How to forgive?
Like Ian said – don’t judge, then there is no need of forgiveness.
It may be necessary for community safety to restrain someone, and sometimes that is the case.
It is never necessary to judge anyone as being anything other than human.
Forgiveness only exists in a realm where right and wrong have reality. It seems that we all need to start out in life inventing ideas of right and wrong, in our attempts to make sense of the infinite possibility that seems to exist in reality; and it seems to be in our own best interests to leave such notions to our childhood as soon as possible.
And it also seems to be the case that all humans come with a large number of strategies to allow cooperation by removing the incentive to cheat, so things like jealousy and vengeance and a sense of injustice exist in the chemistry of humans, and have nothing whatever to do with ideas like right and wrong – they are just what is required to allow cooperation to evolve through the lower levels of awareness, and without cooperation we would not be human.
At higher levels of awareness we can simply be aware of the need to remove all incentives to cheat. We’re not doing a very good job of that in our current economic and political systems.
For me, it seems clear that the “How” to forgive is to live life, to stay in the enquiry of what seems to be so, and to not get attached to any particular set of answers but to trust our own judgement at least as much as that of anyone else.
It seems that we must all make that simple value judgement of right and wrong as very small children, and we must all apply it to ourselves – so there is a very real sense in which our questioning self awareness is born in a declaration of its own sin. Fundamental sin seems common to all humanity in this very specific sense alone.
The process of getting beyond that judgement of right and wrong, and into a space of choice and consequences, is one of noticing all that we can about ourselves and the reality in which we exist. The more we notice, the less sensible notions like right and wrong become. We start to notice that everyone does stuff for different reasons at different times, often completely without thought to consequence, just action-reaction/stimulus-response stuff at different levels. As we learn to make gaps between the stimulus and response of our own behaviour, we are able to create choice in those spaces. Over time, we can teach ourselves new habits of thought and action at all levels, and open paths to new levels.
It does not work to make “right & wrong” wrong – that is just more of the same.
It takes, as the Buddhists say, non-judgemental awareness. Just noticing what seems to be so, about us, about reality. And in that noticing we start to notice things at levels we never contemplated as existing.
It seems to me that some call those levels of awareness levels of spirituality or Buddha consciousness or god or any of various other names. For me, they are simply new levels of awareness that emerge as patterns in the levels below grow to a sufficient order of complexity to allow them to emerge. It seems to me that there may in fact be an infinite set of such levels available (infinity seems big enough to allow for such things – which is a difficult idea to get any appreciation of).
So one aspect of forgiveness is mustering the internal strength to give up our addiction to judgement.
That is not an easy thing to do, and no one is likely to ever perfect such a thing, and it can be approximated, and we can stay alert for the ever present tendency to judgement, particularly in high stress situations.
Neural networks can be retrained, and they never entirely forget.
So the ancient practices are powerful ones in the journey to going beyond forgiveness.
Mediation – simply being present to what is present in mind, noticing what is there, holding an intention, being without judgement. The more we practice such things, the better we become at being them consistently.
Prayer, in so far as prayer is intention beyond the narrow egoic self. For me, gods or distributed consciousness seem improbable, and I acknowledge the vast periods of evolutionary time that are distilled in the genetics that give form to our body and brain, and similar time in the cultures into which we are born, and from which we take much of our language and behaviour without question. We each seem to be infinitely capable, and there seems to be infinitely possible paths through this very large finite universe in which we seem to find ourselves, so it behoves each of us to be tolerant of the paths that others choose, provided that they do not impose too much risk to the lives of others.
We are each in communication with the world around us at many different levels, influenced by and in turn influencing. We can each be far more than simple egoic awareness, and none of that requires any sort of universal consciousness or awareness (though some modes of awareness certainly feel universal in comparison to our prior modes). It seems that the biochemistry of evolution has created brains that are so complex – so capable, it is hard for us to appreciate just how powerful we each are, how restricted we are by the shackles of things we believe (we have accepted from culture) that simply are not so.
For me, exploration into the patterns of life, through biochemistry, through evolutionary mathematics and logic in fields like games theory, through physics and chemistry, through systems, cybernetics, computer programming, through the work of people like Stephen Wolfram, Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein, Kurt Goedel, and all the biologists and psychologists exploring what we are – these things give me glimpses of the patterns that seem to be a fundamental part of who and what we each are; and while I acknowledge the reality of the developmental need for judgement and forgiveness derived from distinctions of good & bad, right and wrong, there is no place in logic to cling to such things past their useful existence as a phase of development.
A butterfly will never experience being a butterfly if it clings to being a caterpillar.
100% with you there Bhatta.
Taking that journey into awareness of self is the longest journey – journey without end.
Finding those places that emotions and impulses arise, and then creating space for awareness between impulse and action – spaces within which the possibility of choice can exist.
And often the choice is to simply “go with the flow”, and sometimes there is power in interrupting the flow – particularly when patterns from childhood are dominating relationship to others.