We have so many reasons to hold onto old stories of who did what and then feel resentful and hurt over whatever we think took place.
So, instead of doing the work of forgiveness, we continue to tell ourselves the stories of how we or someone we love has been harmed. We rationalize all this in our heads, and thus allow ourselves to stick with those stories.
It seems to be the way it is — but let’s look again.
As all wisdom teachers tell us we need to forgive regularly and often.
That is, if we want to move through life gracefully.
The Buddha said that being angry at someone is like drinking a glass of poison and imagining your enemy drinking it. It’s us that swallows the poison of anger and resentment. The so called “enemy” goes free.
In a similar way we continue to hurt ourselves each time we tell the old tragic stories, the ones we remember so well.
Or do we? Our memory is always somewhat off, and maybe a whole lot.
No matter how accurately we think we saw or heard what actually happened, we observed only a small part, and built a story around that.
When witnesses describe the scene of an accident or crime, it never exactly matches up with what another saw or heard, and sometimes it’s totally different.
Let us know, then, that memories cannot be trusted. They are shaped by our belief system, our agenda (perhaps a hidden one), and on what we tell ourselves each moment. And that changes.
We shape what we see around a belief system that resides in our heads.
As a Buddhist sage teaches, a memory, or a story, is like a picture drawn in the water.
Just how long do pictures drawn in the water last? They don’t. We have to keep drawing them in the very waters, the flow, of the present moment of our lives.
The present moment is where our power is. Not in the past, or the future.
So what is our mind doing this moment? Where is our focus? What is our attitude? Are we drinking a glass of poison?
It’s up to us to notice what our mind is doing, and then choose what is life giving, life affirming, in this moment, over and over again.
Often we don’t want to forgive because we think we are letting the other person off “scot free.” We think if we let them off the hook they will just walk away and not have to “pay” for their crime.
How do we see universal energy, or God, divine creative energy, or whatever we call it? Is this energy to be trusted? Is it fair? Does it give back what is given to it?
As the Christian Bible tells us, “God is not mocked. What we sow, we reap.”
Or as the law of Karma says, the action taken will come back, in kind, to the person who acts.
Whatever we give, we receive. This is true for everyone. No one is absolved from this. No one is ever let off the hook of their actions, their choices.
The work of karma is not ours to do. It belongs to the universe.
Our work is to notice the dialogue going on within us. We can’t change others. Everyone has a choice of what they believe.
So, where are we hurting? What are our perceptions about the past?
Perceptions are not accurate — they just give us some feedback. We have to decide what is the truth. And this will stem from what we value.
When Peter came to Jesus and asked if the Jewish law requiring one to forgive another seven times was enough. Jesus answered, “No, seven times seventy,” implying the ongoing nature of forgiveness. Matt. 18:21
Do we want to stop hurting? If so, we need to take actions that do not hurt — anyone.
Tell a new story. Draw new pictures in your wonderful, creative mind!
One might be, “I really don’t remember exactly what happened anyway, I only remember my story on which I used the facts I selected and left out the others that didn’t fit my purposes.”
Another might be: “God, help me forgive. I, of myself, can do nothing, I really need help here.” Let’s remember that Jesus declared he, of himself, could do nothing. He needed the Father’s help for everything!
And then keep thanking the universal energy of love for helping you.
Keep that story alive in your mind!
And how about the grudges we hold against ourselves. Even those memories are faulty. I remember sharing (many years after the event) a very embarrassing moment I had with an old boyfriend. He roared with laughter, because it was funny, and then said he didn’t even remember it. I had carried the shame all this time in my own head.
Can we find a new story of compassion? Can we cut ourselves some slack? Or do we always have to measure up to some self-set standard that we made up?
It’s really up to us. How happy do we want to be?
For me, my intention is to give up my role as “judge” and just give love — to everyone — all beings everywhere, beginning with myself.
Let karma take care of what needs to be done.
I’m certainly not wise enough to know what needs to happen next.
What I do know is that I need to be about the business of loving — of giving and receiving love.
So, my prayer for you is lightness and love. Let your heart soar with new and beautiful experiences, just waiting to be felt and shared.
It begins with you.