A good friend recently emailed me an article about forgiveness, one of my favorite topics.
While I found some of the content interesting, I found the article’s recommendations lacking.
The author suggested the secret to forgiveness was (somehow) “erasing all recollection” and “removing all remembrance” of past events perceived as harmful. Reproduced below is my email reply to my friend. I hope you find the ideas inspire your own inside-out learning.
Forgiveness and Memory Based Learning
Surely, the article contained a decent description of the problem; however, there is no useful explanation regarding how one is supposed to “forget.” Our learning is oriented toward remembering, and our bodies toward life and safety (survival). I’m happy about this, since I definitely prefer life to death (at least until it’s a good time to head on out for what’s next).
Biologically, forgetting—if even possible, short of nervous system damage—is far too dangerous a strategy to employ. If a tiger chases me through the jungle and I barely escape with my life, I may consider this a traumatic experience that I’d like to forget; however, it’s very useful for me to remember to steer clear of tigers!
When I choose to forgive another (or myself), I do not place my attention on “erasing all recollection” or “removing all remembrance,” as the article’s author suggests. What we resist persists. I strongly doubt the subconscious aspects of our mind-body will even allow this type of forgetting process to occur. These parts of self are charged with safety, and they must do their job well.
Hypnosis and similar state-altering processes can sometimes block conscious recall (“hypnotic amnesia”) that may seem like erasing and removing, but all of the memories still exist in the other-than-conscious parts of the mind. In my current view, not even death of the body removes memories from existence; I see memories as morphic fields within fields within fields.
Perception & Acknowledgment
A key to forgiveness is in perceptual shifting, not attempts at memory removal.
For example, my friend, your traumatic journeys as a little girl, moving from country to country, are part of your learning path. Attempts to remove these memories would only negate the learnings inherent in all of your life experience.
My sense of life is that we come here to learn. Sometimes living hurts. We co-create with people, and some of them are dense vibrationally and unaware of their heart-love and oneness with all that is. Sometimes we’re the ones who hurt others. We’re all human.
Earth is an incredible school, powerfully mirroring our consciousness in stable-state illusions of physicality.
Perhaps forgetting is not the key to forgiveness. I like to allow the memory / trauma / pain to fully exist; to provide all the necessary space to acknowledge “what is.”
This includes everything my individuated self—the precious and beautiful ego self with all its successes and failings—thinks and feels regarding each life experience. Past wounds are neither amplified nor discounted. Thoughts of blame and shame toward self and other are allowed to exist. Thoughts about cause and responsibility, vengeance and retribution, and subsequent feelings of bitterness, resentment…on and on…are allowed to exist. They become the objects of my simple life meditation—the meditation of living life. They rise and fall in my awareness.
Our Life Experiences as Co-Creations
I own all of my life experiences as my co-creations.
I do not dissociate nor do I disidentify, since the events and thoughts occurred through the process of living the life of this individuated self; in my case, this expression of a life called “Kirk.” I do not dissociate, since what I feel can heal. I do not disidentify, since my soul incarnated into my body, purposely identifying with this space-time. Instead of dissociating or disidentifying, I choose to own all of my life experience—including being hurt by others and hurting others—as my co-creations. My “be here now” includes my doing and having, from “have, do, be” to “be, do, have.”
Expanding Into a Forgiveness Practice
Here’s a forgiveness practice I prefer.
By expanding to include ALL, I naturally become the witness / observer / watcher, but not as a duality that sets up self against soul as opposites, preferring soul to self.
I am the individuated self that lives within the boundaries of space-time, with all of its life learnings. I own the karma. AND, I am the boundaryless eternal soul. I am the self…I am the soul…I am the soul group…and I am all that is—the all that is where self versus other, and all dualities, release differentiation. I am the differentiated, individuated, particle self and I am one with the undifferentiated, whole, wave of conscious of all that is.
My awareness moves, depending on my state of being, from one perceptual position to another; for example, from self to soul or from self to other. I inhabit this life I am co-creating, with all its pleasures and pains. When I remember to awaken in any given moment, I expand my awareness to include my soul, and perhaps taste the fullness-emptiness of all that is. And from this remembrance, expand to include all I have experienced and all I am. There is no need to forget when I can expand to include.
When I remember to expand to include…all…the toxic triangle of aggressor > victim > rescuer naturally falls away. I remember that we are all one, and I naturally express more kindness, moving from within love. My heart awakens and I remember that I already am, always have been, and always will be that which…is…beyond words…along with everyone else and every thing…and from this space of wholeness, forgiving others is as easy as breathing out…and then inhaling…life.