Friday, February 14, 2020

The Power of Forgiveness

     We've ALL experienced various forms of trauma, and as a result, are ALL contracted to varying degrees. This contracted state distorts & negatively impacts our perception, behavior, & ultimately our capacity for intimacy - diminishing connection with ourselves, others & the world.
     This author writes from deep personal experience, hard-earned wisdom, as well as formal education. It's much easier to remain stuck in the contracted state, than to follow her advice & start healing:

     "The choice to meet suffering consciously, and then to open wider than this suffering, is the act of forgiveness. Very often there’s an idea that forgiveness is something you do, perhaps a kind gesture, the writing of a ‘letter of forgiveness’ to everyone who’s ever hurt you, or a turning of the other cheek. But the action is really an inner one. It’s the choice to open wider than you want to, wider than you can even imagine.

     Sometimes, you can really believe that you’re choosing to meet suffering consciously and yet somehow you’re still a victim of this suffering. For example, when you’re in the grip of a dark emotion and you feel it intensely, you think you’re meeting it completely, yet it doesn’t dissolve. The pain is like a rock; it just stays there. In this case, there’s still a subtle refusal to let go of the victim story. To open wider than the suffering is to be willing for the victim (one's victim identity or story) to die. As much as you say you no longer want to be the victim, the death of this 'victim' is synonymous with the death of 'self,' because victim-identity is a primary part of the ego’s scaffolding. The question to be faced here is this: ‘Who would you be without the victim?’ This isn’t to be replaced with another idea of self, not even a positive self! The question is one that functions to take you deeper into the core of being where there is no self, but only if you are willing for the structures that uphold your sense of self to come tumbling down.
     Of course, when trauma runs deep, if you’ve been physically or emotionally abused by someone in your family, a stranger, or by a collective force (such as Holocaust or political exile), it’s difficult to forgive. After all, the abuse did take place and you were indeed a victim of someone else’s violence, hatred, or insanity. Letting go of the victim story is certainly not about condoning injustice or cruelty; it’s not about making a wrong right. It’s really not about the ‘other,’ but about you. Holding on to ‘it shouldn’t have happened’ perpetuates a grievance. This creates an energetic contraction that freezes your life force, locks it into the past, and prevents full engagement with life now. One of the primary handicaps of trauma is the inability to ‘cope’ with situations that invoke strong emotions. There’s often a withdrawal from the deeper current of life, a closing down of the feeling-nature that shows up as an inability to be intimate (either emotionally or sexually), and a very high sensitivity to the stress of new situations, unexpected events, and loss. But even though this self-protective pattern continues way past the original event, it is possible for the energetic knot of trauma to be released.
     Through having the courage to face what deeply hurts and ‘sitting inside it’ without judgment, there is a dissolution of the grievance. It’s precisely this ‘sitting inside the grievance’ that was not possible when the traumatic event originally happened. The resistance to the horror and pain of the original event created a kind of splitting off of consciousness as a form of protection, and then the overlay of a story that says, ‘This shouldn’t be happening.’
     Forgiveness is, first and foremost, an inner journey. It’s about you. Are you willing to put an end to your inner conflict? Are you willing to meet the violence, hatred, cruelty, injustice, unkindness, greed, and ignorance in you? Are you willing to see that each of us is capable of dark feelings? These feelings may or may not be acted on, but the point is that we are each capable of experiencing these feelings. Forgiveness is the natural outcome of letting go of inner conflict. It begins with taking responsibility for your inner experience rather than continue to avoid the pain by throwing it outward through blame & retaliation.
     The power of forgiveness is poignantly encapsulated in The Railway Man, the autobiographical story of Eric Lomax, a prisoner of war in World War II who suffered brutal torture at the hands of the Japanese. This experience left deeply buried emotional scars in his psyche that created havoc in his personal life. Many years later, after uncovering in himself a desire for revenge, he set out to kill his former tormentor. But in meeting him and pouring out his story of pain and hatred, he saw at the same time the humanity within his tormentor and the inhumanity within himself. As his heart opened, his inner reality was transformed and a tender friendship developed between the two men that lasted until they both passed away in old age.
     At the core of every human being is a desire for love & wholeness: all acts of terror & horror are misguided attempts to find this. When you are the one who has been hurt by these terrorizing & horrifying acts, it may seem like it’s impossible to believe this. Each one of us is called to dig much deeper into our inner knowing, to see that when the desire for love and wholeness moves through a form that has also suffered and been damaged, it comes out in distorted ways. At the root of this distortion is an ignorance of true nature and a consequent acting from a belief of separation. From this belief, all fear, hatred, violence in the name of justice, and other endless harmful acts are inevitable. Seeing that ignorance is the root cause of all suffering opens our hearts. We see but do not judge; we see without a story. This is the essence of compassion, redemption, and resurrection. As Jesus said as he was dying on the cross: ‘Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.’
     An open heart allows the forgiveness of others, the world, life, God, and the self. In choosing to open to the mystery of this moment with all hits horror, you, as a separate self, die in this moment as it is, and what is revealed is the unending glory of an inner power. Forgiveness has the power to heal, for your sake and for the sake of the world. It’s a power that defies all opposition. And it’s more potent than any action.”

       Amoda Maa. “Embodied Enlightenment. Living Your Awakening in Every Moment.” Reveal Press, 2017. I highly recommend this powerful book.

We're all on the same path ...

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