Good morning, Happy Thursday! 🙂
I’ve had several conversations today about priorities, forgiveness and how making forgiveness a priority is such an integral part of the journey and a good life. Forgiveness comes from words meaning “allow,” and literally means “for giving.” Everyone I’ve talked to today is having such a rough time, and there is a lot of emotion swirling around. All of this got me thinking about feelings and what we do with them, and about for-giving.
I think when we forgive we give up the sense of being a victim so we can set ourselves and another person free. Really what we are giving up is the sense that we have a right to punish someone for harming us. But I think at a deeper level, we mostly give the freedom to ourselves. If I hold onto old hurts, the truth is that I’m the one hurting myself over time, not the original person I charge with the harm. So when forgiveness becomes a priority for me, I find that I feel a deeper sense of freedom in general.
Buddhists speak at length about the roots of suffering and happiness, and in cases of cruelty or harm, aspire for the wrongdoer,
May you experience happiness and the roots of happiness. May you be free from suffering and the roots of suffering.
There is understanding and acknowledgment that harm has been caused, intentionally or not, but that holding onto it only creates more suffering. There is acknowledgment that pain and betrayal, harm and hurt are not just personal, but also universal. I’ve probably hurt others too, so maybe it’s best that we all experience happiness and the roots of happiness. In cases of extreme cruelty or harm, the kindest thing that can be done for all is to be free of the roots of suffering and instead tend to the roots of happiness.
Christian scriptures tell us, “if you don’t forgive, you won’t be forgiven.” Theologians and scholars tell us this does not mean God won’t forgive us, but the truth is that unforgiving people tend to be somewhat vengeful people, vengeful people tend to harm other people, and so round and round it goes. So if I refuse to forgive you, it probably signifies a deeper wound or hurt in me and if I can’t forgive myself for mistakes, I probably will find it hard to forgive others. Holding onto that kind of hurt and resentment often results in depression, rage, or a soul-sucking detachment which separates us from God. Therefore we don’t feel the love and mercy of the Divine because we don’t let it in. It’s always there, but if I don’t let it in then I can’t experience it.
So I was thinking about all of that this morning…thinking about priorities, and thinking about the folks I know who make letting go and forgivness a priority–the truth is that they are the happiest folks I know, in spite of a lot of past pain. I’m feeling very pensive today, very aware, almost too present, if that’s possible. It’s the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, as I wrote about in the previous post. I have a full day and tonight I will go to my parental units, about 3 hours south of here, and spend a day or two. My own mom is sick and declining steadily. It’s hard to watch, and I find myself sometimes having to stay present to it, finding the balance between knowing what that means clinically, as well as my own feelings about it.
I was thinking about my mother’s grief about the death of her own mother, and how that no doubt is especially poignant in this time of her own decline. Chances are that my mother will have had more time with her mom than I will have, probably about 15 years longer than I will. Nine years after the death of my grandmother, when we all still laugh about and grieve this powerhouse of a woman, I think about all she had to endure and forgive. She seemed to make forgiveness a priority and she had a lot of things she needed to forgive, from what I know about her life story. But rather than use those things as excuses to put up walls or shut down, she instead used them as a means of prayer, of letting go, of moving on. Not in denial, but in a choice of how she wanted to live. God knows that wasn’t perfect or constant. In spite of my memories of her as how Heaven would smell, she was quite human and had her own issues. But she kept pluggin along at it— she made it a priority.
Today I have been thinking about that a lot and all of my own feelings about my mom, our relationship and what I would like for this remaining time we have to be like. The truth is that my experience is up to me, and so I’m working on making this time as peaceful and fluid as it can be– that’s my priority today. I’m borrowing prayers today, and sending out a few of my own…I’ve gotten a lot of calls this morning from people going through a hard time….lost jobs, sick friends, sick moms, hurt feelings on lots of sides in lots of relationships, and I’m observing all of this with keen interest and curiosity.
Given all of that, I had a chat with myself this morning about priorities and what is important to me. Today my priority is loving-kindness to myself and others, and as of this writing at 830, I hope I’ve done OK with that so far. But we’ll see. I don’t have enough coffee in me yet to do much damage.
But given all of that, I am making metta my priority today. I’ve been practicing metta meditations for years. There is a reason they call it a practice. Metta basically means loving kindness. If you’d like to learn more about all of this, you can read about it here.
This is part of the instructions from the Buddha to his followers about this practice…
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will…
Today I am thinking about all of these things, and the relationships in my life. There are so many, and they are so good, and I am so grateful. Today I aspire we all experience happiness and the roots of happiness. May you be free from suffering and the roots of suffering. May you live in peace, love and experience giggles, joy and metta as priorities.
Have a great day!
Peace and blessings 🙂