to error is human, to forgive is divine came to mind. Indeed, everyone makes mistakes. But only those who are ready and able to let go of the pain are able to forgive. Forgiveness is a Divine act. And we must get the ego out of the way in order to truly do it. But we can use the ego itself to be free of it. This is where the phrase fake it till you make it comes in.
By continuing to repeat “I forgive (this or that) for the perceived injustice inflicted upon me,” we can chisel away at the hardened parts of us that do not want to let go. What is doing the chiseling? Our Authentic Self. It is the part of us that WANTS to forgive and be free of the burden of holding a grudge. So we are not actually “faking it.” We are making it happen, by conscious will of the Authentic Self.
Two Monks in the Woods
I am reminded of a Buddhist story of two monks walking in the woods. They came across a woman standing at a mud puddle, pondering how to cross it without soiling her dress. Without hesitating, one of the monks picked her up and carried her to the other side. Then, the monks continued walking in silence.
After some time, the second monk turned and asked, “Why did you pick up that woman back there? We monks aren’t supposed to do that.” The first monk replied, “I dropped that woman off at the mud puddle. Have you been carrying her this whole time?”
Right Action Occurs in the Now
The moral of the story is this: Right action occurs in the now, and is appropriate for the given situation. It is often independent of social stigma or expectations. The first monk did what was right and appropriate in the moment. The second monk was so concerned with ritualistic behavior, not only did he choose not to help someone in need, he most likely was unable to enjoy the walk in the forest. Indeed, the question implies he must have been lost in thought the whole time.
The question, “Have you been carrying her this whole time?” alludes to the burden of holding onto limiting beliefs, which typically lead to judging others for their actions. I’m sure most of us can relate to holding grudges with others, and how burdensome it feels. It is as if we are carrying around a backpack full of weights.
For example, have you ever ruminated over an interaction you had with another, questioning how he or she could say such a thing to you, only to find out later that is not what the person meant at all? We might carry this extra weight for an entire day, or for weeks, or even years. And oftentimes it is a complete misunderstanding. What a shame to hold a grudge in the first place, let alone if it turns out to be based on erroneous thinking.
Don’t Take Anything Personal
There is a better way. Just learn not to take anything personal. If someone says something that you do not like, remind yourself everyone is doing the best they can, given the experience they have had. Recognize their harsh and hurtful words are coming from a place of pain. Then, instead of taking it personal and carrying a grudge, you will see the pain in the other and have compassion for him or her.
After all, if you choose to hold a grievance with another for a perceived injustice, you are the one carrying the weight. The other person might not even be aware of how you feel.
This brings me to the next point in this article. Notice I am using the phrase, “perceived” injustice. It is a helpful practice to remember that it is our perception only, which might not be accurate in the given situation. Free yourself from the burden of taking things personal and holding grudges with others by following your heart.
Forgiveness Comes From the Heart
At times it can be quite difficult to let go of a perceived injustice because we might never see the person or persons again. Or a great deal of time might pass before we are given the opportunity to forgive in person. However, there is another way. Forgiveness can take place with or without the presence of those we feel slighted by.
There is a Hawaiian term used to describe the process of self-healing and forgiveness called “Ho’oponopono.” There are four simple steps to this process of healing; repentance, forgiveness, gratitude, and love. And the person you wish to pardon doesn’t need to be present because forgiveness occurs in your heart.
Forgiveness in Action
The practice is simple. All you need do to forgive another (or yourself) for a perceived injustice is this: When you feel you have been disrespected by someone simply state in your mind the following: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. The words might appear to be only for times when you need to forgive yourself. But it works the same whether it’s for you or for another. After all, as mentioned above, when you hold a grudge you are the one carrying the burden.
I have used this practice myself many times. And it has always worked wonders. For example, near the end of my teaching career I was having a lot of trouble with one particular student. He was constantly off task and distracting others from learning.
One day, after learning about the practice of Ho’oponopono, I decided to try it with my troublesome student. In order to make it feel more appropriate I began with the phrase, “To the part of me causing him to act this way, I’m sorry.” Then I added the rest of the phrases.
The results were astounding! Our relationship changed for the better from that moment on. The young man’s behavior showed major improvements overnight. He stopped distracting his peers and started turning in his assignments. He even went out of his way to wish me a merry Christmas going into winter break. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least! And because of the success I have been using the practice ever since.
Forgiveness is the act of letting go. Whatever burden you are carrying let it go and move on. It just feels better.
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