Forgiveness - the only way to free yourself from the past PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ven. Londonaye Dammagawesi Thero   
Saturday, 08 August 2009 03:46

The Buddha has shown in many discourses how individuals free themselves from defilements and their consequences. One needs to appreciate a few things within themselves, if they are to adopt the practice of forgiveness. This is the only way to free oneself from the past, so one can prepare towards enlightenment. 

One needs to first realise that we are all, a heap of memories of our past and hopes and plans of the future. The present is about experiencing the consequences of the past, and collecting more memory through sensory contact. There is a lengthy explanation as to how this is achieved.  It is best that one accepts that this is what happens or this also can happen (with a reasonable level of scepticism). Amongst the fundamentals that one needs to understand about oneself is, why one “saves and hordes” all these memories. We store experiences of kind, compassionate, pleasant, happy, good, right, generous, and forgiving, events, and we also have experiences of angry, hateful, unpleasant, unhappy, bad, wrong, selfish, revengeful, and events.  While we have pleasant outcomes from the store of pleasant experiences, funnily, we seem to have the unpleasant ones in the forefront of our minds and they seem to preoccupy our existence with paranoia. 

We seem to be very good at filtering these unwholesome incidents & situations, where others have been involved. We seem to be very good at recognising what others seem to do to us, rather than what we do to them.  For the slightest thing we seem to be hurt, insulted, let down, competed with, corrupted, humiliated, blamed, etc.  With our expectations of another, or of ourselves, we are unable to let go of the incident or the emotions we experienced with the incident. We build regret with some prioritisation given to the past event & through postponement of ‘letting go.’  We seem to carry guilt, where gratitude towards expectations was not fulfilled.  We seem to have remorse and revenge where the expectation ‘either way’ has not been fulfilled.  These result in a store of plenty of blame, which seems to be the only reasonable escape, or outlet, from the issues & difficulties we face.  Then, there is the nature of jealousy, where competitiveness with others, comparisons and aversions are articulated. All of the above bring anger, hatred, selfishness, shame, fear, etc.   

Now all of the above is in one’s mind and memory.  It is the individual who has given it adequate value and importance in one’s life. So, one holds this memory as a grudge against another or others, frequently, blamefully, and at times, revengefully. There is only an aversive outcome that seems to be chosen by one’s reaction to an experience or past incident.  When you consider the other party or the individuals involved in this memory, they may not be aware of the incident the same way that you had chosen to remember it.  They don’t seem to have the same value or importance to the event and the outcome.  So, the fundamental issue is about the loss that one was not able to bear. One’s forbearance with the outcome, the tolerance of the outcome, and the patience with the outcome have been low. 

Furthermore, one doesn’t seem to have appreciated the fact that “the wrong & blame is only in the eyes of the beholder.”  If someone does something and we are unable to see the reason and the benefit to them, we only choose to see the impact to ourselves, and then, react to that, accordingly.  We also try to punish them in a way that we feel fair, and we never try to see the reason why another did, or say, or feel, that way.  

If one begins to consider each of the above issues, and allow another to have their opinion, judgment, view, way etc., compassionately, then the chances to be obstructive become less.   

This requires a conscious effort to change the habit pattern of the mind that made us react in the above manner.  It requires the building of mindfulness that will help one see this reaction happening.  Then, one can change to being forgiving and accepting of the other/s.  One then develops being neutral or equanimous with the outcome. 

So, when one begins to see the qualities of kindness and compassion with the experience of self joy, then one will see this nature of equanimity.  To live these qualities of kindness & compassion, one should develop the nature of seeing things as they are;  being able to accept things as they are; to see only the good and the beauty; to hear the right and the pleasant; to feel the soft and the comforting; to smell the nourishing and the pleasant.  All these can be experienced by individuals who are able to forgive another and themselves; let go of the opinion & judgment of wrong and the bad; renounce the nature of comparison and competitiveness; and, relinquish blame of yourself and others.  

This is the nature of a human being.  

Enjoy this rare opportunity of being born to this human realm. Recondition yourself from this conventional existence and adopt this truth of Dhamma.  Adjust and adapt to society with the Dhamma.  Long to belong to the minority to see the Dhamma.  Enjoy just being human.  Forgive as many in your past and restructure your life to being the person you strive to be.

Strive on with diligence … appamadena sampadetha… 

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