The holes in our heart keep us from forgiveness
Lately, the issue of forgiveness keeps coming back into my mind. I’m trying to figure out questions like, “How do I forgive myself for whom I am and for the mistakes I’ve made, or forgive others for the different ways they’ve hurt me?” But what does that really mean and how does it feel to forgive? I’ve heard and learned so much about the different methods and practices of forgiveness, but have not been able to fully embrace them.
We all carry wounds and they feel like holes in our body and soul. These holes are painful and we try to fill them with people, partners, lovers, work, status, food, money and so on. The holes tell the endless stories of feeling wrong, unworthy or unlovable, and point to the deep-rooted sense of not belonging and unworthiness that is a basic human imprint. But these holes cannot be filled because by their very nature holes cannot contain anything.
We need to realize that our ability to grasp reality is limited
The barrage of questions about (our own and other people’s) failures, mistakes, and actions that cause guilt or shame are endless. All those mishaps, hurts, and disconnections from others or within us are based on ‘misunderstanding.’
We perceive life from a small, even tiny angle, but somehow see it as ‘the’ reality. Our perspective on life is self-centered and this ‘self’ sees itself as a separate entity. From this limited perspective separation sets in and we create our own little world from where we judge, project, and deny the immense confusion that lives within us.
We need to realize that our ability to grasp reality is limited. Therefore when we want to actively ‘do’ forgiveness, we are limited by our own personal biases — our lived experiences and the narratives we have constructed about the world. Paradoxically, the acceptance of this limiting perspective allows us to move a step closer to forgiveness.
Forgiveness provides us with the opportunity to step out of separation and isolation, and into a deep acceptance of ‘what is.’ True forgiveness casts a light on the complexity and limitation of our human experience. It is the acknowledgment of limitation itself. Therefore forgiveness is a deeper form of understanding.
Let’s face it: When we forgive children for making mistakes we don’t even think twice because we accept their limited consciousness. Why? We’ve come to believe that our state of consciousness changes in adulthood to reflect reality, but the truth is, it remains limited still.
Forgiveness requires humility
Since the depth of our ‘misunderstanding’ is fueled by our sense of separation in this world, any attempt to forgive remains incomplete without a spiritual dimension. From a perspective of Oneness or unity, forgiveness becomes a natural consequence. It underlines the fact that we have lost our way, and are looking for the path back home, which is usually paved with trial, manipulations, and other means.
True forgiveness, therefore, acknowledges that we have no real control over life, putting us back into a place of humility. Even when ‘returning home’ is not tangible or describable, we can usually sense its presence. By acknowledging that we’re all seeking to come home, forgiveness allows us a return to innocence and to start fresh; not once, but again and again, with every painful event we face in our lives. The innocence is the acknowledgment of our meekness and ordinariness.
On a deeper level, feeling guilty does not serve us other than to further create separation through the strengthening of our own critical ego. Still, that does not imply that regret or apologizing for mistakes is not needed or helpful, nor that transgressions toward oneself or others bear no consequences.
Voicing regret is an acknowledgment of how our ignorance has caused pain to others and ourselves and serves us in growing our awareness. The challenge though is not to get lost in the guilt and shame in order to wake up to a wider reality.
True forgiveness comes with a real understanding. It happens when we bow down to the vastness of the unknown, and relinquish the arrogance and delusion of being able to manage and control life.