‘The Art of Forgiveness’ suggests a skill acquired over time. This means along the way, there will be perseverance, hurdles, tears, joy and other qualities that contribute towards the concept of practice. What I'm saying is, forgiveness is not an easy undertaking but a well worth skill to work on.
My understanding is; forgiveness exists on two levels, the spiritual and intellectual. The spiritual level is the one where you don't have to understand or try to rationalise how you're feeling about the situation. It is the one where you just allow the feeling to be, let it lead you into the seat of Self. That quiet place known only by you where you can experience life through all your senses.
Whereas the Intellectual level knocks you back to ‘reality’ as known to the physical being and reminds you that you're one of many people who walks on this earth.
But what if you fused the two in a way that makes then exist cohesively? What then? Would the lessons become easier to comprehend? Would the level of perseverance increase as the height of the hurdles recede?
In 'A Course In Miracles' Helen Schucman writes, “He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive. But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.” I couldn't have said it better myself.
Here’s a simple example:
You're at work or at home. You walk through the door and bump into a chair that happens to not be in its usual place, therefore in your way. What is the first thing you say? Who put this chair here? And there it is, a blame laced with judgement. You're suggesting that it is someone else's fault that you bumped into the chair because that person must have moved it from its usual place. You might even go further to say the person who moved the chair did so to deliberately hurt you. Is this the truth?
“Don't take anything personally,” writes Don Miguel Ruiz in 'The Four Agreements' and it is as simple at that. (I will expand on this Agreement in a later post).
What if you approached the situation from a different point of view, such as this?
... You bump into a chair, you react to any pain it courses, then move the chair to its usual place so that the next person doesn’t have to endure the same pain as you did. Sounds easy?
Here's the catch, do this quietly. By quietly I mean, don't go around the office or the house fishing for glory because you've moved the chair out of the way or insinuating that people need to stop 'putting things where they don't belong' or blaming the unknown culprit for your sore toe and so on.
Could you do that?
If you attempt (with practice) to experience life from the seat of Self, perhaps you could begin to react to situations (small or big) in the proposed latter fashion.
This means by watching your physical or intellectual self from a spiritual perspective you could begin to fuse the two levels of forgiveness. Thus embarking on the journey to perfect ‘The Art of Forgiveness.’
To forgive is not to forget but to set yourself free from the shackles of your past experiences.
These past experiences could be as long as two seconds or twenty years ago. You might recall the situation vividly but that is not to say you need to hold on to the burden that comes with it.
Some steps to help you begin the journey of forgiveness
1) Acknowledge the pain.
Allow your physical and spiritual being to take in the situation. But more importantly, do not dwell on it. Let the pain enter and leave your entire existence. Cry, scream, break something (without physically harming yourself or others). Give yourself sometime (as little as possible) because the longer you remain in this state, the longer it will take you to move on.
2) Do not rationalise.
In an attempt to appease the situation, you might feel obliged to react outwardly by self-bashing. Such hurtful words as, ‘I probably deserve this treatment,’ ‘I knew this would happen to me,’ ‘Why do I always bring this upon myself,’ and so on, will harm you. To help you move on, you need to remember that this is between you and yourself ONLY. So pay no attention to external forces, such as people who might have seen the situation unfold, therefore making you feel the need to justified it.
3) Be Still.
‘Be still and know I am God’ (Psalm 46:10). Sitting in silence with ‘you’ is one of the most powerful spiritual exercises. Take time (as much as you need) to let go of your designs and allow a power greater than you to take over. Shake off the weight of anger and pain. In so doing you will begin to feel at peace with yourself, thus allowing yourself to experience the truth as it is.
4) Learn the Art of Forgiveness.
As the peace begins to envelop you, ask the universe to guide you to forgive yourself and others who have caused you the pain. Pray (to your God entity) for strength necessary to board this journey. And finally open up yourself to receive love as the centre from which to experience life.
Remember that you’re a student here and mastery comes with immersion.
 Seat of Self: “At each stage of your life you have seen different thoughts, emotions, and objects pass before you. But you have always been the conscious receiver of all that was. Now you are in the centre of consciousness. You are behind everything, just watching … that centre is the seat of Self. From that seat, you are aware that there are thoughts, emotions, and the world coming through your sense. But now you are aware that you are aware. That is the seat of the Buddhist Self, the Hindu Atman and the Judeo-Christian Soul. The great mystery begins once you take that seat deep within.” (Singer, 2007)
Singer, MA (2007), The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, New Harbinger Publications, Inc. CA
Dorcas Maphakela is a writer, visual artist and holistic well-being advocate, using art and words to share knowledge and inspiration on living a full life. She is also a TV presenter, public speaker and founder and producer of the Antenna Award-winning OZ AFRICAN TV (OATV). Alongside her role with Multicultural Arts Victoria, Dorcas co-founded Yo CiTY, a platform that champions the culturally diverse experience through Art & music. Dorcas is an Academic Screen Lecturer at the University of Melbourne. She studied Fine Arts and Master of Arts in Writing.