Humility is the key within us that can aid to unleash the courage and strength needed to sincerely bow to the power of forgiveness for ourselves and others……humility doesnt mean we stoop and succumb to the whims and fancies of others..to please,to be taken advantage of,to be bullied,to be needy,to be made foolish,that is humiliation!..…
Instead, humility is a tremendously effective powerhouse supply of positive and creative energies helping and guiding with an alive and awakened consciousness leading us to find our way inwards towards the Source of Love where we can access that power to forgive……when the Source is found…….the power can be unleashed and utilised…it is a tender and flexible and soft energy ready to offer mercy and compassion to ourselves and others………….…
We claim back our humanity, dignity and integrity through humility………we simply cannot find our way into the Source of Love and Truth with pride and arrogance and self righteousness,sloth,doubts, ill-will and fear……..there will be no direction and surrender to the building of trust and faith to lead the way!
Still very early on(sometime December 1998) in my journey of spiritual revelations, I used to spend occassional times with an elderly nun of the Grey sisters…one time ….I poured out some of my past transgressions to her……she asked me if I was willing to put down the heavy load that I was carrying…….without hesitation I said ‘YES’….she then asked if I would like to make a personal confession with her friend, a Monsignor at the chancery office of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver….I agreed.
I remembered it was December 23rd 1998……..I must have spent more than an hour in confession(it was my last Catholic confession) with Monsignor Smith,crying and terribly remorseful of my past actions…….Monsignor was very humane and understanding towards me…….he pointed to a framed picture on the wall depicting a Jesus throwing a life saving bouy to a drowning man in a perilous sea………..I remembered feeling freed and relief on looking at the picture……………………I walked out of his office and into the Vancouver December rain and felt washed and JOYFUL and the peace gave me the courage to say …..I want to make amends and never be that same person again!!
During that confessional time…. I was looking at how my ignorance, selfish desires and anger/hatred had caused suffering upon myself and others and not how others have caused me to suffer…..it is the same….it is a vicious cycle…we get hurt and hurt others in return,unconsciously and deliberately………when we can start with ourselves first in any given situation of difficulty and misunderstandings……..when we can examine our conscience and see where does all these differences arise from…………..…
From our painful experiences of long standing pains and suffering,we can look deeply into ourselves…and from that looking,if we can try to find just one piece of our own self-inflicted misdeed,regret,flaw,bitterness,resentment and hatred then start from there to try to understand where it came from and why(usually from the past).For many people,it seems very difficult to forgive,especially to forgive ourselves first and to ask for forgiveness.
In our human weaknesses, we learned how to protect our past mistakes, we justify our misdeeds,we exonerate ourselves from responsiblities,we usually harden ourselves to blame the other or the situation and keep spinning stories in our minds to protect our rights and the fear of looking into our faults and vulnerabilities……..unconsciously,we are building a hard-packed ice wall around our hearts and block its power to forgive and find peace and joy and seeing the unconditional Love we are within!
We learned to keep repeating these patterns as though it is our human right to do so and thus forget to see our own faults and flaws and past mistakes and regrets etc……so the vicious cycle continues on and disturbs our inner being…making us feel unworthy,underserving of spiritual growth,feeling devoid of goodness and humane aliveness,we thus feel unable to forgive sincerely and compassionately.
Why are we afraid to forgive or ask for forgiveness?We have this tendency to think that forgiveness is a sign of weakness, that we loose ‘face'(our dignity and our rights)….that it will make the other/others feel good and right if we ask for their forgiveness,it will mean that it is our fault.And if we forgive,the other/others might make a mockery of us or reject and hurt back…so we repress and allow the stucked energies to fester within….and all these festering could surface as illnesses and continued hatred/anger which could/would lead to abuse and violence and jealousies and greed and neglect of self and others….like a broken record it spins out of control……..…
When we come to understand and realise where our inner conflicts arise from…we can feel a true sadness,remorse and repentance for ourselves……we can allow ourselves to become awashed with that wellspring of mercy and learn to forgive ourselves first and in return others…..it doesnt matter if forgiveness reaches or is accepted by other/others…………its the heart’s true and sincere intentions and effort to purify,make amends and heal that will bring peace and joy to oneself and others.Forgiveness empowers and restores harmony within us.Forgiveness also brings gratitude for the teachings of suffering and the graces to open ourselves to positive changes and healthy lifestyles….beneficial to self and others………………
Forgiveness is a pain-reliever….we feel joy and relief,when the pain is lifted,we feel peaceful to function again with renewed vitality and energy,just as when we have body pain and find great relief on taking an analgesic.We can feel gratitude and joy flowing in………………….
We all have made mistakes,so too can others do the same but do we allow ourselves to wallow in the guilt,shame and fears which creates more and more tension within ourselves,we loose sleep over the anxieties and this goes on to be a cause of disruption to being able to live a peaceful life for ourselves and others.Why punish ourselves when we can open the door of our being and let the afflictive emotions drain away by way of forgiveness.We can then create a clean slate to change and start again…………………When we forgive,we can reclaim our sense of well-being and self-worth…to feel whole again!
Simple meditation to forgive oneself and others
Sit calmly with the back straight up, know we only have this moment….become aware of why we sit…. to allow the free flow of forgiveness to open,bring the focus on the breath,become aware of our breathing through the nostril,feel the air in,note the expansion of the abdomen,hold that breath for a few seconds…”breathing in I am calm”……..slowly breathe out,notice the air releasing,the abdomen flattening……”breathing out,I am letting go of tension”.It is imperative to remain focused on the breathing,very soon the thoughts will come to play……simply be with the breath,when we feel agitation …..bring the focus back on the breath……….train the mind to come back each time it wanders through the breath.We don’t have to practice sitting for a long period of time,start with 3minutes and increase the time when we see our tolerance and adaptation to sitting.No need to be hard on oneself.
