Why is it hard to forgive? (Part 2)

WIP (Manish)Four self-protective mechanisms that never let us heal !

My last blog on the above topic resonated with many readers. Some of you shared deep insights on “forgiveness” from your life experiences. From your comments, I have summarised four main themes about what keeps us stuck in our emotional wounds.

 

Illusion of forgetting
Forgetting is not forgiving. It’s only a quick fix that keeps us way from real healing 

Imagine a thorn pierced your bare foot. It’s so painful that you didn’t want to touch it. You stopped walking that path and swore to never see that thorny bush again. That’s forgetting. However, a part of the thorn still lives in you and every time you walk, it hurts.

Forgiving, on the otherhand, is coming to terms with the reality. Developing courage to look at the wound directly.  Pulling out the part of the thorn that does not belong to you. Healing what’s yours. Keeping the lesson. And, developing courage to walk the path again if you chose to.

When in pain our first reaction is to protect ourselves and so we tend to cut-off the relationship or situation that we associate pain with. Forgetting is like taking a painkiller to survive the night. Suppressing pain makes sense when it’s unbearable. However, our attempts to cut off or forget makes pain unpredictable and chronic. The real root cause never gets addressed. And the pain surfaces again and again in other life situations and relationships.

Novelist Paulo Coelho captures this difference while saying “Forgive but do not forget, or you will be hurt again. Forgiving changes the perspectives. Forgetting loses the lesson.”

Prison of stories
We are hurt not cause of what happened but the stories that we tell ourselves about the same.

Lets look at our most unforgivable wounds. What hurts us now is not the incident itself. It’s the memory of what happened. When we feel violated or wronged, we weave a story. We tell this story of our own pain, shame, blame & victimhood to ourselves again and again. Its like rubbling salt to keep the wound fresh. Why do we do that? 

Transactional Analysis defines such behaviour as “rackets” we get stuck in. If we examine deeply, we are stuck cause there is an illusionary pay-off and a hidden cost to our persistent stories of pain. We often repeat these stories cause we believe that it may help us feel justified or righteous about our victimhood. Or it may protect us from future insults. Whatever our payoff is, it’s illusionary. It would never heal us. The cost of living in pain is way too high as compared to justification about that pain 

What happened is as unpredictable as what would happen. Each actor in our play had his or her own story. Any attempt to figure out who is right or wrong is a zero-sum game. Forgiveness is letting go the story we tell ourself about our suffering.

After 27 years of unjust imprisonment, Nelson Mandela exemplified the act of forgiveness in his quote— “As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Myth of resolution 
We can wait for life-time to seek resolution for our hurts or find another way to unleash their creative purpose  

As we heal our wounds thru forgiveness, deeper ones may surface. Some go back to childhood. Some pre-verbal. Some come from the collective suffering, from many lifetimes of disrespect and violence. When such a deep void opens what do we do? How do we forgive when the perpetrators are long gone or incapable of any confrontation or reconciliation? And what do we do with those arrows that have become part of your tissue? 

My friend Rie Gilsdorf made a great suggestion on Facebook post referring to the book, My Grandmother’s Hands, by Resmaa Menakim. She said “when the arrow is so deeply embedded and enmeshed in scar tissue, there’s no way to pull it out any more. But perhaps we can digest it, dissolve or catabolize it with an accompanying release of stored energy”

I feel she pointed out to what I now call “radical acceptance”. Radical acceptance is as simple as innocence of a child and as sophisticated as spiritual mastery. It may take us lifetime to embody it or it may happen in an instant without any training whatsoever. Forgiveness, true forgiveness, could be that simple and easy. It is the act of  gathering all our courage and saying “Whatever happened, happened. I know I can’t change the past. However I choose to influence the future. I fully embrace the current reality, with its incompletions, pain and hope. My past alongwith it’s joys and sufferings is my gift. It’s a part of who I am. I embrace it with gratitude and I step forward with confidence.” 

Sometimes resolution is not an apt solution. We seek deeper resolution and integration within. Psychologist Carl Jung reflected on the importance of integrating for our own development. “Wholeness is not achieved by cutting off a portion of one’s being, but by integration of the contraries”. 

Hidden purpose of wounds
Wound are an invitation to step into higher spiritual realm and unlock our creative energy  

Imagine that the jewel you were looking for all your life was delivered as a dagger pierced in your heart. What would you do now? Walk with pain and curse the messenger or thank them for the dagger and heal your wound?

In Sita Ramayana, Devdutt Patnayak writes about a lesser told story from the famous epic Ramayana. Royal maid servant, Manthara had influenced Queen Kaikeyi’s to ask King Dashrath (Ram’s father) to send Ram on exile. Everyone hated Manthara for corrupting Kaikeyi and bringing grave misfortune to Ram. When Ram discovered that what did he do? He met Manthara and forgave her. Ram could see the divine purpose for which he was born. He could see that Mathara had only done a divine error to enable his path. He accepted that and moved on.

