Learning to forgive is one thing, but it’s just a small step toward an even bigger spiritual principle: We are all one, and there is really nothing to forgive.
When Joshua Becker posted a couple of weeks ago about forgiveness, I immediately had two very strong reactions. First, I was glad to see a spiritual message on a blog related to simpler living. Second, I was somewhat uneasy about the message.
Forgiveness, I immediately thought, is for beginners. Perhaps that sounds arrogant or pompous, but I can’t think of a better way to say it.
Joshua’s post, The Life-Freeing Nature of Forgiveness, is beautifully written. And he’s right. You can’t have a “light, easy and free” life if you are weighed down by spiritual and emotional baggage.
But forgiving fades into uselessness as you grow in spiritual understanding.
In fact, I left a comment on Joshua’s post trying to state my position, but I didn’t do very well. Here’s what I said:
Forgiveness is powerful, but it’s only a first step.
If we really believe we are all one – parts of a whole – then there is nothing to forgive. Does your foot owe your nose an apology? One part of humanity doesn’t owe anything to another.
If we can reach a point where we realize we are all one spirit having human experiences, the need for forgiveness goes away. Until then, forgiveness does feel good, though.
A few other people commented about the post after I left that response, but no one bothered to agree or disagree with my assertion. Apparently, I didn’t make my point very well.
But how can I say it better?
We are all parts of a whole. You can call it one consciousness in different manifestations — or perhaps we’re all little pieces of one thing who offer back interesting experiences to a God that has no other way to have experiences. However you look at it, we are all one.
When you step in a pothole and hurt your ankle, does your leg deserve blame for very literally letting you down? When your wrist is sore from too much typing — as mine is now — does you brain owe your wrist an apology for creating more than your wrist can express?
Wrists, brains and ankles are each parts of one whole — a body. While momentary weakness (or overbearing) by one part causes damage to another, forgivess doesn’t enter the picture.
Maybe my examples fail me, but I’ve done the best I can.
I’ll put it another way: Forgiveness is giving up resentment or claim against someone else, but who do you resent or have a claim against once you realize we are all one?
When we understand that we’re all one thing — one spirit, one consciousness, one fully-divine being — forgiveness starts looking rather silly.
Requiring forgiveness of someone else or needing to forgive someone else for spiritual cleansing becomes impossible when we realize there is no one else. We are, as I keep saying, all one.
I had some very unpleasant experiences in my childhood and early adult life, and I was treated in ways that some people might have to work to forgive. (I grew up as the only openly gay kid in a small Texas town, so you can accurately guess the details of that experience.)
No one owes me any apologies, however, and I have neither forgiven anyone nor do I still hold hostility toward anyone. I’ve grown into a better person than I once was, and because of my growth, the whole of which I am a part is better, too.
The damage inflicted on me by my past still comes with me, but it doesn’t possess me. I hope your past damage doesn’t hold you hostage either.
If separating yourself from the wrongdoers of your past and forgiving them helps you, do it.
Consider, however, that there’s another way: When you accept that we’re all one, you have to accept that there is nothing to forgive.
Gip Plaster is a web content writer. Previously a journalist, online bookseller and even a corporate advertising guy, Gip now specialize in writing high-quality content for websites — his and other people’s. Visit Gip’s Front Yard (www.gipsfrontyard.com) too.
I really like this post. The notion of us all being part of one whole universe is something I embrace, however I have never related it to forgiveness so thank you for the link!
I can imagine what your upbringing must have been like, but you are right, you would certainly be a very different person (not as strong?) if it had been different.
Hope you are well:)
Kate recently posted Making Wise Decisions
Thanks, Kate, I’m glad you like the post. It’s an interesting concept and one I really believe.
I hope that posting it on a holiday weekend here in the US explains why no one else has commented — and not that no one agrees with me!
I’m here…! Blame it on the holiday, YES… I have had family in for the past 6 days and have spent the last 2 trying NOT to drown myself in the lake! (just kidding…okay, a little)…haha
This is what I like about your posts Gip. They are heartfelt and they speak of truth. You are not afraid to go out on a limb and just speak your feelings. Sure your feelings might not be my feelings, and my feelings might not be the next guys and so on…But they are yours and you own them and you are entitled to them. You can keep them to yourself or you can share them with others. I for one appreciate the sharing. I can continue to grow and become a more well-rounded person when I am reminded that what I think IS not the only way. (though I sure like to think so sometimes, or so Dave says)…
This post is unique (as many of your others) and It opens me up to critical thinking. I think you made some good points that I don’t often think of myself. I think it is important to forgive (even if you aren’t doing it for the other person)…a person full of hatred is only eating themselves up alive inside. Most times the other person or persons have long sense moved on and we are alone in the hatred. (I know, I have been wounded and hated for long period of times in my life).
Forget, no way…
but that’s just cause we are human…
Carry on my friend!
(ps… can’t wait to see my post here tomorrow)….Thanks!
I’m throwing a party so I hope you got some cake…..
Thank you for causing my brain to really think about this.
I appreciate your effort to explain what you mean and I like the idea that we are really all one. The example of the human body is nicely concrete and understandable.
However, while the leg is not to blame for stepping in the pothole, the body still hurts. Sometimes a deliberate recognition of the pain and letting go of it is necessary.
For me, forgiveness is less about the other person and more about myself being able to say, “Yes. I am hurting right now. But I will get better.” And, then, allowing myself to get better.
Maybe this agrees with your sentiment? Maybe it doesn’t? But I have enjoyed the thinking about it.
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