Emotions might flare up,watch, note it and see what it is trying to say,do,indicate.Note the emotions eg, sadness, unhappiness,anger,resentments,guilts,shame,fears,lust,jealousies,regrets,etc….do not identify with the thoughts or emotions and be caught in its trappings………they are energies within the body needing to surface.Always simply breathe and be with the breath……..when practiced fervently, it will help still the mind.
Remenber the breath is the sustainer of life….
The body too might become agitated with pain and irritation…discomforts arise, twitching, itchiness,move a little but don’t get caught in its distraction,be mindful only of the breath.Most importantly don’t be hard on oneself.One can start to learn patience and forbearance without being critical or judging anything…….every little ounce of effort we put in and make,we are coming closer to the truth,there is no need for any hard and fast rule to follow………….simply be present and sincere to all that we do…..nobody can heal us or is going to do the healing for us except ourselves……..when we find healing….we can then help others find their way too!
When we are ready we can then bring our attention to our inner states.We can start by recognising and acknowledging our pains….we have to be sincere and honest about it,We can see our sufferings,our heartaches,our feelings of self unworthiness,confusions,despair and heaviness.See where within us that carries the most weight in pain, the heart area,the abdominal area,the upper body/facial/head,pelvic area,the lower body/feet area and see how it feels like,can we put a description of it.What disturbances are felt in those areas.We might identify with lots of hatred,self loathing and resentment and anger and regrets for making mistakes and foolishness,for causing hurts to others and ourselves or seeing others hurting us.We might witness a lot of inner conflicts…..we might see our goodness,yet be confused with all the anger and aggressions going on within.Remember always that our true innate states are love,peace,and joy,everything else are afflictive negative energies collected over time which can be eradicated.
Don’t identify with anything that surfaces, be with it,it cannot do any harm…..it wants only healing,forgiveness, letting go and to be loved.If we feel an inkling to cry and express remorse,do so,allow the self to feel the movement of remorse to surface.In my own experience, I have cried buckets over doing this meditation in seeing how I have hurt myself and others.Doing this meditation is not about staying down feeling sorry(pity) for ourselves or others but to let go and make amends if possible.If making amends is not possible,do it symbolically….writing a letter to oneself then crushing or burning it,doing small charitable deeds,offerings of prayer or kind intentions for healing for others/oneself,etc…
While doing this,we can recite these words,or any words of expression to evoke repentance and to soften the heart…
May I find the strength to forgive myself
May I forgive myself for having hurt others
May I find courage to forgive others who have hurt me
In sincere forgiveness,we find ourselves opening up to the softness in our hearts and we experience the self changing for the better,we also see ourselves being aware and trying to not create the same mistakes.We start recognising how others are suffering the same and we develop an understanding and empathy for them,although we don’t condone the hurtful actions of others,we can generate compassion towards them.We will soon learn to love ourselves for being sincere,open to being humble,noble and courageous to participate in the act of contrition.Even if we fall again into temptation,we try not to beat ourselves up but earnestly try again to avoid that which offends….over and over…till it goes away eventually!
Stories of forgiveness
- I had read a true story of a mother in India whose very young son was murdered by his friend.At first the mother was suffocated by the pain of intense grief,anger and resentment for the boy who murdered her son but after a while,she could no longer bear the suffering of her pain,she asked to visit the boy in prison….while there,she told the boy….”I am going to kill you with love!”….from that time onwards she started to live what she had said to the boy…..she started to nourish within her forgiveness and compassion toward this boy and visited him regularly.The boy at first resented her and felt unworthy but later adapted to her kindly demeanour and started to develop a respectful relationship with her.Much later,after being released from prison,he went to live with her,the mother adopted and accepted this man as her own son…….
- A story of saint Maria Goretti,the year was in late 1890’s,Italy………..she was eleven years old,her family and another family shared an old house together,while one was living upstairs,the other lived downstairs.Both families, helped the owner of the house mind the fields in exchange for accomodation.One day, while Maria’s mother was tending to the fields,Maria was looking after her very young siblings.Her neighbour Alessandro, a young man of 19years of age,tried to seduce her to sexual acts but Maria refused and told him that it was sinful and that she would not do what he wanted.In a rage, he stabbed her 14 times,she managed to survive all the way to the hospital.While at the hospital bed,she said that she forgives Alessandro before dying.Alessandro was caught and imprisoned but remained hardened and unremorseful about his actions,not until years later when he had a dream of Maria Goretti giving him 14 stalks of flowers each for the wounds he had inflicted upon her,that he felt total repentance.He asked for a visit from Maria’s mother and begged forgiveness from her.She forgave him!They lived to witness Maria’s canonization years later.Upon release from prison,Alessandro spent his last days in a monastery doing menial works for the friars and monks.Pictured is Alessandro in his old age venerating the image of St.Maria Goretti.
- The greatest story ever told……….the story of Jesus,an enlightened being,simple and a great teacher of Love, humility and peace who wandered the land healing and showing compassion, encouraging peace and brotherly/sisterly love.While he was innocent propagating peace and love,there were religious people who were jealous and angered by the way he was teaching and portraying himself to be.For his innocence he was condemned to die a cruel and shameful death,death on the cross which was meant for criminals and slaves and those against Roman authority.While dying on the cross…….he still managed to breathe his last significant teaching…..forgiveness to his captors, to his friend(Judas) who hastened his capture,to the religious group of people who mocked his credibility,to Pontius Pilate who approved his condemnation to death,to his executioners who nailed him to the cross,and to the jeering crowd who heard him preaching love and peace,Jesus uttered these compassionate words …..”Father forgive them for they do not know what they do”……………………..