Now that’s mythology not our daily life. However, we do have little Ram and little Manthara living within us. We do have deep power to forgive and wisdom to see the divine path we are born for.  It’s important to understand that emotional pain is a doorway to our spiritual growth. The unforgivable “other” has showed up in our life in a particular way to help us deal with some aspects of our own mess. In a mystical way they hold a piece of the puzzle that we long for our own liberation.

Forgiving requires courage– to look within our wound, to reframe our pain as our teacher, to rise beyond transactional field of right or wrong and embrace that grand play that we are all part of. 800 years back Rumi noticed that field— “Out beyond our ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.. I will meet you there”

….

I am grateful to my readers and their contributions. It’s helping me (and hopefully all of us) in deepening our practice of forgiveness. 

Wishing you a wonderful new year 2019

Cheers 

Manish Srivastava 
(Artwork by Manish Srivastava)
http://www.sacredwell.in

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Invoking the Goddess

In the auspicious week of Navratri, I felt an inner longing to reconnect with the divine feminine within. She has shown up in my dreams and life upsets earlier. I have been reluctant, and little scared, to understand her. However, this Navratri, she knocked my heart’s door again. Offering me a path to journey from hurt, ignorance & rage to love, wisdom & grace.

Since, I am not well versed with our scriptures, rituals or mantras, I started running to invoke the divine goddess. The rhythm of my body became a hymn & a chant. Silence of my mind allowed me to contemplate on the essence of  3 powerful goddesses I have known since my childhood. As a child and an adolescent, I used to adore their magnificent form, nurturing gaze and voluptuous figure. Now, I could relate to them as a collective energy or consciousness. In some way, I am invoking their felt-sense within me and my environment. Offering my experience to my blog-mates as a shared gift from the Goddesses of Navratri.

 

From hurt (scarcity) to love (abundance)

Maa Lakshmi Namh..220px-Ravi_Varma-Lakshmi

Give me love, give me healing
Teach me abundance, and, teach me giving
Make me a source of your boundless love
Help me see it in every one

When I am hurt, it feels as if something is snatched away from me. Leaving a deep void & incompletion within. Projected as victimhood created by others. Either ways, I am living is deep scarcity and longing for love and healing. Believing that it can be compensated either by others mercy or my revenge. Neither approach fills my void or honours my self-esteem. I become further hurt, insecure & manipulative. Stuck in an endless cycle. Goddess Lakshmi helps in breaking this cycle by filling me with boundless love for self and others. When I stand on the reservoir of her abundance, I feel internally secure, assured and complete. What was deep hurt earlier transform into the pain necessary for my growth. I become open to wisdom hidden in advertises (the realm of Goddess Saraswati). This evokes deep gratitude and compassion for the prosecutor. Goddess Lakshmi when invoked in one heart transform the whole field by reminding us of the endless love and wealth that we naturally inherits.

From arrogance (of intellect) to humility (of wisdom)

Maa Saraswati Namh..220px-Saraswati

Give me wisdom, give me learning
Make me humble for my shortcomings
Show me how my life is my creation
And how will it help me in my evolution 

When confronted with complex, emotional challenges, I feel hurt and helplessness. All I want is to fix the issue, the person, the problem, forever. Ego makes me believe as if I am in-charge of the same. However, I have spend lifetime, striving to solve, fix, eradicate these issues. Yet, they surface again and again. Often I am oblivious to the patterns and my own blindspots. When my intellect fails me, I become even more cynical and hurt. I invoke Goddess Saraswati to bless me with wisdom to understand the larger whole. Help me see my part so I can transform from within. Give me courage to learn from my challenges and turn them into crucible of my evolution . Make me humble to honour the wisdom in others.

From rage (outer madness) to grace (calm strength) 

Ma Durga Namh…

Give me courage, and, give me faith
To take a stand with resilience 
Teach me how to forgive with grace 
With outer calm and inner strength 

When hurt & cynical, my anger manifests as wild rage. Like an erupted volcano, my outburst creates more damage and hurt for self and others. It gives me a momentary sense of power but soon leaves me very weak and powerless. I end up becoming the part of same drama— displaying the same animality that led to my hurt in first place. On others times, I am frozen by fear of such rage within me or other. Either ways, I loose my centre and calm. I give away my capacity to listen and influence. And worst of all, I miss the opportunity to learn and transform myself and others. In such possessed moments, I seek the almighty Durga to invoke within me her grace— a powerful presence with inner strength and outer calm. I seek her courage and faith to stay centred in the middle of fire. Her magnanimity to forgive self and others.

May divine mother goddess energy show in all our life. May they bless us and our worlds. May we all shine in their love, abundance, wisdom, humility, courage & grace.

 

Om Hrim Shri Lakshmibhyo nāmahā
Sri Sarasvatyai nāmahā 
Oṃ Duṃ Durgāyai nāmahā

(above mantras & pictures from wikipedia.com & hdgodwallpapers.com)

 

from the sacred well

on March 27, 2015