I have come come to understand GRATITUDE for being able to discuss forgiveness in a house with food on my computer where bombs arent falling on me.I like THich Nhat Hahns approach to forgiveness.If "I"was born in that body and went through the same expirences I would be doing the exact same thing that was done to me.
A few years back I was alone with my mother, who I have had a very emotionally laden love/hate relationship with. I don't remember the essence of the talk, but suddenly it deteriorated into a knock down drag out war of words. I for the first time was able to objectify my mother's personality, and by doing so I was able to see the pattern's inception with my mother.
Suddenly through her tears, which had always been how the argument ended between herself and anyone, I saw the little child ~ possible 4 years old ~ sitting on the bed before me. It was not my mother that was arguing with me that night, but an echo of a life changing event that happened in her early childhood. Something was either said, or some mannerism triggered the child echo to take center stage of her script.
I watched her in fascination, because I realized what we were experiencing was not a present moment reality, but the repitition of a long reinforced pattern in her life. It was not about me, and it was not about her as an 80 year old woman. It was about a 4 year old girl that found a defensive mechanism that thwarted whatever was happening to her that day 76 years prior. I immediately felt an emormous amount of compassion for her, myself, and everyone else, because I realized I had witnessed that our lives were fiction, based on events beyond even our conscious memory in some cases. I immediately understood why I would, and could, forgive. I couldn't reinforce or give hatred to a ghost.
I have come to realize that to forgive another is more for healing of self, than the healing of others.
1. If we hold a grudge against another, it indicates that we place some sort of value in the existence of the "other", and that we feel let down by the one we value, that they apparently have not held a mutual respect for us.
2. If another approaches us, and asks to be forgiven, this is an attempt by the other to reveal to us that WE ARE respected by them, and that perhaps a mistake was made, or finally realized by the other. This in and of itself is an esteem booster.
3. If the injury visited upon us occured years before, we may have conciously forgotten, but subconciously we remember everything, and everything affects our daily lives and decisions. To ask forgiveness brings the old injury to light, and really reinforces the thought that the other respects us enough to recall it and the wish to make amends validates our worth in the eyes of the other.
4. This is the crossroads. To not forgive would have us lord it over the other. It would demean our own self worth, and make us small and petty. A cheap victory at best, in reality we sink lower than the original offender. To forgive would have us look at eachother as equals, as human beings, and it often removes a weight from our own spirit that we may never realized was burdening us.
Now, like the superior athelete who trains all his life with weights on his back (and accomplishes much despite it), to suddenly be free of that weight...how much more we can do, how much more we can be, when the time comes to act!
Yes, our requestor of our forgiveness receives much in the forgiving, but WE who forgive, receive so much more.
The strange thing is, we don't even realize the benefits of our kindness, until later, and it is subtle, but profound.
For this reason, the scriptures of the Christian faith compel one to forgive not once, but 70 times 7 (in one's heart and in one's deeds).
Anyway, it makes damn good logistical sense no matter how it is looked at.