Been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately.
That’s probably understandable given I am a student of a spiritual book, “A Course in Miracles”, in which forgiveness plays a key part in guiding its adherents along the spiritual path to peace and happiness.
I am on the threshold of truly understanding what the Course’s version of forgiveness is, compared with our conventional world view of this notion. However, consistently applying forgiveness and putting it into practice in my daily life is my greatest challenge.
My hard-wired self-centred ego, which prefers attack, retribution and even vengeance, has other ideas. And, more often than not, I am tempted to succumb to its temptation to see myself as a victim of someone else, jump on the bandwagon of blame and justify my harsh judgments and condemnations as an innocent victim of the world.
However, every now and then, I actually succeed in overlooking someone else’s mistakes (or my perception of their hurtful behaviour), instead of launching into a self-righteous counter-attack of revenge. On these still rare occasions, I am astonished by how good I feel, how peaceful, and, often, how those feelings often seem to be shared by the person I would usually have attacked.
Most of my life I have been sceptical of the expression: “Forgive and forget”. It always seemed to me that forgiving is probably a good idea on selected occasions, especially when I can place myself in a superior position to my offender by doing so. But forgetting the “sins” of my adversary, that’s a big ask. Surely I could be setting myself up to be trodden on or offended in the same way in the future?
Now my mind has changed about this. By not being willing to forget past hurts, I realise I am still nursing grievances about the so-called perpetrators. I haven’t truly forgiven them at all.
In other words, by not forgetting, I am not truly forgiving. I am wary, distrustful and unloving as a result, and this impacts adversely on my peace of mind and my happiness.
In short, by refusing to completely let go of the hurts of the past, I am impairing my personal growth as well as my progress along the spiritual path.