When I think about forgiveness I tend to think of the old adage, “forgive and forget.” In my mind, unless I could forget the transgression, however large or small, I hadn’t really forgiven the perceived offender. According to the dictionary, forgiveness means to excuse or to pardon. No mention of “forgetting.”
Given that there’s now an understanding of the inside-out nature of life, i.e. the fact that it’s not the event that creates our experience moment to moment but rather what we think about the event, how can the issue of forgiveness be resolved? What can we make of the continued pain or resentment felt when we remember past hurts or injustices?
These questions bring us to the very core of the Three Principles. Fundamental to our well being and our innate health is the understanding that thought is merely a neutral and impersonal function of mind. The only personal spin it has is what we give it. For example, imagine that someone had spoken ill of us to a mutual friend and we’re made aware of it. Because we’re the creator of our own movie, we have many choices. One can choose to maintain a neutral stance and not be bothered by the comment — let the thought go. And, of course, there are many other choices. We can become upset and angry, having taken the event very seriously and personally. We know from the feeling that this choice doesn’t serve us because it lowers our mood and robs us of our peace of mind.
As our role as creator of our own movie is recognized we’re able to see that if that is true for us, it’s also true for others. Others too are operating from personal thinking some of the time, they’ve lost their bearings and are acting out of insecure thinking.
One then might have an “aha” moment that’s essential to the experience of forgiveness, then other person’s innocence can truly be seen. We can see the truth of the “thought, feeling, behaviour” cycle. What we think is how we feel. How we feel will dictate our behaviour, until we choose not to. Until we see that we’re not at the mercy of our thinking we too, in our innocence, might act out of insecure thinking.
Once we’re able to recognize our own innocence and insecure thinking, we can then see it in others and can forgive them.
As for forgetting, the past no longer exists except when we bring it to mind — when we think about it. It has no power except what we give it. As we continue to let go of the thought from the past one becomes more and more neutral about it and eventually it is, if not forgotten, at least a distant memory.
The other gift of forgiveness is that by letting someone else off the hook we too are released.
Forgiveness is freeing ourselves from thinking that doesn’t serve us. And that’s our wisdom in action.