12 principles of forgiveness

  1. Understand what forgiveness is and what it is not. It’s not condoning, it’s not a papering over, it’s not for the other person, it’s not sentimental.
  2. Sense the suffering in yourself, of still holding onto this lack of forgiveness for yourself or for another. Start to feel that it’s not compassionate; that you have this great suffering that’s not in your own best interest. So you actually sense the weight of not forgiving.
  3. Reflect on the benefits of a loving heart. [Buddhist texts say]: Your dreams become sweeter, you waken more easily, men and women will love you, angels and devils will love you. If you lose things they will be returned. People will welcome you everywhere when you are forgiving and loving. Your thoughts become pleasant. Animals will sense this and love you.
  4. Discover that it is not necessary to be loyal to your suffering. This is a big one. We are so loyal to our suffering, focusing on the trauma and the betrayal of “what happened to me.” OK, it happened. It was horrible. But is that what defines you? “Live in joy” says the Buddha.
  5. Understand that forgiveness is a process. It’s a training, it’s a process, layer by layer—that is how the body and the psyche work.
  6. Set your intention. There is a whole complex and profound teaching in Buddhist psychology about the power of both short-term and long-term intention. When you set your intention, it sets the compass of your heart and your psyche. By having that intention, you make obstacles become surmountable because you know where you are going.
  7. Learn the inner and outer forms of forgiveness. There are meditation practices for the inner forms, but for the outer forms, there are also certain kinds of confessions and making amends.
  8. Start the easiest way, with whatever opens your heart. Maybe it’s your dog and maybe it’s the Dali Lama and maybe it’s your child which is the thing or person that you most love and can forgive. Then you bring in someone who is a little more difficult to forgive. Only when the heart is all the way open do you take on something difficult.
  9. Be willing to grieve. You have to be willing to go through this process in some honorable way. Be willing to grieve, and then to let go.
  10. Forgiveness includes all the dimensions of our life. Forgiveness is work of the body. It’s work of the emotions. It’s work of the mind. And it’s interpersonal work done through our relationships.
  11. Forgiveness involves a shift of identity. There is in us an undying capacity for love and freedom that is untouched by what happens to you. To come back to this true nature is the work of forgiveness.
  12. Forgiveness involves perspective. We are in this drama in life that is so much bigger than our ‘little stories.’ When we can open this perspective, we see it is not just your hurt, but the hurt of humanity. The loss is not just your pain, it is the pain of being alive. Then you feel connected to everyone in this vastness.

(via Jack Kornfield)

Resting in love

When we meditate, we settle into stillness and meet our experience directly as it arises, moment by moment. When we notice suffering and struggle, we’re advised to ‘move closer’ to it, ‘explore’ it, ‘allow’ it. But what do we do when the pain we meet is too strong? In this short video, Tara Brach offers a nuanced alternative to working directly with pain.

 

 

“There are times that it’s not even wise or compassionate to be with pain at all…there are times when you’re in so much pain that it’s throwing you totally off balance and right into reactivity. And trying to be with it, is going to drive you more into being exhausted or uncomfortable.”

(via Tara Brach)

Random act of lovingkindess

My heart opens when I watch this simple kindness unfold.

It’s when he goes back and gently places the hat on the man’s head that I see it is like the act of a mother caring for her child. One YouTube comment I came across reads ‘this man is surely going to heaven.’ But I think if we are this open and allow our natural innocence be our first response, this earth is heaven.

(via The Telegraph)