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Forgiveness



"Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace." Buddha.


Terrible events could happen in the life of an individual. Some are impossible to forget, but we must learn to forgive to heal our soul and mind. By holding to your pain, you are prolonging suffering. By forgiving, you are closing the door to the past and wide-open the door to future possibilities and happiness. I want to be crystal clear that forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you. It also doesn't mean we need to continue socializing or have a relationship with the person that harmed us. Forgiveness will bring peace that produces strength to move on.


Tao explains forgiveness as remembering without pain. By forgiving, we let this pain, this burden, go. "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Buddha.

Everyone who took psychology or human behavior courses heard this story about holding a glass of water in an extended hand. Initially, it was not a big deal, but as time passes, it becomes heavier and heavier. The same applies to anger and grudge. Anger and resentment are eating us inside, eroding our peace and soul.


I want to share a story on the same topic, a remarkable Tao story about forgiveness.

One day young man visits a sage and asks, "Please teach me how to forgive."

The sage gives him a basket with potatoes and an empty sack and tells him: "Think of the person that did you wrong recently, take a potato, carve his name, and put it into a sack. Always carry this sack with you wherever you go for ten days. After you come back, then we will talk."

The young man comes up with quite a few names filling the sack with potatoes.

At first, the caring bag was not so difficult, but over time it became a burden and often got in the way. Some potatoes started to rot and have a terrible smell, so carrying this bag became increasingly unpleasant.

After ten days, Sage summoned him. "Did you learn anything?"

"Yes, Master," he replied. "When we cannot forgive others, we carry negative feelings everywhere, which weigh us down. That emotion becomes a burden and, after a while, it festers."

"Yes, that is what happens when you hold a grudge. So, what will be the solution?"

"We must strive to forgive."

"Forgiving someone is like removing the corresponding potato from the sack. How many of your transgressors are you willing to forgive?"

"I've thought about it quite a bit, Master," the young man said. "It required much effort, but I have decided to forgive all of them."

"Very good. Now you can empty your sack. Were there any more people who transgressed against you last week?"

The disciple thought for a while and admitted there were. Then he felt panic when he realized his empty sack was about to get filled up again.

"Master," he asked, "if we continue like this, wouldn't there always be potatoes in the sack week after week?"

"Yes, as long as people speak or act against you in some way, you will always have potatoes."

"But Master, we can never control what others do. So what good is the Tao in this case?"

"We're not at the realm of the Tao yet. Everything we have talked about so far is the conventional approach to forgiveness. It is the same thing that many philosophies and religions preach – we must constantly strive to forgive, for it is an important virtue. This is not the Tao because there is no striving in the Tao."

"Then what is the Tao, Master?"

"You can figure it out. If the potatoes are negative feelings, then what is the sack?"

"The sack is… that which allows me to hold on to the negativity. It is when I attach myself, cling to other people's words or actions."

"What happens when you separate yourself from other people's words or actions? Become an only observer."

"Then… the things people do or say against me no longer seem like such a major issue."

"In that case, you won't have any names to inscribe on potatoes. That means no more weight to carry around and no more bad smells. The Tao of forgiveness is the conscious decision not just to remove some potatoes, but to relinquish the entire sack, so you don’t even have a place to store potatoes."


I love this story. We can't control other people's actions, but we can consciously decide not to attach ourselves to them. "Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies," said Nelson Mandela. The longer we carry anger, resentment, or revenge, the harder it becomes to forgive. Caring pain, resentment, and anger for a long time are affecting our mental and physical health. Being wrapped in these feelings and emotions minimizes and sometimes eliminates the ability to feel joy in the present moment.


We can encounter three types of situations:

  • When we need to forgive someone.

  • When we need to forgive ourselves.

  • The most disturbing, when we become comfortable with our grudges and anger.

We already talked about the first one. Let's talk about the need for self-forgiveness. It is a step in the right direction when we do wrong things or say the wrong stuff and realize it. For many people, forgiving themselves is more challenging than forgiving someone else. It is easy to be kind to someone than to yourself. Be compassionate to yourself. A younger version of yourself didn't know what you know now.


What about the third one? Our body's prime objective is survival, so the mind creates reality when our pain and anger produce a "safe space." Space where we give away our power and deny our responsibilities, where we are victims, and where there is always someone to blame. People drown in bitterness or a sense of injustice. This situation does not just take a toll on relationships but on our mental and physical health. For people in this situation, learning to forgive and let go is scarier than reliving this pain over and over. It is like letting go of their identity and taking responsibility. If you are in this situation, please talk to the professionals.

At first glimpse, this has nothing to do with Reiki. But in reality, forgiveness is part of the first precept of Reiki. When we forgive someone or ourselves, we relieve ourselves of anger. We release the blockage that prevents spiritual growth.


Disclosure: The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. Always consult with a qualified health professional.


With love and Light,

Roman

August 1, 2023

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