By Suma Varughese July 2011 True forgiveness is realising that there is nothing to forgive Suma Varughese is Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive.Write to her at email@example.com There has been locked in my heart a whole chestful of hurts and grudges – the neighbour who mocked me, the friend (s) who disrespected me, the other friend who hit me when I was down, sundry people who put me down, betrayals in love and so on. I did not think about them too often but when I did, despite all my spiritual practice, the anger and pain always came flooding back. Yes, perhaps time and growth had diminished them but by no means had they eliminated them. However, I am now learning an authentic way of dissolving them into the mist that they are actually composed of. It starts with taking responsibility for my stuff, by which I mean my feelings, thoughts, reactions and other mental paraphernalia. When I really do this whole-heartedly, I come to the realisation that no matter what others do or say, the feelings, thoughts and reactions they arouse in me are really my business, not theirs. Each human being has been divinely ordained with freedom of will. God has granted them the right to think and act as they wish, as indeed He has given us too. What business do we have, then, to interfere with that right? Our stuff is our stuff and their stuff is their stuff. True discrimination, I am beginning to understand, is the capacity to distinguish between what is our stuff and what is not our stuff. When a lover accuses us of having ruined their life when we broke the relationship, we need to recognise that while our behaviour may have been reprehensible, the other had the choice of allowing it to ruin their life or not. We need to focus on our behaviour and see how we can alter it or make amends for it, but we do not have to wallow in guilt at having ruined another’s life because that is their stuff. Indeed the guilt factory runs on making others take the rap for what is our stuff. “You’re responsible for my failure.” “You’ve made me lose my confidence.” “You make me lose my cool.” And so on. In the same way, I can no longer hold any grudges against any of those I imagined harmed me because I can see that while they did what they did, the choice of allowing their behaviour to hurt me was mine alone. At that time, those actions hurt me because I was vulnerable, and suffered from a deficit of self-esteem and self-worth. It was not the actions per se that hurt me but where I was. How then can I blame the other? In a flash, my arsenal of imagined slurs and hurts dissolve like ghosts of the past. It appears that they never really had any presence and it was I who gave them flesh and blood by brooding so much about them. Instead I am learning to use the energy that was locked up in these past hurts to heal myself and repair the damage of my own lack of self-acceptance. This, in turn, is teaching me to let go of judgementalism, which, too I realize, is something I built up in order to sustain my edifice of anger and accusation.
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